Islander Chamber Music Scholarship Program Supports Student Aspirations

By Richard Guerrero, Sydney Spangler | Published: November 22, 2019

Islander Chamber Music Scholarship Program Supports Student Aspirations

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Thanks to the Islander Chamber Music Scholarship Program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, music students in the Lichtenstein String Quartet, Islander Brass Quintet +1, and Islander Winds ensembles each receive $10,000 per academic year. The scholarship ensembles are focused on maximizing the experiences of undergraduate Islander music majors and fostering the growth of K-12 music students through community interaction.

“The idea of undergraduate chamber ensembles receiving full scholarships is unique. In most cases, if this type of scholarship is available at all, it’s for graduate ensembles,” said Dr. Mary Thornton, Professor of Music and Trumpet.

With financial support from visionary members of the Corpus Christi community, these Islander scholarship students can focus on attaining the highest levels of music skill in both performance and teaching.

“Music is valuable in and of itself as a career and as a tangible part of any community’s quality of life,” Thornton said. “We may be on an island, but our mentality is about taking our work into Corpus Christi and adding to the opportunities area children have to access quality musical experiences at critical stages of their development.”

When Dustin Hernandez, a junior music education major, found out he received a scholarship, he was shocked.

“It felt incredible to see all my hard work pay off in such an amazing way,” said Hernandez, who plays trumpet in the Islander Brass Quintet +1. “I feel like my education is secured. It’s a blessing to be able to chase my dream while doing more for my school.”

Scholarship recipient Eric Heatherley is a Corpus Christi native who transferred to the Island University from Del Mar College.

“As a music education major, this is an opportunity to gain great experience,” said Heatherley, who plays oboe in the Islander Winds. “This helps you develop yourself as a musician because the best way to learn something is to teach it.” 

As Islander Chamber Music Scholarship recipients, students are required to teach music lessons once a week at a community location, perform throughout the semester for university functions and community events while maintaining academic success.

Currently, members of the Lichtenstein String Quartet teach at Metro Elementary School of Design, and members from the Islander Brass Quintet +1 and Islander Winds teach underserved students at Hamlin Middle School.

“It feels great knowing that people want to see the arts flourish,” Hernandez said. “I enjoy working with the trumpet students in this area and showing them that there is a great school in their own city.”

On Nov. 17, each ensemble showcased their talents during the Islander Scholarship Chamber Ensembles Concert (see gallery). As the debut performance for Islander Brass Quintet +1 and Islander Winds, the program featured compositions by Alexander Arutunian, Alexander Borodin, Dave Brubeck, and Astor Piazzolla. 

Read below for more information about each ensemble.

Founded in 2005 after receiving a grant from The Morris L. Lichtenstein, Jr. Foundation, the Lichtenstein String Quartet provides four undergraduate string players a full tuition scholarship. The students in the quartet receive weekly coaching on high-level chamber music with Dr. Carrie Pierce, Associate Professor of Music and Cello, perform chamber music concerts every semester, and learn to teach both private and group lessons.

In 2018, Islander Brass Quintet +1 was founded with scholarship support from the Harmon A. and Grace W. Dobson Arts Fund. The ensemble provides a full tuition scholarship for brass players (two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba) and one percussionist. The ensemble receives weekly coaching with Dr. Mary Thornton, Professor of Music and Trumpet.

Islander Winds was founded in 2018 with scholarship support from the Harmon A. and Grace W. Dobson Arts Fund. Islander Winds provides full tuition scholarships for wind players (flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, and horn). Islander Winds students receive weekly coaching from Dr. Scott Pool, Assistant Professor of Music, Bassoon, and Chamber Music.