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Penn State Center for the Performing Arts Director Trudeau Retiring

by on January 11, 2020 5:00 AM

George Trudeau, director of Penn State's Center for the Performing Arts since 2004, will retire on July 31, the university announced on Friday.

In his 16 years leading the center, it has seen substantial growth in philanthropic support and raised its national reputation for programming, artist residencies and education and engagement initiatives.

Barbara Korner, recently retired dean of Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture, said in a news release that Trudeau is "a national leader among university arts presenters," and a strong advocate for the performing arts in the region.

"His commitment to fostering master classes, educational programs in community settings, and reaching students and university employees means that many more people have a chance to experience the arts in meaningful ways,” Korner said.

Trudeau has led the center in bringing in a diverse range of performing artists and programs, such as weeklong runs of touring Broadway productions, a partnership with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, and a performance by a trio of classical superstars—Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax—the night before their Carnegie Hall engagement in 2009, among many others.

The center also became active in commissioning new work, including three new works by renowned contemporary circus Cirque Éloize, hosting world premieres and residencies by composers and creators. Trudeau brought to the center innovative artists like the Kronos Quartet, Diavolo, Maria Schneider and Engarde Arts.

Under Trudeau's leadership the center secured significant grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support multi-year projects. Those included  "The Secret Life of Public Spaces," an 18-month collaboration between the center, Penn State's architecture, dance, engineering, and landscape architecture programs, and Los Angeles-based Diavolo dance theater. The Classical Music Project has focused on engaging Penn State students with visiting artists and presentations, and this year launched on "The Reflection Project: Looking at Who WE ARE," an exploration of identity, community and empathy.

The center has also joined with academic partners in co-producing fully staged operatic productions in Eisenhower Auditorium, including performances of Bernstein’s “Mass” and Puccini’s “La Bohème,” and an upcoming presentation of Bizet’s “Carmen” in March.

“During George’s time as director, the center underscored Penn State’s ability to attract world-class performers and its capacity to host relevant community-based programming in the arts. He helped shape the center as an influential arts, culture and education resource in Pennsylvania,” College of Arts and Architecture Dean B. Stephen Carpenter II said.

Trudeau's commitment helped make the center a national leader in its commitment to diversity and equity in the performing arts, with programs such as the Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative.

He also has been advocate for major upgrades to Eisenhower Auditorium, resulting in a series of renovations and improvements.

“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve Penn State and the communities we impact, Trudeau said. "It has been an honor and privilege to work alongside an amazing and dedicated team, engaged faculty, inspiring students, passionate donors, patrons and volunteers, and with great colleagues in the College of Arts and Architecture. I am very thankful to Dean Emerita Barbara Korner for all her support. It has not been an easy decision to step away at this time, but I do so knowing the center is well-positioned to continue to advance as a leader amongst university-based performing arts centers.”

Penn State will conduct a national search for Trudeau's successor, with a new director expected to be appointed by Aug. 1.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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