JUST IN: The Dallas Opera’s GM/CEO Keith Cerny Resigns To Head Up Calgary Opera

Keith and Jennifer Cerny (File photo)

The Dallas Opera‘s GM/CEO Keith Cerny has just turned in his resignation to take over the position of general director/CEO of Calgary Opera in January.

During his seven-and-a-half years with the Dallas company, Keith presided over five consecutive balanced operating budgets and a host of artistic projects, expansions, and technical innovations.  These include a highly-successful simulcast program; regional, U.S. and world premieres; and innovative community outreach programs.  

According to Dallas Opera Board Chair Holly Mayer, “Keith has every reason to be proud of his legacy. We wish him every success with his new responsibilities as we turn our efforts to maintaining this company’s impressive forward momentum and strengthening the collaborations with other arts organizations that have marked Keith’s tenure here in Dallas.”

Dallas’ loss is Calgary’s gain.

JUST IN: 2017 Obelisk Award Recipients And Keynote Speaker Announced For Business Council For The Arts Fundraising Luncheon

Steven Roth and Thai-Ian Tran*

Obelisk Award Luncheon Co-Chairs Thai-Ian Tran and Steve Roth have just announced the luncheon keynote speaker and the recipients of the 2017 Obelisk Awards that is annually presented by Business Council For The Arts.

Addressing the group of art lovers will be Nasher Haemisegger Fellow for the National Center for Arts Research and former Brooklyn Academy of Music President Karen Brooks Hopkins.

As for the Obelisk Awardees, this year’s collection of outstanding art supporters are:  

  • The Arts Partnership Award recognizes businesses that have provided sustained support to an arts/cultural organization for three or more years.
    • Large Business (more than 500 employees locally) — Target nominated by Nasher Sculpture Center.
    • Medium Business (between 50 and 500 employees locally) — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Richardson nominated by AIR (Arts Incubator of Richardson).
    • Small Business (fewer than 50 employees locally) — Angelika Film Center – Dallas nominated by Video Association of Dallas
  • The New Initiatives Award recognizes businesses for supporting an innovative arts/cultural program created within the past three years.
    • Large Business (more than 500 employees locally) — Corgan nominated by Creative Arts Center
    • Medium Business (between 50-500 employees locally) — West Village nominated by: Dallas Film Society
    • Small Business (fewer than 50 employees locally) — C.C. Communications, LLC nominated by Esta Raza No Se Raja

Nancy Carlson (File photo)

Keith Cerny (File photo)

  • The Distinguished Cultural Organization Award is given to recognize one outstanding nonprofit organization for a project or program that has enhanced the community through partnership with a business. — The Cliburn nominated by The Arts Council of Fort Worth/Neiman Marcus
  • The Business Champion for the Arts Award recognizes long-term leadership and commitment to arts/culture by a business executive (president, CEO, partner). — Nancy Carlson nominated by TACA
  • The Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader Award recognizes an arts leader who has consistently demonstrated vision, impact, innovation, and successful alignment with business and community partners throughout their tenure. — Keith Cerny nominated by Deutsche Bank Trust Co., NA/ Deutsche Bank Wealth Management.
  • The Arts Education Award recognizes one outstanding business for its support of arts education programs. — Neiman Marcus Group nominated by Big Thought and Dallas Black Dance Theater
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing lifetime advancement of the arts. — Ask Me About Art/Gail Sachson nominated by Carolyn Brown Photography
  • The Community Champion Award recognizing community arts advancement — Kathy Litinas nominated by Allen Arts Alliance

According to Business Council For The Arts CEO Katherine Wagner, “This year’s Obelisk honorees reflect the significant growth of the arts regionally – a fact underscored in our recent economic impact study, showing that the nonprofit arts and culture sector has now reached an impact of $1.5 billion annually in North Texas.”

Katherine Wagner (File photo)

Mary Anne Alhadeff (File photo)

Ryan Anthony (File photo)

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, November 15, at Belo Mansion with returnees KERA President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff as emcee and Dallas Symphony Orchestra Principal Trumpet Ryan Anthony onstage.

Tickets start at $150 and are available here!

* Photo provided by Business Council For The Arts

From An Olympian Gold Medalist To An Opera CEO, The Awards Of Excellence Celebrated A Wide Range Of Achievers

One of the favorite award luncheons of the fall season is the Dallas Historical Society‘s Awards for Excellence. Just the week before Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 17, the lovers of Dallas history and those who help make it all come true were at the Fairmont for the handing out of awards and the legendary A.C. Greene champagne toast. Here’s a report from the field:

The Board of Trustees of the Dallas Historical Society, with Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas, PhD and Robert Hyer Thomas and co-chairs Veletta Forsythe Lill and Mary Suhm, welcomed over 650 attendees to the 35th Awards for Excellence (AFE) in Community Service luncheon on Thursday, November 17, at the Fairmont Dallas.

May Suhm, Amy Aldredge and Veletta Forsythe Lill*

As attendees arrived and took their seats, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas welcomed everyone to the 35th annual celebration, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated generosity of spirit, civic leadership, and ability to encourage community-wide participation in a particular phase of the growth of the city. He then welcomed Reverend Richie Butler, senior pastor of St Paul United Methodist Church, for the invocation. 

Following the invocation, guests enjoyed a first course of spring pea and ham soup en croute with mint cream, followed by roasted chicken breast with demi glace served with old school stacked potatoes, arugula and carrot cardamom puree. Thomas returned to introduce Co-Chairs Veletta and Mary.

Bob and Gail Thomas*

Ms. Lill and Ms. Suhm expressed their gratitude to attendees, event sponsors and the luncheon committee for their support of this year’s Awards for Excellence, particularly Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas and Robert Hyer Thomas. Applauding the couple’s many contributions to Dallas, including their long-standing support of the Dallas Historical Society, the co-chairs announced that two special books would be donated in the Thomas’ honor to the G.B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State: for Bob, Darwin Payne‘s “One Hundred Years On The Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University” and for Gail:  the late historian A. C. Greene‘s “A Town Called Cedar Springs” for creating the sense of community from the many former historic villages that now comprise Greater Dallas.

Dallas Historical Society Board of Trustees Chair Bill Helmbrecht then took the podium recognizing event co-chairs and honorary chairs as well as Amy Aldredge, the Dallas Historical Society’s recently appointed executive director. Additionally, he thanked Arrangements Chair Shannon Callewart, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas, AFE Coordinator Louise Caldwell, Caro Stalcup and Staff Liaison Nora Lenhart for all the dedicated hours they put in to making the event a success.

He also shared the impact the Dallas Historical Society makes with its holdings of over three million archives and artifacts related to Dallas and Texas history, its exhibits and events, including two upcoming exhibits, “Polly Smith: A Texas Journey” and “Drawing Power: The Editorial Art of John Knott” and its education and public programs which reach approximately 20,000 area school students annually.

As dessert of caramel pecan cheesecake with salted caramel and Texas pecans was served, Stewart returned to recognize the 2016 Awards for Excellence in Community Service recipients.  Each recipient was presented with their award by co-chairs Lill and Suhm.  

Keith Cerny, Holly Mayer and Emmanuel Villaume*

Anita Martinez, Eliseo Garcia and Patricia Meadows*

Richard Stanford and Pat Mattingly*

Hugh Aynesworth and Pierce Allman*

2016 Awards for Excellence recipients:

    • Arts Leadership – Keith Cerny, general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera
    • Business – Leonard M. Riggs Jr. M.D., noted Dallas civic leader who began his career as an emergency physician, became chief of emergency medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, and later founded the precursor of EmCare, Inc.
    • Creative Arts – Eliseo Garcia, international multi-media sculptor
    • Education – Pat Mattingly, long-time educator and former 26-year director of The Lamplighter School
    • History – Hugh Aynesworth, award-winning journalist and writer
    • Humanities – Molly Bogen, retired 40-year director of Senior Source
    • Medical Research – Eric Olson, renowned molecular biologist specializing at UT Southwestern Medical Center
    • Philanthropy – Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation
    • Sports Leadership – Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time World Championship gold medalist
    • Volunteer Community Leadership – Philip C. Henderson, architect and urban visionary and first president of the Friends of the Katy Trail
    • Volunteer Community Leadership – Frederick “Shad” Rowe, co-founder of GIBI Investment Symposium and advocate and board member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation
    • Jubilee History Maker – Margot Perot, community volunteer and philanthropist

Nancy Shelton and Molly Bogen*

David Dunnagan and Linda Perryman Evans*

Glenn Solomon, Louise Caldwell and Michael Johnson*

Shad Rowe and Willing Ryan*

Carol Montgomery and Margot Perot*

After the awards presentation, champagne was served to all attendees as well as recipients on stage. Stewart returned to the podium, with glass in hand, to conclude with the event’s traditional A.C. Greene toast:  “Would everyone who was born in Dallas, please stand up.  Would everyone who was born in Texas, please stand up. We toast the rest of you – who were smart enough to move here as fast as you could! Here! Here!”

The A.C. Greene toast*

As the event concluded, the Judy Moore Duo played the event’s signature song, “Big D” from the musical, “Most Happy Fella.”

Proceeds from the annual fundraiser support the Dallas Historical Society and its dedication to the preservation of Dallas and Texas history through its many programs, including educational outreach and public programs.

* Photo credit: Steve Foxall

JUST IN: Dallas Historical Society’s Awards For Excellence Recipients Announced

What a great way to start off the week. The Dallas Historical Society just sent word of the  2016 Awards for Excellence in Community Service recipients. Yipee! They hit it out of the park again with a terrific roll call of peeps that if you didn’t know, you should. The honorees will be:

Molly Bogen (File photo)

Molly Bogen (File photo)

Linda Perryman Evans (File photo)

Linda Perryman Evans (File photo)

Keith Cerny (File photo)

Keith Cerny (File photo)

Hugh Aynesworth File photo)

Hugh Aynesworth File photo)

  • Arts Leadership (This award is given to that individual who has enriched the cultural life of Dallas as planner, organizer, fundraiser, collector or art historian.) – Keith Cerny
  • Business (This award is given to that individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the business climate of the community.) – Leonard M. Riggs Jr. M.D.
  • Creative Arts (This award is given to that individual whose prominence as a practitioner of the fine arts as artisan, architect, writer, composer, producer or performer has enriched the cultural environment of Dallas.) – Eliseo Garcia
  • Education (This award is given to that individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the field of education as a teacher, administrator or benefactor.) – Pat Mattingly
  • History (This award is given to that individual who has researched and chronicled aspects of the history of Dallas and Texas as a historian, journalist, researcher, folklorist or author.) – Hugh Aynesworth
  • Humanities (This award is given to that individual whose active sense of civic duty has provided leadership in achieving specific community goals.) – Molly Bogen
  • Medical Research (This award is given to that individual who has made an outstanding contribution through prominence or public service in medicine, scientific research, the behavioral sciences or public health.) – Dr. Eric Olson
  • Philanthropy (This award is given to that individual whose vision and personal generosity has greatly benefited this city.) – Linda Perryman Evans
  • Sports Leadership (This award is given to that individual who has brought distinction or achievement to team or individual sports as an athlete, coach, journalist, promoter or sports advocate.) – Michael Johnson
  • Volunteer Community Leadership (This award is given to that individual whose generous gift of self has enriched the community.) – Philip C. Henderson
  • Volunteer Community Leadership (This award is given to that individual whose generous gift of self has enriched the community.) – Frederick “Shad” Rowe
  • Jubilee History Maker (Created in 1991 and given in recognition of “Jubilee Dallas!,” this award recognizes an individual whose achievements extend to more than one of the award categories.) – Margot Perot
Mary Suhm (File photo)

Mary Suhm (File photo)

Veletta Lill (File photo)

Veletta Lill (File photo)

Bob and Gail Thomas (File photo)

Bob and Gail Thomas (File photo)

2016 Awards For Excellence in Community Service Luncheon Co-Chairs Mary Suhm and Veltta Lill are joined by former Awards recipients Gail and Bob Thomas as 2016 honorary co-chairs for the Thursday, November 17, luncheon at the Fairmont Dallas.

According to Dallas Historical Society Chairman of the Board of Directors William C. Helmbrecht III, “The Dallas History Society is honored to recognize this class of notable award recipients. Their service to the community in their varied fields has contributed greatly to the history of the city.”

If you don’t know one of these folks, here’s your opportunity to meet, greet and get to know ‘em.

Plans Announced For The Dallas Opera’s First Sight First Night As Part Of Its 60th Anniversary

Leave it to The Dallas Opera types to get ahead of the heat of summer. Word has it that DO General Director/CEO Keith Cerny and his team got those music loving Winspears (i.e. Ellen and Don) to chair this fall’s First Sight First Night fundraising for the DO’s 60th anniversary.

Ellen and Don Winspear and Jennifer and Keith Cerny (File photo)

Ellen and Don Winspear and Jennifer and Keith Cerny (File photo)

Gee, it was three years before Don was even born and such names as Elsa von Seggern, Larry Kelly and John Ardoin were mainstays along with Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr. in making arias the hip of hop of Dallas sounds back then.

But there’s more to the reveal. Joyce and Harvey Mitchell will be the honorary co-chairs.

Tiffany Divis (File photo)

Tiffany Divis (File photo)

Kara Goss (File photo)

Kara Goss (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

More good news! NorthPark will be the presenting sponsor for the First Sight Luncheon Fashion Show that will be returning to the Winspear on Thursday, October 27, with fashions gloriously provided by NorthPark’s Versace, of course. The luncheon co-chairs will be the willowy fashion-loving trio of Tiffany Divis, Kara Goss and Rhonda Marcus.

Of course, there will be the designer highlights, but those details are forthcoming.

Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk (File photo)

Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk (File photo)

As for the black-tie goings on, Matrice Ellis-Kirk and Ron Kirk will co-chair the cocktails, dinner, opera — “Eugene Onegin” —and after-party with Hunter Sullivan providing the non-operatic tunes. That will all take place on Friday, October 28, at the Winspear. The evening’s festivities are being presented thanks to Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management.

As for the vittles, the Wolfgang Puck crew will be in charge for both the luncheon and dinner.

Before heading to Pilates, why not get your tickets now?

JUST IN: Margaret McDermott’s And The Eugene McDermott Foundation’s $2M Gifts Result In The “Kern Wildenthal General Director And CEO” Position

There’s a theory that bad news is announced on Fridays. Well, The Dallas Opera is turning the tables on that way of thinking. Word has just been sent that philanthropist Margaret McDermott and The Eugene McDermott Foundation have made “two extraordinary new gifts, totaling $2 million” to the Opera.

Margaret McDermott (File photo)

Margaret McDermott (File photo)

In making the gifts, the request was made and approved “that the position of Dallas Opera General Director and CEO to [be] known henceforth as the ‘Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO’ in honor of the longtime Dallas Opera Board Member and Past Chairman.”

According to McDermott Foundation President Mary McDermott Cook, “The Eugene McDermott Foundation is delighted to be able to show its passion for the Greater Dallas community, as well as for the arts, through this gift made in honor of Kern Wildenthal. Kern has earned the admiration—not only of our foundation and our family—but of the arts, medical and academic communities in Dallas and throughout the country. His insightful leadership, integrity, and decades of exemplary service to a variety of causes have contributed greatly to our community.

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal (File photo)

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal (File photo)

“I think this is the perfect way to acknowledge Dr. Wildenthal’s continuing influence on the life of this city while providing an even brighter future for opera and the arts in Dallas.”

According to The Dallas Opera, it was during Kern’s serving as chairman of The Dallas Opera Board of Directors from 2008 to 2012 that the following took place:

  • “Guided the company’s October 2009 move into the Winspear Opera House after more than 50 years of performances in the Music Hall at Fair Park
  • “Served as the principal negotiator of a $10 million matching challenge to build the company’s endowment, personally securing 6-and 7-figure gifts and devoting countless hours to the task of completing the match, which quintupled the endowment from $5 million to $25 million
  • “Acted as a strong advocate for The Dallas Opera in the community, recruiting numerous patrons, supporters and board members from among business leaders and Dallas’ philanthropic community
  • “Played a leading role in the recruitment of Keith Cerny as TDO’s General Director and CEO (in 2010)”

According Keith, Kern agreed to serve a second consecutive term as Chairman of the Board, in order to provide stability and continuity to the company, and to support my transition into my new role.

“I shall always be grateful to Kern for putting the company’s needs first during that critical time and for his role in securing major gifts for general operations to deal with a significant deficit in our second year in our new home.

“Together with the Board, we restructured The Dallas Opera season schedule and successfully addressed significant cost increases, while simultaneously developing strategies to attract new and more diverse audiences. Ultimately, this led to a dramatic expansion of our education programs—reaching tens of thousands of students each year—and an ongoing program of free simulcasts which, so far, have entertained more than 60,000 people.”

Needless to say, the list of Kern’s accomplishments and leadership positions is longer than the lineup for the opening of the latest “Star Wars” movie. If you want to send a “Congratulations” note to Kern, he’s heading up the Children Medical Center Foundation.

What a simply lovely way to kick off the weekend.

For a full read of the release, just follow the jump! [Read more…]

JUST IN: The Dallas Opera Board Extends Contracts Of Key Leaders Until 2022

Just as the season was transitioning into the uber-giving season, word arrived that The Dallas Opera has given a big couple of gifts to the artistic community of Dallas. The Dallas Opera Board extended the contracts of General Director/CEO Keith Cerny and Musical Director Emanuel Villaume to June 30, 2022.

Keith Cerny and Emmanuel Villaume*

Keith Cerny and Emmanuel Villaume*

According to Board Chair Steve Suellentrop, “Over the past five years, Keith Cerny has demonstrated exemplary leadership… Working closely with the Board, Keith has also played a major role in achieving three consecutive balanced budgets – the first time in fifteen years that The Dallas Opera has achieved this result.

“Music Director Emmanuel Villaume has accomplished a great deal in his first two years with the company.  In addition to conducting several outstanding productions, he has made Dallas his musical home; using his considerable intelligence and charm to forge extremely positive relationships with the community, our Board, and our supporters.”

Congrats to the Cerny and Villaume households and The Dallas Opera’s board for this “let’s keep the right team together.”

* Photo credit: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera

Dallas Opera Scores Points By Sharing Emmanuel Villaume With The Prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation

Was it just a year-and-a-half ago that charming Emmanuel Villaume was named the Dallas Opera Music Director? Leave it to Keith Cerny to spot and snatch a winner! In the opera world, the DO was showing its stuff by landing the Frenchman.

Emmanuel Villaume (File photo)

Emmanuel Villaume (File photo)

But along with the giddiness of having Emmanuel comes a need to be big enough to share. And that’s what’s happened.

Emmanuel was slated to conduct the season’s opening opera, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. However…well, let’s let Keith’s memo explain the situation:

“Emmanuel was engaged to conduct Le nozze more than two years ago, but when the chance arose for him to take the podium at the prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s once-a-year gala in New York, we bent over backwards to make that possible.  Rehearsals here in Dallas are currently in the capable hands of our Assistant Conductor Keith Chambers, along with Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty, who is already stirring things up with his lively staging of this delightful period piece.

“We are thrilled that Emmanuel Villaume will be able to enjoy this moment in the spotlight, and The Dallas Opera also celebrates his remarkable achievements.  Bravo, Maestro!”

JUST IN: The Dallas Opera Has Its New Music Director — Emmanuel Villaume

Emmanuel Villaume

Emmanuel Villaume

The Dallas Opera General Director/CEO Keith Cerny arrived at work this morning with a big smile on his face. He had good reason. After months of searching, he revealed TDO’s new music director — Emmanuel Villaume.

Scott Cantrell

Scott Cantrell

While media artistic types like Lawson Taitte, Scott Cantrell, Peter Simek et al were focused on the maestro’s musical abilities and experience, the fundraising segment of the press immediately were nodding approval at the Hermes-tie wearing conductor’s ability to “work the room.” And this factor was part of Keith’s priority list in finding his new music director.

According to Keith, “The Music Director’s role encompasses three vital elements. One, of course is to conduct main-stage performances for the company, at least two productions per year. The second is to work closely with me and members of the company’s artistic staff, on artistic planning, auditions, and other major musical decisions. The third is to spend time in the North Texas community — meeting donors and community leaders, and helping the Dallas Opera to achieve the highest possible levels of artistry and impact.”

It was pretty obvious from Emmanuel’s interaction with the media this morning that the 49-year-old will have no problems fulfilling the #3 requirement. There is a refreshing candor, charm and mischievous sense of humor about him and he’s already got a full agenda this week. Just a couple of the dates include dining with the top TDO friends like TDO Board of Directors Chair Peter Townsend and lunching with Margaret McDermott.

In its 56-year history, Emmanuel is only TDO’s third music director, following Nicola Rescigno (1957-1990) and Graeme Jenkins (1994-2013).

Emmanuel will make his official debut as TDO music director at the season’s opening performance of “Carmen” on Friday, October 25.

Dallas Opera new General Director has a Household of Musicians

It appears that the Dallas Opera’s new general director, Keith Cerny, is going to be calling the Park Cities home. Following yesterday’s press conference at the Winspear, eldest son Mathew was asked where he was going to go to school. He answered, “A high school in University Park.”

In addition to Mathew, Keith is bringing college sweetheart/wife Jennifer and their three other sons (pictured from the left, William, Nicholas, Michael, and Mathew with Jennifer).

HP band/orchestra be forewarned. These guys play more instruments than the Dallas Symphony.