89.1 WEMU

creative:impact - Aaron Dworkin's Outstanding Service To The Arts Community

Jan 22, 2019

Aaron P. Dworkin
Credit Aaron P. Dworkin / Facebook

Aaron P. Dworkin is a force!  Hear his story of how he turned his personal experience as a young Black violinist, acutely aware of the lack of diversity both on stage and in the audience in concert halls into a movement -- but not before engaging his life partner Afa S. Dworkin.  Aaron tells his story this week with WEMU's David Fair and Arts Alliance CEO Deb Polich.  We'll hear Afa's on "creative:impact" next week.


Deb Polich, President and CEO of the Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

About The pARTy 2019

Awarded annually, The Arts Alliance Medals for Arts, Sciences & Humanities honor and celebrate the extraordinary contributions and accomplishments of artists, creatives, individuals who live, work or attend school in Washtenaw County, Michigan.  Medal recipients are celebrated for exemplary achievements in advancing the arts, sciences and humanities and increasing public awareness of the arts + creative industries in the greater Ann Arbor area and beyond.  Medalists make their mark through their leadership, philanthropy and accomplishments setting the standard for excellence and serving as the example for others to follow.

William Bolcom & Joan Morris - Lifetime Achievement Medal 2019

The Lifetime Achievement Medal is presented in recognition of outstanding and sustained artistic and creative accomplishments within the arts, sciences and/or humanities receiving national and or international acclaim.

Together, they are the duo Bolcom & Morris, recording 25 albums and delighting audiences across the world performing songs from the ragtime era to the end of the 20th century.  They are known as generous creative collaborators and, as faculty at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, have mentored the next generation of musicians and performers.  William (Bill) Bolcom is a composer of concertos, sonatas, operas, symphonies, cabaret songs and much more.  National Medal of the Arts, Pulitzer Prize, Grammy Award, Composer of the Year are but a few of the accolades presented to him over the course of his career. He served on the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance as the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition for 35 years. Joan Morris is a chanteuse, a mezzo-soprano who has performed on stages and in cabarets across the world as she “projects not just a song, but the character singing it, and gives that character her own irresistibly funny and winning personality,” according to the Chicago Tribune.  Her book Let Me Sing and I’m Happy: The Memoir and Handbook of a Singing Actress has just been released by Pendragon Press. Morris writes “For forty years I’ve been privileged to sing the greatest songs from our American musical theater history – Kern, Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, and Rodgers and Hart. I was fortunate to find a musical partner, William Bolcom, who felt the same way, who helped me illuminate and bring to life the history and drama in each song.  Our approach gained us entry into the serious-music concert world. It helped us, in Schiller’s words, to ‘…unite that which fashion had sternly parted.’”  Morris taught voice and musical theater at the University of Michigan from 1981 – 2009.

Aaron P. and Afa S. Dworkin - Outstanding Service Medal 2019

Afa and Aaron Dworkin
Credit The Arts Alliance / a3arts.org

The Outstanding Service Medal recognizes outstanding leadership and significant contributions made to further the fields of the arts, sciences and humanities in Washtenaw County, statewide, nationally and/or internationally. Aaron P. and Afa S. Dworkin are an arts power couple.  They have built an international reputation as arts-focused social entrepreneurs, including as pioneering leaders advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in the performing arts and in arts leadership.  Afa S. Dworkin is a cross-sector strategist driving national programming that promotes diversity in classical music.  She currently serves as president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization, the nation’s leading organization transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.  She is one of Musical America’s Top 30 Influencers and Detroit Crain’s 40 Under 40. Aaron P. Dworkin is the founder of The Sphinx Organization, is a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a member of National Council on the Arts and the former dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.  The Dworkins received the Kennedy Center’s “Citizen Artist Award” recognizing leaders who present and produce the arts in their communities and deepen the effect of the arts and arts education in a demonstrated, transformational way at the local, state or national level.

Bill and Mary Kinley - Philanthropic Excellence Medal 2019

The Philanthropic Excellence Medal recognizes those giving of their time, talents and treasures to the arts science and humanities in Washtenaw County and beyond. Bill and Mary Kinley’s legacy as supporters of the arts is long, runs deep and crosses through many Washtenaw County communities.  They have given generously, served on boards, mentored staff, volunteered and worked in the trenches.  The short list of organizations they have impacted includes: the Riverside Art Center; The Ark; Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum; Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original; and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, to name a few.  Even the work of the business owned and operated by Bill, Praxis Properties (formerly Phoenix Construction), crosses into the creative industries touching historic preservation and restoration.  The example of community leadership set by the Kinleys is influencing the next generation as their children are already following in their path.

About Aaron Dworkin

Aaron P. Dworkin
Credit Aaron P. Dworkin / aarondworkin.com

Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts and Governor Snyder’s appointment to the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, Aaron P. Dworkin served as dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, which is ranked among the top performing arts schools in the nation. He is currently a tenured full professor of arts leadership and entrepreneurship at the university.  He is also the founder of The Sphinx Organization, the leading national arts organization with the mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Dworkin is the producer and host of AaronAsk, a weekly online mentoring show on creativity and leadership. A multi-media performing artist, author, social entrepreneur, artist-citizen, and educator, he continually receives extensive national recognition for his leadership and service to communities. Aaron also founded the Dworkin Foundation where he serves as chairman of the Board. As a successful writer, he has authored a science-fiction novel, Ethos: Rise of Malcolm recently published by MorganJames, as well as his memoir titled Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee’s Journey to Leadership released through Aquarius Press, a poetry collection, They Said I Wasn’t Really Black, and a children’s book The 1st Adventure of Chilli Pepperz. Aaron’s writings have been featured in Symphony Magazine, Polyphonic.org, Andante, and other websites and publications. He also founded and served as publisher and editor-in-chief of The Bard, a literary magazine.  A lifelong musician, Aaron is a visual and spoken-word performing artist represented by Jensen Artists and has collaborated with a breadth of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Damien Sneed, Anna Deveare Smith, Damian Woetzel, Lil Buck and others.  He recorded and produced two CDs, entitled Ebony Rhythm and Bar-Talk, in addition to writing, producing, and directing the independent film Deliberation.

Aaron has been featured in People Magazine, on NBC’s Today Show and Nightly News, CNN, NPR’s The Story and Performance Today. He has been the subject of articles in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit NewsDetroit Free Press, Washington Post, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Emerge and Jet Magazines, and many other media outlets, and was named one of Newsweek’s “15 People Who Make America Great.” He is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Honorary Membership, Harvard University’s Vosgerchian Teaching Award, National Governors Association 2005 Distinguished Service to State Government Award, Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, Detroit News’s 2003 Michiganian of the Year Award, Crain’s 40 Under 40 and Who’s Who Awards, BET’s History Makers in the Making Award, AT&T Excellence in Education Award, and National Black MBA’s Entrepreneur of The Year.

Resources:

The pARTy 2019

Aaron Dworkin Official Website

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu