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Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Marian Robertson Wilson received University of Utah Camerata Award.

Skip Daynes and Marian Robertson Wilson have at least two things in common — their tremendous support of the arts in Utah and the University of Utah's Camerata Award.

Both were recognized for their individual contributions at a gala celebration hosted by the University of Utah's Department of Music.

"Skip has been 'Mr. Music' in Salt Lake for so many years," said Roger Miller, who was on the nomination-and-selection committee. "And he has been the sponsor of just countless numbers of musical events. He was heavily involved with our 2000 fund-raiser when we opened the (Libby Gardner Concert Hall) building, and with the designation of the University of Utah as a Steinway school."

Wilson has made contributions through her individual gifts as a musician and a scholar — in addition to material support of the music department. Miller said she joined the Utah Symphony in 1947, the same year Maurice Abravanel took the helm. She has attained worldwide respect for her expertise in Coptic music. And, closer to home, Miller said, "She was instrumental in maintaining the Leroy Robertson foundation devoted to encouraging young composers. This foundation has awarded scholarships since 1971."

Choosing two individuals with complementary roles for the award was intentional, according to Miller. "Part of the Camerata awards was to identify people in the community who, through their beneficence and their support of musical projects, contributed in a significant way to the financial support and well-being of the school of music," said Miller.

The other part, he said, was to choose a faculty member or alumnus of outstanding musical reputation who has "added to the luster to the school of music." Thus, two awardees are chosen each year.

In addition to receiving recognition and appreciation, the recipients have their portraits hung in the Hall of Fame. Former awardees include Wilson's father, Leroy Robertson, and Robert Cundick, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation and Gladys Gladstone Rosenberg.

Daynes was an appropriate choice, said Miller, because "the name of Daynes is synonymous with music, particularly in Salt Lake City, but also in Utah throughout the West." John Daynes, he said, brought with him the first harmonium to reach the Salt Lake Valley — carried across the plains in a handcart.

After its arrival, Brigham Young overheard young Joseph J. Daynes playing the harmonium and said, "there is our organist for the Tabernacle organ." So, at the young age of 16, Daynes became the first Tabernacle organist and served continuously for 33 years.

Daynes Music started business in a log building in 1862 — the oldest music store west of the Mississippi. And since then, Miller said, "there hasn't been much of (musical) importance that wasn't in some way connected with Daynes."

For example, he said that Skip Daynes is one of the original sponsors of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition — for several years running, donating the first prize of a Steinway grand piano. "(Skip) felt that his family had established a tradition that he was bound to uphold and he has done that," said Miller. "So I think that in making the award to Skip, one of the things that we really are saying is that we're honoring a family tradition here as well as a man."

One of the remarkable things about Marian Robertson Wilson, said Miller, is that in addition to her abilities as a musician and performer, she is "truly a formidable scholar. She speaks and understands at least 10 different languages."

She has earned two Ph.D.s, one in French and music and the other in Arabic. In the course of her 28-year teaching career, she has taught French, Greek, music theory, cello, Italian and German at BYU, USU and the U. She has contributed to the Coptic Encyclopedia and transcribed and organized 21 CDs of Coptic liturgical music for the Library of Congress.

Yet with all of that diversity of ability, Miller said "there could hardly be a more dedicated musician." She has donated much of the music collected by her father to the McKay Library, where she supervised the cataloging and storing.

And significantly, Miller said that she is largely responsible for the Leroy J. Robertson Foundation, "a foundation within the school of music at the university to foster composition and music history."


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