URBANA – Krannert Center for the Performing Arts recently received some good news, particularly in these financially difficult times.
As part of a consortium with two other major university arts-presenting organizations, Krannert will share an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award of $1.9 million for presenting classical musical artists and creating public-engagement activities connected to their performances.
The other consortium members are Cal Performances at the University of California-Berkeley and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan.
Krannert public information director Bridget Lee-Calfas said the UI performing arts center will use the grant money to help support classical music programming starting in the fall of 2010. The Mellon Foundation said each of the three university organizations will receive the money through June 2013 and are to find ways to strengthen the impact of the grants beyond the three-year term. The foundation also awarded an additional $100,000 to the consortium to support collaborative activities, including commissioning.
The three university organizations also are to work with the Mellon Foundation to host a summit on the future of classical music presenting in higher education.
"With these grants, the Mellon Foundation recognizes the convergence of economic stressors currently at play, which have presented unprecedented challenges to the three organizations with their commitment to preserving classical-music offerings as a defining attribute of their programs," the foundation said in a news release.
Krannert Center Director Mike Ross said in a news release:
"I am deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this extraordinary support which will enable Krannert Center ... to extend its ambitious commitment to excellence in classical-music programming and related educational engagement efforts at a moment of protracted financial challenge.
"I am also thankful for the support this grant represents in its commitment to living composers and in elevating the national dialogue surrounding classical music in contemporary society."
The three university arts presenters, all part of leading public-research universities, have long showcased the world's major classical artists and ensembles while championing emerging artists, the Mellon Foundation noted.
For example, Krannert will present on April 10 Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who became a classical-music superstar 10 years ago after performing as a last-minute substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Among others who will perform at Krannert this spring are violinist Joshua Bell, April 15; soprano Frederica VonStade, in her farewell season, on Feb. 11; and the San Francisco Symphony, with Michael Tilson Thomas as conductor, on March 18.
The three university presenters also have been leaders in the areas of developing partnerships with academic and community colleagues to boost classical music and in commissioning new music and other art forms associated with classical music, the Mellon Foundation said.
Since opening in 1969, Krannert Center has become the nation's premiere university-based performing arts complex; it was designed by architect Max Abramovich, who designed part of Lincoln Center in New York. Krannert, at 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U, has four indoor theaters, a club-style lobby stage, an amphitheater, a full array of production shops, a cafe and a gift shop. Each year it hosts 100 student and faculty performances, 60 to 70 visiting artists and 100 related activities for the public. Its fiscal year 2010 budget is around $10 million.