The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra remembers Dorothy Vanek, Principal Benefactor and longtime supporter, who passed away peacefully on March 25, 2020.
Dorothy Vanek’s legacy of arts philanthropy has been a pivotal part SASO’s history, and we will greatly miss seeing her in the front row at each concert. Mrs. Vanek began supporting the volunteer orchestra in 2005. Shortly thereafter she became the orchestra’s Season Sponsor, continuing in this role for thirteen consecutive seasons.
In 2013, the orchestra’s concerto competition for young musicians was renamed the Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition in honor of her advocacy of the arts. With her sponsorship for the last eight years, it continues to be a leading youth classical music competition in the area, resulting in numerous awards to and performances by talented young artists.
Dorothy Vanek underwrote SASO’s two commercially-released recordings: A recording of new American Viola Concertos on the Naxos label, and Celebration!, which features the music of Tucson composers. Mrs. Vanek was also the lead sponsor of SASO’s tours to China and Brazil, and was a major sponsor of the San Luis Potosí Opera Festival in Mexico, in which SASO has performed for the past four years.
Mrs. Vanek’s love of the arts began as a child attending orchestral and opera performances and was strengthened by her art studies in college. Determined to see music and arts available to children in the future, she dedicated much of her life to arts advocacy. Mrs. Vanek was a longtime supporter of local arts organizations. She not only made generous financial contributions, but also dedicated many volunteer hours to arts projects and administrative tasks. In addition, Mrs. Vanek volunteered with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and was state president of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International. Her own artistic outlets included needlepoint and playing the organ and piano.
In 2010, Mrs. Vanek received an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts degree from the College of the Ozarks in Missouri. She was also awarded the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Southern Arizona chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
SASO remembers her fondly and recognizes the amazing impact she had in making the orchestra the thriving, vital community resource it is today.