"Spreadin' Rhythm Around": Benefit Concert Gala for Luther Henderson Scholarship on Monday, October 6, 2008 Gives Arts a Boost

Start Date

Monday, September 8, 2008

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New York, NY --  While it may take a village to raise a child, an impressive team of award-winning celebrities along with The Juilliard School, New York State Governor David A. Paterson, and other notables have taken the lead to collaborate in support of students of color at Juilliard via a scholarship benefit concert honoring legendary Juilliard alumnus, Luther Henderson, Mr. Henderson, who died in 2003, was a gifted American arranger, composer and orchestrator with an extraordinary talent for creating music for choreographic movement. The gala, Spreadin’ Rhythm Around – A Celebration of The Life and Music of Luther Henderson, salutes Mr. Henderson who is recognized as one of the great music masters of the 20th century and acknowledged as a pioneer African American alumnus of Juilliard, graduating in 1942.  This all-star benefit concert, featuring Nancy Wilson, Savion Glover, Leslie Uggams, the Canadian Brass Quintet, and other great artists takes place at The Juilliard School’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater (155 W. 65th Street) on Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:30pm.  For more information and tickets, contact:  212 247 – 8705 or e-mail: info@thelutherhendersonschlarshipfund.com

While the arts struggle for a legitimate role in America’s education system, the benefit gala provides a boost to the arts enabling music students of color opportunity to continue their education at one of the nation’s leading performing arts conservatories. The benefit gala concert will endow The Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund at The Juilliard School.  The scholarship is open to students of color who are studying orchestration, arranging, conducting and composition. 

This once-in-a-lifetime concert will be directed by Tony-award winning director George C. Wolfe.  The concert will highlight Luther Henderson’s music with performances by many great artists who have worked with him during his illustrious career.  Mr. Wolfe, a key supporter on the fundraising benefit committee, will also host an invitation-only Sunday Salon in his historic landmark home the day before the concert gala along with Mr. Henderson’s esteemed director-actress wife, Mrs. Billie Allen-Henderson.  The salon event will be an intimate affair reminiscent of early century social receptions with celebrity guests entertaining throughout the home.

Mr. Henderson is credited with changing the character and raising the quality of the music of Broadway where he worked on more than 50 musicals during his more than 60-year career.  He is well known for contributing to the success of Ain’t  Misbehavin’ and Jelly’s Last Jam.  He was twice nominated for the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Award for Best Score (Musical) for Jelly’s Last Jam and Best Orchestration for Play On!  Mr. Henderson also worked with Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Duke Ellington who referred to him as his “classical arm”.  He had a long tenure with The Canadian Brass Quintet for whom he arranged more than 100 titles.
The list of supporters for the forthcoming gala covers an array of distinguished artists and notables who have worked and/or supported Mr. Henderson’s efforts during countless decades.  The gala’s board includes Phylicia Rashad, Tamara Tunie, George C. Wolfe, Ruby Dee, Samuel Jackson, Latanya Richardson, Mercedes Ellington (a Juilliard alumna), S. Eptha Merkerson, Harold Wheeler, Hattie Winston, Joyce Dinkins, The Honorable Basil Paterson, The Honorable Charles Rangel, and many others.
The gala concert at Juilliard will be followed by a VIP reception with Governor David A. Paterson and Mrs. Michelle Paige Paterson (honorary co-chairs), Mrs. Billie Allen-Henderson and George C. Wolfe, concert performers, special guests from Juilliard, Broadway and the music industry. All involved bring their passionate commitment to the arts and their support of young people’s pursuit of the arts in paying this tribute to an icon in the industry. 

“In 1942, when Luther graduated from Juilliard, there were no scholarships offered to him,” reflects Mrs. Henderson.  “It was through the sacrifice of his underpaid New York City school teacher parents which enabled Luther to attend Juilliard.  I feel that this scholarship will inspire the next generations of Luther Hendersons and keep America’s music going.”

According to Joseph W. Polisi, President of The Juilliard School, "The entire Juilliard community has been deeply moved by the generosity and vision of the Luther Henderson Scholarship Fund initiative.  This new fund will have a particularly positive impact on our students who have a focus in composition and arranging. In addition, to have the new scholarship named after one of Juilliard's most distinguished alumni will allow Luther Henderson's considerable artistic legacy to have a constant presence at the School."
Legendary actress Ruby Dee notes, “Whenever I think of Luther Henderson, I feel like snapping my fingers and tapping my toes!  He left us a legacy of rich rhythms and an appreciation for the full spectrum of music that he brought to Broadway and beyond.”  She emphasizes her strong support of the scholarship fund and asks that others support the efforts.  “The Luther Henderson Scholarship allows the glow from Luther’s shining example to light the way for others,” says Ms. Dee.

Major underwriting and funding opportunities are available ranging from $1,500 - $25,000.  Tickets for the spectacular star-studded fundraising gala are available at several support levels including:  $100 (Musician Level), $250 (Lyricist Level) and $1,000 (Conductor Level)

Concert proceeds will support The Endowed Scholarship Fund at The Juilliard School honoring Luther Henderson’s contribution to American music.  For on-line tickets and donations, please visit:   www.thelutherhendersonscholarshipfund.com  For more information, contact foundation officials direct at:  212 247 – 8705 or e-mail: info@thelutherhendersonschlarshipfund.com


340 West 57th Street . Suite 17D . New York, NY 10019
Phone (212) 247 – 8705 . Fax (212) 541 - 8681