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The Pokagon Fund has awarded a $10,000 grant to the School of American Music (SAM) in Three Oaks, Mich. The grant will support Free Sunday Afternoon Family Concerts at venues around Harbor Country and a free Festival of American Music later this year. It will also help fund the Harbor Country Singers and development of a high-quality, enjoyable curriculum for young children.

The Sunday concerts will be similar to the violin and piano concerts performed at the Acorn Theater last fall and this spring by SAM instructors Beth Oeseburg and Aglaja Petrova. They will focus on less-accessible genres such as classical, international, brass and First Nation music. The Festival of American Music will feature the folk/traditional music for which SAM is best known, and it will involve multiple musicians.

“The award from the Pokagon Fund recognizes that the School of American Music is a consistent provider of high-quality, affordable, approachable music participation through lessons and concerts,” SAM President and Founder Garth Taylor says. “Good work doesn’t always get recognized. We are pleased and thankful that ours has been.”

The Free Sunday Afternoon Family Concerts especially represent a departure from SAM’s usual activities. Although performance has always been an element of the school’s pedagogical philosophy, more formal concerts are still a developing area for SAM. Its staff and directors are exploring new performers and performance sites.

Taylor notes that the School’s expanded purview and level of activity will require more volunteers to facilitate and manage SAM’s new programs. “This represents a time of transition for us,” he says. “Adding activities means we need more volunteers at every level. It also raises the bar for sustainability, and we need to develop a core group of sponsors to anticipate a future when we might need paid administrative staff, more bricks-and-mortar needs and more program investment to supplement philanthropic support.”

Photo: Pokagon Fund Executive Director Janet Cocciarelli (front left) with (counterclockwise) SAM students Madison Dodge, Abby Kruger and Ace Folsom and SAM President and Founder Garth Taylor.

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