March 29, 2022

CIM celebrates supporters Joe and Ellen Thomas, distinguished alumni with forward-looking Luminaries Benefit Concert

Joe and Ellen Thomas
Joe and Ellen Thomas

On Friday, May 13, CIM will pay tribute to significant donors and noted alumni with a season finale gala and dinner event called Luminaries, raising scholarship funds for the next generation of gifted classical musicians.  

Philanthropists Ellen and Joe Thomas, the namesakes of CIM’s Thomas Commons, will be the evening’s Luminaries honorees, and the concert will feature a world premiere with violinist and 2022 honorary doctorate grantee Jennifer Koh, along with alumni award recipients pianist Michelle Cann (BM ’09, MM ’10, Schenly/D. Shapiro) and pianist-composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (MM ’00, Erb/Pastor). 

“As the 2021-22 school year draws to a close, we’re recognizing some of the most accomplished and supportive members of our community,” said CIM President & CEO Paul Hogle. “CIM and Cleveland are privileged to have such warm, compassionate friends and forward-thinking leaders as Ellen and Joe Thomas. Their investment in the Institute and its students will pay dividends for classical music organizations around the globe and here at home in Cleveland.” 

Luminaries consists of a gala concert and dinner. The event begins at 5:30pm at CIM with a cocktail reception, followed by the Luminaries concert, and a dinner outside on-site to conclude.  

Prices range from $250 for a Benefit Ticket to $3,500 for a Luminaries Host Supporter package that includes four tickets and VIP seating. Virtual concert tickets may be purchased for $25. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available as well. For tickets or assistance, visit, call 216.795.3160 or e-mail

About the Honorees 

Since becoming involved with CIM in the early 1990s Ellen and Joe Thomas have played an important role in using their passion for music to support the next generation of classical music students. A musician herself, Ellen sang with choruses in Northeast Ohio to enrich the lives of hospital patients and nursing home residents. In 1996 Joe Thomas joined CIM’s Board of Trustees, serving as chair of the Investment Committee and in numerous other capacities during his tenure, leveraging his professional experience to strengthen CIM’s finances and grow the endowment. Joe continues to serve as a Trustee today. Through her own dedication as an active member of Partners for CIM, Ellen has supported and benefited a generation of music students. Together, Joe and Ellen are champions of classical music and the students who come to Cleveland to achieve their dreams and potential. Current members of CIM’s Founder’s Circle, their legacy and leadership in philanthropy is honored at CIM in Thomas Commons, the Ellen and Joe Thomas Endowed Fund and the Ellen B. Thomas Vocal Scholarship. 

CIM is proud to be one of many Cleveland institutions Joe and Ellen are dedicated to supporting. They helped bring to life Cleveland’s first public playground and provided invaluable support to epilepsy research at the Cleveland Clinic. Joe currently serves on the board of University Circle Inc., where he was honored with its Joseph D. Pigott University Circle Leadership Award in 2017, and the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System. He has also served as a trustee of the City Club of Cleveland and St. Luke’s Hospital, now St. Luke’s Foundation, and has been recognized as an emeritus trustee of Case Western Reserve University and a life trustee of Denison University. Ellen has served as chair of benefit committee and charitable organizations in the region including The Children’s Guild of Cleveland.  

About the Performers 

Jennifer Koh   
2022 Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts   
Recognized for intense, commanding and dazzling virtuoso performances, violinist Jennifer Koh is a forward-thinking artist dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting equity and inclusivity in classical music. 

Michelle Cann (BM ’09, MM ’10)   
2022 Alumni Achievement Award 
Hailed as a “compelling, sparkling virtuoso,” pianist Michelle Cann is in demand by presenters across the US. Since her orchestral debut at age 14, she has appeared with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta and Detroit, among others. 

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (MM ’00)  
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award  
Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is a dedicated Chickasaw composer and pianist who uses music to express his native culture. His works have been commissioned by major North American orchestras and ensembles and are performed throughout the world.