Last week, I had the opportunity to take a friend of mine, who, in a previous life, had been a professional musician (a trumpet player who traveled with the New World Symphony all over the globe), to the S&F Foundation Overtures Summer Concert Series opening night with New York’s Urban Tango Trio.Â The reception and concert was held at the gracious, grand historic Evermay in Georgetown which is the new home of the S&R Foundation.Â The setting was so Washington:Â quiet, civilized, respectful and appreciative of the music we were about to hear.Â Guests were treated to drinks from Bacchus Wine Cellar and sushi from the popular Sushiko restaurant.
S&R Foundation co-Founder Dr. Sachiko Kuno took my friend and me on a tour to the concert hall which holds an intimate 80 seats, has a brick wall with a gorgeous painting as the perfect backdrop which is then complemented with floor to ceiling windows.Â The windows present their own artistic contribution, displaying a light show from sun to sunset to darkness during the concerts.
That night we had the treat of listening to (and watching) one of my personal favorite genres: tango.Â The Urban Tango Trio had driven down from New York that day but were ready and raring to go.Â On violin, the exquisite Machiko Ozawa played and played the part of “lead” in her red tango dress and matching flower in her hair.Â Her counterparts were Octavio Brunetti on piano (who blew us away) and the handsome, well dressed Pedro Giraudo on bass.Â The passion, the talent, the energy exuded during the concert which included about 10 pieces with a few anecdotes told in between, would make anyone become a tango lover.Â People couldn’t help but tap their toes and wiggle in their seats.
We wanted to learn more about the S&R Foundation and who it is helping to shape the landscape for young emerging performing artists, so we caught up with the very busy Dr. Sachiko, its co-Founder.Â Dr. Sachiko’s CV is beyond extraordinary.Â She is a scientist, an entrepreneur, a business leader (founder and Managing Member of S&R Technology Holdings, LLC, a Bethesda, Maryland based holding company founded in 1999), a thought leader, a philanthropist (she holds several board positions), an award winner (including the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Greater Washington Area in the Life Sciences Category (2007) and recognition as one of the 25 â€œWomen Who Mean Businessâ€ by The Washington Business Journal (2009) and so much more.
Pamela’s Punch:Â Your CV is extremely impressive, extensive, and well-rounded, combining science,
business, leadership, education, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and the arts. Tell us why
you decided to explore the world of the arts?
Dr. Sachiko Kuno:Â While my background is in science, I have always had a deep passion for the arts. Similar to the field of scientific research, it can be difficult to start a career in the arts, so through the S&R
Foundation, we support young talent in the artistic community, as well.
In addition to the S&R Foundation, I have been a long time supporter of Washington-area organizations that support the arts.
PP:Â Of all of the positions you have held, what can you point to as being the most satisfying?
SK:Â I am grateful for all of the opportunities and support I had in the beginning of my career, but founding and developing the S&R Foundation has been an extremely rewarding experience. The S&R Foundation allows Dr. Ryuji Ueno, my partner and I to show our gratitude for the generosity extended to us early in our careers by returning it to others. It is truly rewarding to watch these talented individuals advance as scientists and artists.
PP:Â Tell us about S&R Foundation, its genesis, its mission, some of the important things the foundation has accomplished.
SK:Â Ryuji and I founded S&R Foundation in 2000 to support talented individuals with great potential and dedication to the sciences and arts.
One of our most recent projects has been the S&R Foundation Overtures Concert Series. Overtures is a unique series featuring talented, emerging performing artists. The first Overtures Concert Series took place this spring at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial Celebration. This year weâ€™re also initiating the Overtures Summer series. The first performance by Urban Tango Trio took place on July 18.
Over the past 12 years, S&R has accomplished more than we could have imagined. One of our longest running efforts is the S&R Washington Award, which is given to young artists in the fields of fine arts, music, drama, dance, photography and film. This yearâ€™s grand prize winner, cellist Char Prescott, performed in our Overtures series this spring, and will return on August 3 with pianist Ryo Yanagitani, one of this yearâ€™s award winners, to perform in the summer series.
PP:Â What types of challenges does the foundation face?
SK: In order to fully achieve our goals of expanding the number of talented individuals and programs
the Foundation can support, it is critical for the Foundation to enhance its circle of supporters and sponsors.
Ryuji and I are committed to continuing our level of support to the Foundation, but we are focused on gaining enough support for the Foundation to bring it to a point where it is self-sufficient. We hope to increase the supporters and philanthropists willing to invest in the Foundation.
PP: Â Science is so exact, there is an answer, a formula for everything, it’s “perfect.” The arts however, has so much individual interpretation and creativity, how do you see the two of these go hand and hand with S&R Foundation?
SK:Â I believe there are several similarities between science and art, especially in the creative process.Â Both science and art require an immense amount of dedication and patience. Researchers go through multiple rounds of testing to get a formula or product right, and composers develop pieces by adjusting notes until they are satisfied with the result, making these difficult fields to get started in. Through experience, we understand and appreciate the work that goes into building a career in the arts and sciences and want to provide opportunities for individuals looking to springboard their careers to the next level.
PP: Â How have you seen and or experienced the landscape of the arts community evolve in the Washington DC area?
SK:Â We see a greater need for support for the arts community from a younger audience. The S&R Foundation aims to fill the need to encourage this support and make the arts accessible for young
Recently, weâ€™ve focused on providing performing opportunities for young musicians and developing programs targeted at a younger audience, through the Overtures Series. In the future this field will depend young peopleâ€™s support.
PP:Â Evermay, what an amazing home for the foundation! How did this come about?
SK:Â Evermay is a national treasure and the natural beauty and historic qualities of the Estate make it
a perfect gathering space for the S&R Foundation.
Once we visited Evermay, we instantly fell in love with the blooming flowerbeds, beautiful landscape, amazing view and estate history. Our decision to acquire, restore and maintain Evermay presents an opportunity to expand our existing programs in an environment that reflects the core attributes of the S&R Foundation.
PP:Â What is next for S&R Foundation?
SK:Â As I mentioned, our most recent endeavor is the S&R Foundationâ€™s Overtures Summer Concert Series. The Summer Series, held at the Evermay Estate, will feature private, intimate performances by award-winning, talented young musicians. For anyone interested in visiting Evermay, supporting the S&R Foundationâ€™s artists or relaxing and enjoying a concert on a summer evening, we invite you to attend one of the upcoming performances in the series.
PP:Â What is next for you?
SK:Â At the moment, my efforts are focused on expanding our current programs, creating new, innovative programs, and attracting new supporters. We are thrilled with the support weâ€™ve been able to give emerging artists and scientists through the S&R Foundation so far, but see the opportunity to reach many more individuals moving forward.
Learn more about S&R Foundation’s Summer Concert Series which goes through August 17th HERE.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.