BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Artists, students, scholars, musicians and
friends of the arts will gather on Oct. 17 to dedicate the Robert
G. and Carol L. Morris Center for 21st Century Music and thank the
generous donors for whom it is named.
A performance by world-renowned soprano and UB alumna Laura
Aiken and the Slee Sinfonietta at 8 p.m. in Lippes Concert Hall in
Slee Hall on UB's North (Amherst) Campus will highlight the
evening's program, which also will includes a formal dedication
ceremony and artists reception.
Benefactors Robert and Carol Morris of New York City provided a
major gift to help establish the center in the College of Arts and
Sciences (CAS) and provide support for June in Buffalo, UB's
internationally known festival and conference dedicated to emerging
and renowned senior composers, and for the Slee Sinfonietta, UB's
professional chamber orchestra-in-residence. The academic center
will create and produce new work, presenting it to the public
through concerts, touring, recordings, video, and film and print
"UB boasts a long and storied arts tradition, yet today is one
of only a handful of public universities committed to contemporary
arts as an artistic focus," said Robert Morris, who earned a
bachelor's degree in economics from UB in 1967. "We hope our gift
will ensure that UB remains the creative home for artistic
innovation and emerging artistic leaders, and continues to attract
internationally acclaimed artists and world-class performers."
The Morris gift supports UB's strategic strength in Artistic
Expression and Performing Arts as part of the institution's
visionary UB 2020 strategic planning process, which is aligning
resources with areas of academic strength and promise.
President John B. Simpson, citing earlier gifts from the Morris
family to establish the Humanities Institute, the CAS Emergency
Fund and the Morris Sports Performance Center, thanked the Morrises
for their generosity and vision.
"UB is deeply grateful to Bob and Carol Morris for their ongoing
commitment to our university and the many gifts they have provided
in support of several of our most important projects across
campus," Simpson said. "Their gift to the Morris Center for 21st
Century Music will build significantly upon our extraordinary music
program. In the process, this center will help us expand innovative
programs and enhance our academic and cultural reputation within
the region, the nation and the larger world.
"This is an exciting time for the University at Buffalo as we
move forward in our pursuit of our ambitious agenda of academic
excellence and leadership," Simpson added. "The Morris Center for
21st Century Music plays a significant role in advancing this
mission and we are deeply grateful to Bob and Carol Morris for the
confidence they have shown in UB and the investment they have made
in the university's future."
The Morris family's tie to UB spans three generations. Robert
Morris' parents, Ruth T. and Donald L., received degrees from the
university in 1965 and 1964, respectively, and one of Robert and
Carol's sons, Alexander, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in
architecture from the university in 1991 and 1994,
Robert Morris serves on the Dean's Advisory Council of the
College of Arts and Sciences and is chair of the UB Foundation
Development Committee. He earned a master's degree from
He recently retired as partner and chief investment officer at
Lord, Abbett & Co., an independent investment management firm
in Jersey City, N.J., that manages more than $93.5 billion in
assets. Before joining Lord, Abbett & Co. in 1991, he was vice
president and manager of equity and equity investment research at
Chase Manhattan Bank.
Aikin, who is now based in Berlin, is considered a leader among
the generation of dynamic young sopranos today. Possessing a range
of more than three octaves and an arresting stage presence, her
repertoire embraces works from the Baroque to the contemporary on
both the concert and operatic stages.
In great demand in both Europe and America, she began her career
as a member of the ensemble at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin,
where she has performed more than 300 times in such major roles as
Lulu (Lulu), Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Zerbinetta
(Ariadne auf Naxos), Amenaide (Tancredi), Sophie (Der
Rosenkavalier), Adele (Die Fledermaus) and Zaide (Zaide). A regular
guest in the world's leading opera houses, she also has performed
at the Vienna State Opera, La Scala Milan, Bavarian State Opera,
Opernhaus Zurich, the Liceu in Barcelona, Netherlands Opera and at
the Bastille in Paris, among many others.
In the United States, Aikin has sung at the Metropolitan Opera,
Chicago Lyric Opera, Santa Fe Opera and most recently, the San
A Clarence native, Aikin received a bachelor of fine arts degree
in music education from the UB.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State
University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their
academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate
and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University
at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American