True Concord Remembers Dorothy Dyer Vanek

Dorothy Dyer Vanek

It is with great sadness we share that our friend and benefactor, Dorothy Dyer Vanek, passed away peacefully early this morning, March 25th. A memorial service will be planned for sometime this autumn.

A longtime patron of the arts, Dorothy Dyer Vanek’s support of True Concord Voices & Orchestra was nothing short of transformational for the organization. She first sponsored a concert in True Concord’s third season (2006-07) and went on to sponsor the last seven seasons. Dorothy also founded True Concord’s Legacy Circle, a group of donors who have chosen to provide financial support to True Concord through bequests in their wills or by other estate plans.

During her years of support, she underwrote two recordings and five commissions, including Stephen Paulus’s GRAMMY-winning Prayers and Remembrances, for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies. As part of this project, she was pleased to select one of her favorite prayers, the Prayer of St. Francis, as a text Paulus set for the work, which True Concord premiered at University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall on September 11, 2011 in partnership with Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Additionally, Dorothy was the lead donor of True Concord’s Lincoln Center performance on September 11, 2015, for which the choir and orchestra performed Mozart’s Requiem and Paulus’s Prayers and Remembrances to commemorate the 14th anniversary of 9/11. The performance coincided with the international release of True Concord’s first commercial recording Far in the Heavens: Choral Music of Stephen Paulus, which garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Choral Performance.

Following the tragic death of Stephen Paulus, Dorothy funded the launch of True Concord’s Stephen Paulus Emerging Composer Competition in 2015, a national competition for composers under the age of 40 to honor Paulus’s legacy of nurturing young composers. The annual competition has garnered dozens of submissions from nearly every state, with winners receiving a monetary prize and having their works performed by True Concord.

In 2016, Dorothy launched the Dorothy Dyer Vanek Fund for Excellence for True Concord to regularly commission significant new works and produce recordings. The Fund has produced two new compositions to date and one recording, Christmas With True Concord: Carols in the American Voice, which was released on November 1, 2019 and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Albums List. Most recently, the Fund initiated the creation of a new work by American composer Jocelyn Hagen to commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage in America, which True Concord will premiere in January 2021.

It was my great good fortune to have known both Dorothy and her late husband Bob Vanek. The description “Patrons of the Arts” has never been more applicable to the two of them. Together they helped elevate the arts in Tucson to new levels of excellence. As True Concord’s most devoted supporter, Dorothy has been a profound advocate for the development of our organization’s national reputation. Her support of the annual Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition and of our commissioning and recording activities have truly placed True Concord on the national stage. Above all else, Dorothy was a genuinely nice person, a delight to spend time with. Her enjoyment at the performances she helped create actually made her eyes sparkle! That will be what I most remember of her.

Clyde Kunz, Chair
True Concord Board of Directors

From left: Eloisa Holtan, Eric Holtan, Dorothy Vanek and True Concord producer Peter Rutenberg at the 2016 Grammy Awards Ceremony
From left: Eloisa Holtan, Eric Holtan, Dorothy Vanek and True Concord producer Peter Rutenberg at the 2016 Grammy Awards Ceremony

Dorothy was a tremendous partner in True Concord’s mission, who was deeply committed to enriching the Tucson community. Her immense generosity touched countless lives in Tucson and beyond, and her charitable spirit inspired many others to discover and deepen their philanthropy. In addition to sharing her financial resources, Dorothy was involved in strategic planning of the organization from very early on, and was instrumental in developing and advancing True Concord’s vision. Her indelible impact has made True Concord a stronger organization, for which everyone in the True Concord family will always be grateful. I have and will hold dear many memories of Dorothy, including working together on Stephen Paulus’s commission for the anniversary of 9/11 and going to the Grammys with her. She was a friend and mentor to me, and I am undoubtedly a better person for it.

Eric Holtan
Founding Music Director