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Bienen School of Music Receives Two $1 Million Grants

The grants will fund the jazz program and webcasting of guest artist and student performances.

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November 4, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music has received two $1 million grants to support and enhance its educational and research missions.

One grant will fund guest musicians, public outreach and faculty performances in the field of jazz. The other will support the webcasting of guest artist and student performances and two-way master classes via Internet2. Internet2 is a not-for-profit advanced networking consortium comprised of more than 200 U.S. universities in cooperation with 70 leading corporations, a total of 45 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions of higher learning, and more than 50 international partner organizations.

A gift of $1 million from The Owen L. Coon Foundation will be used to establish The Owen L. Coon Jazz Fund, which will support guest jazz musicians and educators, student tours, community initiatives, faculty performances and lectures and symposia.

The gift honors Eleanor Coon Briggs, daughter of the late Owen L. Coon, for her great contributions to both her family and the Coon Foundation. The foundation seeks to foster communication between diverse groups of people. The foundation considers music, particularly jazz, an ideal bridge between people. It is the organization's hope that the gift will facilitate exchanges of ideas among guest musicians, educators and students of all backgrounds and perspectives.

A gift of $1 million to the Bienen School of Music from Mrs. Ruth Davee (a 1937 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a Bienen School of Music Advisory Board member) through The Davee Foundation will be used to name the Davee Distance Learning Initiative.

The Davee Foundation grant will enable the Bienen School to expand its activities and advance such programs as interactive two-way master classes broadcast via live Internet2 technologies, webcasts of performances and master classes, and digital archiving of all distance learning programs to students, faculty and the general public across the country and around the world.

Last year, there were 14 such events and this year that number will be increased. So far this fall, there have been six live webcasts scheduled and three point-to-point master classes. The live webcasts this fall include the jazz faculty, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a concert featuring all five of the University's choral ensembles (University Chorale, University Singers, University Chorus, University Women's Chorus and the Alice Millar Chapel Choir), a piano master class by Stephen Hough, winner the 2008 winner of the $50,000 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize, and two upcoming sessions with the renowned Guarneri String Quartet.

The Bienen School's continually growing "streaming library" (The Davee Streaming Library) already features master classes by renowned artists, including soprano Renée Fleming, clarinet virtuosos Philippe Cuper and Karl Leister, and pianist Richard Goode, the inaugural winner of the 2006 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance. Twenty-eight hours of the "Music From Northwestern" WFMT-FM radio series is also available.

To hear or view these previously recorded music events, visit the Bienen School's "streaming library" at http://www.pickstaiger.org and click the "Radio" or "Video" tabs.

Mrs. Davee also is a benefactor of the Bienen School's Evelyn Dunbar Memorial Early Music Festival and the Evelyn Dunbar Visiting Artist Series, both named in honor of her late sister.

"We are grateful for the financial support from The Owen L. Coon Foundation and The Davee Foundation," said Toni-Marie Montgomery, dean of the Bienen School of Music. "These gifts will assist the Bienen School of Music's jazz and distance learning programs to reach new levels of national recognition."