Topeka, Kan. – The National Endowment for the Arts has given the Sunflower Music Festival a $20,000 grant. The Sunflower Music Festival is one of 1,015 organizations in the United States to receive a grant from the second round of fiscal 2020 funding. This is the first time the National Endowment for the Arts has given the Sunflower Music Festival a grant.
The Sunflower Music Festival is included in a group of eight distinguished arts organizations receiving the 2020 awards, including the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Art Mobile of Montana, Arhoolie Foundation in El Cerrito, Calif., Alliance for the Media Arts and Culture in Spokane, Wash., Miami Dade College and Polk County, Iowa.
“These awards demonstrate the continued creativity and excellence of arts projects across America and the nimbleness of our nation’s arts organizations in face of a national crisis that shuttered their doors for months,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. “By funding arts projects in every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia, the National Endowment for the Arts again celebrates the opportunity to make the arts available to every corner of the country and to see how the arts can heal and unite us.”
The Sunflower Music Festival has provided chamber music concerts for the Topeka area for ten days each June for the past 34 years on the campus of Washburn University. This grant was for the 2020 festival honoring the Centennial of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The 2020 Festival has been postponed until June 18-26, 2021.
The 2021 festival, sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, will feature a twenty-minute chamber orchestra composition with narration by the prolific American composer, Libby Larsen. The composition utilizes the words of the four women U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Sandra Day O’Conner, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The piece is entitled “The Four Supremes.” It will premiere in White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus on June 26, 2021.
Also, as a part of the 2021 Sunflower Music Festival, an exhibition of art works by women during the Suffrage era will be featured in Washburn University’s Mulvane Museum of Art. Dr. Sue Haug, former president of the National Association of Schools of Music and former dean of the School of Music at Penn State University, and Jane Cox, professor of drama at Iowa State University, will also present a music drama. Joan Tower of Bard College in New York will conduct her composition, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman,” and a distinguished panel of professional women will discuss women’s rights during the festival. Renowned festival harpist Rita Costanzi will premiere a one-woman-show "Woman On A Ledge" by Hershey Felder. Catherine Larsen-Maguire, born in Manchester, England and based in Berlin, will be the 2021 Festival’s Conductor and several other female composers and soloists will be featured. All concerts and events are free and open to the public.