Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DOCA Announces 2008 Recipients of MAYOR'S AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS - Free community reception February 18

(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs and Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce the 2008 recipients of the Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.  The 2008 honorees are Charles Burrell, Denver Young Artists Orchestra, Su Teatro and The Bloomsbury Review.   In addition, the Mayor's Cultural Legacy Award will be presented to Noël Congdon.  More information on the honorees is included below.  
The 2008 Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts reception will be held on Wednesday, February 18,2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.) at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th St. & Curtis St.  Mayor Hickenlooper will present the awards to the honorees at the event.  The public is invited to attend this free community celebration.  Seating will be first-come, first-served; no RSVP necessary. 
Performances for the evening will include: Rocky Mountain Children's Choir, Sweet Edge Dance Company and Purnell Steen & Le Jazz Machine. 
Since 1986, the Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts annually recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the arts in the City and County of Denver
2008 Awardees:
Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts
Charles Burrell
Growing up in Detroit, jazz and classical bassist Charles Burrell fell in love with music early.  "I wanted to be the first Black to play in a major orchestra so my Black brothers would have someplace to go," stated Burrell.  His first bass teacher, principal bassist of the Detroit Symphony, agreed to teach him on the condition that he promise not to play the classics.  He practiced the forbidden pieces at home. 
Burrell attended the New England Conservatory of Music before serving for four years in the Navy.  He later completed his degree requirements at Wayne State University in Detroit, only to be told by the Administrator for the Detroit School System that a Black would not teach music there as long as he was Administrator. 
Burrell came to Denver in 1949 to pursue his teaching certification.  He joined the Denver Symphony shortly thereafter, helping to break the color barrier for orchestras nationwide.  Burrell set a musical standard of excellence for himself and others, mentoring many, including family members George Duke and Dianne Reeves to successful careers. 
At 88 years old, Burrell continues to share his gift with the people of Denver
Denver Young Artists Orchestra
Denver Young Artists Orchestra (DYAO) was founded in 1977 and has become one of the country's leading youth orchestras.  DYAO's mission is to provide the finest possible youth orchestra programs, inspiring and educating young musicians through the performance of great works of music and offering valuable cultural opportunities to the community. 
DYAO's Music Director is Scott O'Neil, associate conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.  DYAO's more than 170 musicians form three ensembles, DYAO, the Conservatory Orchestra, and the String Ensemble.  Members range in age from 8 to 23, and represent over 60 schools from across Colorado.   Each season DYAO presents seven concerts in venues such as Boettcher Concert Hall. 
DYAO is Colorado's only youth orchestra to perform "side-by-side" with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.  Additionally, DYAO has performed numerous international concert tours, most recently toArgentina in 2007.  Alumni of DYAO have matured into performing with prestigious orchestral organizations such as the Chicago and Boston Symphonies. 
DYAO has a strong commitment to reach out to the community through a variety of outreach programs, including providing free tickets to senior centers, schools and nonprofit organizations.  Last year DYAO reached nearly 10,000 people through its combined activities. 
Su Teatro
Su Teatro was formed in 1972 in a University of Colorado classroom and quickly became an important artistic arm of the Chicano self-identity and civil rights movement of the time.  Su Teatro is the third oldest Chicano theater company still in existence—after Teatro Campesino and Teatro Esperanza—and has been recognized as a significant force in both the Chicano arts aesthetic and American Theater.  Su Teatro's mission is to create, produce and promote theater and other art that celebrates the experiences, history, language and heritage of Latinos in the U.S. and the Americas
In 1989, Su Teatro emerged as the larger cultural arts center, El Centro Su Teatro.  They expanded their offerings to include annual projects such as the XicanIndie FilmFest: Latino World Cinema, Neruda Poetry Festival, which includes the Barrio Slam competition, St. Cajetan's Reunification Project, Chicano Music Festival and Auction and a multi-tiered arts education program called the Cultural Arts Institute. 
The organization is poised to expand once again with the purchase of a new space on Santa Fe Drive inDenver's historic Westside neighborhood.  Though the organization continuously experiments with form and content, Su Teatro remains committed to education, social justice and community enrichment.
The Bloomsbury Review
The Bloomsbury Review (TBR) is a book magazine based in Denver, published since 1980 and distributed across the U.S. and Canada
Tom Auer had the idea for the magazine when he was a student at DU in the 1970s working in a bookstore/pool hall by the campus.  There he had the opportunity to read many excellent books that no one had ever heard of and did not buy.  Auer decided to publish a review of these books featuring new and underappreciated writers from small, large, regional, and university presses.  Over the years, TBR has been blessed to have friends, volunteers and interns, many long-standing, who come together in a wonderful, ever-changing synergy to produce this magazine. 
Tom, sadly, died in 2001 at the age of 50—but the Auer family and his extended literary family, always involved and supportive, continue his dream.  The community he created and that we celebrate spans the world in terms of writers, readers and reviewers, but its heart has always been in the independent spirit of the American West.
Mayor's Cultural Legacy Award
Noël Congdon
For more than 40 years, Noël Congdon has played a leadership role in the growth of both the fine and performing arts in Colorado.  Her work has transformed the physical cultural infrastructure in the city ofDenver, helping to create the vibrant cultural landscape enjoyed by today's citizens.
Congdon was an energetic backer of the Trident Theatre's pioneering efforts to establish a permanent, professional repertory company in Denver.  In the 1980s she served on the Advisory Council of the Denver Center Theater Company.  She joined the Board of Opera Colorado at its inception, continuing in this capacity for 20 years. 
Involved in community development for more than a decade, Congdon is a past director of the Westside Economic Development Corporation.  She served as a consultant to the Downtown Denver Partnership on the 16th St. Mall project. 
Congdon chaired the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale from 1979 to 1985.  She also chaired the then Denver Commission on Art, Culture and Film (now Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs) under both  Mayors Webb and Hickenlooper, as well as serving as a trustee of the Denver Civic Arts Foundation, spearheading the commission of some of the city's most beloved works of public art.  In addition, Congdon was a trustee of the Aspen Music Festival and school for 12 years and chair from 1996 to 2000.
Noël and Tom Congdon have two daughters and four grandchildren.