Friends of Music

Helen Butler

President of Friends of Music
President's Greeting

Greetings from the President

Traditions form an important part of virtually everyone’s life. Traditions also are a major part of most organizations such as The Society of the Friends of Music. As we enter our 50th year of existence, I, as your newly elected president, am especially aware of our existing traditions, but also the need to be open to establish new ones.

     Our principal challenges as an organization also are traditionally the same from year to year:

     (1) Growing our income annually.

     (2) Maintaining flexibility to changes in the Jacobs School of Music so that we can continue as a valuable source of support for its deserving students.

     Our annual contribution income depends largely on our active membership numbers. We are grateful to our committed membership base, which provides generous annual support that will perpetually serve our student body. As key investors in the Jacobs School of Music, each one of us makes an extraordinary difference.

     As the cost of higher education increases, the role that scholarships play in guiding the college-decision process cannot be overemphasized. Annual support and endowed funds created by the Friends of Music strengthen the Jacobs School and allow us to help put an Indiana University education within reach of many talented and deserving students.

     We are encouraged by the generosity of our Friends and look to grow our membership, our contributions, and our impact to the Jacobs School in the years to come.

     Our present active membership is approximately 475 households and is largely centered in and around the Bloomington area. While that provides a core strength, it also signals that we need to find ways to build membership in important centers around the state where we are largely under represented, especially in comparison to the number of Jacobs School graduates and other alumni.  

     And we did take an important step in that direction recently, thanks to Anne Moss and her committee (Pam Burks, Laurie Burns McRobbie, Gayl Doster, and Henry Upper). The committee planned and put on a tremendously successful reception at the Lilly House in Indianapolis on July 18. Anne’s committee was augmented by staff members of the Lilly

House, staff members from the Jacobs School and the Friends of Music. Laurie Burns McRobbie and Dean Gwyn Richards, representing the Jacobs School of Music, co-hosted the event, which featured Sylvia McNair and the Pacifica Quartet performing musical selections that were received with great enthusiasm.

     In creating the list of invitees, the committee focused on Indianapolis residents who are not current members of the Friends of Music. Of the actual attendance, 60 percent fell into that category. We received a number of very positive comments following the event and see membership potential from a number of those who responded. Our strong and creative follow-up to such events will be important if we are to expand our membership base to important state locations not currently well represented.

     The Travel Grant Competition, which has long been a major element in our support of students at the Jacobs School of Music, is undergoing major procedural changes this year. Ever-increasing demand on facilities use and limitations on key faculty availability and time are the principal factors forcing those changes. If changes were not made, the survival of the Travel Grant Competition was questionable. Representatives of the Jacobs School and the Friends of Music met during the latter part of 2012 and this summer to work out solutions to these issues and have put a new and very promising program in place. Advanced technologies are being utilized to modernize and expand ease of entry for the students and to broaden the population of possible judges available for scoring entries to find the most outstanding finalists. Close cooperation by the Jacobs School and the Friends of Music has taken us to this point and diligent attention to our responsibilities in the new schedule should ensure that Travel Grant, better than ever, remains a keystone of our support efforts far into the future.  

     Planning for the Fall Gala is in its final stages and will be a “Don’t Miss It” occasion. We will begin the evening in Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union and plan for some exciting surprises there. Following the gala kickoff reception and dinner in Alumni Hall, we will travel to the Musical Arts Center, where we will have the joy of again seeing Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Be sure to mark Saturday, September 21, 2013, on your calendar.

     Our organization, like many other volunteer organizations, follows a traditional pathway in selecting officers of its governing board, members who are experienced in the organization and will serve for a specified but relatively short time period. By following this tradition the organization maintains a succession of leadership that hopefully brings not only sound judgment gained by exposure to previous leadership, but also new and fresh approaches to challenges both old and new. I am keenly aware of the things I have learned while serving on our board under five outstanding presidents: Pat Fell Barker, Tom Beczkiewicz, Anita Cast, Ruth Albright, and Jo Ellen Ham. I hope that I can display the judgment and wisdom shown by those presidents.

     Each year the Jacobs School of Music faces not only traditional challenges, but new issues created by societal changes related to economic conditions, educational expectations, and institutional competition. The Friends of Music must be flexible in our understanding and reaction to these changes if we are to stay relevant and successful in our mission. As is our tradition, discussion and response to the more pressing of these challenges will be a major part of our board deliberation this coming year. It should be an active and stimulating one for all of us.

Murray Robinson, President