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Ladies and Gentlemen_ dear friends

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									Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends

After this moving concert, the marvellous melodies interpreted with so much talent by the Capuçon Brothers still resonating in our heads, we have the great pleasure of coming together to bestow upon Sherryl Nelson the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. You may know that the Order of Arts and Letters was established in l957 to recognize eminent artists, writers, and others who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. It is tradition in such a ceremony, to cite all the qualifications that brought the government to its decision. So I will bend to tradition, but not entirely so, since an attempt to fully enumerate all of Sheryl’s accomplishments would take us through this evening and well past breakfast tomorrow morning. Sherrly Nelson, as you know, celebrates her sixteenth year as founding director of Clayton State University's Spivey Hall, a leading presenter of classical, jazz and world music. Under her leadership, Spivey Hall's annual concert season has become one of the nation's most renowned and respected series, presenting only the highest quality artists from around world. The Spivey series has built nationwide audiences but its reputation has also taken on international proportion. For example, when I announced in Paris that I’d be posted in Atlanta, several of my colleagues, knowing me to be musician, told me that I was lucky. There is in the great American southeast, an magical place for musicians, it’s in the middle of the country and everything there is done for the sake of the music. Sherryl, I’ve been told that you have built this institution from the ground up and literally transformed a pile of dirt on a construction site into one of the nation’s premier recital venues. So you’re a real magician and, like Barbara Hendricks often says when speaking of music, what’s important it’s the magic. Sherryl, France owes you a big bravo for having allowed our most notable musicians including for example Helene Grimaud, Philippe Entremont, Jean-Pierre Rampal and the Capuçon Brothers today, to come to this heaven and make us reverberate with the magic of their musical interpretations. What's more Sherryl, your admirable qualities are not limited only to music, you have magnificent ideas as well. I have as proof your many collaborations with Atlanta’s international communities. Your idea is that such

partnering not only enriches the city's cultural life, it creates a context for international trade as well as incentives for international investment and economic development. Very often you say that “Arts and culture play a major role in attracting international investors to Georgia. Let me tell you, Sherryl, that you are perfectly right! All the better if those extra-musical concerns can make possible high-level and cutting-edge programs in metro Atlanta that might not otherwise find sufficient sponsorship and funding.

There is yet another area in which you distinguish yourself brilliantly and I would like to reveal it here: It’s education. You played a key role in the development of Spivey Hall’s educational programs which serve 20,000 children annually. You also created the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir, considered to be one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the country. Thanks to your support, the children’s choir recently toured Europe in celebration of its 10th anniversary with performances in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. The Spivey Hall Educational programs were cited by the Kennedy Centre as a model and have also won an Abby Award for Excellence, the arts equivalent to an Oscar . We are all admirers of Sherryl. As it were, you had in your background everything you needed to succeed : You are the daughter of professional opera singers, you hold a music degree from UCLA and you didn’t hesitate to follow Dick, your husband, form California to Georgia. Lucky for all of us he decided to move, otherwise the Spivey Hall we all know and cherish today might never have seen the light of day . But your incredible determination was essential and your contribution to our society has been unparalleled. In recognition of all these qualities that make you a contemporary Euterpe, a veritable muse of music glowing from your magic temple, the French Government has decided to make of you a Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters. With this bestowment, Sheryl Nelson, you join some of the most important artists and writers in America Beverly Sills, Marilyn Horne, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. (Sherryl Nelson, au nom du Gouvernement français et en vertu des pouvoirs qui me sont conférés, je vous fais chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et Lettres.)


								
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