Endowment to support the performing arts established with matching gift opportunity this fall

Students playing instruments on the lawn at UAH.

UAH Department of Music holding Concert on the Lawn, April 16, 2021, featuring performances by UAH Choirs, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Dr. C. David Ragsdale, Professor and Chair of the Department of Music and Theatre at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, envisions a silver lining after a year clouded by a global pandemic.

“I hope we will have a cultural renaissance as a result of COVID,” Dr. Ragsdale says. “The arts are essential to our emotional well-being, and at no time have we felt that more than during this pandemic.”

His optimism grows as UAH announces the newly established Endowment to Support the Performing Arts, which recognizes the importance of investing in the arts and provides perpetual funding to UAH’s performing arts programs. In honor of its establishment, an anonymous donor is offering a matching gift up to $10,000 total for every dollar given between September 1 and December 3.

An endowment like this can help programs respond to changing circumstances like pandemics, but it can also help them grow strategically. While UAH’s music and theatre programs are planning more live events for this fall, Dr. Ragsdale emphasizes that they are ready for anything, due in large part to the advances they made in response to last year’s challenges. During the pandemic, UAH’s music and theatre programs turned to Zoom plays and multi-camera, high-definition broadcasts to stream live concerts and events; they intend to continue to offer remote access to its traditional events going forward. The Constellation Concert Series, for instance, will offer both in-person seating and online streaming access for each of its events this season as a means to accommodate audiences who enjoy the convenience of the virtual concert as well as those who enjoy the vitality of a live performance.

“The artistic endeavors of our students and faculty are too valuable to not share with the community,” says Dr. Ragsdale, “so we will continue to explore creative outlets for safe and effective performance – whether through Zoom, YouTube, livestream or live action.”

In late fall, music and theatre faculty and students will collaborate to bring a performance of the opera “Dido and Aeneas” to the stage. This one-hour, English-language opera by Henry Purcell tells the tragic love story of Dido, the queen of Carthage, and the Trojan hero, Aeneas. It will be the first collaboration between music and theatre since their 2019 production of the musical, “La Cage aux Folles.” “Dido” will be performed in the new Morton Hall Black Box Theatre November 12-20.

On December 2, music and theatre plan to present what has become a Huntsville holiday tradition, the eighth annual “Peace on Earth '' concert. This holiday spectacular, to be held at the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall at the Von Braun Center, will spotlight UAH’s music and theatre students, faculty and staff, the Huntsville Community Chorus Youth Chorale, and members of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. The hit a cappella ensemble Voctave will headline the show with tight harmonizations of Disney and holiday classics.

In addition to these collaborations, the UAH theatre program will produce the play “Our Town” in mid-October. This year’s Constellation Concert Series will offer a performance from UAH’s music faculty (Music with Friends), as well as a Tuvan Throat Singing performance by Alash, and a variety of special guest performances across a number of genres – from gospel to jazz to everything in between.

These plans for the upcoming season are bolstered by the Endowment to Support the Performing Arts and the matching gift. Dr. Ragsdale says this gift opportunity “couldn’t have come at a better time.” Growing the endowment affords the UAH performing arts programs dependable funding year after year, ensuring they can continue to produce events and reminding patrons and students of the important role the arts play in our lives.

“This gift highlights the value of music and theatre within the UAH and Huntsville communities,” Dr. Ragsdale says, “while underscoring for students that the arts are worthy of our financial, academic and artistic investment. We are so grateful for the endowment and the matching gift.”

If you, like countless others, found solace in the performing arts this last year, please consider investing in its future. When you make your gift to the Endowment to Support the Performing Arts between now and December 3, you can double your impact through the matching gift.




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