|May 10, 2001
Volume 31 Number 16
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
The Sound of Music: The Kruschke Prize in Keyboard Performance
The term patron of the arts evokes an earlier time when someone with wealth and a passion for aesthetic talent nurtured the genius and invested in the future of a promising young artist.
Earl Kruschke, professor emeritus of political science, and his partner and wife, Marilyn Ann Krusch-ke, qualify as patrons with all the dignified tradition befitting the term. So deep is their passion for music, especially classical and most especially keyboard, that three years ago they instituted the Earl R. and Marilyn Ann Kruschke Prize in Keyboard Performance for a student at CSU, Chico.
Earl Kruschke is the only professor at CSU, Chico to have won all four major awards for faculty: Outstanding Teacher, Professional Achievement Honors, Outstanding Professor, and CSU Outstanding Professor. His academic and publishing specialties have been in Constitutional law and public policy, but what moves him to tears is music. Earl describes himself as a "personally frustrated concert pianist," but Marilyn, who plays the French horn, claims he plays beautifully on the grand piano they have in their home.
Each April in the Performing Arts Center, students audition before music department faculty to win the coveted prize, this year raised from $1,000 to $1,500. The Kruschkes attend the auditions -- if they're not visiting the Chopin Institute in Warsaw, Poland, for example, or, as they did this spring, dash off to Barcelona, Spain. Then in May, at the College of Humanities and Fine Arts' annual Celebration of Student Achievement, the Kruschke-prize-winner performs.
Donald Heinz, dean of HFA, said, "The Kruschkes were very clear that the prize be merit based." And they imagined purchases far less mundane than living expenses. "The winners could buy sheaves of sheet music or attend festivals -- things that purely enhance their talent," said Mike Bankhead, chair of the Department of Music.
"The Kruschkes live an aesthetically and intellectually rich life," explained Heinz. "Earl is a member of the Board of Directors of the North State Symphony Orchestra, and Marilyn is active with the Chico Symphony Guild. They actually beam at concerts."
In 1999, the first prize winner was Ling Lin, Professor Caren Levine's student, who is now at the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston. Lin was recruited to Chico from Beijing by Professor Ying Yeh. Levine said of Lin, "Her technical facility is outstanding. She has the potential for a great future."
In 2000, the winner was Dustin Breshears, a master's student in musical performance. Professor Robert Bowman's student, Breshears has 24 private students of his own, whom he teaches after his classes and before his nightly piano practice. "My students were so proud of me when I won the Kruschke prize," said Breshears.
This year's winner is Mark Friedman, who was inspired by Liszt and Levine. "I have a piece of the Romantic spirit glowing inside me," he said.
"I'm moved by the Kruschkes' interest in each prize recipient -- which goes far beyond the gift," said Bowman. "They maintain contact with the winners and follow their futures."
And so the Kruschkes, patrons true, do their share to keep the North Valley alive with the sound of music.Thomasin Saxe, College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Chico | Admissions
| Bookstore | Catalog
| Schedule | Library
California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929-0040