A $470,000 grant awarded to the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State - the largest in its 26-year history - will benefit the university and specifically the Penn State Altoona campus.
The grant was given by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which provides money to causes like higher education, museum and art conservation and the performing arts. A three-year classical music program will be set into motion in the upcoming 2011-12 season.
"We are extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this significant vote of confidence in our work and for the exciting project we will now be able to undertake thanks to their support," said George Trudeau, director of the Center for the Performing Arts. "This grant will allow us to build upon our distinguished history of classical music programming with a project that will deepen the connection between our classical music programs and our university. It will also provide the community we serve with greater opportunities to enjoy and participate in classical music programs and educational presentations."
Along with plans for a residency program and enhanced curriculum partnerships, the grant money will foster a Penn State Altoona project, which will install a greater link between Altoona and University Park in their entertainment and educational opportunities for the arts.
Trudeau said there is already a relationship like this with the dance program at Penn State Altoona, where students can come take master classes at University Park and dance representatives have been brought to the commonwealth campus.
"It just seemed natural to build on that relationship," he said about extending this to the music program.
Trudeau said the hope is that participants in the new program also will continue with their involvement when they change assignment to University Park.
"Certainly, Altoona has a very good arts scene, but we see this as complementing what's already happening there," he added.
Trudeau has been working with Altoona faculty members to develop the program, including lecturer of music Dr. Timothy Melbinger.
Melbinger said this tighter bond between the two campuses makes sense, since Penn State Altoona sends the most students into the theater program than any other commonwealth campus.
Because of the new program, Penn State Altoona students will soon have a chance to see classical music acts even before they come to University Park, Melbinger said. They will be able to take part in a sort of lecture concert, where they can see the performers in an intimate setting and engage in discussion.
When these students are then reassigned to University Park, they will be tracked to see if they also attend the same performer's show there the next year.
"Hopefully, they'll say 'Hey I heard that group before,' and maintain that interest," Melbinger said.
The best outcome of this new program is that students will become interested in more than just that specific ensemble and utilize all of the things each campus has to offer, Melbinger said.
To also promote interdisciplinary endeavors, Melbinger said that they will try to get students of multiple backgrounds involved.
"If the performers are playing Beethoven, we will make a pitch to the students studying German or classical literature or art history," he said.
Melbinger said he is thankful for the Mellon Foundation's grant, and that it will benefit Penn State Altoona specifically.
"We've seen our guest performer funding diminish in recent years," he said. "So this is a step forward."
Staff writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520