Patrice Michaels and friends to perform 'Laying Down the Law'

Soprano Patrice Michaels and friends will present a chamber music concert on Saturday, May 21 to benefit You Can Make It homeless family shelters located in the Grand Crossing and Englewood neighborhoods. “Laying Down The Law,” a concert “with a point of view,” will feature songs and arias on social justice.

“It seemed to me that social justice issues in Chicago center around stability, and if you don't have a place to live, if you have nowhere to care for your family, that's where it starts,” said Michaels. “Perhaps with the interest of more of the community we can help create something more stable and durable.”

Social justice is the focal point of the shelter benefit, which will feature musical compositions by seven diverse living composers, including Michaels. Her own song cycle, The Long View, is a musical portrait of her mother-in-law, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Justice Ginsburg couldn't possibly have imagined as a girl even having the opportunity to clerk—which she never got because discrimination was still so rampant—much less ending up on the bench herself," said Michaels.

In January, Michaels began looking for shelters that need support to continue their assistance for families. She was struck by the work of You Can Make It, operated by Executive Director Jacqueline Kennedy-Harris, who started the nonprofit in a small rented house in 2001.

“I really wanted to find shelters that are in the vicinity of the University of Chicago that clearly don’t have support beyond their board of directors,” said Michaels, Director of Vocal Studies in the Department of Music. “These are the neediest shelters I've ever seen.”

Supporting the cause and joining Michaels in the afternoon concert lineup are Chicago Symphony Orchestra clarinetist John Bruce Yeh and pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, who teaches at Roosevelt University. Program highlights also will include Laurie Altman’s Laments of the Homeless Women, and Derrick Wang’s “You Are Searching in Vain for a Bright Line Solution,” from his 2015 opera, Scalia/Ginsburg.

The concert also will feature selections from Michaels’ song cycle The Long View, which portray Justice Ginsburg.

Donations will be accepted at the event, which is free and open to the public. Michaels said she hopes to raise $3,000 before the concert, and another $2,000 that afternoon for You Can Make It.

“Laying Down the Law” begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 in Fulton Recital Hall, 1010 E. 59th St., Goodspeed Hall, fourth floor. More information about this event is available by calling (773) 702-8069. Anyone needing assistance entering the concert hall may phone in advance (773) 702-8484.