Contact: Victoria Winkelman or Kami Duncan
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-3785 or (214) 768-2788

April 22, 2002


Event to honor community leader Linda Custard

DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts will present its tenth annual "The Grand Event: Meadows at the Meyerson" on April 30, 2002 at 7:30 p.m. in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. in Dallas. Benefiting the nationally recognized Division of Music at the Meadows School, the annual fund-raising concert is performed each spring to honor a community leader. This year's honoree is noted arts supporter, civic leader and Southern Methodist University trustee Linda Custard.

The concert will open with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips, performing Shubert's Symphony No. 7 ("Unfinished"). Following a brief intermission, the orchestra will be joined by the Meadows Choral Union, NorthPark Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Choir and Lovers Lane United Methodist Church Sanctuary Choir to present Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Guest soloists will include four outstanding Meadows graduates who have gone on to professional careers: baritone Donnie Ray Albert, mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton, lyric tenor Richard Heard and soprano Laura Smith.

The concert will be preceded by a free talk at 6:30 p.m. given by Michael Dodds, assistant professor of music history at SMU, exploring the cultural and historical background of the works to be performed. The talk is sponsored by KERA.

Honoree Linda Custard is a member of the executive board of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. She chaired the opening of the Greer Garson Theatre in 1992 as well as the International Festival of Opening Events for the new Meadows Museum in March 2001. A graduate of the Inaugural Class of Leadership Dallas (1975-76), she is a member of Dallas Assembly and the Sweetheart Ball Committee. She is a former president of the Junior League of Dallas, Inc., the Dallas Woman's Club, the Community Council of Greater Dallas, Inc. and Charter 100. Mrs. Custard also is a life trustee and former board chairman of the Hockaday School, and she has served as a trustee of St. Mark's School of Texas and the Lamplighter School.

Currently, Mrs. Custard is treasurer of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc. She also is a trustee of the Hoblitzelle Foundation and the Ruth Foundation, and a life trustee of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In February 2000, she received the TACA/Neiman Marcus Silver Cup Award for her outstanding contributions to the arts, and in 2001 she received the Dallas Historical Society Award for Excellence in Arts Leadership.

About the Artists:

Donnie Ray Albert (M.M., 1975) has performed with opera companies throughout the world, including those in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Calgary, Berlin and Milan. As a concert artist, he has sung with orchestras from Washington, D.C. to Cologne and from Dallas to Jerusalem. Mr. Albert can be heard on RCA's Porgy and Bess, which won a Grammy Award in 1977 for Best Opera Recording as well as the Grand Prix du Disc, and on the NOW, EMI and Gasparo labels. He is a resident artist with the Center for Black Music Research at Chicago's Columbia College.

Beth Clayton (B.M., May 1991 in voice performance and Dec. 1991 in music education) has performed with numerous orchestras, opera companies and festivals around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Spoleto Festival, Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Canadian Opera Company and National Symphony. This season (2001-2002) she makes her New York City Opera debut singing the title role in the world premiere of Lilith, debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and continues to perform with the Santa Fe Opera. Ms. Clayton, who received an M.M. degree at the Manhattan School of Music, lives in New York City.

Richard Heard (B.M., 1983) made his operatic debut at the Aspen Music Festival and has since won praise for his characterizations of leading tenor roles in Italian Bel Canto opera and in all of the major Mozart repertoire. He has performed with orchestras across the country, including the Dallas Symphony, Memphis Symphony and Mississippi Symphony. He released his first CD in October 1998, titled Ain't A That Good News: African-American Art Songs and Spirituals. Mr. Heard is currently assistant professor of music at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Laura Smith (B.M., 1995) won the Concerto Competition at SMU as an undergraduate and did graduate work at the University of Michigan. She was twice an artist in residence with the El Paso Opera and recently moved to New York, where she continues to pursue an operatic career.

The 2001-2002 season sponsors of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra are The Dallas Morning News and WRR 101.1 FM.

Tickets to "The Grand Event: Meadows at the Meyerson" range from $10 - $100 and can be purchased by phoning the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787. Patron and corporate sponsorships with special benefits and seating packages are available from $100 - $25,000. For additional information, call the Meadows Department of External Affairs at 214-768-4153.