The Butterfly’s Song

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.”