A Naples institution since 1965!
The Naples Music Club was incorporated in 1965 and became a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs in 1996. The founders were Tom Truesdale (President & Director), Grace Truesdale (Vice President & Director), and G.E. Carroll (Secretary-Treasurer & Director). In Tom Truesdale’s first message to the 50 members of the Club, he noted that the organization had a challenging goal, stating “The National and State Federation of Music Clubs offers an extensive program of awards and scholarships to further the advancement of young people with outstanding talent in any chosen field of music. As a federated club, it is our duty to open wide this door of opportunity. Among other goals, let this be our primary goal.”
The organization moved rapidly to fill the music vacuum in Naples scheduling monthly concerts and broadcasting a 90-minute radio program of classical musical music over WNFM four times a week. In 1968 it invited other arts organizations to form Naples’ first Festival of the Arts. This 10-day endeavor presented a showcase of concerts, art exhibits, theatre and workshops every year until 1977. Proceeds provided money for student scholarships for each of the participating organizations. This source of revenue enabled the Club to begin to address its goal of providing scholarships to young people.
The first scholarship recipient (1969) was Anita Boqvist, an advanced piano student studying with Dr. George Booker, the immediate past president of the Music Club. In addition to her schoolwork, Anita was the organist of The Moorings Presbyterian Church and taught nine piano pupils.
The following year marked the official launch of the scholarship program, with three scholarships awarded. A commitment was made at that time to strive for excellence in all aspects of the competition. This was reflected in the selection of judges – one 3 of whom had taught at Julliard, another was the director and conductor of the Ft. Myers Symphony Orchestra, and the third was an organist from Ft. Myers.
Many of the students auditioning for scholarships had never had private music lessons, learning only by participating in the music programs in the public schools. Sadly in the spring of 1979, the middle and high school orchestra programs in the Collier County public schools were discontinued. Following a “Save Our Strings” appeal led by Nancy Neumeyer, President of the Music Club, and Jerry Casey, a director, a much stronger orchestra program was reinstated and enlarged in the fall of 1979 under the leadership of Judy Evans. This has been widely hailed as a hallmark effort to preserve the role of music in public school education. This accomplishment demonstrated the depth of the organization’s commitment to enabling young people to excel in music as many of could not afford private lessons.
1979 also marked the formation of the Piano Fortes, a performance group that met monthly at members’ homes. From that group, four women started “Forty Fingers,” an eight-hand piano quartet that delighted Club and community audiences for many years. Donations were gratefully accepted at their performances and this revenue became a major source of funding for the Club’s scholarship fund.
Benefit events began to occur on a regular basis and by 1980, 52 students had been awarded a total of $15,000 in scholarships to attend summer programs all over the United States.
To fund these awards, the Club produced benefit performances featuring professional and semi-professional musicians from nearby universities and commercial establishments; recitals by local scholarship winners and Club members; a dance with the Naples High Swing Band at the Beach Club’s Sunset Room; a concert by the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble; and sponsorship of the local Naples Players in “The Music Man” with their Pops Orchestra in the pit.
During the 1986-87 season, sixteen awards were presented. The scholarship program was revised to include students from grades six through eleven, with the middle school students no longer in competition with the high school students. Interestingly seniors were not allowed to compete since the Club felt that winners should return the next year to share what they had learned over the summer 4 with others. (That decision was rescinded several years later.) That season, two full scholarships for six weeks of summer study were awarded in the high school category. Other scholarships ranged from one to two weeks in music camp to private study. Another new feature was an award for summer study presented to the school music instructor who most effectively promoted the club’s program during the school year.
This decade was a period of expansion and major new initiatives. The number of scholarships increased from 14 awards for a total of $4700 in 1990 to 55 awards for a total of $19,550 in 1999.
One of the nicest compliments ever made to the Club came from William Clark, director of the Florida Southern College Summer Music Camp, one of the favorite summer programs attended by our winners. Mr. Clark’s letter, dated July 13, 1993, stated:
“The Florida Southern College Summer Music Camp has just concluded what our staff believes was our finest two camp session in our eight years on the Florida Southern College campus. What helped make the sessions so successful were the outstanding students you rewarded with Naples Music Club scholarships.” “Not only are these students a credit to your community, but also your organization is a credit for taking the time to select and provide the financial aid to show these students that you care about them. This interest in young people will pay off in the future for the entire area. I hope you will be able to continue this recognition.”
One of the most significant things to occur in the decade was the creation of the Club’s first endowment fund in 1995. It came in the form of a gift of $25,000 by Mr.& Mrs. Samuel Turiel in memory of their son Daniel, one of three founding members of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also principal clarinetist of the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Naples Concert Band, and was founder, president and artistic director of Gulf Coast Opera Company.
Since its inception, the esteemed Turiel Award has been presented each year to the 11th or 12th grader (12th grader only in recent 5 years) based on musicianship, scholarship and community service. Oliver de Clercq was one of the first Turiel Award Winners. 1998 was another banner year with the establishment of the Clifford L. Saby Scholarship Fund. In the ensuing years, Mr. Saby’s grants totaled over $64,000, permitting the Club to dramatically enhance the organization’s ability to provide scholarships and instruments to students.
At the beginning of this new century, a $3,000 grant from the Immokalee Foundation led to the creation of the Immokalee Project, with its goal of improving performance skills of Immokalee music students through instruction in small groups. In 2001 the Club expanded the project and assumed all of the funding, receiving grants subsequently from The Naples Women’s Club, the Community Foundation of Collier County and the United Arts Council.
In 2001 the Scholarship Fund received a further boost from a gift of $25,000 from the estate of Raymond and Ruth Schultz. In addition, $15,000 from Clifford Saby supported the Collier County Education Foundation’s musical instrument program under the direction of Judy Evans.
Small performance groups for adult musicians continued to flourish, meeting on a regular basis to share music and fellowship and perform informally for each other and in concert. The members of the piano groups were generous in donating their time to volunteer as accompanists for the students auditioning with the hopes of receiving a scholarship.
The first of many benefit recitals Maestro William Noll hosted in his salon took place in 2008. Also that year a program of student recitals was initiated, offering opportunities for students to enhance their listening skills, gain self-confidence and practice good performance habits.
One of the problems with the scholarship program was that the recipients tended to be those who had benefited from early music lessons. Although the public schools began offering band in the sixth grade, not all middle schools had an orchestra. As a result, students from low-income families were severely disadvantaged in spite of the fact that scientific studies had clearly demonstrated the importance of music 6 instruction in improving verbal and mathematical capabilities.
An expansion of the Club’s outreach programs occurred in 2009, when the vision of President Karen Marcotte and the generosity of the Haegg family led to the creation of the Haegg Scholarship Fund. Beginning in middle school, the winners of the Haegg Award receive private lessons for a maximum of three years. It is intended for economically needy students who have never studied privately.
For many years, the members of the Club donated their time and talent to raise money for the Scholarship Program. The Club recognized and formalized their efforts creating a program called “Music à la Carte” in which student and adults musicians provide concerts in private homes. Contributions by attendees have become an important source of not only revenue but new members to the Club.
In 2010 the Club made a major commitment to support a pre-K literacy program that utilized the violin, a Mariachi program that had already been established in Immokalee, and to assume responsibility for the Middle School Master Class Program for small group instruction. These programs had been developed by Judy Evans. The Master Class Program was very successful in enabling students to learn enough to compete for the Haegg Award for private music lessons.
A gift from the Fernando Family of $50,000 in 2012 in memory of Laura Mahnil Fernando, supported the creation of an after-school keyboard program in Title 1 Schools (schools that draw students from economically disadvantaged families).
Special awards continued to recognize musical excellence and provide scholarships, including the Naples Opera Society Award, the Bert G. Phillips Award given by Classic Chamber Concerts, and the Phyllis S. Warren Piano Award. In addition to these, award money was increased through contributions made by generous members and by a growing number of non-member donors, resulting in increased scholarship 7 dollars. The number of scholarship applicants continued to increase each year, with a record of 119 competitors in 2015.
One of the instruments that was under-represented among lower income families was that of piano. As a result, the LEAP Program (Learning from Elementary to Advanced Piano) was founded by Anne Roberts and Myra Williams who each contributed $50,000 to endow it in 2015. The Steinway Gallery agreed to become a partner in the project by providing each recipient of the scholarship a used piano.
In 2018 the Hammes Musician Scholar Award became the successor to the Turiel Award. This award is now funded by Gordon and Judy Hammes. The criteria are the same as those established for the Turiel Award. In 2019 the organization’s name was changed from the “Naples Music Club” to the Music Foundation of Greater Naples.” The use of the term “Club” did not adequately describe the much broader role of the organization. In addition, the use of “Greater Naples” reflected the broad geographic area of activities and donors. During the past ten years the Music Foundation’s commitment to financially disadvantaged students has increased rapidly, enabled by the generous support of its private donors and grants from the Community Foundation of Collier County, the Naples Children and Education Foundation, West Bay Community Charitable Foundation and the The Education Foundation -- Champions for Learning. Because of this support, the scholarship program awarded $52,255 to 68 students in 2019 and the outreach program achieved a high of $100,311,serving almost 600 children from low-income families).
The Music Foundation will continue to collaborate with schools and area organizations to support, implement, encourage and recognize excellence through its various community and outreach programs. Learning to play a musical instrument at any age has become increasingly important even as schools throughout the nation are eliminating the arts from their school systems.