Robert Cane and Alison Nowak

Robert Cane and Alison Nowak of North Bennington are being honored by the Bennington Museum with the General Stark Award for service to the museum community.

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington Museum will honor Alison Nowak and Robert Cane of North Bennington with its annual General Stark Award for service at a garden party scheduled for Friday, May 28.

The award, awarded by the museum yearly since 1982, honored an individual or organization in recognition of outstanding service and significant contributions to the Bennington Museum community.

The museum said Nowak and Cane’s generous support over the years has made the “Music at the Museum” concert series possible. The free concert series presents diverse, live, on-site performances at the Museum, and is underwritten by a generous annual gift from Nowak and Cane.

Since its inception in 2015, Music at the Museum has supported more than 20 highly regarded regional performing groups. More than 2,000 people have been able to attend the concerts and engage with musicians free of charge.

“This program has been a game-changer for our community,” Deana Mallory, the Museum’s director of public programming, said in a news release announcing the award. “The cost to attend these concerts on a regular basis would have been out of reach for many of our constituents. The underwriting support from Bob and Alison not only allows us to bring in higher profile musicians, but also allows people an opportunity to try out a genre that maybe they weren’t familiar with. It allows them to bring their child along without the risk of losing the price of an admission ticket if they have to leave early.”

“Thanks to the support from Bob and Alison year after year, this program has grown and flourished and become a highlight on the calendars for people from all walks of life who might not have had a reason to visit the Museum before,” Mallory said.

Nowak was just four months old when her father, Lionel Nowak, joined the music faculty at Bennington College, where he remained for 45 years. She grew up studying and teaching music in the area and graduated from North Bennington High School and Bennington College, where she concentrated on violin and music composition and played in the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

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Nowak earned a doctorate of musical arts at Columbia and was a founding member of the Composers Ensemble, a group of young composers who performed their own works at colleges and performance venues including Carnegie Hall. She taught in New York at the 92nd St. Y, The New School and Columbia University Teachers College, and coached at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.

As a professional violinist, Nowak played in the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra in Greenwich, Conn., for more than 25 years. In 1986 the orchestra premiered her full orchestra piece, “Blend.” Her music has been commissioned and performed by orchestras, ensembles and soloists and is widely praised.

Nowak met Cane 35 years ago in New York City when a mutual friend suggested that Bob substitute for a vacationing cellist in an amateur chamber music group Alison was coaching.

A graduate of Cornell’s undergraduate architecture program, Cane served as a VISTA volunteer for two years before co-founding a small firm specializing in the exterior design of large-scale high-rise housing. His work included the exterior restoration of the New York Public Theater, and the conversion of a former public school built in 1887 to apartments.

Establishing his own firm in 2003, Cane continued to work on high-rise housing but with a greater focus on the design of interior public spaces such as lobbies, hallways and other common areas. He also oversaw the restoration and relocation of two NASA rockets originally exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair, now on display outside the New York Hall of Science.

The couple split their time between New York and North Bennington and are invested in the well-being of the Bennington area, supporting such organizations as the John G. McCullough Free Library, The Fund for North Bennington, the Village School of North Bennington, the Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington Rescue Squad, and other not-for-profits through The Vermont Community Foundation. They are both active members and supporters of Bennington Museum.

The Spring Party, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, May 28, is adopting a wedding theme in honor of the “Love, Marriage and Divorce” exhibit, which explores the highs and lows of love and heartache in the region over the last century. The party is free to attend. Bridesmaid dresses are welcome attire and light refreshments and wedding cake will be served. A rain date has been set for Sunday, May 30.


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