The Role and Mission of The Opera Club of The Villages
In 1997, the Opera Club of The Villages established the Harold S. Schwartz Music Scholarship program to honor the founder of The Villages and to commemorate his lifelong love of music. It is a goal of the Opera Club to encourage and support students of music in developing their talent and achieving their educational goals, which will in turn enrich all of our lives. Since 2005, more than $386,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to students in Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties. This year, after our 2018 auditions, $51,000 was awarded to eight talented winners.
During the school year, applications are sent to schools in the tri-county area. Students wishing to apply for the scholarships must be graduating seniors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. They must be planning to major or minor in music education or performance at the college or university of their choice. The student must complete the application and submit it along with an essay, two letters of recommendation, and official school transcripts.
After the submissions are reviewed, the qualified applicants are invited to audition before the Scholarship Judges of the Opera Club of The Villages. On the day of the audition, each applicant is first interviewed by our panel of judges, following which they will perform their musical selections. Upon completion of this process, the judges, who are music professionals, vote on the applicants deemed most worthy to receive scholarships.
In recent years, our judges have felt that some candidates from our local Villages High School may have raw talent, but their lack of professional training has kept them from attaining the next level. In light of this, the Board of Directors of the Opera Club has decided to establish a "Music Assistance Program" (MAP) and to devote up to $10,000 per year to partially defray the cost of lessons for younger students identified by music teachers at The Villages Charter High School.
Since last year, this initiative has been expanded by reaching out to even younger students. A new program named "Make Music" is being implemented in The Villages Charter Middle School. The music teachers have been asked to name promising boys and girls, for whom the Opera Club will provide private music lessons.
Of course, all these activities require money, so in addition to funds generated by our "3 Tenors plus One" concerts as well as special fundraising events, we rely on members and friends to help raise funds for our scholarship program.
If you would like to make a cash donation to our scholarship fund, please send your check to The Opera Club of The Villages, P.O. Box 1128, The Villages, FL 32158. We are a charitable organization under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS code and donations are tax deductible.
Saxophonist Ryan Gamerino
Clarinetist Marques Rudd
December Meeting Features Former Scholarship Winners
At the December 15, 2017 Opera Club meeting, members were able to see first hand how our scholarships are bearing fruit. Marques Rudd, who was one of our winners this year, entertained us with a couple of clarinet solos. He was followed by a 2012 scholarship winner, pianist Dominic Muzzi, who received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and is continuing his education at Indiana University. Another of this year's winners, Ryan Gamerino, entertained us by playing the saxophone, and the evening's performances concluded with mezzo-soprano Kaitlyn McMonigle, who was a 2010 scholar-ship winner and who will be our "plus one" at the 2018 Three Tenors Plus One concert. Kaitlyn also received her bachelors degree from Florida State and her masters from Indiana University, and her solos were accompanied by Dominic Muzzi on the piano. Prior to the performances, members enjoyed snacks and good fellowship in a festive atmosphere, seated at round tables. The evening concluded with desserts and the opportunity to chat with our guest artists.