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$700,000 for Youth Choral Academy

  • Jul 31, 2006
[caption id="attachment_3010" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Alan Price and Lilah Stangeland. Photo: Michael McDermott"][/caption] (EUGENE) Keeping classical music alive and transforming the lives of young people - those are the goals that inspired The Roger and Lilah Stangeland Foundation to donate $700,000 for the Oregon Bach Festival's Youth Choral Academy, said Allan Price, University of Oregon's vice president for advancement in a news conference today from the stage of the Hult Center. Watch the video on the University's Campaign Oregon website. The YCA, founded in 1998, brings 85 select high school students from around the country to Eugene every summer for ten days to live, work, and perform alongside the festival's internationally renowned choir, orchestra, soloists, and conductors. The gift will help defray the costs of bringing young musicians to Eugene each year. As part of the Festival's $10 million endowment drive, the gift is also included in the university's $600 million Campaign Oregon: Transforming Lives. "With this gift, we can make this program accessible to talented youth from across the nation, regardless of their ability to pay," said Festival Executive Director Royce Saltzman. "In recognition of the Stangeland Foundation's generosity, the Youth Choral Academy will now be called the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy." The gift also increases the festival's endowment to $5 million, marking the halfway point toward a $10 million goal. "It is our hope that the gift will help sustain the academy into the distant future and leave a musical and educational legacy," said Brad Stangeland of Eugene, a board member of the Oregon Bach Festival. The Stangeland Foundation was started by Brad's parents, Roger and Lilah, for the purposes of furthering educational opportunities, especially for youth. Brad Stangeland owns a Eugene landscape architecture and design firm, and he and his wife Colleen own the stores New Twist and Toko Asia, both located in the Fifth Street Market. "This is one of the core components of the Oregon Bach Festival," said Stangeland. "We must give kids a chance to participate and understand this great music, or the future of orchestral and choral music will be lost. These young adults get to work with one of the great conductors of Bach and are taken through a very extensive educational experience. This is perfectly consistent with the Stangeland Foundation's goals." Director Anton Armstrong has led the program since its inception. A professor of music at St. Olaf College in Minnesota and conductor of the prestigious St. Olaf Choir, Armstrong is the recipient of the 2006 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. "Back home, these students are the leaders, the best singers in their schools," said Armstrong. "Here, they are surrounded by others just like themselves. We set the bar high. We expect them to reach the highest level of excellence they can - not for selfish reasons, but to become better people and to share a musical experience that enriches others. They walk away from these ten days as stronger and better people." Following the announcement, which took place during the choir's dress rehearsal before their July 6 concert, the choir sang "Ride On, King Jesus" while the Stangeland family looked on. "Music education teaches people how to think," said Oregon Bach Festival board member Pete Moore. Pete and his wife, Mary Ann, are co-chairs of the festival's endowment initiative. "Music increases people's abilities to live and learn in life. The Youth Choral Academy exposes people to classical music at an impressionable age. I think classical music is music at its best. It is the music of history, and the music of mankind. We can't let future generations lose touch with classical music, and that's a very real possibility in these times when it is difficult to get funding for the arts. "These opportunities to learn, rehearse, and perform are opportunities that many students don't have in their high schools. They literally transform the way these young people think, and the choices they make in their lives. Mary Ann and I are delighted that this gift will help make this program available to more young people. We're also delighted to reach the halfway point toward our $10 million endowment goal. When we started, it seemed rather daunting. Now it's within reach. I'm confident we can make it within the next two years. " The Stangeland Foundation gift will be invested, and earnings from the endowment will be used to help support the academy.