by Steve Einstein
Last year in its 8th Annual Elizabeth Dunaway Burnham Memorial Piano Festival’s program booklet, Ogunquit Performing Arts (OPA) presented “a loving tribute to our former chairman and dear friend Stuart Nudelman. For 21 years, his leadership as chairman shaped the identity and progress of the Committee…As liason with town administrators over the years, he was influential in developing the Great Hall of the Dunaway Center as a more welcoming performance venue.”
This year, the 9th Annual Piano Festival’s outstanding artists will be performing in a much improved venue; one I’m sure Stuart would have been very proud of. At OPA’s recent ‘Capriccio’ events in September, a newly installed professional lighting system dramatically enhanced the performances. This coming weekend, the Piano Festival’s October 9th, 10th and 11th performances will again play in the S. Judson Dunaway Community Center’s Great Hall but now newly enhanced by the installation of 12 attractive Deco sconces that surrround the audience, not only adding to the ability to control the ambient lighting of the venue but also helping to create a warmer environment much more compatible with artistic and theatrical performances.
It was Sanford Judson Dunaway, a local philanthropist who loved this community very much, who offered to give to Ogunquit the “S. Judson Dunaway Community Center” at a cost of $250,000. The gift was accepted and the new building was dedicated on November 24, 1974, standing in place of the old Fireman’s Hall.
Soon after, Ogunquit Performing Arts Committee became a reality when the estate of that same local benefactor, S. Judson Dunaway, designated a sum of money to be safely invested with the interest to be used “for the presentation of primarily musical performances to be conducted at the Dunaway Community Center”. In 1978 the Village of Ogunquit became the owner of the Trust Fund and a committee was formed (OPA) to fulfill the mission of the bequest.
The improvements to Ogunquit’s Dunaway Community Center and the subsequent enhancements to future performances sponsored by Ogunquit Performing Arts Committee in its primary venue could not have become a reality without the dedicated support of the Ogunquit Select Board, Ogunquit voters, Town Manager Tom Fortier and the expertise of contractor Kurt Knight of Knight Electric.
It’s difficult for one to truly experience an environment by the use of words alone. Therefore I highly recommend that anyone interested in seeing for themselves the improvements to the Dunaway Center as described above, attend the performances of Pianist George Lopez playing the spirited music of Cuba on Friday, October 9 at 8 pm AND of Pianist Irina Nuzova playing with passion and grace the music of Russian and French composers, including Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Ravel on Saturday October 10, 8 pm. They will be worthwhile experiences for sure!