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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, September 20, 2007

2007 Governorís Arts Awards Celebrates Menahem Pressler and two Jacobs School alumni

Musical Arts Center chosen as first site for ceremony outside Indianapolis


Musical Arts Center

Musical Arts Center

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and its Jacobs School of Music will again be in the limelight when the Indiana Arts Commission presents the 2007 Governor's Arts Awards, Oct. 25, at 6:30 p.m., in the Musical Arts Center (MAC) on the Bloomington campus. The event marks the first time in the 35-year history of the awards that ceremonies will be conducted outside the state capital.

"The Jacobs School of Music is honored to be the chosen location for the 2007 Governor's Arts Awards ceremony," said Jacobs School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards. "With Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie, IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson, faculty, staff, students, Bloomington's Mayor Mark Kruzan and other members of the Bloomington community, we look forward to welcoming Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to our beautiful campus in celebration of the extraordinary contribution the awardees have made to the arts in Indiana."

Not only will the Jacobs School be the location of the ceremony, but half of the six winners of this prestigious award are from its esteemed halls -- pianist Menahem Pressler, saxophonist Jamey Aebersold and choral conductor Henry Leck.

Menahem Pressler

Menahem Pressler

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Menahem Pressler

IU Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler, the senior faculty member of the Jacobs School, also is a founding member of the famous Beaux Arts Trio. He will receive the coveted Performing Artist and Arts Educator Award.

"I feel thrilled, very much so. An award here, given by my state, my country, is the sweetest award you can get. I have been blessed with many others, but this means very much more. When it is given at home, you know you are not only accepted but wanted," the pianist said. "And since it is given here at the Jacobs School, part of it belongs to everyone here: my colleagues, administration and students."

With a performance and teaching career spanning over five decades, Pressler is internationally recognized as one of the world's premier chamber musicians, solo performers and pedagogues. He has received numerous international awards, including the German President's Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of Merit) First Class, Germany's highest honor; the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award, France's highest cultural honor; and an Honorary Fellow of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Among Pressler's additional honors are honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska and the School of the Arts in North Carolina, four Grammy nominations, a lifetime achievement award from Gramophone magazine, Chamber Music America's Distinguished Service Award, the Gold Medal of Merit from the National Society of Arts and Letters, the German Critics "Ehrenurkunde" award and election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jamey Aebersold

Jamey Aebersold

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Jamey Aebersold

IU Jacobs School of Music alumnus Jamey Aebersold, an internationally renowned saxophonist and authority on jazz education and improvisation, also will receive the Performing Artist and Educator Award.

"I wouldn't be receiving this award if it hadn't been for my years at IU's Jacobs School of Music, of which I have many fond memories," he said. "My senior recital was the first time anyone had played jazz for a recital. It broke the tradition and scared me to death. We even had to play an encore, and I can still see myself telling my teacher, Roger Pemberton, 'I can't go out there and play an encore; it's never been done!' We did it, though. We played a blues number, and the packed hall loved it."

Aebersold joins Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong as a member of the International Association of Jazz Educators' Hall of Fame and has developed a series of more than 100 "Play-a-long" book and CD sets to aid aspiring jazz musicians. Enabling musicians to practice and improvise with well known jazz personalities at home or in the classroom, this concept has helped to change the practice habits of thousands of musicians around the world.

He also has directed his Summer Jazz Workshops program for 30 years, bringing together some of the finest players/teachers in jazz with jazz students of all abilities and ages.

Henry Leck

Fellow Jacobs alumnus Henry Leck will receive the Governor's Arts Award in conjunction with the Indianapolis Children's Choir (ICC), one of the largest children's choir programs in the world. Leck is both founder and artistic director of the ensemble. He is an associate professor and director of choral activities at Butler University, where he conducts the Butler University Choir.

Leck reflected on his time at the Jacobs School.

"The Indiana University experience was crucial to my growth as a professional musician," he commented. "My study of conducting was life-changing during seven semesters with Robert Porco. When it came time to start the Indianapolis Children's Choir, I relied enormously upon the teaching of Mary Goetze, whom I consider to be a true 'master teacher.' I also thrived while studying the Kodaly Method with the late Jean Sinor. Her teaching has been invaluable."

Leck is known globally as a specialist in choral techniques, and the child's voice. He has written music textbooks and produced teaching videos used nationwide. Through his leadership, the ICC performs regularly at concerts, conferences and festivals around the world. In 2004, the choir performed in the Czech Republic and Russia, recording live with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. Recently, the ICC performed for the Pope at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

Founded in 1986, the Indianapolis Children's Choir provides an opportunity for young people ages toddler through high school to learn, grow and excel through quality instruction and experiences that emphasize the development of musical skills and understanding. The ICC has, for most of its history, been in residence on the campus of Butler University.

With more than 1,500 participants, the program represents the diversity of Central Indiana with singers from 17 counties, including all of the Indianapolis area suburbs and nearby rural communities. The children represent more than 325 schools, including 48 parochial schools, 14 private schools, 5 charter schools and more than 73 home schools.

Other award winners

  • The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association of Notre Dame (Arts Organization.)
  • Lori Efroymson-Aguilera of Indianapolis (Arts and Community Leader.)
  • The City of Jasper (Community Arts Support). This will be the second time the city has received the award.

The Governor's Arts Awards are presented every two years in recognition of individuals, organizations, communities and businesses that have made significant contributions to the arts and reflect in a positive light the value of the arts in Indiana. The awards are the highest honor paid by the state in recognizing the important role the arts play in the cultural and economic health of our state.

All proceeds from the $15 ticket price for the awards ceremony and performance program in the Musical Arts Center will benefit the Indiana Arts Commission Cultural Trust that supports arts programming and services throughout the state. Tickets go on sale for the events on Sept. 25.

The 6:30 event will be followed by an 8:00 p.m. celebration dinner at the Bloomington Convention Center. For more information on both the awards ceremony and dinner, including how to buy tickets, go to