Blair Community Scholars Program to provide greater access to music education
In September 2022, the Vanderbilt Blair School of Music secured $5 million in funding for the pilot phase of a comprehensive scholarship, the Blair Community Scholars Program, which recruits highly talented students from underrepresented and vulnerable backgrounds. Believing that, like athletics, music can be a pathway to higher education and upward socioeconomic mobility, Cal Turner Jr., BA’62, and Michael Michelson, parent of a Blair alumna, have joined forces to fund the launch.
The comprehensive scholarship program covers not only full tuition, room and board, but all expenses of earning a music degree—such as travel to auditions, competitions and performances; instrument purchase, repair and maintenance; opportunities for summer study and more.
“The arts are a pathway to socioeconomic mobility,” said Lorenzo F. Candelaria, Mark Wait Dean of the Vanderbilt Blair School. “I’ve walked that path, first as a fifth grader whose visit to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra spurred a decision to play the violin. I was the recipient of scholarships that allowed me to become a musicologist and dean of the Blair School. Reaching those milestones allowed me to break generational cycles of poverty in my family. This program will offer the same for generations of musicians and their families as it embraces the notion that ability is more widespread than opportunity.
“The program will also build new audiences for classical music, helping to secure the future of this art form we all love,” he added. “While many well-intentioned efforts to build new audiences have yielded brief but impermanent successes, the Blair Community Scholars program presents an enduring approach to diversifying and growing arts audiences.”
The inaugural cohort will enroll at Vanderbilt in fall 2023.