On Thursday, 15 or so Chautauquans sat on Hale and Judy Oliver’s porch to chat about adoption over red-peppered quiche and coffee.
There is a video of Sarah Ashcroft when she was 2 years old belting out “The Little Mermaid” from the confines of her stroller.
Now 22, the Chautauqua School of Music student working toward her master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music realizes singing was meant for her all along.
Through the Chautauqua Connections program, a community volunteer organization that links Chautauqua families with School of Music, dance and art students, Ashcroft was paired with Hale and Judy Oliver, who invited her and their other Connections students to dinner each Sunday. The students all bring a piece to play or sing.
As it turns out, the Olivers also provided scholarship support for Ashcroft to study at Chautauqua this summer. The Chautauqua Foundation reaches out to scholarship donors in the spring, inviting them to contact the scholarship recipient and connect during the season.
Of all 293 students at Chautauqua, 222 receive the support of scholarships from people who see boundless potential in a young artist, who want the arts to continue providing viable careers for people for generations, and who thrive off of the heart they uncover in every art form. In total, that means Chautauqua awards $610,000 of scholarship money to talented young students this year.
Laura Park, a violin student sponsored by Hale and Judy Oliver of Pittsburgh, appreciates the Chautauqua community’s warm embrace.
“I feel that the scholarship that was sponsored by Hale and Judy is extremely important, because it gave me an opportunity to study here — an opportunity that I might not have been able to have,” Park said.