Donna Wilhelm

SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts to present two premieres at “Meadows at the Winspear” benefit concert, May 11

The 2016 Meadows at the Winspear event, benefitting the Meadows Scholars Program, will take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street in Dallas.

AppalachianSpringFinal

The Meadows Dance Ensemble performing Appalachian Spring

The concert will feature the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips, and the Meadows Dance Ensemble, composed of top students from the Meadows School’s nationally respected dance program, in both works.

The first is the premiere of a newly envisioned choreography of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, created by Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz, noted artistic directors of the acclaimed Delfos Danza Contemporanea in Mazatlán, Mexico. They have replaced the magical and mercurial glowing bird of Russian folklore with a more contemporary version of Stravinsky’s masterwork, inspired by the visual aesthetics of Hieronymus Bosch and the theme of migration.

The second is Martha Graham’s ballet masterpiece Appalachian Spring, featuring the world premiere of the newly completed, full orchestra version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning music by Aaron Copland. The Meadows Symphony Orchestra will be the first to perform the new material and will also act as “test drivers” for the score, helping to inform any corrections required before the music is published.

Donna-Wilhelm-photo-by-Kim-Leeson

Donna Wilhelm

The event will also honor Donna Wilhelm, a committed supporter of the arts in education and will inaugurate the new scholarship fund in her name. Beginning this fall, the Donna Wilhelm Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide SMU Meadows scholarships to highly qualified students from underrepresented ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Meadows at the Winspear is the pinnacle of our performance season,” said Meadows Dean Samuel S. Holland. “Not only will talented students in dance and music collaborate in presenting two extraordinary premieres, they will do so in a world-class venue. We’re honored to give the first performance of Copland’s iconic work with full symphony orchestra and to present a moving reinterpretation of Firebird based on a theme of migration and human displacement – reflecting our philosophy that art can become a form of social action. We are also delighted to honor Donna Wilhelm – whose work has had an impact not only on SMU but on all of North Texas.”

Tickets are $17 for students, faculty and staff and can be purchased online.

SMU NCAR meets challenge grant, announces $1 million in gifts for arts research

Donna Wilhelm photo by Kim Leeson

Donna Wilhelm (photo by Kim Leeson)

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) announced that it has successfully met a $500,000 challenge grant from Dallas philanthropist and civic leader Donna Wilhelm, raising a total of $1 million in 2015 for research, programs and services.

The purpose of the challenge grant, given by Wilhelm in February 2015 with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, was to generate $500,000 for operating support for the center. Wilhelm’s matching funds will endow a new Wilhelm Research Fellow for NCAR. The center, which was established in 2012 by the University’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business, analyzes the largest database of arts research ever assembled, investigates important issues in arts management and patronage, and makes its findings available to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public.

“The National Center for Arts Research has broken new ground in analyzing and interpreting data about the arts and cultural field in the U.S.,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “NCAR’s thought-provoking research is already helping both new and established arts organizations across the country. The University is grateful to benefactor Donna Wilhelm and the donors who supported the challenge grant for their dedication to the important work of the Center.”

An NCAR advisory board member who has supported the center since its founding, Wilhelm approached NCAR with the offer of the challenge grant. “As a donor, I fund initiatives that serve broad needs and have leveraged impact,” said Wilhelm. “The National Center for Arts Research established at SMU, where scholarly excellence and innovation thrives, met my philanthropic goal.  I also believe in strategic investing.  My challenge grant was structured to sustain operating support for NCAR and establish a Research Fellow endowment.  Thanks to generous and visionary donors, we achieved both.  Donors collaborating were able to empower the unlimited potential of NCAR and foster the health of arts organizations nationwide – I salute this amazing teamwork.”

Individual donors and foundations who contributed to help NCAR meet the challenge grant include Jennifer and Peter Altabef; Belle and Don Berg; Diane and Hal Brierley; Melissa and Trevor Fetter; Ann and Trey Fielder; Carol and Don Glendenning/Locke Lord LLP; Ann and Lee Hobson; T.J. Brown & C.A. Lupton Foundation/Kit Moncrief; Communities Foundation of Texas; M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation; Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation; The Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation; Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation/Perkins-Prothro Foundation; and the Tolleson Family Foundation.

“In a few short years, NCAR has placed Meadows at the epicenter of evidence-based insight into the arts ecosystem with the underlying purpose of helping arts leaders make better decisions,” said Meadows Dean Samuel Holland. “This significant gift from Donna Wilhelm and all those who contributed to meeting the challenge will allow us to sharpen our focus, build scale, and extend the reach of NCAR to places where its work is most needed.”

The first Wilhelm Research Fellow is Richard Briesch, professor of marketing in the Cox School. Briesch holds a Ph.D. in marketing from Northwestern, an M.B.A. from Rice and a B.S. in mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon.

“Rick has been working with NCAR since we launched in 2012,” said Zannie Voss, director of NCAR.  “He is one of the most well-respected econometricians in the country and specializes in consumer behavior.”

Voss added, “We are so grateful to Donna Wilhelm and our additional generous donors for endowing the research fellowship and providing critical operating support that will help NCAR continue its dedicated work to help arts and cultural organizations nationwide.”

> Read the full story from SMU News