Members of the college choir at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, are singing a song of gratitude: A charitable foundation established by an alumnus is helping to pay each student’s expenses to travel to New York City, N.Y., to perform at Carnegie Hall this spring.
The Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation of Fairlawn, Ohio, has awarded $50,000 to the choir to make the Carnegie Hall experience possible for students. The late Richard J. Fasenmyer, an Erie native, was an alumnus of Penn State Behrend. The choral concert will be dedicated to the memory of his mother, Alice Catherine “Kay” Litzinger Fasenmyer, herself an accomplished singer and pianist.
“My brother John and I are delighted that the Penn State Behrend choir and its local colleagues will be performing at the famed New York City Carnegie Hall,” Connie Fasenmyer-Warthman, Richard's sister, of Union City, Pa., said. “As an educator and professionally trained musician, music and music education were a particular passion for my mother. She dreamed of performing at Carnegie Hall. I am sure that both she and my brother Richard will be with the choir in spirit and would applaud the students’ talent and work ethic. I want to thank the trustees of the Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation for their support of the choir and for making this event possible.”
“The Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation Trustees are honored to sponsor the Penn State Behrend choir’s performance at Carnegie Hall,” Fasenmyer Foundation Trustee Haven Hood said of the gift. “I know Richard’s mother, Kay, who had an immense passion to sing classical music, would have echoed our sentiments. This concert will uniquely blend the talents of the choir, the generosity of Richard, and the memory of Kay.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students,” said Jason Bishop, director of the college’s choral activities. “Due to the extraordinary generosity of the Fasenmyer Foundation, Penn State Behrend choral students will have the opportunity to showcase their talent in one of the world’s most celebrated concert halls. The students and I are so grateful to Connie Fasenmyer-Warthman, who supported our proposal to her brother’s foundation, and to the trustees of the Fasenmyer Foundation for their enthusiastic support of our choral activities.”
The Penn State Behrend choir will accompany Bishop when he makes his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall. Students will spend four days in residence at Isaac Stern Auditorium to rehearse for a May 23 public concert that culminates in Bishop conducting an orchestra and 170-voice choir in a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.”
“I couldn’t be more excited. Our choir loves a good challenge,” said choir member Zoe Southworth, a sophomore business, liberal arts and sciences major from Erie who will be traveling to New York City. “It’s exhilarating to spend the school year with our sights set on a performance in one of the most well-known venues in the world. The opportunity is overwhelmingly humbling. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, but I never imagined actually accomplishing.”
Also accompanying Bishop to New York City will be members of the Young People’s Chorus of Erie, the North East High School chorus, and the Erie Philharmonic Chorus. Tickets for the May 23 performance go on sale on Tuesday, March 23, and can be purchased from CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.
The Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation was established as a mechanism to channel funds where they can make a meaningful impact on the efforts of those already striving to make the world a better place to live and work. The Foundation gives to charitable causes, particularly in health care, higher education and the arts. The foundation receives funding from RJF International Corp., a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of interior wallcoverings, industrial matting products and specialty films.
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, is a comprehensive residential college offering 34 bachelor’s degrees with 22 minors, six associate degrees, four pre-professional programs, and two graduate degrees. More than 4,700 students benefit from being part of a major research and land-grant institution on a student-centered campus that is enriched by more than 110 clubs and organizations, 21 NCAA varsity teams and 19 intramural sports.