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Performing at the Meyerson “enables students to get out and see the value of being artistically relevant and to understand the importance of audience,” says Dean Bowen.

Raise the Roof

The lights dim. A hush falls over the audience. The orchestra takes the stage, the conductor lifts his baton and the music begins to play. These are not the performers of just any orchestra; they are the students of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, and this is Meadows at the Meyerson.

by Lee Gleiser

But more than simply a beautiful performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony conducted by renowned Maestro Paul Phillips, this evening of classical music is the realization of a year’s worth of time, resources and board investment to advance the mission of SMU Meadows School of the Arts. On April 10, Meadows celebrates a job well done in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest students in the country for the Meadows Scholars Program.

The Meadows Scholars Program is an initiative at Meadows enabling SMU and Dallas to compete nationally for the most talented and academically successful students in the arts and communications. “If you are at the top of your game artistically and intellectually, you are going to be made offers from uni- versities across the country that are hard to refuse, especially in this economic environment,” says Tommy Newton, director of recruiting. “No matter how great a fit our innovative curriculum may be for a prospective super student, the money matters.”

Since the inception of the Meadows Scholars Program in 2008, the number of qualified applicants has increased by over 400%, from 25 in 2008 to 126 in 2011. “Now in the fourth year of our program, we are proud to support 60 Meadows Scholars, thanks to the generosity of our Meadows at the Meyerson benefactors,” says José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts.

The Meyerson event as a fundraiser for Meadows Scholars is a new develop- ment for the school. “Historically, Meadows at the Meyerson was an opportunity for our music students to be seen by the community,” says Bowen. “One of our major goals is for Meadows students to play a part IN their community. In the last four years, we have transformed the event into an initiative that enables students to get out and see the value of being artistically relevant and to understand the importance of audience. Before, the Meyerson was an outlier in the Meadows season. Now it is the culmination of an entire year of showing our students the significance of our work as a convener of the arts in Dallas.”

Before anyone sets foot in the gorgeous hall de- signed by I.M. Pei, countless hours of volunteer work go into raising the necessary funds to recruit Meadows Scholars. The 2012 event chair, Tincy Miller, and honorary chairs Sharon and Mike McCullough have worked diligently to raise critical resources for the Meadows Scholars Program. “Our volunteers truly feel that this community is a great place in which to be a patron of the arts, and we especially value the contribution of the Meadows School to the arts community at large,” says Joyce Mitchell, event chair for the 2011 fundraising effort. 

“We are unbelievably blessed to have the support of volunteers who are among Dallas’s most com- mitted and invested arts patrons and benefactors,” says Kris vetter, assistant dean for development and external affairs. “Their work and passion have taken this event to a completely new level.” 

Honoring Civic Leadership

Each year, the Meyerson gala gives Meadows an opportunity to honor a distinguished member of the community for vision, leadership and service. The 2012 honorees are gloria and Jack Hammack, feted for their outstanding civic commitment. “The Hammacks are extraordinary role models for our students through their longstanding investment in the well-being of their community,” says vetter. “They exemplify the committed leadership we want our students to aspire to possess.”

Meadows students have the opportunity to learn from Meadows Scholars supporters the minute they walk through the door of the Meyerson. This year, students from the FACE class (more on page 36) are welcoming concert-goers and have the opportunity to try out their “elevator pitch,” one they have been perfecting all year in the classroom as part of the school’s curriculum to prepare students for entering the market. During Meadows at the Meyerson, first-year students get the rare opportunity to thank the donors who have made their education possible and to give them an idea of who they are as artists, as students and as people.

Our Meadows Scholars

But the impact of contributions doesn’t end in the lobby. Among the talented performers on stage are several Meadows Scholars, including bass player Carmen Tinker (Music Therapy, ’14), the Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Endowed Meadows Scholar. She has been looking forward to this evening both for the opportunity to play Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and the opportunity to meet her donors.

Tinker began playing the bass in sixth grade and attended Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts at the Meyerson with her dad throughout high school. Now she has the opportunity to play on the stage where before she had spent so many years in the audience. “At the Meyerson you can hear how your part fits in to the whole piece. The acoustics are incredible.”

Tinker exemplifies the artist/scholar Meadows works tirelessly to recruit. “Using music to help people is the ideal career for me,” she says. Last summer she had the opportunity to go to Jamaica and work with clients using diverse music therapy techniques. “I am very grateful for the Perot family’s incredible generosity and support. I’m paying for college myself, and without my scholarship, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to study at one of the top music programs in the country,” she says.

Meadows Scholar Josh Cote (Music, ’12) is from Chicago and plays the French horn. Dorothy Stacy and Thomas Wood have been strong supporters of students like Cote with their funding. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their generosity,” Cote says.

All Meadows Scholars receive exploration grants, and in his junior year, Cote used his to study with a famous teacher, Froydis Ree Wekre in Oslo. “It was eye-opening musically to meet and play with horn players from all over the world,” he says. “I credit a lot of improvement in my playing to that.”

“I want to give students the experience of perform- ing orchestral music in a concert hall, which is the centerpiece of what they do,” says Paul Phillips, who serves as both director of orchestral activities and conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra. “The legacy and importance of Meadows at the Meyerson is that it gives the students an opportu- nity to play in one of the top ten concert halls in the world and acknowledges the importance of the scholarships that support that talent.”

For more information about supporting Meadows Scholars, contact Ellen Schlachter at 214-768-4189. For tickets to the concert, call 214-768-ARTS or buy online

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