Francis Robinson Award
Ann & Frank Bumstead
Ann and Frank Bumstead are long-time supporters of Nashville Opera and the Nashville Opera Guild. In addition to their ongoing membership in the Impresario Council, they also underwrite one or two Opera productions each year, supporting Nashville Opera’s vision and growth. Ann and Frank have also underwritten staff tables at La Bella Notte and regularly honor and memorialize Nashville Opera’s supporters and friends. Ann currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Nashville Opera Association and is a member of the Nashville Opera Guild. She has spent many years volunteering with other Nashville-area organizations. In addition to supporting Nashville Opera, Frank serves on the boards of Brookdale Senior Living, the Country Music Association, and the Memorial Foundation and has served previously on numerous boards and given generously to support the arts and civic activities in Middle Tennessee. In collaboration with the Bumsteads, this award in their honor will be expressed by a scholarship to an aspiring classical musician. We thank and congratulate these true Opera lovers!
The Francis Robinson Award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts in the Nashville area, especially to the Nashville Opera, and who have demonstrated longevity in supporting opera in Middle Tennessee. Francis Robinson (1910-1980), for whom the award is named, began his career in the arts as a Ryman auditorium usher while a student at Vanderbilt University, where his catalog is currently archived. In 1948, the Metropolitan Opera hired him to manage its annual tours. Known as “Mr. Metropolitan Opera,” Francis Robinson once said, “The Metropolitan Opera is not just a living, it’s my life.” The Nashville Opera Guild Board initiated the award in 2005 to recognize off-stage contributions to the opera art form.
This year’s Francis Robinson Award is underwritten by Nena Couch in honor of Marion Couch.
The Mary Ragland Founder’s Award
Dr. Bill Whetsell
To honor the legacy of past leaders of Nashville Opera and the Nashville Opera Guild and to inspire today’s and future Opera leaders, the La Bella Notte Steering Committee has, this year, established the Mary Ragland Founder’s Award. The Award recognizes Dr. Bill Whetsell for his long-time service as a Nashville Opera supporter and leader. The Opera Association and Guild Founder, Mary Ragland, personally selected Bill to be President of the Nashville Opera Association Board during very challenging years for Nashville Opera in the early 1990s. When the Opera was on the brink of financial collapse, Bill invited the members of the Executive Committee to join him in guaranteeing a bank loan of $30,000 to keep the Opera solvent and set it back on a successful track. Beginning with the first La Bella Notte in 1995, and thereafter for 19 years, Bill served as Master of Ceremonies. He and his wife Anne continue to actively support the Nashville Opera and the Opera Guild. Congratulations to you, Bill, for your loving and lasting legacy for Nashville Opera, the Guild and the opera art form!
This year’s Mary Ragland Founder's Award is underwritten by Audrey and Frank Jones.
Nashville-based Ingram Industries Inc. consists of diversified businesses in marine transportation, digital and physical book distribution, print-on-demand book manufacturing, and digital learning. Ingram businesses include two operating units: Ingram Marine Group and Ingram Content Group. Nashville MLS (Major League Soccer) is now part of Ingram’s family of businesses.
At the core of Ingram Industries Inc. is a strong commitment to the community. The company has an ongoing legacy of investing in organizations that make Nashville a better place to live and work.
Supporting the arts in Nashville has been one of Ingram’s corporate philanthropy priorities. The Nashville Opera Guild is delighted to recognize Ingram Industries Inc. as our Corporate Honoree for their dedication to and continued support of the Nashville Opera and our city’s thriving arts community. Thank you, Ingram Industries, for your leadership within the business community demonstrating support of the Arts in Nashville.