Music Scholarship Council (MSC)
our history and purpose
Music Scholarship Council, originally called the Women’s Committee of the Grossmont Community Concert Association (GCCA), was formed in 1957. It was organized to be a volunteer, nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian association to enrich the community by stimulating a greater interest in and appreciation for the field of classical music. We have accomplished this through providing scholarships for aspiring young musicians and supporting other forms of musical development and venues in the community. Our founder, Henrietta Harelson, was appointed by the chairman of GCCA to be the first president. The Women’s Committee consisted of four community groups: La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Fletcher Hills, and El Cajon. Dues in 1957 were $1.00.
The Early Years: By 1959 the group had grown to 300 members who enjoyed regular concerts and musicales. Concerts were held in Grossmont High School gymnasium, and for a time, dinners were added before the concerts which were served in the high school dining room.
In 1960 the Euterpe Chorus was formed of Women’s Committee members and directed by Henrietta Harelson. They performed in the community to raise funds on behalf of the Women’s Committee for Grossmont College with the focus being a new auditorium for East County.
Throughout the years of the 1960’s fundraising events and projects intensified and were varied and exciting. Efforts included “A Day at the Races” at Caliente in 1965 and a Beaux Arts Ball held at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1967. A second Beaux Arts Ball was held in 1968. It was through these balls that the seeds were sown for the creation of a scholarship program to accommodate the talented children of Women’s Committee members.
The 1970s: By 1973 there was an all-out drive to build an auditorium in the Super Block of El Cajon. To that end, a fundraising bridge marathon was started. Luaus, rummage sales, and more added to the effort, and in June, 1975, ground was broken for a $2.1 million dollar civic auditorium in El Cajon’s Superblock. Fundraising continued during the 70’s to furnish the auditorium. On September 8, 1977, East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) opened. The first official concert was in October of that year.
Two important things happened in 1978. First we had the formation of Key Notes, an organization of past presidents and board chairman. But most notably, 1978 witnessed the creation by Virginia Hawk of the Virginia and Susan Hawk Vocal Scholarships. The Women’s Committee was asked and then consented to be the administrators of this great honor for young vocalists. In the next year 1979, an Instrumental Scholarship Committee was formed. In 1980 the first combined instrumental and vocal concert took place.
The 1980s: With the coming of the 1980s, the Women’s Committee tackled the task of purchasing a grand piano for ECPAC. Fundraising followed at a spirited pace and by 1982 the piano funds totaled $24,200. A piano was purchased and in October of 1982 a Dedication and Memorial Concert was held at ECPAC on the new piano, the final cost of which was $20,140. Jerome Rose, son of member Celia Rose and well-known musical artist at the time, offered his services to present the grand concert at ECPAC. In March of 1985, president, Nancy Herzik, presented a check for $30,318 to ECPAC for the installation of new carpeting.
In 1986 the Women’s Committee had 233 active members and 74 life members. In 1989 the instrumental scholarships were expanded to give two awards — $750 first place and $500 second place, in each of three categories: piano, winds, and strings.
The 1990s: The 1990s found the Women’s Committee continuing with fundraising efforts to support our instrumental scholarships. In 1995 ECPAC was taken over by the city of El Cajon and Mayor Joan Shoemaker established a non-profit foundation to act as a financial reserve for the facility which by that date was “in need of many repairs.”
In 1996 the Board of Directors of the Women’s Committee recommended that $125 be set aside annually to honor 2 members each year for their contributions to the organization, and so began the annual Honored Member Award. The first recipients were Henrietta Harelson and June Ward.
History: The New Millennium
The New Millennium: With the arrival of the year 2000, fundraising efforts continued. There were fashion shows, fall musicales and craft fairs, benefit galas and more.
In April of 2004 Virginia Hawk-Church was recognized at the Scholarship Recipients’ Concert for 25 years of sponsorship of the Virginia and Susan Hawk Vocal Scholarship.
In 2005 Arlene Coady chaired the first Phantom Tea that raised over $1,200. In the same year, the Friends of East County Arts chose the Women’s Committee to receive a $500 grant to be used for instrumental scholarships.
In December of that year a great leap forward was made when Jim and Francine Dobbin donated $10,000 to be distributed at the rate of $2,000 per year for instrumental scholarships.
Throughout 2007 the Women’s Committee celebrated “Fifty Years and Beyond” with a fashion show in the spring. At the April Recipient’s Concert, a record-breaking $1,500 was awarded for first place and $750 for second place in instrumental scholarships thanks to the Dobbin’s generous grant. In October of that year, a 50th Birthday Celebration was held at a high tea at First Presbyterian Church in El Cajon with 50 members and friends in attendance.
The next ten: After celebrating its first fifty years, the Women’s Committee decided it was time to facilitate a change of its image and officially become more inclusive. The first task was to select a new name. In 2008, we officially became Music Scholarship Council – GCCA. Men were enthusiastically encouraged to join. Initially, new male members were principally spouses of current members, but over time others have joined us. This to some degree changed the choice of fundraising events to be sponsored.
We created an online website where scholarship applications and other MSC information was posted. During this time classical guitar was added to the instrumental scholarship categories to bring the number to 4: piano, strings, winds, and classical guitar.
Encouraging inclusivity, in 2011 Jim Lloyd was elected as a co-president of the council serving jointly with his wife Ginger. Then in 2013, Ken Hanson was elected to be the organization’s parliamentarian. Both served admirably.
Into the present – the fall 2017
Meanwhile, many traditions of the organization have continued. The Annual Card Party and Luncheon has been held annually raising between $2,000 and $3,000 each year for instrumental scholarships. The “phantom” events begun back in 2005 have continued to raise over $1,000 each annually. And most importantly, the Annual Recipients’ Concert continues to WOW the community!
With sadness in 2016 we witnessed the disbanding of the Grossmont Community Concert Association. We were greatly honored, however, when they generously donated to MSC a total of $2,500 of their remaining funds to be used for scholarships.
Absolutely key to our efforts has been the generosity of our two main benefactor families:
- The Hawk Family represented by Dr. Tom Hawk faithfully supports our efforts as we continue to administer his mother’s bequest in the form of the Virginia and Susan Hawk Vocal Scholarships presented to first through third place vocal winners annually.
- The Dobbin Family represented by Francine Dobbin on behalf of her family and in honor of her husband, James Dobbin (deceased 2016), sponsors the Jim and Francine Dobbin First Place Instrumental Scholarships for $2,500 each in the four instrumental categories.