PaperCity Magazine

March 2020- Houston

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Page 117 of 131

116 O fficially it's known as Round Top Festival Institute, but to locals and those who have flocked to its concerts since early days in the fields, it's Festival Hill, a beacon of classical to avant-garde music and home to one of the top three summer music festivals in America. Festival Hill is on the eve of a gala marking 50 years — an almost sold-out fête set for Saturday, April 18, on its verdant campus. Founder, Pianist James Dick From prosaic beginnings playing at hometown church services in Hutchison, Kansas, to winning the Tchaikovsky Competition on the world stage, Festival Hill's founder, pianist James Dick, has performed thousands of concerts throughout his 60-year career. His audiences have ranged from Prince Charles and mentor Miss Ima Hogg to Huntsville prisoners, with venues as diverse as Houston's Jones Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and stages from Prague to Paris. The maestro of Round Top has kept Festival Hill an intimate, bucolic retreat for an extraordinary music program forging the country's next-gen performing artists. Dick has received a Chevalier des Arts et des Letters from the French Minister of Culture, the inaugural Texas State Musician accolade, and the dual honors of a Texas Medal of Arts in Arts Education and The University of Texas at Austin Distinguished Alumnus Award. MARVELOUS MILESTONES FESTIVAL HILL'S FIRST HALF-CENTURY JENNY ANTILL CLIFTON JAMES B. COLTON Ima Hogg, generously lent her Round Top home for practice. Flash forward 50 years, and the Institute has become one of the area's most stalwart preservationists, with a campus of historic Texas dwellings and a regal chapel, all snatched from the wrecking ball. The Institute acquired its original six acres on Jaster Road in 1973, with one historic building: the first black school in Fayette County, which became space for Festival Hill's first students. That land itself bore the footprint of history, as part of 4,428 acres owned by James Winn, a member of the Stephen F. Austin colony of settlers in Texas. The plot passed from Winn to Christopher "Kit" Taylor in 1846, becoming part of Taylor's Woods plantation, a sizable operation powered by 200 slaves whom Taylor freed after the Civil War before returning to Alabama. Among the two dozen buildings and architectural features in Festival Hill's crown is the Carpenter Gothic style William Clayton House. The Victorian gem was rescued in 1975; two years later, it famously served as the performance venue for a rising cellist who was at Festival Hill as a summer instructor: Yo-Yo Ma. Later, the 1902 BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON A Preservationist's Dream Like its founder, Festival Hill began modestly. In 1971, recent UT grad/ Fulbright Scholar James Dick, with 14 students, performed the first concert in Round Top's Town Hall. Dick's patron, James Dick at Round Top Festival Institute Evening concert at Festival Hill, 1976

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