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Spotlight On Our Donors

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In their own words, faculty members and local business donors say why they choose to support the Department.


The Ann Elder Bestor Scholarship — created by Charles Bestor, Retired Professor of Composition and former Department Head

Charles Bestor"When my wife passed away, I, her family and friends decided to establish a scholarship in her memory that would carry her name and presence into the indefinite future through the lives of talented students who might not otherwise have been able to attend UMass Amherst. Mrs. Bestor was an active participant in Departmental affairs during my years as Head of the Department. The Ann Elder Bestor Memorial Scholarship is thus specifically awarded to an incoming freshman, as opposed to other named scholarships of the Department which are awarded to students presently attending UMass Amherst. I continue to donate to this Fund because I know that there are never enough scholarships."

The Horace Clarence Boyer Fund for Gospel Music — created by Horace Clarence Boyer, Retired Professor

Horace Clarence Boyer"Half way through my 28-year teaching career at UMass Amherst, I realized how fortunate I was to be at one of the few universities in the U.S. that offered academic opportunities allowing me to teach the great works of Bach, Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein, and Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and Mahalia Jackson. As I was preparing to retire people began to ask, 'What shall we do about having some assurance that students would be exposed to gospel music,' which by that time had become a favorite in the Pioneer Valley. Thus, the idea of the fund was conceived. To ensure that the students do experience gospel music, I promote and participate in some activity that makes financial contributions to the fund. I am so thankful for such an opportunity."

The Eugenie M. May Award — created by Ernest May, Professor of Musicology, Former Department Head & current Secretary, Faculty Senate

Ernest May"My personal philanthropy — modest as it is — is based on the feeling that modeling is important. If faculty members love and respect the institution within which their careers have been built, and feel that they can give a little bit back on a consistent basis, the case becomes much stronger for alumni, parents, students and friends to follow suit. Faculty participation in fundraising is normal for departments in the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics and the professional schools on campus, but not so much in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, to which the Music and Dance Department belongs. Forty years ago, the operating budget at UMass Amherst was 70% from the state, 30% from everything else, and all the capital came from the state. Today, the operating budget is 23% from the state, 77% from student fees and other income, with the state supplying only 10% of the cost of capital construction. For departments to thrive and excel under these "privatized" conditions, they must attract external sources of support.

I named the award after my grandmother, Eugenie May, a native of Vienna who, as an adolescent, studied at Juilliard and was accompanist to the Metropolitan Opera soprano Marcella Sembrich. In order to make a living, Eugenie also became a CPA and went into business, with some success. Of course, it gives me a feeling of pride and personal satisfaction to see the Eugenie May Scholarship awarded to such exemplary and deserving students. I only wish the amount were larger!"

The Julian Olevsky Scholarship — created by Estela Olevsky, Retired Professor of Piano

Estela Olevsky"Establishing a scholarship for violin students was an obvious choice for me. I chose to honor my late husband's name; Julian Olevsky was one of the great violinists of his generation and Violin Professor at UMass Amherst from 1967 to 1985. Both of us started our musical careers in Argentina and were given opportunities in our formative years by receiving generous scholarships. The great Russian violinist Alexander Petschnikov gave Julian a full scholarship at age eight to study with Petschnikov in Buenos Aires when Julian's family relocated from Germany. Being a donor adds a very special dimension to the word caring; I enjoy presenting the award each year and watching the progress of the young violinists. I benefit by supporting the many talented students whose good work has and will continue to enrich the national and international musical scene. I truly believe that this kind of support is extremely needed in the Arts."

The Paulina Stark Fund for Vocal Enhancement — created by Paulina Stark, Retired Professor of Voice

Paulina Stark"After I retired I wanted to continue to help provide a first-rate experience for the students and I find that the Music Program is every bit as compelling as the other non-profit cultural organizations that we support. My gift helps me feel connected to the education of the students currently on campus. The Fund, which supports visits by guest artists who work with our singers, is a big motivation and enriches the program. I get internal satisfaction from my gifts to the Fund and continue to be a donor because I still care about the well-being of the Music and Dance Department and the campus."


The Davis Group, Allen Davis, founder

The Davis Group, providing financial services for individuals and small businesses, is a corporate sponsor of the Pops Gala concerts. The company is located in Hadley, MA.

Allen Davis"I support the Department of Music and Dance for personal and community reasons, and the two are connected. The Department has given me a lot — Fred Tillis, back in 1975, helped me get the use of a double bass and set me up with Sal Macchia when, as a UMass Amherst staff member, I told him that I had always wanted to play bass. Within a short time, I played in the UMass Amherst orchestra, that year under the direction of Wayne Abercrombie. (I remember the first programs — the New World Symphony, Rodeo, a Bach Orchestral Suite — as if I played them yesterday.) And that's the community connection — the Department extended itself to me, and I know that it has done so to many non-music majors and non-students as a part of what it sees as its responsibility to the community. And it is a community it serves so well, from the "Santa arrival" by the Marching Band on the Amherst Common, to its used piano sales, but especially through its concert series, which forms a year-long music festival. I wish I could come to more events, but even knowing that they're going on gives me great pleasure and pride in the community I live in — benefit enough for our small contributions! Thanks for all the great work."

Stacey Styles Violin Restoration, Stacey Styles, owner

Stacey Styles Violin Restoration, located in Amherst, MA, has been supporting various scholarships since 1997. Stacey Styles, who has clients from all over the country and beyond, performs fine restorations of violins, violas and cellos. She works with players to set up and adjust their instruments for maximum tone and playability.

Stacey Styles"Initially, becoming a sponsor at Marilyn Kushick's suggestion, simply seemed like a smart thing to do. I was looking for a way to introduce myself and my business to string players and their supporters. I didn't really expect to become so personally attached!

It's a very exciting time to support the Department, in particular the String area. We have an impressive line up of world-class musicians that as members of the faculty, have brought a palpable energy and dedication to a growing program, attracting and then nurturing students. It's been really wonderful to experience students growing as musicians and players of their instruments. The Department's association with the Lark Quartet is brilliant. Masterclasses with the Lark, and this past year with Bernard Greenhouse, are real highlights. And most remarkable, they are open to the public, as are concerts and recitals by faculty, students and visiting artists. I get to as many as I can, and regret missing the others. I have educated my musical sensibilities being able to hear standard repertoire, lesser known pieces, and new and innovative works. Right here in Amherst.

Supporting the department has been good for my business. Not just because it's brought string players into my workshop (although that is always welcomed), but because it's gotten me out of the workshop. In my business, it's easy to fall into the habit of thinking the work is about the object - the violin, the viola, the cello, the bass. But no, unless we're talking museum pieces, it's really about the players and the music. I've had the privilege to get to know many of the students and faculty. I've rehaired lots of bows and made lots of adjustments, exacted repairs both large and small. I've made extended loans of instruments and bows. Answered the phone on Sundays and been called in an emergency.

I like that my contributions may have a significant impact on individuals, the program as a whole, and the community at large. I feel really good about supporting a program that's in my own backyard, knowing that it in turn will influence musical activities all over the world."

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