Denis Adam memorial concert

A celebration to honour Denis Adam’s outstanding contributions to art and culture in New Zealand was held at the New Zealand School of Music - Te Kōkī last week.

Over 100 guests joined Denis’ wife Verna in the Adam Concert Room to pay tribute to Denis, who died in October at the age of 94, and the rich cultural legacy he leaves behind. Tributes were given on behalf of the family, the University, the Adam Art Gallery, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Adam Foundation.

A philanthropist and passion arts advocate, Denis, together with Verna, initially established the Adam Foundation in 1975 to manage their growing collection of art. The Foundation's activities later extended to supporting a number of arts initiatives in New Zealand, with a particular focus on emerging artists.

Through the Adam Foundation, Denis and Verna made generous donations to establish the Adam Art Gallery and the Adam Concert Room which was the genesis of their philanthropic support of the university.They also fund the Adam Foundation Prize for Creative Writing, given to the top MA Creative Writing (poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction) student each year at the International Institute of Modern Letters. Most recently, the Adam Foundation confirmed a significant gift towards the national music centre.

The Adam Concert Room was chosen for the memorial by Verna as the venue where the Adams held their 50th wedding anniversary celebrations, and as an outstanding space for musical performance, used as the main auditorium at the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī. Guests heard performances from the Te Kōkī Trio, including a personal tribute from Inbal Megiddo (an Adam Cello award recipient) who performed a kaddish, a Jewish mourning prayer, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra who played a repertoire put together by NZSO’s artistic director, Lucrecia Colominas, including John Zorn’s arrangement of Kol Nidre.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford shared the University’s deep appreciation for the generosity and support of Denis and Verna over a number of decades, which has had enormous benefit to our community.

“Denis leaves behind an enduring legacy for Victoria University of Wellington, and a legacy of opportunity and inspiration for people throughout this country.”