Tom Dupree Sr.: Philharmonic innovates, educates while adding vitality to Lexington

March 14, 2014 

Lexington Philharmonic's Scott Terrell conducted a 2011 performance with the Kentucky State University Gospel Ensemble.

RICH COPLEY — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

During the Philharmonic's latest concert, music director Scott Terrell announced a gift I have made to the orchestra that I am told, at $150,000, is the largest individual gift to the annual fund in the orchestra's history.

I thought it might be of interest if I expanded on why I have become a strong supporter of the Philharmonic, with the hope that others will be moved to recognize the remarkably good things that this organization is doing under the inspired direction of its music director and current leadership.

In 1963, I moved my family business, Dupree & Co., to Lexington from Harlan, just a year or so after the founding of the Lexington Philharmonic. It was an exciting time to be in Lexington and imagine all the possibilities for our city, my family business and the burgeoning cultural landscape.

Dupree & Co. has prospered and grown with Lexington by understanding a basic principle for success — innovation. We have innovated the way we do business and the way cities across Kentucky finance public works.

In my experience, innovation is a must; it creates opportunity and enables productive change. If we had not effected fundamental change to react to market conditions, someone else would have.

Over the last several years, the Lexington Philharmonic has brought this same spirit of innovation both to its musical programs and its engagement with the community, and taken it far beyond the concert hall.

In the last five years, it has launched a nationally recognized program to commission new works from emerging American composers, gained the participation and respect of internationally acclaimed music artists, developed a quarter of its programming for new music and devoted significant resources to music education.

This season, it has received several nationally competitive grants for its commitment to innovative programming and artistic excellence, will be heard by up to half a million Kentuckians, and has taken music education programs to thousands of Kentucky school children spread over 17 counties.

These accomplishments are important to our community whether or not you are a fan of orchestral music. Lexington is a far more dynamic and interesting place because we have a Philharmonic that takes artistic risks, tries new models and gets national recognition for innovation and excellence.

When our cultural institutions excel, so too does Lexington. We are lucky to live in a city that today is full of new ideas, experiences and opportunities. If you haven't heard a Philharmonic concert lately, you should. Join me in supporting a new and vibrant Philharmonic that represents our city so well.

Tom Dupree Sr. of Lexington is CEO/founder of Dupree & Co.

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