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Omaha Conservatory of Music to celebrate 20th anniversary with gala

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Hear an orchestra / Saturday (copy)

Students from the Omaha Conservatory of Music practice onstage at the school. 

As New York's classical music scene gets back on its feet, musicians from the New York Philharmonic perform at the Green-Wood cemetery during a dress rehearsal for the "Death of Classical" series.

The Omaha Conservatory of Music will celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend with activities that emphasize its inclusive mission.

Violinist and disability activist Adrian Anantawan will be the featured speaker at a gala, “Night of Nostalgia,” on Saturday night. Born without a right hand, he is a graduate of the Curtis School of Music, Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Anantawan has performed at the White House, opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games and concerts for Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama. He also founded an organization that develops musical instruments for kids with disabilities.

Earlier Saturday, a composition by 13-year-old student Winston Schneider will premiere at a 1 p.m. concert during an Arts Block Party. The conservatory is sponsoring the event with the Omaha Academy of Ballet. The two schools are near 72nd and Cass Streets.

Schneider, who has been hailed as a prodigy, based his piece on “The Big Umbrella” by Amy June Bates, a children’s book that celebrates diversity.

One of the core beliefs at the conservatory is that access to musical excellence is for anyone, no matter what their race, ability or social standing might be. It offers scholarships based on need and is equipped to teach differently abled students, a spokeswoman said.

String Sprouts (copy)

Believing that everyone deserves access to the arts, the Omaha Conservatory of Music created String Sprouts to offer free music education to children ages 3 to 8 who live in underserved areas. Here, the kids perform a concert in 2018.

Executive Director Ruth Meints said she thinks the importance of music became more clear over the past year and a half. Enrollment during the pandemic surged rather than dropped, and the school now has more unique students than at any time in its history.

Meints said people had more time to consider what they truly valued.

“When everything fell away, music was still there,” she said.

Faculty members, including Meints, will perform at the gala, as will Anantawan. Schneider’s piece also will be featured. Appetizers and desserts will be served.

Tickets are available at or directly from the conservatory. They’re $75 general admission and $125 for patrons, which includes reserved seating and two tickets for any event at the conservatory over the next year.

For more information on the gala and the Arts Block Party, visit

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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