Each year the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education, known colloquially as the “Big Easy Entertainment Awards foundation,” honors the musicians, dancers, conductors and singers who contribute to the classical arts of opera, ballet and dance and music.
The affair a luncheon held at the Hotel Monteleone is an opportunity to honor these artists, patrons and teachers who contribute to the classical arts in significant ways and enrich the culture of the city.
The luncheon also includes live performances of classical music, opera and dance throughout the course of its nearly three hours. WWL-TV anchor Angela Hill serves as the emcee, calling up different personalities to read off the nominees in various categories and to introduce the live performers.
Winners were anounced in the Classical Music Awards. The award for the Best Classical Music Performance went to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) for its November 5, 2011 performance of the Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.
The New Orleans Uptown Brass and Chamber Music Outreach Project’s “Masterworks in Brass” performance on February 20, 2011 at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church was deemed the Best Chamber Music Presentation.
Loyola University picked up the first of several awards for its Montage series when faculty members Jonathan Hays and Jeanne Montz Swinley were singled out for the Best Performance of New Classical Music (written in the last 50 years) with their program titled “An Unquiet Spirit: Madams, Madmen and Other Unsavory Characters.”
The St. Charles Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir (and LPO members) received the award for Best Choral Arts Presentation with their April 17, 2011 rendition of Gioachino Rossini’s “Stabat Mater.”
The Best Opera Production award went to the New Orleans Opera Association for its April 1, 2011 production of “Il Trovatore” by Giuseppe Verdi. Loyola University picked up another award for Creative Achievement in Opera with the June 4, 2011 performance of “The Touches of Sweet Harmony: A Gala Tribute to Ellen and Phillip Frohnmeyer.”
Under the Dance Categories Ballet Hysell and the Creative Arts New Orleans Center for the (NOCCA) received recognition for two programs. Hysell was honored for its “Concerto in F” performance on May 27 at Roussel Hall, while NOCCA’s “Bennie and the Jets” choreography by Chard Gonzalez was singled out for the Best Choreography award for its December 10, 2011 presentation on the campus at the Lupin Memorial Hall.
Ian Carney and Corbin Popp received a special recognition award for their collaboration of lights and dance titled “Darwin the Dinosaur.”
The Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective recieved the Outstanding Ethnic Dance Presentation award for “Orisha Suite” presented at its 30th Year Anniversary concert at the Contemporary Arts Center on November 19, 2011.
NOCCA won a second award for “Crocodile Tap,” also contained within the “Love Lies Bleeding” program on December 10 at the Lupin Memorial Hall on the NOCCA campus.
Sam Steele III won the 2012 Arts Patron Award, while Milton Bush, the longtime performer, conductor and teacher was cited with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Live performances included the New Orleans Trombone Choir featuring Bush and Delfeayo Marsalis as well as Bush’s contemporaries and former students; “Something Sweet” from the Young Audiences of Louisiana, who also received the 2012 Arts Education Award; Jeanne Swinley accompanied by pianist Carol Rausch in an excerpt for Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah“; and dancers Lula Elzy and Kesha McKey in a selection taken from “Syndrome,” a retrospective concert celebrating Elzy and Mitchell McCarthy’s choreography.