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1995-1996 index

Distributed September 8, 1995
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Opera Maverick David Gockley To Receive 1995 William Rogers Award

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- David Gockley, general director of the Houston Grand Opera, will receive the 1995 William Rogers Award, according to an announcement by the Associated Alumni of Brown University (AABU). Gockley will receive his award and give an address at the AABU's annual Alumni Recognition Ceremony at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, in Alumnae Hall. The William Rogers Award, established in 1983, is the highest honor the AABU can bestow.

In addition to the William Rogers Award, the H. Anthony Ittleson Award, the Brown Bear Awards and the Alumni Service Awards will be presented during the ceremony to several distinguished alumni for their outstanding service to the University. The ceremony is open to students, faculty and staff of the University and to invited guests. Members of the press may also attend. Editors: Please contact the News Bureau.

David Gockley

A 1965 graduate of Brown, David Gockley is recognized by the opera community as single-handedly changing the direction of American opera. Under his direction since 1972, the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) has earned a place as one of the five major opera companies in the United States and has grown in international stature. Since he became general director, he has doubled the number of HGO performances and increased the company's budget from $420,000 to more than $13.8 million.

Gockley was instrumental in the planning and development of HGO's new home, the Wortham Theater Center. The $72-million performing arts center was built entirely with private funds, and its inauguration in 1987 was a major international event, with opera lovers and critics from around the world in attendance. The stunning opening saw the presentation of a triple repertory, with Aida, starring Plácido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Illona Tokody and Nicolai Ghiaurov; The Abduction from the Seraglio; and the world première of John Adams' award-winning and internationally acclaimed Nixon in China.

Since 1974, Gockley and the HGO have presented 16 world premières, 14 of them by American composers: Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie's Harvey Milk (1995); the fully realized version of The Outcast (1994); The Dracula Diary (1994); The Achilles Heel (1993); Desert of Roses (1992); ATLAS: an opera in three parts (1991); The Passion of Jonathan Wade (1991); New Year (1989); Where's Dick? (1989); The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1988); Nixon in China (1987); A Quiet Place (1983); Willie Stark (1981); Bilby's Doll (1976); the revised critical edition of Rossini's Tancredi (1977); and The Seagull (1974).

Gockley was instrumental in securing the first trans-Atlantic, triple co-commission - with Milan's Teatro alla Scala and the John F. Kennedy Center - which led to the world première of Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place in Houston in 1983. His tenure has also seen important American premières such as Akhnaten (1984); La Donna del Lago (1981); Rinaldo (1975) and Hugh the Drover (1973). New critical editions of little-known works such as Rossini's Tancredi have been premièred under his leadership and later reprised in other international houses.

Gockley's vision of opera as a living art form has enabled the HGO to expand and diversify its audience. He has also made opera accessible to the community through the establishment of pioneering outreach and educational projects. His Opera New World program supports the creation and production of contemporary music theater that will appeal to groups that may have felt culturally, socially or economically removed from the traditional American opera audience. Gockley also initiated the Light Opera series in English, as well as a Great Artists recital and concert series.

Gockley has dramatically expanded audiences by pursuing broadcast opportunities through radio, recordings and television. HGO broadcast productions include Carlisle Floyd's Willie Stark, which opened the first season of PBS' "Great Performances" series in 1981; Scott Joplin's Treemonisha (1986), which was nominated for an Emmy; and Verdi's Aida featuring Mirella Freni and Plácido Domingo that opened the 1987 PBS "Great Performances" season. The telecast of HGO's world première production of Nixon in China in April 1988 won an Emmy Award. Recordings made during Gockley's administration include Treemonisha, The Dracula Diary and ATLAS: an opera in three parts, as well as two Grammy-award winners, Porgy and Bess in 1977 and Nixon in China in 1988.

Gockley has earned numerous honors including a Tony award for HGO's 1977 production of Porgy and Bess; the Dean's Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement from Columbia Business School, and a National Institute for Music Theater Service Award.

After graduating from Brown in 1965, where he studied conducting, composition and voice, Gockley attended Columbia University Business School where he earned a master's degree. On May 16, 1992, the University of Houston awarded Gockley an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters in commemoration of his 20th season as general director of HGO. As part of the inauguration of the Catherine Bryan Dill Center for the Performing Arts at Brown, the University awarded Gockley the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts on Oct. 15, 1993.

Gockley joined the staff of HGO in 1970 as business manager and rose to associate director. In 1972, at the age of 27, he assumed the general directorship of the company. Before joining HGO, he served as assistant to the managing director of New York's Lincoln Center complex. He was associated with the Santa Fe Opera as a professional singer and as box office manager. In addition, he held the position of director of music at Newark Academy, and director of drama and English at the Buckley School in New York.

Gockley has served on the National Advisory Council of the National Society of Arts and Letters, served as National Consultant to the Institute for International Education's MUSICA Project; was president for four years of OPERA America, the organization of international opera companies, and served on the boards of Business Volunteers for the Arts and the Texas Institute for Arts in Education.

Gockley is married to Adair Lewis; they have three children: Meredith, Lauren and Adam Lubbock.

The William Rogers Award

The William Rogers Award is named for the first student and graduate of Brown University. It honors annually an alumnus or alumna for outstanding professional achievements and extraordinary service to humanity. Past recipients include Motorola's CEO George Fisher; Pulitzer-Prize and Oscar-winning screenwriter Kurt Luedtke; pioneering scientist-astronaut Byron Lichtenberg; Samuel Nabrit, scientist, educator and the first Black student to receive a Brown. Ph.D.; and Irving R. Levine, NBC's chief economics correspondent.

Brown Bear Awards

Brown Bear Awards were first given by the Associated Alumni in 1946 for "outstanding personal service rendered the University over a period of years." Recipients are chosen by an anonymous committee of alumni. Neither financial contribution to the University nor achievement in a business or profession is considered. Recipients for 1995 are Devra Miller Breslow '54, Vincent Buonanno '66, and Rita Michaelson '50.

Breslow, a fine arts photographer in Los Angeles, has been a leader of Brown's Southern California community for decades. She has been a president of the Pembroke Club of Northern California and a president of the Women's Committee of the Brown Club of Southern California; she has also served as a director of the Brown Club of Southern California.

Buonanno serves as chairman and CEO of Tempel Steel Company in Wadsworth, Ill. A trustee emeritus of the University, Buonanno has been instrumental in shaping the new face of Brown. As chairman of the Corporation Committee on Facilities and Design, he oversaw several additions to the campus, among them the Thayer Street Quadrangle, the John Carter Brown Library addition, and the Hunter S. Marston Boathouse.

Michaelson, a key supporter of the Rhode Island Foundation and trustee emerita of the University, lives in Providence and has worked on behalf of Brown for many years. She chaired the AABU Public Service Committee, leading efforts to involve alumni in public service activities worldwide. The committee's "Bring a Book to Brown" project, launched during Reunion Weekend 1995, inspired alumni to bring with them nearly 2,000 new children's books which were distributed to Rhode Island schoolchildren.

H. Anthony Ittleson Awards

This award is given by the Brown Annual Fund to a volunteer or group of volunteers who best exemplify the extraordinary leadership of H. Anthony Ittleson, Class of 1960, national chair of the Brown Annual Fund from 1986 to 1990. This year's recipients are:

H. Cushman Anthony '26 of Providence, R.I., who is retired and will chair his 70th class reunion in 1996. He is honored for seven decades of loyalty and commitment to the Class of 1926.

Alexandra Kairis '95 of New York, N.Y., is honored for her leadership in the record-breaking senior class gift campaign of the Class of 1995.

Alumni Service Awards

Alumni Service Awards have been awarded annually for the last 11 years for distinguished, continuing volunteer service to Brown in any field of alumni activity. After nomination by volunteer leaders and staff members, the recipients are chosen by an anonymous committee consisting of AABU leaders and staff from the offices of Alumni Relations and Development. This year's award recipients are: