​McCrory Scholarship for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival Established

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Thanks to the family of Sewanee Summer Music Festival legacy Martha McCrory, the 2020 festival season will kick off with a bang.

During the summer, McCrory’s nieces Cheri, Mary and Martha established the Martha McCrory Scholarship for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, donating $150,000 for the endowment and for the director’s fund.

The scholarship is the largest endowment gift for the festival in more than a decade. According to John Kilkenny, artistic director, it will support scholarship funding for festival participants and allow for enhanced creative activities during the summer season. The principal cello chairs of both orchestras and the final concert of each season will also be named in honor of McCrory.

Kilkenny said over the summer, the nieces visited the Mountain, and though they had planned to wait to make their donation, the Sewanee magic moved them to cut a check that weekend.

“They expressed how proud they were about where the festival was and of its level of artistic excellence. Cheri said that Martha was not quick to compliment, but she believed she would have been really proud of where the festival is,” he said.

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival is a premier summer training program in orchestra and chamber music. It was under Martha McCrory’s direction that the festival became what is now one of the venerable summer music institutes in the nation.

“Martha built the festival into what it is today, and her legacy stretches beyond the great things she did for the festival,” she said. “For so many of the students, it’s their first festival experience, and the experience of having that early on in our careers is really transformative. It’s what made and what still makes Sewanee so special and what Martha’s legacy speaks to.”

In addition to McCrory’s impact on the festival, she also taught in the music department, impacting generations of students in the classroom and in private lessons.

Kilkenny, who was recently invited to stay on with the festival through the 2021 season, said it would be thanks to the family’s support that they will be able to continue to bring increasingly eager student musicians to the Mountain.

“Unfortunately, it often comes down to what a student can afford, so the more that we can help students not have to incur debt when they’re in their studies, the more successful they can be. This gift will be transformative for so many of our students,” he said. “It is my hope that we’ll continue to build relationships for the festival, not only with our partners throughout the country and that we’ll strengthen and continue to broaden the goals we share with the community and the university. I hope we will continue to be an important reason that Sewanee is a special place to live and work. It’s an incredible privilege for me to be a part.”

Kilkenny said he and the festival staff are looking forward to the summer 2020 season. A preview concert is scheduled for March 30. For more information about the festival or about how to give to the endowment, email <ssmfdirector@gmail.com> or call the festival office at (931) 598-1225.