April 8 Gala Honors Emory & Henry “Legends of the Arts”

by Billy Chandler

Emory & Henry College and the McGlothlin Center for the Arts will pay tribute to the founders of the arts at the institution in April, recognizing the six former professors who launched successful programs in music, theatre and the visual arts.

During a “Legends of the Arts” gala on April 8, the College will honor Marius Blesi, theatre; George Chavatel, visual art; Charles “Chick” Davis, vocal music; Alan Pickrell, theatre; Alys Sikorski, instrumental music; and Ludwik Sikorski, instrumental music.

The event, which will be held in the McGlothlin Center for the Arts, begins with a VIP reception at 6 p.m. followed by a tribute program in the Kennedy-Reedy Theatre of the Center, which begins at 7 p.m.

An energetic advocate of theatre who dedicated much of his career as an English professor to bringing literature to life, Blesi annually directed a college performance of “Our Town” by Thorton Wilder. The consistent staging of this production and other performances led eventually to the establishment of a robust schedule of college theatre performances.

Emory & Henry’s dedication to a program in the visual arts began with Chavatel. As an accomplished artist himself, Chavatel devoted himself to the futures of young artists as the College’s first Art Department chair and as the developer of a program of student art exhibition. He also established the College as an exhibition location for other artists, endowing the College with respect as an advocate for the visual arts.

The Concert Choir at Emory & Henry was the cornerstone of the College’s music program when it was founded by Davis. His leadership of the vocal music program at the College won for him and the institution many honors and helped identify the choir as a distinctive part of the College character, creating a passionate cadre of alumni who expressed both a lifelong love of music and a lasting respect for their choral conductor.

Under Pickrell’s leadership, theatre performance and education became a permanent force at Emory & Henry. Through his direction and academic leadership, Pickrell brought quality and a sense of purpose to the E&H stage, presenting to prospective and current students the viability of beginning a theatre career at a liberal arts college in Central Appalachia.

Alys Sikorski is remembered as music teacher with tremendous gifts both for teaching and musicianship. She inspired many Emory & Henry students both in their music excellence and their appreciation of music. She was dedicated to the idea that Emory & Henry, through its liberal arts mission and its location in Southwest Virginia, could be a regional beacon for leadership in music education. Alys and her husband, Ludwik Sikorski, were honored by the College in 1985 with the William and Martha DeFriece Award for service to humanity.

Ludwik Sikorski, was the son of Polish immigrants who taught him to play the violin when he was a child. A graduate of Yale University, where he subsequently was awarded a master’s degree. He and his wife, Alys, established the first marching band at Emory & Henry, and he was the founder and co-director of the Highlands Chamber Orchestra.

Tickets for the event are $30 for the tribute program and $100 for the VIP reception and the tribute program. Tickets may be purchased by calling 276-944-6333 or going online to www.ehc.edu/mca/tickets.

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