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SMU's Meadows School of the Arts Presents "Meadows at the Meyerson", April 19

Event to honor community leader Edith O’Donnell

SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will present its 18th annual benefit concert, “The 2011 Meadows at the Meyerson,” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. in Dallas. This year’s concert unites the Meadows School’s four primary ensembles in a celebration of the music of Leonard Bernstein. Performing will be the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips; the Meadows Wind Ensemble, conducted by Jack Delaney; the Meadows Opera Theatre, directed by Hank Hammett; and the Meadows Chorale and Meadows Concert Choir, directed by Pam Elrod. The benefit concert, held each spring, also honors a community leader, and this year’s honoree is noted arts and civic patron Edith O’Donnell. The 2011 event chairs are Joyce and Harvey Mitchell, and the honorary chair is Caren Prothro.

The Meadows Wind Ensemble will open the program with the jazz-inspired
Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, which premiered in 1955 on Bernstein’s “What Is Jazz?” telecast with Benny Goodman as soloist. The MWE then performs the blazing Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, a symphonic suite of dances that effectively captures the vast emotional range of Bernstein’s timeless Broadway classic. The ensemble’s arrangement of Symphonic Dances was completed for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, which performed the work during its 2006 and 2007 tours as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of West Side Story.

The second half of the program begins with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra performing
Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free, the 1944 Jerome Robbins ballet that launched Bernstein’s composing career and was the basis for the hit Broadway show On the Town. The Meadows Opera Theatre, Meadows Chorale and Meadows Concert Choir then join the symphony to perform highlights from the irrepressible and enormously popular hit operetta Candide, based on Voltaire’s novella and conducted by Paul Phillips.
“For the first time ever, this concert will feature all four of the Meadows School’s primary ensembles – the symphony, the wind ensemble, the chorale and the opera theatre,” said José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our different music groups to work together and gives more of our talented students a chance to perform on the world-class stage of the Meyerson.”

The Meyerson concert is the Meadows School’s most important fundraising event, said Bowen. “Thanks to the generosity of many supporters, this event has played an instrumental role in launching the Meadows Scholars program, which since 2008 has attracted the very best arts and communications students from across the nation to Dallas and SMU,” he said. “We are particularly delighted this year to be able to honor Edith O’Donnell for the exceptional patronage she has provided for so many Dallas arts organizations and for the Meadows School. In her honor we have also invited many of the groups she has supported to be a part of this evening, but in truth, there is hardly a person in Dallas who has not benefited from her devotion to the arts and education.” 

Event honoree Edith O’Donnell is a visionary philanthropist who has played a pivotal role in advancing the arts and education in Texas. Together, Edith and Peter O’Donnell founded the O’Donnell Foundation in 1956, focusing their philanthropic efforts on enhancing education in Texas. Edith O’Donnell co-founded Young Audiences of Greater Dallas in 1989, now Big Thought, which reaches thousands of students each year. In 1994, Edith O’Donnell created the AP Arts Incentive Program to motivate high school students’ interest and success in advanced arts education. In the 17-year history of the program, more than 9,000 arts and music students have benefited from the O’Donnell Foundation’s AP incentive programs. Last year, graduating seniors earned over $14.8 million in scholarships. Edith O’Donnell served a six-year term on the Texas Commission on the Arts and in 2009 was awarded the Texas Medal of Arts by the Texas Cultural Trust for her exemplary leadership and outstanding contribution in support of the arts, which includes the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Together the O’Donnells have been honored with the James K. Wilson Award for service to the arts in Dallas and the Linz Award, Dallas’s most prestigious civic honor. In 2008, they received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from SMU for their pivotal roles in advancing the arts and education.

Proceeds from the event will be dedicated to the extremely successful Meadows Scholars initiative to provide student scholarships supporting the next generation of creative leadership at SMU. The Meadows Scholars program was inaugurated in 2008 to recruit the brightest and most talented students nationwide to Meadows and SMU, and is targeted to applicants who are accepted to Meadows and who meet both stringent academic and artistic/leadership criteria. While such high achievers automatically receive SMU academic scholarship awards, many of them are still unable to afford full tuition. The Meadows Scholars program offers an additional annual scholarship, plus a $5,000 travel/research stipend that can be used anytime during their years at Meadows, providing a significant incentive for them to choose SMU and Dallas. The program has greatly helped SMU compete successfully against such schools as Northwestern, Juilliard and Yale for top creative talent. 

Tickets to the “Meadows at the Meyerson” concert are $20-25 for adults, $15-20 for seniors, and $10-15 for students and SMU faculty and staff. For tickets, contact the Meadows Box Office at 214-768-2787.
Patron and corporate sponsorships with special benefits and seating packages are available from $1,500 - $10,000. In addition, the Meadows Scholars level recognizes those who either permanently endow a Meadows Scholar at $150,000 or who make a $30,000 commitment to fund an individual Meadows Scholarship over four years. For more information, call the Meadows Development Office at 214-768-4189.

The 2010-11 season sponsor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra is WRR 101.1 FM.

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