About the International Music Foundation
The International Music Foundation was founded in 1979 by Chicagoan Al Booth as the umbrella organization for two of his music projects: the Do-It-Yourself Messiah and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series, both now cornerstones of the Chicago musical scene. In 1981, with the help of Yehudi Menuhin, the IMF added Live Music Now!, a concert series for children in the Chicago Public Schools.
The IMF’s work has enhanced Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 30 years by making music available to everyone through free performances. This principle of accessibility has continued to guide the organization since the beginning, and we now present more than 500 concerts a year, all of them free.
Throughout the Foundation’s history, it has used music to provide special opportunities:
- To up-and-coming young artists, through the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series;
- To many thousands of inner-city school children annually through Live Music Now!, an extensive music outreach network;
- And to the people of Chicago through the Do-It-Yourself Messiah.
Al Booth, Founder of the International Music Foundation
1916 - 2007
Al Booth was born in 1916 in Virginia, MN and spent most of his life in Chicago. He died on February 2, 2007 at age 90, leaving a rich musical legacy which the International Music Foundation will carry into the future.
During a stay in England, he participated in a sing-along Messiah, learned of the WW2 concerts organized by Myra Hess at the National Gallery in London, and decided that Chicago would benefit from both these musical ideas. He started Chicago’s Do-It-Yourself Messiah at Orchestra Hall in 1976, followed the next year by the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts at the Cultural Center. Both programs have continued without interruption since their inception because of Al Booth’s drive, wide audience support, and generous sponsors.
His belief that music should be accessible to everyone meant that every musical event he produced was free of charge to the public. In recognition of the gifts he had given the City and his dedication to the arts, he was honored by the City of Chicago at its Third Annual Toast to the Cultural Center. Later the same year, he was awarded Roosevelt University’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Humanitarian Award.
He will be remembered by hundreds for his generosity, his kindness, his caring for others, and his unbeatable sense of humor. He will be remembered by thousands for the musical gifts he gave to the City.