For Wichita Musical Club, scholarships are key to music appreciation

Prissy Rives, scholarship chair for the Wichita Musical Club
Prissy Rives, scholarship chair for the Wichita Musical Club, has many musical pieces in her home, including this Crown Organ, thought to be more than 100 years old. Rives’ husband, Robert, earned a master’s degree from Wichita State in 1994 and her daughter, Robin Rives McAdoo, earned a master’s in vocal performance at WSU.

There was a time when the genteel ladies of Wichita enthusiastically applied to become members of the Wichita Musical Club, which held elegant teas and holiday banquets where not only guests would perform but also talented members of the club.

    That time, however, appears to be a remnant of a bygone era, says Prissy Rives, a past president who now is the club’s scholarship chair and one of only about two dozen remaining members.

    “You used to have to apply to be a member of this club, and now we beg people to join,” Rives says with a laugh.

    The Wichita Musical Club was founded in 1892, making it the oldest continuously operating music club in the United States. Its primary purpose for existing was to support an appreciation for music — support that included awarding music scholarships to students at both Wichita State University and Friends University.


“Music brings beauty to our lives.” 

- Prissy Rives

    This summer, the club moved $25,000 in funding for the Geraldine Williams/Mary Reck Music Scholarship from its coffers to the WSU Foundation to administer along with two other club scholarships the foundation already manages. All three scholarships are awarded to students in the School of Music in the WSU College of Fine Arts.

    “We just don’t know how long we’ll hold on,” Rives said about the club’s uncertain future. “We’re trying, but we see that it may very likely not survive.”

    Geraldine Williams and Mary Reck were longtime club members who donated generously to the club to support music scholarships. In years gone by, candidates for all three scholarships were required to audition before club members. A stipulation for those who won the awards was that they perform for the club during the upcoming year. That stipulation still exists today, Rives said.

    “That is one of the best things about being in this club, the opportunity to see gifted young people sing, play an instrument, even dance,” she said.

    Many club members were talented musicians, vocalists and performers in their own right and enjoyed entertaining one another, said Rives, who plays several instruments and also sings. Though the Wichita Musical Club is not as large or active as it once was, she said, the passion for music will always sustain its members.

    “Music brings beauty to our lives,” she said. “One of the very best things you can learn to do in your life is to perform through music. It adds so much value and character to your life. That’s a big part of why we consider these scholarships to be so important.”

    The Geraldine Williams/Mary Reck Music Scholarship will be awarded for the first time through the WSU Foundation in the 2015-16 school year.  

  

circle arrow If you would like to establish a scholarship to help deserving students in the College of Fine Arts, please contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts, at 316-978-7307 or at diana.gordon@wichita.edu.

Velma Wallace

 
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