Historical Highlights

The Naples Music Club – Our First 50 Years

Celebrating 50 years of building a musically connected community through education, scholarship awards, performance and outreach

1965–1974

The Naples Music Club incorporated on January 29, 1965, making it the oldest organization in the Naples area devoted to music. Subscribers to the Articles of Incorporation were Tom Truesdale (President and Director), Grace Truesdale (Vice President and Director) and G.E. Carroll (Secretary-Treasurer and Director). Charter members numbered 26.

The Club became federated March 30, 1966, as a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Florida Federation of Music Clubs and Royal Poinciana District. Monthly concerts featuring performances by members began in the fall.

The First Year Book featured a calendar of events, including programs for the monthly meetings of the Naples Music Club, local concerts, and Florida Federation of Music Clubs meetings. The directory of members contained 38 entries.

Also in 1966, the Club broadcast a 90-minute radio program of classical music over WNFM, entitled “Concert Hall Series,” four times a week, later adding complete operas. These broadcasts were discontinued in 1971 when the radio station changed its program format. During this period, 723 symphonic broadcasts were presented, and 18 complete operas with narration were produced. In addition, 10 concerts of the Boston Symphony were aired.

In 1968, members of the Naples Music Club invited other organizations dedicated to the arts to form the first Festival of the Arts. Joining them were the Naples Art Association, the Naples Artcrafters and the Naples Players. This 10-day combined effort presented the community with a showcase of concerts, art exhibits, theatre and workshops every year until 1977. Proceeds provided money for student scholarships for each of the participating organizations.

The Naples Music Club and its members received multiple awards from the National Federation of Music Clubs in 1967-68. These awards are listed in the Third Year Book. Grace Truesdale was given the highest award of the National Federation of Music Clubs for her outstanding work as State Chairman of National Music Week in 1968. In the 52 year history of the Florida Federation of Music Clubs, this was the first time an individual received this award.

The Naples Music Club began the annual awarding of scholarships in 1969, with the first recipient pianist Anita Boqvist, who attended the summer session of Florida State University. The following year, the Club was able to expand its scholarship programs, and funds were awarded to three students to attend summer camp.

By the end of its first five seasons of awarding scholarships, the Club, in 1974, was able to award $7,112 to deserving scholarship winners.

1975–1984

By 1975, the Club had become more and more actively involved with the State and National Federation, winning numerous awards, and, in 1976, the Florida Federation of Music Clubs State Convention was hosted by the Naples Music Club.

[As a side note, the Naples Music Club dues in 1975 for couples was $12.50 and $10 for individuals. As a comparison, dues in 2015 were $50 for families and $35 for individuals.]

In the spring of 1979, a middle and high school orchestra program that existed in four Collier County public schools was discontinued. Following a “Save Our Strings” appeal led by members of the Naples Music Club, a much stronger orchestra program was reinstated and enlarged. This was widely hailed as a hallmark effort to preserve the role of music in public school education.

1979 also marked the formation of the Piano Fortes, a piano-performing group that met monthly at members’ homes. It eventually grew to 20 members. From this group, four women started “Forty Fingers,” an eight-hand piano quartet that delighted Club and community audiences for many years. Donations were gratefully accepted for the Club’s Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship program expanded over the years, and benefit events began to occur on a regular basis. By 1980, 52 students had been awarded $15,000 in scholarships to attend summer programs all over the United States.

A Music Club Chorus was formed and matured into a fine group of singers.

The 1981–1982 season saw one of the largest scholarship awards in the Club’s history made possible by a concert by the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble.

The “Sing-A-Long Messiah” was also initiated during this season and became an annual event. It also marked the end of the Naples Music Club’s affiliation with the National Federation of Music Clubs.

1985–1994

The 1985–1986 season made it possible for the Club to award three full scholarships for summer music study, thanks to a generous testamentary memorial to Dorothy Acevedo.

During the 1986–1987 season, sixteen scholarships were awarded, the largest number in the Club’s history. The scholarship program was revised to include students from grades six through eleven, with the Middle School students no longer in competition with the High School students. Another new feature was the first time award for summer study to the school music instructor who most effectively promoted the club’s program during the school year.

In 1988–1989, a Development Committee was established to further broaden the Scholarship Fund. As part of this effort, over thirty people contributed $3,500 to the Scholarship Fund.

In 1991, a mission statement was put forth: “The purpose of the Naples Music club is to promote and foster quality music in the Naples area through (1) student scholarships used for in-depth study during summer months, and (2) selected music programs presented by its members to nourish their talents and training, and enrich other people’s lives through their music.“

During the 1991-92 season the Naples Music Club joined with the Fine Arts Society in offering a combined scholarship program to talented students.

In 1993, a new mission statement was adopted: “The purpose of the Naples Music Club is to provide scholarships for student musicians; to support the school system’s music programs; to foster and promote music in the Naples area; and to afford the opportunity for members to perform either amongst themselves or in concerts.”

1995–1999

Membership in 1995 stood at 150.

1995 was the year that the Club established its first endowment fund thanks to a gift of $25,000 from Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Turiel in memory of their son, Daniel. Daniel was one of three founding members of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, serving as their original principal clarinetist and personnel director. He was also principal clarinetist of the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Naples Concert Band, and was founder, president and artistic director of Gulf Coast Opera Company. Since its inception, the esteemed Turiel Award has been presented each year to the 11th or 12th grader (12th grader only in recent years) based on competition score, music achievement, scholastic grade point average, an essay, a personal interview and a recital performance.

In 1998, the Clifford L. Saby Scholarship Fund came into existence as a result of Mr. Saby’s hearing a performance of the Club’s student winners and his desire to help develop musical talents in children. His grants, totaling over $64,000 over a period of years, dramatically enhanced the Club’s ability to provide scholarships. Mr. Saby served as a member of the Club’s Board of Directors from 2001 to 2007.

In 1999, the Club’s mission statement was revised to read: “The purpose of the Naples Music club is fourfold: to foster and promote music in the Naples area; to provide scholarships for student musicians; to support the music programs in Collier County schools; to afford an opportunity for Club members to perform, either among themselves or in concert.”

In 1999, the Collier County Education Foundation selected the Naples Music Club as an Outstanding Partner in Education, recognizing the Club’s work supporting the music education of students since 1970.

Meanwhile, the Club’s Scholarship Competition continued to attract more and more applicants, with awards totaling $10,000 in 1995 and $17,000 in 1999.

Organized by Richard Holmberg, special programs provided by touring groups from the Schools of Music of both Northwestern University and Indiana University began to become part of the Club’s concert schedule presented free of charge on Sunday afternoons and continued for a number of years.

2000–2004

At the beginning of this new century, a $3,000 grant from the Immokalee Foundation led to the creation of the Immokalee Project, which had as its objective to improve the performance skills of Immokalee music students through instruction in small groups. In 2001, the Club expanded the project and assumed all of the funding, receiving grants subsequently from The Naples Women’s Club, the Community Foundation and the United Arts Council.

In 2001, the District School Board presented the Club with an award recognizing the Club’s continued financial support of the Collier County Choral Program and the Choral Library.

In 2001, the Club received a gift of $25,000 from the estate of Raymond and Ruth Schultz. This donation became part of the Scholarship Fund.

Also in 2001, Clifford L. Saby donated $15,000 to the Music Club in support of the Collier County Education Foundation’s musical instrument program under the direction of Judy Evans. This was used to purchase instruments for use by children enrolled in the program.

In 2002, the Music Department and the Principal of Immokalee High School presented the Naples Music Club with an award for outstanding support of the students in Immokalee schools.

By the 2003-2004 season, there were two new piano performance groups—the Crescendos (first recital was on May 13, 1993) and the Legatos (first recital was on March 14, 1997).  A new instrumental group, the Glissandos, was also formed (second recital was held on March 6, 2000).

January 25, 2004, marked the date of the first Members’ Concert, a weekend afternoon tradition that continues to this day.

2005–2009

According to Scholarship Committee reports, in 2005 the Club awarded $19,100, including $2,000 to the Turiel winner, to the 36 winners out of 79 applicants who competed.

Small performance groups for adult musicians continued to flourish, meeting on a regular basis to share music and fellowship and performing informally for each other and in concert.

A new Naples Music Club logo was created and used for the first time in 2005.

In 2007, the Naples Music Club adopted a vision statement, which read, “Our vision is a musically connected community where individuals can fulfill their artistic dreams.”

A revised mission statement was adopted in the spring of 2007 as well: “The Mission of The Naples Music Club is to support music education and performance, to provide scholarships, and to engage in collaborative outreach efforts within Naples and its neighboring communities.” To accomplish its mission, the Club: 1) Presents high quality musical events for a variety of audiences; 2) Provides awards and scholarships to encourage music students to achieve excellence in their art; 3) Collaborates with schools and area musical organizations to support, encourage and recognize excellence through various outreach programs; and 4) Affords opportunities for club members to develop their talents by performing for each other and in concert.

In December of 2007, the Club launched a new Website, www.naplesmusicclub.org, a project organized by Director and Webmaster Jeannette Boucher, who also initiated the Club’s first e-newsletter.

The first of many benefit recitals Maestro William Noll hosted in his salon took place in 2008. Entitled “Piano Magic,” the title could not have been more prophetic. The amazing thirteen-year-old piano virtuoso and composer Conrad Tao was the Club’s special guest introduced to us by Maestro Noll.

Also in 2008, a program of student recitals was initiated, providing opportunities for students to enhance their listening skills, gain self-confidence and practice good performance habits.

A significant expansion of the Club’s outreach programs occurred in 2009, when the vision of President Karen Marcotte and the generosity of the Haegg family led to the creation of The Haegg Scholarship Fund, resulting in the annual awarding of the Haegg Award, which provides private lessons for economically needy students who have never studied privately.

An outgrowth of the Club’s adult performance groups was “Music a la Carte,” a program established in 2009 in which members of the Club and some of the scholarship recipients provide concerts in private homes. Contributions by attendees are an important source of revenue to the Club.

2010–15

To celebrate the Club’s awarding of its first scholarship to recipient Anita Boqvist, now Anita Boqvist Smith, the Club invited her as its honored guest speaker at its Scholarship Winners’ Recital in May of 2010. She began her music teaching career by teaching at three area high schools before moving to Boca Raton in 1985. There she has conducted choruses and taught vocalists who have excelled in district festivals in Florida and the Southeastern U.S.

In 2010, the Club made a major commitment to support a pre-K literacy program that utilized the violin and a Mariachi program that had already been established in Immokalee, and to assume responsibility for the Middle School Master Class Program for small group instruction. These programs had been developed by NMC director and educator Judy Evans.

In 2011, the Club received one of the prestigious United Arts Council “Stars in the Arts” awards.

In the same year, Collier County Education Foundation awarded the Club its “Get on the Bus” award for its collaborative outreach efforts.

A gift from the Fernando Family in 2012, in memory of Laura Mahnil Fernando, enabled the creation of an after-school piano program in Title 1 schools (schools that draw students from economically disadvantaged families).

Special awards continued to recognize musical excellence and provide scholarships, including the Naples Opera Society Award, Bert G. Phillips Award given by Classic Chamber Concerts, and the Phyllis S. Warren Piano Award. Added to these award monies were increased contributions made by generous members and by a growing number of donors other than members, resulting in increased scholarship dollars.

The number of scholarship applicants continued to increase each year, with a recorded of 119 competitors in 2015. A total of $43,750 in scholarships was awarded to 56 students in 30 schools.

During the past five years, the Club’s commitment to financially disadvantaged students has increased rapidly, enabled by the generous support of its private donors and grants from the Collier County Community Foundation, the Naples Children and Education Foundation, West Bay Community Charitable Foundation and The Education Foundation–Champions for Learning.  Because of this support, the Club’s budget for scholarships and outreach programs reached an all-time high of $127,000 in 2014-15.

Summaries of the Club’s major outreach programs reported in its 2014-5 season are as follows:

MusicScores! Pre-K Literacy/Violin Program – 
310 four-year-old Head Start children received literacy-based violin lessons this year. The children benefited from the development of aural skills, pre-reading skills, focus, fine motor skills and improved memory and self-discipline. A Naples Children and Education Foundation grant allowed the program to be expanded to two additional sites the following year, reaching 400 children. A statistician is working to document the impact. The preliminary results are exciting!

Middle School Band, Orchestra and Chorus Master Classes – 
Second and third year middle-school students who have never studied privately are nominated by their school music teacher to participate in five, ninety-minute lessons. These small group lessons (2-5 students) are taught by professional musicians or FGCU upperclassmen music education majors. Sixty young people benefitted from lessons this year.

Haegg Program
 – Seven students selected for the Haegg Encouragement Award received private lessons this year. All progressed significantly, and many achieved musical honors. The early impact of this program has been substantial. It encourages young people to continue their music studies in their high school years. It is transforming the lives of the participants.

Class Piano Program – 
Four elementary schools provide small group keyboard lessons twice a week in their after school program. The lessons are 30 minutes and, depending on the center, up to 28 students may be enrolled at each site. Several sites have incorporated keyboards into their school day classes.

During its 50th Anniversary Year, the Naples Music Club sponsored more events than any other year in its history. The Musical Safari on Saturday, February 21, 2015, was particularly noteworthy. It was an all-day affair offering many musical opportunities to the public without charge: a musical petting zoo, music lessons, member performances, and professional performances. The event culminated in the evening with a special performance by Nachito Herrera and his Trio, an internationally known Cuban Classical and Jazz pianist. The over 400 students, teachers, supporters, and general public that attended were treated to an amazing virtuoso performance by one the world’s most famous jazz legends.

As the Naples Music Club celebrated 50 years of musical milestones, the community saw a Club on the move, one that is using its illustrious past achievements as a firm foundation from which to continue to launch innovative programs and empower individuals.

Past Presidents since the incorporation of the Naples Music Club on January 29, 1965

1965–1967           Tom Truesdale
1967–1969           Dr. George A. Booker
1969–1971           Thelma C. Straub
1971–1973           Betty Hathaway
1973–1974           Don B. Ryno
1974–1975           Florence Reed West
1975–1977           Pat Feller
1977–1978           Gregory Zenner
1978–1980           Nancy Neumeyer
1980–1982           Keith Hoffman
1982–1984           Allen Rosenberg
1984–1986           Frances McLaren
1986–1988           Jean Adams
1988–1990           Rosemary Schroeder
1990–1992           Jo Snelling
1992–1994           Robert Klein
1994–1997           Suzanne deClercq
1997–1999           Helen Stephens
1999–2002           Robert Testa
2002–2005           Richard Holmberg
2005–2007           Frank Burgeson
2007–2008           Karen Marcotte
2008–2011           Marilyn Bogen
2011–2012           Jeannette Boucher
2012–2013           Maurizio Nisita
2013-2015           Myra Williams
2015-2016           Gordon Hammes

Turiel Award Recipients:

1996          Oliver deClercq, French Horn; Ben Gibbs, Clarinet; Jeremy Williamson, Saxophone
1997          Michelle Arcenas, Piano
1998          Josh Degges, Alto Saxophone; Hannah Riger, Piano
1999          Denise Fizzuoglio, Flute
2000          Janelle House, Harp
2001          Chad Brodbeck, Violin; Jonathan Schallmo, Voice
2002          Andrew Strauss, Viola
2003          Tim Kyle, Marimba and Percussion
2004          Christy Larsen, Piano
2005          Elizabeth Kocses, Flute
2006          Alden Gatt, Piano
2007          Lederian Townsend, Voice
2008          Alan Gao, Violin
2009          Laura Chami, Voice
2010          Daniel Rosman, Clarinet
2011          Christian Ostolazza, Marimba
2012          Nathaniel Cornell, Violin
2013          Joseph Peliskas, Classical Guitar
2014          Misty Drake, Violin
2015          Tatum Shellenberger, Bassoon

 

This document, “Naples Music Club 50th Anniversary History,” was assembled and written by Jeannette Boucher, president 2011–12, with the help of past presidents Myra Williams (2013–2015) and Gordon Hammes (2015–16). The club’s archives, augmented by materials provided by many club leaders, including especially past presidents Robert Klein and Karen Marcotte; a document entitled “Historical Highlights,” written in 2005 by then president Suzanne de Clerq; and a scrapbook assembled by Ruth Krulish, covering the years 2006–2008, provided the principal resources on which this history was based.