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Dear Meany Friends,

The party’s over, but our gratitude is evergreen!

Over the past five days, you contributed $392,685 in support of Meany Center’s artistic programming and education! And you did it without ever leaving your living rooms!

Thank you SO MUCH for participating in this year’s virtual gala, OFF STAGE. Thank you for bidding on auction items and for raising your paddle. Thank you for standing by us as we navigate the uncertain present, and plan for a future during which we can continue to safely present the high caliber arts experiences you have always enjoyed at Meany Center.

The arts have always been about connection, creativity, innovation and inspiration.

Over the past few months, your faith in our future and support of our mission has infused each and every one of us here at Meany with new inspiration to think outside the box and find creative, innovative ways of connecting the artists we present and the community we serve on campus and off.

OFF STAGE is just the latest example of your unstinting generosity and from all of us, to all of you, we thank you!

Without you, there is no us.

Your friends at Meany Center

P.S. Even though OFF STAGE has concluded, you can still donate to Meany Center and make an impact by supporting our 2020-21 Season.

Donate Today

Here's what happened at the close of the Virtual Gala:

  • The final bids for the Online Auction were placed at 4:59 p.m.
  • Our featured Gala performer, pianist Joel Martin, presented a very special concert of a Beethoven Sonata re-imagined through the lens of Jazzical®.
  • UW Department of Dance faculty member Etienne Cakpo performed an improvised solo work and taught a dance from Benin called Wedou Wedou (Dance Dance).
  • Meany Center Advisory Board member Kyra Hokanson Gray showed us how to properly care for our piano keys in the time of Coronavirus.


Pianist Joel A. Martin, our featured Gala performer, is the creator of Jazzical®, a marriage of classical music and jazz. Through Jazzical he has collaborated with and/or written music for Grammy® Award-winners Kathleen Battle, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, cellist Eugene Friesen of the Paul Winter Consort, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers. He has produced and played on critically acclaimed CDs by Brazilian jazz master Paul Lieberman, gospel jazz singer Jolie Rocke Brown, among many other artists.


Etienne Cakpo is a choreographer and adjunct faculty member at the UW Department of Dance. He is also the director of Gansango, a company of collaborating artists that fuses music and movement from across the African continent. In this video, he performs an improvised solo work--but keep watching because after his performance, he’ll teach you a joyful dance from his native Benin that will have you out of your chair and shaking off those lockdown blues.


Kyra Hokanson Gray is a member of the Meany Center Advisory Board and this year's Gala Chair. In addition to serving on our board, Kyra is the President and Owner of D.E.Hokanson, Inc. (a medical device manufacturer). An avid pianist and President's Piano Series attendee since 1984, Kyra will shows us how to properly care for our piano keys in the time of Coronavirus.

Here's what happened on THURSDAY, JUNE 11:

  • Host and auctioneer Matt Lorch introduced Day 4 of the Off Stage Virtual Gala.
  • We looked at forty years of Meany Center history in eight minutes
  • Yumi Iwasaki and her family sang Charlie Chaplin’s classic song, “Smile,”
  • Juniper Shuey walked us through his creative process with Zoe | Juniper.




Yumi Iwasaki is currently Co-President of the Meany Center Advisory Board. Born in Kyoto, Japan, Yumi received her doctorate in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and built a successful career as a research scientist before deciding to dedicate her time to raising her three children. During that time, she rediscovered her passion for performing arts, particularly voice and piano, which she had played since childhood, as well as ballet and modern dance, which she began studying as an adult.


Juniper Shuey has been working at Meany Center since 2001. In addition to his role as Meany's Stage Supervisor and Video Engineer, Juniper is co-director of Seattle-based dance and visual art company, Zoe | Juniper. In this video, Juniper walks us through the creative process of some works that Zoe | Juniper has produced since 2005. 

Here's what happened on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10:

  • Host and auctioneer Matt Lorch introduced Day 3 of the Off Stage Virtual Gala.
  • Executive and Artistic Director Michelle Witt discussed the thematic threads that run throughout the 20-21 season,
  • Doug Meier and his wife, Vicki Mason, performed his song “Carry Me Home.”
  • Michelle Witt performs J.S. Bach’s Air on the G String on violin.



Executive and Artistic Director Michelle Witt discusses the upcoming 2020-21 Season: its themes, its artists, and five performances in particular that are emblematic of our theme of Interdependence.


Doug Meier has served as Meany Studio Theater Stage Technician since 2003. When he is not making sure the lights stay on in the Studio, Doug and his wife Vicki Mason plan on recording and releasing songs together as “The Greenwood Acres.” In this TLRC, they perform “Carry Me Home,” which Doug wrote in response to our current “age of isolation.”


Michelle Witt has been the Executive and Artistic Director at Meany Center since 2011. In addition to over 20 years of arts leadership experience, Michelle also spent many years as a professional violinist, with a focus on 20th and 21st century American music. In this video, Michelle is playing J.S. Bach’s Air on the G String.

Here's what happened on TUESDAY, JUNE 9:

  • Host and auctioneer Matt Lorch introduced Day 2 of the Off Stage Virtual Gala.
  • Cynthia Mullis played “Well You Needn't” by Thelonious Monk on her saxophone. 
  • Emma Turner performed “Nothing” by Lewis Watson on her guitar.



Cynthia Mullis has had a life-long fascination with jazz and the saxophone that set the trajectory for her entire career. She draws on her experience in music, art, design, language and writing on a daily basis in her work as Meany Center’s Marketing and Communications Manager. In this al fresco performance, she regales her neighborhood with the Thelonious Monk classic, "Well You Needn’t.”


Emma Turner is a junior at the UW, studying Community, Environment and Planning with a minor in Ecological Design and Planning, as well as Education, Learning and Society. She has worked at Meany since winter quarter of her freshman year and loves this job and the people she works with. This song is a cover of “Nothing” by Lewis Watson, and it's one of the first songs Emma learned how to play on her own without lessons. 

Here's what happened on MONDAY, JUNE 8:

  • Host and auctioneer Matt Lorch introduced Day 1 of the Off Stage Virtual Gala.
  • A hearty welcome to the OFF STAGE virtual gala from Executive and Artistic Director Michelle Witt; Meany Center Advisory Board co-President, Yumi Iwasaki, and board member and gala chair Kyra Hokanson-Gray.
  • Melanie Muradian sings “He Moved Through the Fair.” 
  • Robert Babs plays a short excerpt from Mozart's String Duo No. 1 in G major for violin and viola.




Melanie Muradian is the Assistant to the Artistic and Executive Director of Meany Center. Here, Melanie sings “He Moved Through the Fair” a cappella with a drone. She adds, "This beautiful traditional folk song from the west coast of Ireland has been very special to me and my family. I’ve sung it at the weddings and funerals of friends and family, and I sang it to both of my sons nightly for many years as a lullaby."


Robert Babs is a graduate of the University of Washington (Class of 2016) and a current member of the Meany Center Advisory Board. As an undergraduate, Robert was a founding member of Meany Center’s Student Engagement Team (SET) and served on the Advisory Board as a student representative. In this Tiny Living Room Concert, Robert plays both parts in a short excerpt from Mozart's String Duo No. 1 in G major for violin and viola.

Here's what happened on SUNDAY, JUNE 7:

  • Host and auctioneer Matt Lorch introduced the Off Stage Virtual Gala.
  • Paper Plane and In-and-Out Meany Martinis
  • Grupo Corpo Strike Timelapse




Paper Plane and In-and-Out Meany Martinis
Celebrate the start of the the Off Stage Gala with long-time Meany friend, patron, donor (and amateur mixologist!)
Harry Reinert and his brother Ted, who demonstrate how to make the perfect cocktail.


Grupo Corpo Strike Timelapse
The magic onstage can’t happen without a lot of hard work behind the scenes. For your viewing pleasure—and 
to remind you what the inside of the Meany Theater looks like—enjoy this time-lapse video of our remarkable
stage crew striking the set following Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo’s Saturday night performance at Meany in February. 

Thank you to our Meany Center
OFF STAGE Gala sponsors: