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About Duke Performances


Our Mission

Duke Performances, the professional performing arts presenting organization at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is committed to presenting willfully eclectic, forward-thinking performing arts of the highest quality. Through superb performances, outstanding visiting artist residencies, and the development and commissioning of exciting new work, Duke Performances is forging a culture that vigorously supports performance and encourages meaningful engagement with the Duke campus and Durham community.

Annually, Duke Performances offers a robust season of 60 – 70 world-class performances, making extensive use of a network of Duke and Durham venues, and presenting artists spanning classical, new music, jazz, Americana, independent rock, international music, theater, and dance.


History

Duke University has a long-standing history of presenting the world’s leading artists to its community. In 1956 Duke University invited Ella Fountain Pratt to develop arts programs for the student union. During her years at Duke, Pratt presented artists as diverse as Leontyne Price, Pete Seeger, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead. Upon Pratt’s retirement in 1984, Kathy Silbiger was appointed program director for what was known as the Institute for the Arts. During her 22-year tenure, she presented guest artists, created an artist-in-residence program, and co-created programming with other arts-related academic departments at Duke. In 2004 Duke Performances was born out of its predecessor, the long-standing Duke Institute for the Arts.

Silbiger retired in 2006 and was succeeded in 2007 by current director Aaron Greenwald, at a point where the University made a significant commitment to the arts in its new strategic plan. Since that time the organization has commissioned, developed, and premiered major new work from numerous forward-thinking artists. Under Greenwald’s direction, Duke Performances has evolved into a world-class university presenter whose mission serves three distinct initiatives: artistic quality, supporting campus and academic priorities, and playing a role in the renaissance of the City of Durham.

The Chamber Arts Society, founded in 1945 at Duke University, is an integral part of Duke Performances and is dedicated to the presentation of classical music by small groups of distinguished chamber ensembles. The Society’s history and a full list of past programs can be accessed here.

 

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