May 15, 2007

Music students to benefit from $1 million gift

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students in the School of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have more than a million reasons to thank the late Steven Barwick, professor emeritus of piano and music history.

Barwick left the bulk of his estate to the SIU Foundation for the benefit of the School of Music to establish a scholarship fund for piano students. The value of the estate is more than $1 million – enough to put SIUC into a better position to offer larger scholarships to attract more top-notch musicians.

School of Music Director Robert Weiss said he was shocked when he first heard the potential value of the scholarship fund. A smaller amount previously led to the creation of the Steven Barwick Piano Major Award, and school officials knew more was coming. No one expected so much more.

The executor of the estate waited for a strong market before liquidating, Weiss said. He added that the total value of the gift to the SIU Foundation exceeds $I million, and another, smaller amount is still expected. Account interest generates the scholarship. A portion of the interest revenue will go back into the base fund each year to make the account grow. Weiss said he expects the fund to generate approximately $35,000 to $40,000 a year for scholarships.

More important than how it happens, though, is what this new, major scholarship can do for the School of Music.

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation, said Barwick's generosity represents his legacy to music students.

"The gift demonstrates how much he revered students in the School of Music," he said of Barwick, who retired in 1988. "He had a profound influence on the University, the School of Music and the students he taught. Our students will benefit from his generosity for years to come."

"This is the first time we've had a single award with that much in the account," Weiss said. "You can imagine what a boost that is to our school. One of our biggest problems is competing with other universities that offer larger scholarships. This will give us the leverage we need in our recruiting."

Weiss said SIUC recruits nationally and internationally for music students, concentrating on the Far East for many of its international students. That puts the university in direct competition with other universities that may have more dollars to offer for scholarships. Though the relative value of a scholarship may be less at a school where tuition is higher, there is prestige for music students simply in the dollar amount of a scholarship. The Steven Barwick Piano Major Award will be a sought-after award, Weiss said. He expects to begin accepting applications for the scholarship next spring, with awards to be given for the fall 2008 semester.

There is an indirect benefit to SIUC music students even if piano is not their instrument. Weiss said piano students are a hot commodity when it comes to accompaniment. Attracting – and retaining – more piano students will broaden the pool of potential accompanists, and decrease the demand on those already in the program.

"Everyone will benefit from this," Weiss said. "Steven Barwick's obvious love for his students has now been made very visible through this endowment, which will generate numerous scholarships for piano majors."

And that, Weiss said, is just what Barwick would have wanted. He was known as an extraordinary musician, meticulous researcher and a beloved teacher. Barwick rarely missed a recital if one of his students was involved in any way.

A native of Lincoln, Neb., Barwick received a bachelor's degree from Coe College, then went to the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his master's degree in piano performance. He earned another master's degree and his doctoral degree in musicology from Harvard University in 1949. His dissertation on early Mexican polyphony and colonial music was a pioneering work that remains important in the field today. SIU Press published his editions of the "Franco Codex of the Cathedral of Mexico" (1964) and "Two Mexico City Choirbooks" (1982).

In addition to his scholarship of music in Mexico, Barwick was especially fond of French music. Weiss said Barwick often took students with him on his research trips to France.

Barwick joined the faculty at SIUC in 1955. He was a frequent performer at the University and a guest at other venues during his active years. He retired in 1988, but continued to attend recitals and concerts at SIUC. He died on Jan. 24, 2006.