The Butterfly's Song

In 1990, George Dunning established his first scholarship fund for LMU music students. He hopes that recipients will pursue classical music careers as concert pianists, members of a symphony orchestra, church organists or music teachers.

When George Dunning was about 8 years old, his mother began taking him to the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera at the old Philharmonic Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. The experience planted seeds that blossomed into a lifelong passion for music, especially opera.

“The opera was fascinating to me because I had never been exposed to anything like it,” he says. “However, my appreciation for classical music and operas grew over time.”

Today, music fills this music lover’s life. He attends the symphony five to seven times a year, and the opera five times a year. He also listens to music at least eight hours a day, from classical to easy listening and oldies but goodies. Listening to music can be very relaxing, he says, but also emotionally engaging.

“Whether it’s the technique that the pianist has developed or the combination of the organ and the symphony playing together, music can be very powerful. ‘Un Bel’ from ‘Madame Butterfly’ can bring tears to you because it’s one of the most beautiful arias in the world.”

George is passionate about sharing his love for music with others. He is a member of the board of the Arizona Opera, based in Phoenix, and supports its outreach program to young people.

“It makes me happy to hear young kids say they’ve learned to appreciate opera,” he says. “They realize it’s not just something short-lived and that people can devote their lives to it.”

That thinking also motivates his giving to LMU. In 1990, George established his first scholarship fund for LMU music students. He hopes that recipients will pursue classical music careers as concert pianists, members of a symphony orchestra, church organists or music teachers.

“I hope classical music will open students’ eyes to another window of the world,” he says, “and help them understand there are many types of music out there.”

The Program

LMU’s music tradition goes back decades and has shaped the Los Angeles music environment and its performing community, from faculty members who have composed for Hollywood to a recent graduate who majored in theory and composition and now works in the business operations of the L.A. Philharmonic. Establishing and donating to music scholarships, as George Dunning does, gives LMU students an opportunity to study voice, string, piano, guitar, opera and world music. They can choose from an array of ensembles, choruses and chamber groups, and they may go on to careers as composers, conductors, teachers and music librarians.

To learn more about supporting the LMU Department of Music and its programs, contact Tara Frates, director of development, at Tara.Frates@lmu.edu.

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