Missouri woman gives back by supporting aspiring composers
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman’s passion for music composition has led her to provide opportunities for aspiring composers that weren’t previously available.
Jeanne Sinquefield has donated a total of $17 million for composition programs to the School of Music at the University of Missouri since 2006.
The money also helped build the Sinquefield Music Center on the MU campus, which opened in late January, the Columbia Missourian reported. It provides musicians and composition students a space to rehearse and record their work in well-equipped facilities.
Sinquefield realized she had a passion for music composition after her cousin, Alex Genigeorgis, played a song he wrote about America after 9/11. She was transfixed.
“I thought it was magical that someone can come up with these beautiful pieces of music,” she said.
The support of music programs by Sinquefield and her husband, Rex, started years ago.
Jeanne Sinquefield’s first idea was to put a $50,000 gift toward the establishment of the Creating Original Music Project, a composition contest for K-12 students in Missouri that was first held in 2006.
Sinquefield said it was fun to watch the children show off their creativity, but she was shocked to learn that none of the winners had ever met another composer.
“There may not be anyone there to help them become a composer,” Sinquefield said. “Look, Beethoven took lessons from other composers.”
Sinquefield decided to sponsor a composition summer camp for Missouri high school students at the university’s campus in 2007. During the workshop, one of the MU music students helping the high schoolers asked her: “What about us?” This pushed Sinquefield to focus her attention on supporting programs for composition students.
In 2009, Sinquefield and music school officials started the Mizzou New Music Initiative to benefit students, faculty and guests. That program offers scholarships to composition students, connects them with professional musicians and holds concerts featuring the students’ music.
Genigeorgis said he didn’t expect his songwriting would inspire his cousin’s philanthropy.
“It’s just giving back,” Sinquefield said of her support for the school and young composers. “I went to graduate school with a scholarship.”