Several student musicians will continue a decades-old tradition and partnership between the School of Music and the Hebrew Congregation of Chautauqua when they perform today.
At 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 23 in the Everett Jewish Life Center in Chautauqua, five students who received scholarships from the Hebrew Congregation will give a recital in gratitude. The recital is open to all and will take the place of the Hebrew Congregation’s usual Tuesday Conversations & Refreshments event.
The Hebrew Congregation of Chautauqua is a Jewish organization that intends to provide egalitarian worship opportunities to the Jewish community on the grounds, while also welcoming those from outside the faith who are curious about Judaism. The Hebrew Congregation has been on the grounds since 1960, and the scholarship program with the School of Music has existed for nearly as long.
“Shortly after (the founding), because of their commitment to supporting many facets of life at Chautauqua, they began giving these scholarships,” said Arthur Salz, historian and former president of the Hebrew Congregation. “It’s been a tradition that I don’t think has been broken in the 59 years (since), and we just are so pleased to be able to make this contribution to life in Chautauqua.”
The Hebrew Congregation of Chautauqua began with two Jewish women who were violinists at the School of Music and decided to arrange the first Jewish services on the grounds. Though no records directly connect the two violinists to the current scholarship program, it is possible they were the first link between the congregation and the School of Music.
“We did not find anything in the archives that said, ‘Oh, isn’t it terrific, it was two violinists (from the School of Music) who started this (congregation), so let’s continue contributing to the music school,’ ” Salz said, “But it’s very possible that the sentiment was there.”
The money for the scholarships comes from donations from the Hebrew Congregation community to the Chautauqua Foundation, that the School of Music then awards to students. The recipients do not have to be Jewish to receive one of the scholarships. Each year, five scholarships are awarded — to three Instrumental Program students and two Voice Program students — totaling about $2,500.
“Every year, we like to share what we’ve earned with the Chautauqua community,” said Renee Andrews, School of Music liaison and former president of the Hebrew Congregation.
For the students, the scholarship provides support toward their enrollment at the School of Music. For members of the congregation, it is a chance to show support for Chautauqua’s young artists as they make strides in their professional careers.
“These are all very talented, very serious young musicians, who are on their way up,” Andrews said. “But no matter what discipline you’re in, it’s very competitive. So the fact that we can give this little bit of help is a feel-good for us, it’s helpful for them, and the fact that they come and play for us, which helps their career development and gives us an afternoon of pleasure — it’s truly a win-win.”
The students performing today are oboist Fernando Yanez, bassoonist Christopher Witt, flutist Jiyun Yi, mezzo-soprano Sarah Zieba and baritone Evan Lazdowski. All except Zieba will be joined by one of three members of the School of Music faculty — Akiko Konishi, Shannon Hesse or Donna Gill — on the piano.