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New works by noted choreographers Takehiro Ueyama, Alexander Sanchez and Dwight Rhoden are set to well-known 20th-century music

 

Event celebrates Meadows’ 50th anniversary and honors The Meadows Foundation

 

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU Meadows School of the Arts will present three premieres by internationally recognized choreographers at its 26th annual benefit concert, “Meadows at the Winspear,” at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. in Dallas. The concert will feature the critically acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips, and the students of the Meadows Dance Ensemble performing three new works, each set to well-known 20th-century music. The works include Takehiro Ueyama’s ethereal Heroes, set to John Adams’ The Chairman Dances; Broadway choreographer Alexander Sanchez’s lively interpretation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; and Dwight Rhoden’s vibrant ballet Stellar Matter, set to an orchestral suite from Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

The annual spring concert raises funds to support talented Meadows students through the Meadows Scholars Program. It also honors a community leader, and this year, the honoree is The Meadows Foundation, which has supported SMU and Dallas for more than five decades. The event also kicks off the school’s 50th anniversary celebration; it was in 1969 that SMU’s School of the Arts was renamed Meadows School of the Arts in honor of Algur H. Meadows. The honorary chairs are Linda and Bill Custard, and the event chair is Stacey McCord. SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Algur H. Meadows Dean Samuel Holland will provide remarks at the event.

The concert opens with Ueyama’s Heroes, a work for 12 dancers, including guest artist and alumnus Albert Drake, that combines powerful athleticism and delicate gestures drawn from the choreographer’s Japanese heritage. It is set to composer John Adams’ 1985 work The Chairman Dances, an imagined foxtrot for Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and his bride, Chiang Ch’ing, which Adams called a warmup to his opera Nixon in China. Ueyama, a former Paul Taylor dancer, has created a piece that he said honors the dedication and perseverance of citizens who played a crucial role in Japan’s recovery after World War II and are driving its success today. Ueyama has won multiple awards for his choreography, which has been inspired by the beauty in nature, the duality of darkness and light in the universal human condition and the humanity and compassion in day-to-day living.

The program continues with A Rhapsody in Blue, set to George Gershwin’s famous 1924 composition combining jazz rhythms and classical music. Award-winning choreographer Alexander Sanchez, known for his work both on and off Broadway, has created a new group work that follows the narrative of two young immigrants arriving in New York in the 1920s to pursue the American dream. Sanchez, who has directed and choreographed for numerous New York and regional theaters, was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 artists to watch” in 2016 and has been praised by critics for works that are “whimsical,” “spectacular” and “wildly ingenious.” 

Concluding the program is Stellar Matter by Dwight Rhoden, co-founder and co-artistic director of New York City-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet, set to three of the seven movements from Gustav Holst’s The Planets – Mars, Uranus and Jupiter (1914-16). Holst said the pieces were suggested by the astrological significance of the planets. Rhoden has created an abstract interpretation of the composition, describing it as combining “the power and strength of Mars, the illusion and deception of Uranus, and the vibrancy and liveliness of Jupiter.” Complexions Contemporary Ballet has received numerous awards, including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award, and has toured the globe. Celebrated for his choreography and wide-ranging collaborations with well-known dance artists, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for Complexions and for numerous other major companies, earning distinction from The New York Times as “one of the most sought-out choreographers of the day.”

“Meadows at the Winspear is the pinnacle of our performance season,” said Samuel Holland, dean of the Meadows School. “We are thrilled to share the talents of our gifted dance and music students in world premieres by these three extraordinary choreographers. We are grateful for the support this concert provides for the Meadows Scholars Program, the impact of which can be measured by rising academic achievement, artistry and diversity with each incoming class. We are especially proud this year to commemorate our 50th anniversary and to celebrate the civic and cultural contributions of The Meadows Foundation to SMU and to Dallas.”

 

The Meadows Foundation: Supporting SMU and Dallas since 1948

The Meadows Foundation is a private philanthropic institution established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows from wealth accumulated through the General American Oil Company, once among the largest private oil and gas companies in the United States. The Foundation exists to assist people and institutions of Texas to improve the quality and circumstances of life for themselves and future generations. The Foundation strives to exemplify the principles of its founder in addressing basic human needs; protecting the environment; providing cultural enrichment; encouraging excellence; and promoting understanding and cooperation among people. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $1.2 billion in grants and direct charitable expenditures to more than 3,500 Texas institutions and agencies. The Meadows Foundation grants funds in the areas of arts and culture, civic and public affairs, education, health and human services.

The Meadows Foundation traces its historic partnership with SMU back to the early 1960s, when Algur Meadows, an avid art collector, donated his Spanish art collection to SMU in honor of Virginia after her passing, along with a $1 million endowment to create the Virginia Meadows Museum within the Owen Arts Center. Mr. Meadows later donated his collection of sculptures by contemporary Italian artists to SMU to establish the Elizabeth Meadows Sculpture Garden, named in honor of his second wife. The museum and garden opened in the Owen Arts Center in 1965. He also gave a $10 million gift to the SMU School of the Arts, and in gratitude, the SMU Board of Trustees renamed the school Meadows School of the Arts in 1969.

The Meadows Foundation has continued its generous support of initiatives and causes across SMU over the decades, and in 2015 announced a gift of $45 million to the Meadows School and the Meadows Museum – the largest single gift in SMU’s history. The momentous gift made the Foundation the only entity to provide SMU more than $100 million in financial resources to a singular area of focus: the education and promotion of the arts.

 

The Meadows Scholars Program: Bringing the best and brightest to Dallas

The annual Meadows at the Winspear concert provides important funding for the Meadows Scholars Program, inaugurated in 2008 to recruit the brightest and most talented students nationwide to the Meadows School of the Arts. It is targeted to applicants who are accepted to Meadows and who meet both stringent academic and artistic/leadership criteria. While such high achievers often 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 an exploration grant that can be used any time during their years at Meadows for a creative project, providing a significant incentive for them to choose SMU and Dallas. Now in its eleventh year, the program has supported the academic careers of more than 200 students.

Ticket and sponsorship information

Tickets to the Meadows at the Winspear concert are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $17 for students and SMU faculty and staff. A $10 discount is available for Meadows subscribers. For subscriber tickets, contact the Meadows box office at 214-768-2787. For general tickets, visit TicketDFW.com or call 214-871-5000. For additional information, visit smu.edu/winspear.

Patron and corporate sponsorships with special benefits and seating packages are available from $2,500 to $15,000.  In addition, Meadows recognizes those who either permanently endow a Meadows Scholar at $150,000 or who make a $30,000 commitment to fund a scholarship over four years. For more information, call the Meadows Development Office at 214-768-4189.

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