Purchase College honored opera singer Jessye Norman, artist Helen Frankenthaler, choreographer Merce Cunningham, theater set designer Ming Cho Lee and arts philanthropist and environmentalist Douglas Durst and the Durst Organization with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award at a gala on Monday, November 12 at the Millennium Broadway Hotel/The Hudson Theater in New York City. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the College and the establishment of the School of the Arts Endowment Fund to provide scholarships and support for student productions and exhibitions. The gala raised $1.3 million for the Fund.
The evening included a cocktail reception and dinner followed by the presentation of the awards and performances by outstanding students from the Purchase Conservatories of Dance, Music and Theater Arts & Film in tribute to each honoree.
Among the distinguished guests attending the gala were New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer, actor and Purchase alumnus Jay O. Sanders, currently appearing on Broadway in Pygmalion; Congresswoman Nita Lowey, former general manager of the Metropolitan Opera Joseph Volpe, Academy Award-winning director and Purchase alumnus Chris Wedge, choreographer and dancer Carmen DeLavallade, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, composer and conductor Tania Léon, former Martha Graham artistic director and Purchase alumnus Teresa Capucilli, and Jim and Helen Stambler Neuberger.
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Award honors the achievements and contributions of artists, arts patrons and those committed to the environment. The award is named for the former Governor of New York, with the permission of his family, who was a preeminent supporter of the arts and the environment. His vision and commitment to the arts in a liberal arts setting inspired the founding of Purchase College. The artists were recognized in the fields of music, dance, theater arts and film, and art and design, corresponding to the four professional training programs within the School of the Arts.
The funds raised will provide opportunities for exceptionally talented students, some of whom may be the first in their families to attend college, to study at a premier professional training institution.