The 39th annual Friends of East Carolina University School of Music Scholarship Gala will be this Saturday at Rock Springs Event Center at 6 p.m.
The Friends of the School of Music Board was established back in 1981 and was created to raise money for scholarships for talented music students. These scholarships will range from $1,000 up to $6,000, given to approximately eight to 12 students annually.
Mary Jane Gaddis, the Director of Development for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, explained that the event “is the major fundraiser for the Friends of Music board. The board is comprised of members of our community. They have raised well over $1 million for music scholarships.”
While tickets cost $150 for current friends and $175 for non-members, the money funds the scholarships which around 15 students are currently on. The tickets include dinner, drinks and performances by a range of ensembles.
The event originally started as drinks and dessert at Greenville’s country club. From there they needed to accommodate attendance, so it was moved to Rock Springs Event Center to allow for more space and to showcase more students. Chris Ulffers, the Director of the School of Music, explained the change the gala has gone through over the past years.
“It’s a black-tie event and one of the premier events in Greenville,” Ulffers said. “The biggest change has been the involvement of students. Years ago, it was faculty performers. Beginning in 2007 we started focusing on students performing.”
Among these student performances are the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Singers, Opera, Guitar, Jazz Ensemble and Percussion. In total, over 180 students will be performing.
Lori Wacker, Professor of Music Theory and Faculty Advisor for the Friends board, explained the gala is often attended by not only current ECU staff members but retired staff as well and the process of scholarship recipients accepting the award.
“Many current and retired faculty from the School of Music attend the gala each year. It is a fun event and supports a good cause,” Wacker said. “Often a student who has received a scholarship from the Friends organization will speak briefly to say thank you to the group.”
Jamie Kirby, president of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the School of Music, expresses how much she enjoys attending the gala and how much she admires the ECU music department with their hard work on the event.
“I consider the music gala to be one of the best events in Greenville each year. It is an elegant evening with good food and amazing entertainment. I continue to be impressed with the talent and poise of the students. I believe that our music department at ECU is one of the best in our state and probably in the country,” Kirby said
Tickets for the gala range from $150 to $175. For more information and for instructions on purchasing tickets, visit the ECU events calendar.