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Grant to give boost to classical music at UT

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Boosting classical music's profile in the self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World" that's the goal behind a $450,000 grant awarded to the University of Texas' performing arts center, Texas Performing Arts, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, university officials will announce early this week.

The grant will fund a three-year initiative to increase classical music offerings and jump-start a series of residency programs for edgy classical musicians, commission new pieces by emerging composers and start a classical music task force that will be charged with developing strategies for increasing young audiences.

UT will match the Mellon Foundation's $450,000 with an equivalent amount to give the project a total of $900,000.

"The 'Live Music Capital' can be and should be a force for reviving live audiences for concert and 'art music,' as much as it is for popular and folk traditions," said Douglas Dempster, dean of the UT College of Fine Arts.

Already on the slate for the upcoming season is a commission to Austin composer Dan Welcher to write a string octet for the Miró Quartet, UT's string quartet in residence, and the visiting Shanghai Quartet.

In October, John Malkovich will star in the "The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer," a cutting-edge play with operatic interludes.

In March, avant-garde ensemble So Percussion will spend a week in residency at UT and give several public performances.

"(We hope) to inspire our community to appreciate classical music as a living, breathing, vibrant and ever-changing organism that has a remarkable capacity to respond to the needs of a fast-paced and progressive society," said Kathy Panoff, director of Texas Performing Arts.

jvanryzin@statesman.com; 445-3699