Whittemore brings artists to the Hop
By Drew Joseph
Published on Monday, October 22, 2007
When Fred Whittemore '53 Tu'54 was a member of the Glee Club at Dartmouth, he had the chance to work with legendary choral composer Robert Shaw for one afternoon. In those two hours spent with Shaw, Whittemore learned more about music than he had at the rest of his practices combined, he said.
"One rehearsal with Robert Shaw was what really got me steamed up," Whittemore said.
That experience of working with a world-class artist motivated Whittemore to establish the $3 million Marion and Frederick Whittemore 1953 Distinguished Artist Series Fund, which helps to bring artists to the Hopkins Center to work directly with students. The fund was established in Spring 2006.
"I want people to have Robert Shaw-experiences," Whittemore said. "He made a huge difference in my life and I want students to have that opportunity. I want people to be thrilled by the quality of art."
A goal of the endowment is to have artists stay for more than just one performance, Director of the Hopkins Center Jeff James said, such as when the Merce Cunningham Dance Company was on campus. The company worked with students involved with dance, music, studio art and computer science over the course of an entire week.
"It's really about the power of being inspired by the most brilliant artists of our time," James said. "The artists can significantly affect the kind of learning for students."
Other artists and performers that the Whittemore Fund will bring to the Hopkins Center this year include pianist Murray Perahia, tap dancer Savion Glover, flutist Sir James Galway and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
"I wanted to improve the caliber of the people who come to the Hopkins Center," Whittemore said. "Its value is enhanced when important people come."
As a student, Whittemore, who also received an honorary degree from the College in 2003, majored in history and was president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. After graduating, Whittemore spent three years in the Navy, and in 1956, headed to New York where he joined the banking firm Morgan Stanley. At the time, Morgan Stanley had 145 employees, but now has approximately 53,000.
"I consider that something to be proud of," Whittemore said of the company's growth.
Later in life, Whittemore got involved in the production of Broadway shows such as "Annie Get Your Gun" and "Guys and Dolls," but after Sept. 11, when Broadway ticket sales declined because fewer people traveled to New York, he transitioned into film production. Whittemore is now working at Sharp Independent, a film company which recently produced the film "Evening."
"We produce movies, but you'll never find my name anywhere," Whittemore said. "If you let your name out, people press you for money."
At 76 years old, Whittemore knows that he cannot maintain his current level of involvement at Morgan Stanley and Dartmouth for much longer -- which is another reason why he is trying to weave the arts into students' education.
"Eighteen to 22 is a time to absorb new things," Whittemore said. "But if you think, when you're 76, that your golf game is going to get better, you're just blowing smoke."