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