School of Music gets national grant

By Mark Indreika

The NIU School of Music recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts which will allow it to expand on its scholarship program designed for exceptional students headed for professional careers in music.

“It’s a very significant recognition of what we do here by the national endowment,” said music department Assistant Chairman Allan O’Connor. “We’re in the company of some of the real heavyweight schools in the United States because this money is very very difficult to obtain. It’s a great honor for us to have this award.”

O’Connor said the grant was worth $4,000 and falls under the endowment category of music professional training. He said the money will help pay the scholarships of both graduate and undergraduate students who are successfully pursuing a professional career in music.

Ellen Kotzen, a National Endowment for the Arts spokeswoman, said the agency only gave out 38 of these grants nationwide during fiscal year 1986. She said the grants for that year were worth a total of $386,000.

O’Connor said a condition of the grant requires NIU’s music school to match the contribution from its main scholarship fund on a 50-50 basis. So the total amount of scholarship money will be $8,000. He said this is a standard operating procedure with most arts grants.

The grant was written for students studying chamber, orchestral or instrumental music, he said.

O’Connor said the grant is given to schools with the highest number of graduates having professional careers. He said about 25 percent of all NIU undergraduates in the music school get jobs as professional musicians, but the percentage of NIU graduate students in music who get professional jobs is much higher.

e also said schools receiving the grant are judged by the number of instructors they have who are professional musicians.

The music school received the same grant last year, but it was only for $2,000, O’Connor said. He said the grant probably was increased because of the high quality work which is being done by Anthony Padilla and Kathe Jarka, the two students who received the scholarship money last year.

e said Padilla is an undergraduate who made it to the finals of the Naumberg piano competition last year. “It’s the most prestigious piano competition in the world,” O’Connor said.

Jarka, a graduate student last year, is a member of the Shanghai String Quartette, he said.

O’Connor said the school wants to give a portion of this year’s award to an outstanding minority student. He also said a portion of the money could go to members of NIU’s Westbrook String Quartette. However, “we haven’t finalized any decisions on it.”

Sponsored Projects Office Director Linda Schwarz said NIU received a record $9.71 million from federal funds and other private organizations in fiscal year 1987.