Frances Motyca Dawson, Director
Frances Motyca Dawson founded the COLUMBIA PRO CANTARE in 1977 to provide performance opportunities for Howard County singers and to bring quality musical experiences to Howard County audiences. A holder of master's and bachelor's degrees in music from the Peabody Conservatory, she was musical assistant to Laszlo Halasz, former Director of the Peabody Opera Theatre, and pursued advanced studies at the Tanglewood Institute. Before founding the Columbia Pro Cantare, she organized and directed the Louisville (Kentucky) Choral Arts Society, which received excellent critical notices. Ms. Dawson also established PAVILION IN COMMON, which brought the Baltimore Symphony to the Merriweather Post Pavilion for four summers. In 1984 and again in 1989 she was awarded the Governor's Citation for her contributions to the arts in Maryland, and in 1987 she conducted the chorus, orchestra, and soloists in the Hail Columbia Concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion which celebrated Columbia's 20th birthday. In the fall of 1991, she presented the Dvorák Festival in Washington, honoring the composer's 150th anniversary with a seminar at the Kennedy Center and concerts there and at the National City Christian Church. From 1990 to June, 2007 she was the director of the Upper School Chorus at Glenelg Country School.
During her tenure as CPC Director, Frances Dawson has commissioned and premiered several works from composers in Howard County and surrounding regions, among them Tom Benjamin's I Build A House (composed in honor of the 1997 opening of the Jim Rouse Theater in Columbia), Hope, and the Old Brick Oratorio heard in the 2011-2012 season; Ray Sprenkle's The Creation, Darius Green and his Flying Machine, and Lines From Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; and Scott Pender's Fragments.
Owing to a lifelong ambition to bring Czech music to the American people, Frances Dawson has often stepped up to the challenge of showcasing the finest works of Czech composers. Among CPC's credits are the premieres of Janácek's Eternal Gospel and Zelenka's Litaniae Omnium Sanctorum in October 1989, and Karl Ružicka's Celebration Jazz Mass in October 1998, which featured the composer himself at the piano and his son performing the extensive saxophone solos. In addition, Ms. Dawson commissioned and premiered The Fanfare of November 17 from Czech composer Lukas Matousek to commemorate the 1989 collapse of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
In recognition of her lifetime artistic contributions to the community, Ms. Dawson was awarded the coveted Howie by the Howard County Arts Council in October 1991. In March, 2006, she was inducted into the Howard County Women's Hall of Fame for her significant contributions as an arts leader to the improvement of life for the citizens of this region.