UNT College of Music receives $1 million to support Czech residency endowment

Monday, March 17, 2014 - 15:59

DENTON, Texas (UNT) – The UNT College of Music has received $1 million from Dr. Francis Kostohryz to further endow the residency that honors his mother and father and promotes teaching, performance and research related to Czech music and culture.

The Frank J. and Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residency in Czech Music and Culture was created in 2006 in collaboration with the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas and many other donors.

The original endowment, named for Kostohryz's parents, has enriched the cultural life not only of Denton but of communities across Texas, and it has provided unique opportunities for UNT students. It supports an annual residency that brings distinguished Czech musicians, composers, artists and educators to UNT to teach, perform and conduct research. The residency has supported such programs as the UNT Opera Czech language production of Smetana's opera Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride); the Leoš Janáček International Music Festival and Academic Conference; and tours of folkloric music in Texas Czech communities.  The 2013 Janáček Festival was organized in partnership with the Janáček Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Brno, Czech Republic, and included performances on both continents as well as a scholarly conference at UNT.

Kostohryz's most recent gift will fund artist fees, travel and other expenses to maintain UNT's collaboration with Czech musicians and educators, and allow for more concerts and programming of Czech music.

"We are grateful for the $1 million additional donation and for our longtime history with the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, which helped build the residency at UNT," said UNT President Neal Smatresk. "This gift ensures our students and the community will continue to benefit from the vibrant music and cultural experiences that UNT makes possible through this collaboration."

"The residency allows our students, faculty and guest artists to share historically significant classical and folkloric Czech music," said Dean of the College of Music James Scott. "With the addition of this gift to the endowment, new possibilities will open up for our collaborations."

These collaborations are important for education and of historic significance in Texas, which has a deep-rooted Czech heritage in several parts of the state, Scott said.

Texas has one of the largest Czech-American populations in the United States, with several early settlements established in Central Texas in the 1800s. The Czech Educational Foundation of Texas was established in 1954 to preserve and promote Czech history and culture. UNT announced the CEFT Frank J. and Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residency in Czech Music and Culture with a celebration in 2007 that included a musical performance and visit by the Czech ambassador to the United States.  

UNT joins the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M as the only universities in the state with endowed programs in Czech culture, which are sponsored by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas.

"Strengthening this endowment benefits UNT students, the community and the history of Czech music, which my parents dearly loved," said Kostohryz, who recalled listening to Czech music on the radio while growing up in Central Texas. "I am happy to know that this music will continue to thrive through UNT and the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas."

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