Coronavirus concerns stopped the Opera Club of The Villages scholarship award auditions for the first time in 23 years. But 16 local high school music students are still winners, thanks to the generosity of club members and local donations.
“I’m happy to announce that the Opera Club will award $24,000 to music scholarship applicants who were not able to audition due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Gerri Piscitelli, Opera Club president announced.
The Club had scheduled the Harold S. Schwartz Music Scholarship auditions for April 4, but it was called off due to COVID-19.
The list of scholarship winners: Lisa Marino, Sophia Welsh, Amanda Woodley, Samantha Tepper, Nathan Tieche, Taylor Inmon, Julianna Tuttle, Matthew Raisch, Karrah Christensen, Cynthia Shard, Zoe Buschena, Lily Morse, Naomi Taylor, Alexa Kirshfield, Nephtali Jimenez and Emilia Gamero. They represent the following high schools: Villages Charter, Westport, South Lake, Leesburg, Vanguard, Eustice, Trinity, Forest High and Lake Minneola.
Marty Taylor, chairman of the club’s scholarship committee, reported to members the credentials of the applicants. Reports focused on musical training, expertise, and instrumental and vocal accomplishments.
“The Board of the Opera Club will award $1,500 to each Music Scholarship Applicant,” Piscitelli stated. “We feel that their musical achievements, academic excellence and community contributions should be rewarded.”
Piscitelli added the annual fundraiser, “Three Tenors Plus One;” contributions from Villages organizations, and donations from Opera Club members and friends, allowed the club to award scholarships.
“Our aim is to help these young musicians so they can reach their dreams as they begin their studies for careers in music education, instrumental or vocal performance, music ministry and music therapy,” she stated.
A check will be sent in August to the college where the student has enrolled as a major or minor in music, Piscitelli added.
The club’s annual fundraiser,” Three Tenors Plus One” at The Sharon, earned $15,000 less than last year, Piscitelli noted, adding: “If we want to continue awarding generous scholarships to area students, we need to generate more funds.
“We appeal to organizations to consider donating to the Harold S Schwartz Music Scholarship Program.”