The crystal award honors groups who are doing something special – adding a “grace note” – to help create a climate for great music in this area.


Each year we accept nominations for our Grace Note awards, created in 2009 to recognize groups making a special contribution to the musical scene in north Texas.  And Sunday, February 9, we celebrated their efforts – supporting amazing growth in the arts here – with a special pre-concert reception honoring the 49 past and five 2020 Grace Note Awards honorees!

This year, we recognized the vital contributions of the print media, including two of our area’s most honored journalists, an arts magazine and two daily newspapers – for their absolutely vital support of arts groups large and small, telling our stories, keeping readers informed. Todd Hawkins, Executive Director, Irving Department of Arts & Culture, presented awards this evening.

The 2020 Grace Note Awards were presented at a “cake and conversation” reception in their honor at 2:30 p.m., just before the concert to:


Scott Cantrell, longtime music critic for The Dallas Morning News, and now a contributing columnist for them, whose years of journalistic excellence have helped to shape this area’s musical institutions and to both educate and excite audiences.







Lee Cullum, one of the area’s most visible and respected commentators on  business and the arts, whose work in broadcast and print media has helped keep viewers and readers both informed and involved in the arts.








The Dallas Morning News, north Texas’s largest daily newspaper  – often the first place readers look for arts information in its news columns or its weekly print and online “Guide.”  The News was represented by Arts and Entertainment editor Christopher Wynn.





Fort Worth Star-Telegram, telling the stories of the museums and musical organizations that have helped create the city’s image and reporting on many internationally honored groups like The Cliburn, the city’s symphony and opera, and its notable museums.  Accepting the award for editor Steve Coffman:  Karen Wiley, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Fort Worth.



Patron Magazine, founded by Terri Provencal, its publisher and editor-in-chief, reflects her own passion for the arts – where she has served on boards of the Dallas Theater Center and TACA.  The magazine, founded in 2011, was honored for providing a place for photo and long-form journalism on the arts in north Texas. 




This tenth anniversary reception brought together our past Grace Note Award winners, representatives of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s major and smaller arts organizations, with this year’s honorees – the great funding organizations, private and public, who for decades have provided annual grants and gifts for the art totaling millions of dollars. Presenting awards for NPOI was Francis Osentowski, of our Conductor’s Circle, whose new Fanfare and Celebration opened the concert.

Communities Foundation of Texas (founded in 1953 as the Community Chest Fund) Susan Swan Smith, chief Giving Day officer, accepting

The Dallas Foundation (established in 1929 by Dallas business leader as Dallas Community Trust) Helen Holman, chief philanthropy officer, accepting

The Meadows Foundation (1948) Sam Holland, dean, Meadows School of the Arts, accepting for the Foundation

TACA (The Arts Community Alliance, 1967) Wolford McCue, president and executive director accepting

Texas Commission on the Arts (created by the Texas Legislature in 1965 to channel funds and support to Texas artists and arts groups) Chuck Winkler, program administrator, Todd Eric Hawkins, executive director, Irving Arts Center, accepting for TCA.

*photos by Terry Cockerham


Recognizing five city-based agencies supporting the arts in area cities through arts centers, training, other initiatives and annual financial support.

City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the group that oversees the city’s many neighborhood arts centers, Majestic Theatre and Latino Cultural Center, manages and makes available to performing arts groups Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District and other support.

Irving Arts Board (City of Irving), now supporting both performing arts, with the Irving Arts Center and financial support, and the visual arts, with galleries in the Irving Arts Center and new galleries scheduled to open soon in the heart of the city.

Plano Cultural Affairs Commission (1982), has a Fine Arts Center under construction now, to serve both Plano schools and the community’s arts groups with a 1500-seat performance hall. Priorities under a 2016-17 mission statement include serving Plano’s multicultural communities and increasing awareness, diversity and participation in the arts.

Richardson Cultural Arts Commission (1966), advises their City Council on funding for the arts, providing grants since 1984 to local arts groups, now under a 2013 City Cultural Arts Master Plan that sets priorities.

Arts Council of Fort Worth (City of Fort Worth), brings together businesses and the city to support the visual and performing arts.


Honoring four chamber music groups for their initiatives in bringing chamber musicians from across the world to join local musicians in performing the finest classical chamber music, keeping this great musical genre available in north Texas.

Dallas Chamber Music Society for leadership since 1945, bringing some of the world’s most honored chamber groups here each season.

Fine Arts Chamber Players (1981) for making chamber music accessible each season to all, with free concerts in the Dallas Museum of Art and the summer “Basically Beethoven” concerts in the Dallas Arts District.

Chamber Music International (1986) for excellence in programming, bringing together internationally known chamber musicians with local musicians.

Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth (1987) for bringing the best of chamber music to its city’s museums and concert venues.


Honoring five choral groups for their leadership since the 1950’s in presenting music written for the human voice, preserving the great vocal traditions of the past and commissioning and presenting new music.

Dallas Opera Chorus (since 1957) created as part of the initial vision of the Dallas Opera.

Dallas Symphony Chorus (1977) which gives the Dallas Symphony one of the nation’s largest choruses for performances of great choral works here.

Turtle Creek Chorale (1980), a nationally recognized men’s chorus which performs classics, pops and new music each season.

Dallas Bach Society (1982), founded to present early instrumental and vocal music composed before 1800.

Orpheus Chamber Singers (1994), 24 singers in classics and new music


Honoring five sites – NOT traditional venues for music who are also making music an important part of their programming.

AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, hosts huge sports events with seating for some 100,000, but since 1910 have also made the Stadium available each year for a free Dallas Opera simulcast, providing the largest potential audience for opera ever in this area.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, for its “Cool Thursday” concerts on their concert stage every spring and fall, and musicians performing in the gardens during other festivals and special events.

Dallas Museum of Art, for bringing music into the very heart of the city’s Arts District since their opening there in 1981, with free chamber music (Bancroft Family Concerts) each season and jazz musicians in free concerts in their café on Thursday evenings.

Klyde Warren Park, for bringing music into Dallas’s own new “Central Park” with Music Thursdays at their performance pavilion and opera simulcasts.

NorthPark Center, one of the nation’s most respected retail centers, for
including the arts – visual and performing – as an important part of the shopping experience since the 1960’s.


Recognizing five performing arts centers, most opened since 1990, that are helping make north Texas a center for the performing arts.

Allen Performing Arts Center, which opened in 2011 with a state-of-the-art 1,500-seat hall for concerts, dance and theater and a second smaller theater.

City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, for their seven performing arts venues and 16 other cultural facilities in Dallas to host music, theater and ballet, including the area’s newest, the 700-seat Dallas City Performance Hall (2012) and the Latino Cultural Center (2003), a 300-seat concert hall to serve the area’s fastest-growing demographic group.

Irving Arts Center, opened in 1990 with a 710-seat concert hall for theater and music, art gallery and meeting rooms and a second, smaller theater.

Mesquite Arts Center, opened in 1995 with a 500-seat concert hall, rehearsal hall and black box theater and gallery.

Eisemann Center, opened in 2002 with a 1,563-seat performance hall for music theater and dance, and a smaller theater seating 400.


Honoring four groups who are encouraging the creation and performance of new music.

Voices of Change, began commissioning and presenting new music in 1974, the first area group to focus entirely on “new” music, for their pioneering efforts to bring “new music” here.

TACA, this area’s major arts support group, for their initiative in challenging area arts groups to create new works of art and music through the Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund, granting $300,000 over three years.

Van Cliburn Foundation, for the series Cliburn at the Modern,” a ground- breaking effort since 1993 to bring contemporary music and composers into the museum world, at Fort Worth’s Modern Museum.

Nasher Sculpture Center, for leading the way, as museums become venues for music, with its series, “Soundings: New Music at the Nasher,”


Recognizing four educational institutions that are gaining national – and international – attention for their innovative approaches to music education. North Texas has some of the top music schools in the nation.
(This year’s awards and all later ones were presented in the spring.)

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts (DISD), for nationally ranked leadership In secondary arts education and their students’ and graduates’ amazing contributions to the arts.

Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, for their nationally recognized graduate and undergraduate programs training symphony professionals and administrators for American orchestras.

Texas Christian University’s School of Music, for their workshops and international efforts to encourage performance of Latin American music, keyboard and chamber music.

University of North Texas College of Music, today the nation’s largest accredited college of music, for their pioneering jazz and other music studies programs and internationally recognized leadership in music education since the 1940’s.


Honoring seven groups providing opportunities for young musicians to perform (awarded in the spring of 2011)

The Cliburn Foundation, which has helped launch so many careers for young pianists.

The Dallas Symphony’s “Young Strings” program, discovering and training young Hispanic and African-American musicians.

The New Conservatory of Dallas, providing study and performance opportunities for young musicians here and abroad.

and this area’s four youth orchestras
Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
Youth Orchestra of Greater Fort Worth
North Texas Youth Orchestra
Lone Star Youth Orchestra

– each of them providing young musicians opportunities to play orchestra music under a professional conductor.


Honoring five groups who are helping to build audiences for great music in north Texas (awarded in the fall of 2009).

Big Thought for their “Thriving Minds” program, taking great music into our schools and neighborhoods.

Fine Arts Chamber Players, creating audiences here for chamber music, through their summer and winter free concert series.

Friends of WRR, for sustaining our classical station, WRR 101.1 FM.

Mu Phi Epsilon, offering free weekend concerts at the Dallas Public Library.

alumnae of Sigma Alpha Iota, serving as monitors at Dallas Symphony and Dallas Opera youth concerts.