Charles Dickens Dinner
Start the holiday season in elegance at our black-tie musical gala, key performances provided by our students throughout the night. The evening will honor the recipients of the John C. Argue Dickens Medal of Honor and the USC Thornton Legacy Award.
The 2012 Charles Dickens Dinner will take place on Friday, December 14, 2012.
To request an invitation to the Charles Dickens Dinner or to make reservations by phone, please call the USC Thornton Advancement Office at 213-740-6474.
The inaugural dinner took place on the USC campus in 1985. Within three years, the event outgrew the campus venue and was relocated to the Crystal Room in the historic Biltmore Hotel, presently named the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. It has since sold out every year, filling the room with 400 guests.
Each year, the USC Thornton Legacy Award and the John C. Argue Dickens Medal of Honor are presented during the dinner.
The USC Thornton Legacy Award is a lifetime achievement award, honoring a musician for an outstanding career. Originally titled the Magnum Opus Award, Dean Cutietta and the executive staff renamed it in 2006 in honor of the 20th Annual Charles Dickens Dinner and the school’s namesake, Flora L. Thornton. The Legacy Award truly represents artists’ accomplishments throughout their careers; this year James Newton Howard will be honored with this prestigious award. Previous recipients include Marilyn Horne, Burt Bacharach, Barry Manilow, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and Walter Matthau.In 1995, when John and Leah Elizabeth Argue were Dinner Chairs, Mr. Argue suggested that the dinner expand beyond musicians and honor an individual that was making extraordinary contributions to the promotion of the arts in Los Angeles. That year, the first Medals of Honor were presented to Sandi and Sheldon Ausman. Upon the passing of Mr. Argue in 2003, the award was renamed the John C. Argue Dickens Medal of Honor. Following nominations by faculty and the Board of Advisors, recipient individuals or couples are chosen based on their transformational impact on the music community in Southern California through their philanthropic, administrative and leadership abilities.
David Bohnett, Beverly and Herbert M. Gelfand, Carol and Warner Henry, Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin are among past honorees.
All proceeds from the Charles Dickens Dinner support music scholarships at the USC Thornton School of Music. Ranked among the top one percent of music school and conservatories in the United States, Thornton provides more than $5.5 million in merit-based financial aid every year. To maintain this leadership role, substantial financial resources are required to provide these scholarships for deserving students. All contributions given at the dinner will be augmented by a generous gift from Dickens benefactor John Herklotz, who has provided a matching scholarship award in memory of his wife, Dale Melbourne Herklotz.