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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Scholarship program helps young musicians

Beth Shumaker models in a past fashion show.
Beth Shumaker models in a past fashion show.
Additional photos below »

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | September 30, 2014

The Bristol Music Club has supported young musicians since its inception. Originally, it made loans to musicians to further their studies or to purchase instruments. In 1964, the club began a scholarship program for young musicians. The first recipient was Betty Dalton who received $25. Scholarship money is paid to the student who can use it to purchase music, pay for lessons, music camp or other music-related items.

Scholarship winners also perform in a public concert, and some perform at the Young Artists Concert during the Paramount Center for the Arts' Tunes at Noon. One student is chosen to perform with the Paramount Chamber Players, whose leader Craig Combs won the competition twice.

The scholarship program has evolved from one award every two years to an annual competition with 12 awards. The competition became an annual event in 1968. In 1977 the scholarship divisions were begun. Division I is high school seniors who will study applied music in college; Division II is grades 10-12; Division III is grades seven through nine, and Division IV is grades four through six.

In the 50-year history of the scholarship auditions, many of the recipients have gone on to prestigious careers. Several are professional musicians while others serve as college professors, schoolteachers, ministers, police officers and engineers.

"Several of the scholarship winners have gone on to prestigious careers as professional musicians," says Kevin Flanagan, club member. "These include Craig Combs, artistic director of the Paramount Chamber Players and world renowned pianist and chamber musician; and Elizabeth Holler Ransom, a frequent chamber musician and performer in the Winston Salem area. Hilary Ginther is an opera performer who has sung with such companies as Wolf Trap Opera, Mississippi Opera and the Fargo-Moorhead Opera. Kathyrn Thomas Moyer has had a varied career as a vocal soloist and appeared as a featured soloist in the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Rachel Barker is pursing a career as an opera singer in the New York City area and recently received mention in a review in the New York Times. Alan Fey is a percussionist who has performed more than 10 world premieres of new classical music, and Michael Clark recently retired after serving as a music educator in Florida for many years."

Many scholarship winners have gone on to receive degrees in music from prestigious schools, such as the University of Indiana, Westminster Choir College, Manhattan School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Shenandoah Conservatory, Florida State University, Furman University and Belmont University. Other scholarship winners of renown include Heather Barker Whitney, a physics professor at Wheaton College in Illinois and Vanessa Thomas Fitsanakis, a biology professor at King University.

To fund the scholarship program, the club began holding a fashion show in 1972. The first event was held in the auditorium of Edgemont Towers and admission was $2. Reba June Green was the commentator, and Nancy (Mooney) Arnold entertained.

"In 1980 the fashion show was a double header," says Nancy Estes, "held at the United Coal Company Humanities Center, a fashion show was presented in the morning and "An Evening of Opera' was featured that night."

This year's fashion show is held at the Paramount Center for the Arts, Bristol, Tenn., Saturday, Nov. 22, at 3 p.m. The fashions are from Masengills in Johnson City, Tenn., and the models (including the mayors from both Bristols) are drawn from the community. The musical entertainment is provided by a string ensemble led by former scholarship winner Benjamin Dawson. Tickets are $20 and are available at the door or from club members prior to the show. Refreshments follow the show.

>> Former scholarship winner has international career

Mrs. John R. Dickey

Mrs. Madeline Hobson Bennett