Jo Ellen Ham
President of Friends of Music
Greetings from the PresidentMy term as president of the Friends of Music began on July 1. “What a time to be president!” I thought. Symphony orchestras and opera companies are involved in financial crises. Funding for all the cultural arts has taken a hit. And at IU? Budget cuts and increases in tuition. How depressing!
But “What a time to be president!” I’m thinking now, with eager anticipation. July 1, you see, was a very special evening. I arrived at the IU Auditorium early with my family, all Friends (members of the Friends of Music). We spent the pre-concert time greeting Friends, all of us eagerly awaiting the Festival Orchestra concert with Joshua Bell. One Friend had recently recovered from a serious illness and was excited to be able to resume her concert attendance. Unexpectedly, I saw two Friends from Florida, who had planned their visit to Bloomington around this event. My husband and I were surprised to be seated next to two Friends, special friends indeed. Everywhere Friends!
After the intermission, the guest conductor, Michael Stern, announced to the audience that the orchestra and Joshua Bell would be playing at the acclaimed Ravinia Festival north of Chicago the following evening. The Ravinia calendar describes the IU Centennial Concert: “The brilliant young musicians from America’s largest music conservatory are showcased in a dazzling spectrum of colorful music…” along with “superstar Joshua Bell, who earned his artist diploma from Indiana University….” (Aren’t we proud Friends! And we’re not surprised that this concert was selected as the #1 “best event of the week” in both the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago. After all, we heard it first — in Bloomington!)
Stern continued to praise the Jacobs School, which indeed is celebrating its 100th anniversary, calling it “a gift to the entire nation” because “there is no greater resource of talent in the country than Indiana University.” He disputed the commonly heard lament that classical music is in trouble. “Music is not in trouble,” Stern asserted. “What may be in trouble is the way we prioritize things, but that is something we can do something about.”
And that, of course, is why the Friends of Music is more important now than ever. Times and circumstances are admittedly difficult, but we can make a difference. We’re a single mission organization: “to raise scholarship funds so the best and the brightest can attend the Jacobs School,” according to Ruth Albright. Ruth will continue her leadership as Past President and editor of the Libretto. Vice President George Korinek,
Secretary Laurie Burns McRobbie, and Treasurer Murray Robinson provide
strong leadership for the Friends of Music. Board members represent a range of experience and talents, all dedicated to our mission.
In addition, we have incredible support from Assistant Development Officer, our “go to” person Amanda Schkeeper, and assistant Matt Wisley; from Senior Development Officer Melissa Korzec and newly hired Associate Casey Chell; and from our wonderful Dean Gwyn Richards, Associate Dean Eugene O’Brien, and the Jacobs School faculty and staff.
But the Society of the Friends of Music is not about the officers or the Board or the Jacobs School personnel. It’s all about YOU – and what your generosity provides for the most important part: the talented Jacobs School STUDENTS.
I’ll long remember that inspiring July 1 concert – and conductor
Michael Stern’s words, too. The Jacobs School of Music, at 100, is top-rated. We know that; many of us have the constant good fortune to reap the benefits of the virtuosity in our midst. But we have a part to play in the School’s future. Let’s broaden our group of Friends – the person sitting next to you at the opera, your neighbor or colleague, a family
member. Invite someone to our exciting Fall Celebration, where we’ll be inspired again by the stories of our past and the plans and dreams for the future of the Jacobs School of Music.
Yes, what a time to be a member of the Friends of Music. Of course, there are challenges ahead, but the rewards of helping these talented young musicians receive scholarship funds to attend the IU Jacobs School of Music are so great! Please join us this year in in our efforts.
Jo Ellen Ham, President