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March 16, 2017

(Portland, Ore.) — President Scott Showalter today announced that the Symphony’s 2017 Schnitzer Wonder Award will go to Julane Stites, artistic director of Dance West. The award will be presented at the Symphony’s annual fundraising gala on April 1.

The Schnitzer Wonder Award was created in 2015 by Jordan Schnitzer to honor his parents, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, and their commitment to philanthropy, fairness, opportunity, education, and creativity as the heart of a strong and vibrant community. The award honors an individual or organization that directly works to build community through the next generation of artists and/or student musicians. This award comes with a $10,000 monetary prize, intended to help further the honoree’s work.

“This award is most fitting. Julane has been an important artistic collaborator with us, and her Dance West students have enriched the lives of our patrons for years.” Showalter said.  

Stites has been a dedicated dance educator in the Northwest for 38 years. As the artistic director of Dance West, she – and her talented corps of student performers – have added an engaging and entertaining dance element to the Symphony’s Kids Concerts for many years. In the last two seasons alone, her students have performed in five concerts, thrilling over 10,000 attendees. Dance West, the pre-professional dance company at the Arts & Communication Magnet Academy in Beaverton, Oregon, provides an intensive training and performance program for students ranging in age from 13 – 19.

Stites is the third recipient of the Schnitzer Wonder Award, following Mia Hall Miller, artistic director of Pacific Youth Choir, in 2016, and Bonnie Reagan, the 2015 inaugural honoree and founder of BRAVO Youth Orchestras.

The Symphony’s annual fundraising gala, to be held at the Portland Art Museum’s Kridell Ballroom, follows last season’s record-setting “Like Never Before” gala. After a concert featuring classical American composers, the Symphony will honor those who have brought the organization to where it is today and look ahead to a bright future created together in a gala entitled “Classically American.” Tickets to the gala are available at OrSymphony.org/gala.

New Community Engagement Award Announced

In addition to the Wonder Award, Jordan Schnitzer – again in honor of his parents and their commitment to building a strong and vibrant community – has provided a $10,000 award to the Oregon Symphony musicians, in recognition of their significant contribution to the community through their annual Classical Up Close performances. Each year for one week during the spring, Symphony musicians perform free concerts and popup performances on sidewalks, in churches, homeless shelters, and other performance spaces, sharing the power of classical music with audiences beyond the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. This year Classical Up Close concerts will occur between April 25 and May 6.  

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