2019 Summer Music Clinic Scholarship winners announced

At our final spring concert Sunday, the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison awarded three Madison area high school students full scholarships to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Summer Music Clinic, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary of fostering young musicians.

Isabella Mazzara, a sophomore at Cambridge High School; Chelsea Melnick, a junior at Madison West High School, and Katelyn Petersen, a junior at Marshall High School will each receive $740 to cover tuition, room and board to the senior session of the UW Summer Music Clinic that last week of June.

Since 1981, the chorus has joined the university in offering students an opportunity to spend a week with teachers devoted to excellence in music education. The students can learn music theory, develop their skills, perform in ensembles with peers, and form lasting friendships, an experience that can inspire them to share their gift of music throughout their lives, perhaps pursue it as a career.

In submitting applications, all three choral students said they planned to pursue music degrees in college and become music teachers. Chelsea Melnick said she wanted to major in music education with an emphasis in choral conducting at the college level. All three also play the piano, and Izabella Mazzara received the scholarship awarded annually in recognition of Julia Landmark Foster, who for many years was the chorus accompanist.

With chorus director, Dr. Patrick Gorman, Barbara Kohler, scholarship committee chair, introduced the winners to a full house at Bethany United Methodist Church, venue for the third and final concert in a cappella group’s free spring concert series, “Sing Joyfully!”

While she has led this committee for a number years, Kohler said that with each year, she is increasingly delighted and impressed by the talent of the applicants and their passion for music. Given the excellent candidates, she said the panel of judges had an especially difficult time this year selecting the winners.

The merit-based scholarship program, now in its 38th year, is a like no other in the Madison area. That said, the nonprofit, a cappella chorus of 50 members is perhaps known best for its festive Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts, center stage in Great Hall at the Wisconsin Memorial Union since 1972.

Kohler said the chorus is able to award scholarships thanks to the generous support of its many patrons and proceeds from the Tudor concerts. When the chorus began the initiative in 1981, it reimbursed winners and their families, a bargain back then at $50 to attend clinic. Since 1991, the chorus has made payments directly to the summer music clinic on behalf of the winners, cumulatively awards exceeding $60,000 to more than 130 students.

With this being the 90th anniversary of the UW Summer Music Clinic, Kohler and Gorman extended their congratulations, and Elizabeth Snodgrass, clinic director, expressed her gratitude to the chorus for its scholarship initiative.

“Summer Music Clinic aims to provide every opportunity possible for young musicians to attend our camp,” Snodgrass said. “We have limited funding for full and partial scholarships each year, and many of our campers rely on outside organizations, schools, and individuals to provide the extra support they might need in order to attend summer programs like this one.”

Continued Snodgrass, “We are grateful for the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison’s endorsement and commitment to supporting young choral students so they can attend our camp through their scholarship program. Summer Music Clinic is a great place to continue developing musically when school programs are on break, and we encourage any interested students to take advantage of this opportunity and apply! 2019 marks the 90th anniversary of Clinic so it is a very special year to participate!”

Gorman was a clinic instructor while earning his doctorate in choral music at UW-Madison under the legendary Professor of Music Robert Fountain. In an interview earlier this year about the initiative, he said it was one things that most impressed him about the chorus when he became its director in 1995.

“I thought, what a great way to kind of assure sort of a passing of the baton to younger people,” Gorman said. He said that while the clinic is only for a week, it has much to offer.

“It’s an intense week, lots to take advantage of,” Gorman said. Recalling his experience, he said he taught two classes, music theory and voice, and directed a mixed chorus. “There’s a lot of fun things going on, and so it’s a really productive week, when friendships are made. I think people return home, and they feel like they’re better musicians.”

In the past, the chorus has awarded more than three scholarships, as many as 11 in the year 2000 when 410 covered tuition, room and board. But the nonprofit chorus, all of its members volunteering their time and talent, has limited funding. The chorus is most grateful for its loyal patrons and welcomes new ones. For more about the chorus and opportunities to contribute, please visit: https://www.philharmonicchorusofmadison.org/donate

Nicole Saunders