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The Gershwin Legacy of Dean Christopher Kendall

Dean Kendall Announcing the George Gershwin Piano Donation in October 2014

Dean Kendall announcing the George Gershwin Piano donation in October 2014

The University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative bids farewell this month to Dean Christopher Kendall, who has completed his second and final 5-year  term at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Deans at the University of Michigan can serve for a maximum of 10 years.

Dean Kendall leaves behind a legacy of transformation, crowned by the Brehm Pavilion addition to the School’s Earl V. Moore Building. Yet, those of us affiliated with the University’s George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition and the broader educational efforts of the Michigan Gershwin Initiative feel that these projects, which place some of the most fertile artistic imaginations in the history of American culture into a well-deserved and long overdue position of respect and celebration, represent Dean Kendall’s signature achievements. He recognized the importance and broad potential impact of the Michigan / Gershwin combination for our students and for human culture, and he worked patiently and personally to forge a lasting agreement with the Gershwin family, especially with Marc George Gershwin and Michael Strunsky.

Mr. Strunsky, who heads the Ira and Leanore Gershwin Trusts, had this to say of Dean Kendall’s contribution:

“The Ira Gershwin family is proud that The University of Michigan has chosen to create the massive Gershwin Critical Edition and that Dean Kendall and his wonderful staff are moving ahead with the project. Dean Kendall’s energy and musical knowledge has been a major factor for our mutual cooperation.”

U-M SMTD Masters Student Gil Chapman Performing "Rhapsody in Blue" on George's 1933 Steinway

Masters Student Gil Chapman Performing “Rhapsody in Blue” on George’s 1933 Steinway

As the Editor-in-Chief of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition I can truly say that Dean Kendall’s contribution to the University of Michigan has been transformative.

We often speak on campus of the Michigan Difference and certainly—as a leader and a colleague—Dean Kendall made a difference.

Mark Clague, Ph.D.
George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition