Donor Support Helps Elevate MSU Music

Concert sponsorships provide donors with unique opportunity to support the MSU College of Music.

Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series, 2015 performance of Viva Vivaldi at MSU’s Fairchild Theatre
MSU Opera Theatre’s fall 2015 performance of “Room with A View,” was supported by the Worthington Family Foundation.
The MSU Federal Credit Union Showcase Series featured “Handel’s Messiah,” a holiday tradition at Cobb Great Hall of the Wharton Center.
The MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist is Residence series closed the season with Tim Warfield Jr., jazz saxophone.
Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series includes the annual celebratory concert, “Happy Birthday Mozart” at MSU’s Fairchild Theatre.
The inaugural concert series for the Taylor Johnston Early Music Series included the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble.


Patrons and donors are key to bringing great music to life through a variety of performances developed and led by faculty at the College of Music.

In 2009, the College began offering individuals and groups the opportunity to show their support by sponsoring concerts or performances. The College’s National Leadership Council was the first to take hold of the new gifting opportunity, and sponsored the Collage III concert through the popular Showcase Series.

By the end of the first year, $28,000 was gifted through four concert sponsorships. Since then, an increasing number of patrons have joined in supporting student ensembles as well as faculty and visiting artists by becoming concert sponsors. Today, 24 concerts or series bear the names of or acknowledge long-time donors or patrons, totaling $182,000 in sponsorship support.

Dollars raised through concert sponsorships help provide funding to cover expenses related to guest artist stipends, travel and lodging, as well as marketing, box office, and front/back stage management. Sponsorship opportunities include:

  • Faculty artist concerts at $1,000
  • West Circle Series and Cello Plus Performances at $1,500
  • Showcase Series, jazz, and opera performances at $2,500 and $5,000
  • Concert series at $15,000 to $30,000

“Our generous sponsors provide the additional financial flexibility that permits us to develop and support an exceptional set of concert series that sets our College apart and moves it forward in significant ways,” says James Forger, dean of the College of Music.

The MSU Federal Credit Union became a concert sponsor shortly after the College launched the gifting opportunity. April Clobes, MSUFCU president and CEO, says the idea of sponsoring concerts aligns with the MSUFCU’s commitment to supporting the talents and hard work of MSU students, and to making East Lansing a great community to live and work.

April Clobes, MSUFCU President and Chief Executive Officer, says, “MSU Federal Credit Union is pleased to sponsor the College of Music's Showcase Series concerts. The concerts provide the opportunity for the students to perform for the community, highlighting their talents and hard work. The concerts help to make music accessible to the entire community, which makes East Lansing a great place to live and work. Many MSUFCU members have had the opportunity to attend the performances due to the credit union's sponsorship—and all were delighted!”

The close to $190,000 in concert sponsorships raised in the 2015-16 academic year is thanks in large part to the generosity of the MSUFCU for sponsoring the Showcase Series, Joanne and Bill Church for sponsoring the West Circle Series, and the Worthington Family Foundation for supporting the Opera Theatre season.

“We would like to thank Dean Jim Forger for the opportunity to sponsor the West Circle Series that showcases the world-class faculty of the MSU College of Music,” says Joanne Church. “And thank you to Deborah Moriarty for initiating the idea and nurturing it to its current success. It is so wonderful to have such fabulous venues that allow all people access to such outstanding performances. When Bill and I attend these concerts, we truly understand what Hans Christian Andersen meant when he penned his now famous quote: ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’”

The Taylor Johnston Early Music Series also contributed to the success and growth of the concert sponsorship program. Launched in the fall of 2015, the brand new series hosted a slate of visiting artists and provided opportunities for early music performance, appreciation, and education at MSU. The series was funded by a charitable gift to the College of Music by Taylor Johnston, MSU professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences.

“I’m delighted to help expose MSU students and the broader community to the beauty and intricacies of early music, played on real or facsimiles of musical instruments of that period, and played with the nuances and expression those instruments afford the player,” says Johnston.

See a list of current concert sponsors. For more information about concert sponsorship opportunities for the 2016-17 season, please call the College of Music Advancement Office at 517-353-9872 or email Rebecca Surian, director of development, at surain@msu.edu.

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