In an age of Cultural Data Profiles, performance metrics, and McKinsey bean counters, Herb Alpert remains a breath of fresh air in the world of arts philanthropy.
As we noted in our earlier profile of the famous musician and major philanthropist, like any good jazz musician, Albert goes by instinct. He knows an impactful program when he sees it. And so Alpert's "most bang for the buck" music philanthropy is split across two areas: funding for individual artists and support for music education programs.
Both are a big deal in an era when artists are struggling to stay afloat amid rising living costs in gentrifying cities, while music education programs face extinction in public education institutions.
In the latter category, Alpert has generously bankrolled post-secondary music education at UCLA and CalArts. In fact, UCLA is home to the Herb Alpert School of Music, whose three departments include Ethnomusicology, Music, and Musicology. The school, created with a $30 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation, had been operating under the auspices of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture since its inception in 2007. That changed in January of this year, when the school was formally approved by UC Board of Regents. (Though they won't admit it, all musicians crave legitimacy.)
The school, whose current enrollment stands at 118, hosts public concerts, lectures, symposia, master classes, musical theater, and more. It's like a physical educational manifestation of Albert's music-obsessed id.
Which bring us to recent news—a refreshing case of "the grantmaker getting a grant," if you will—in the form of an $11.7 million gift from the David Dobrow Trust to establish an endowment that will ensure the Herb Alpert School of Music's long-term financial security. (Though they won't admit it, all musicians crave legitimacy and financial security.)
In his will, Dobrow specified that the funds be directed toward classical music performances, which should make jazz-lover Alpert doubly happy, as the gift will free up money that can be earmarked for jazz and world music programs.
Dobrow, a Los Angeles native, attended UCLA from 1946 to 1949 as a pre-med major and was a huge fan of classical music. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 85; his wife Irmgard died in 2006. The David and Irmgard Dobrow Fund, which is now invested in a diversified pool managed by the University of California, will provide the school with nearly $500,000 per year in perpetuity, said Judith Smith, the school’s interim dean.
"One of David Dobrow’s great passions was classical music," said Clarence Lederhos, a friend and executor of his estate, who plans to attend the March 3 event. "David recalled his years at UCLA very fondly, and his intention was to make a gift that would leave a musical legacy."