$4.4 million gift permanently endows Dumesnil Scholarship

$4.4 million gift permanently endows Dumesnil Scholarship
Dumesnil Scholar Kimberly Allen ’14 is earning a master of music in performance and plans to teach advanced violin students in the future.

Detroit is a city steeped in musical tradition. Best known for its jazz, blues and signature Motown sound, Detroit has produced talented musicians from all genres—and Wayne State’s Department of Music sits at the center of it. Just down the street from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Opera House and the Detroit Jazz Festival, Wayne State and its students are naturally immersed in the city’s artistic heart and soul. “Being here, you kind of breathe art,” explained composition major and Dumesnil Scholar Lucian Lupas ’13. “You feel like you’re part of everything. It feels right.”

The Dumesnil Scholars are Wayne State music majors who have been recognized for their musical talent and academic excellence with the Evangeline L. Dumesnil Scholarship. Since 1991, the scholarship, supported by the Evangeline L. Dumesnil Trust, has provided more than $1.7 million in tuition support to nearly 350 undergraduate and graduate students.

To further support Wayne State music students, the Dumesnil trustees recently decided to dissolve the trust and contribute its principal to create the Evangeline L. Dumesnil Endowed Scholarship in Music. This gift of $4.4 million ensures the scholarship will continue in perpetuity. It is an investment both in the future of Wayne State and the musical heritage of Detroit.

“I am excited and grateful that the Evangeline L. Dumesnil Scholarship will become a permanent source of support and recognition for our outstanding music students,” said Matthew Seeger, dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. “Our music students have committed themselves to developing and sharing their talent and creativity, and the Dumesnil Scholarship will help ensure their education is not a financial burden.” 

A legacy of teaching and outstanding performance
Evangeline L. Dumesnil, known professionally by her maiden name of Evangeline Lehman, was an accomplished composer and singer who loved to teach. Born in 1896 in Northville, Michigan, Lehman went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Fontainebleau Conservatoire in France. Many of her works for voice and piano were performed across the globe in places such as Paris, New York, Detroit, San Francisco and Uruguay. Lehman also performed as a soloist with prominent orchestras in the United States and Europe.

Lehman’s husband, Maurice Dumesnil, was a noted concert pianist and a devoted publicist of her music. The two performed together across three continents in the 1930s. Dumesnil conducted the premiere performance of his wife’s oratorio St. Therese de l’Enfant Jesus, which won a silver medal from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lehman was well known in the Detroit area and remained dedicated to her teaching. She maintained a studio for private students in Highland Park and presented numerous workshops at area institutions. She received an honorary doctor of music degree from the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts before passing away in 1975 at the age of 78.

“Without scholarships, I probably couldn’t have come here"
Today Evangeline Dumesnil continues to teach the next generation of Detroit musicians through her investment in student scholarships. A musician’s livelihood is rarely guaranteed. Scholarships allow music students to pursue their talent and passion and ease their financial burden. “Without scholarships, I probably couldn’t have come here,” said Dumesnil Scholar Kimberly Allen ’14. Allen is earning a master of music in performance and plans to teach advanced violin students in the future. Because Allen does not have to worry about financing her education, she is able to continue teaching violin and piano lessons rather than finding a part-time job outside of music.

Beyond relieving financial stress, the Dumesnil Scholarship honors those who receive it. It is a merit scholarship awarded based on a student’s musical talent. “Receiving the scholarship was really rewarding, not only financially,” said Lupas. “I felt that I was appreciated as an artist.”

This sentiment is echoed by Dumesnil Scholar Paul Bishop ’13, who is earning a master of music in composition. Bishop also received his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State in music business and composition. “It meant a lot to me that faculty members were recognizing my efforts as a student,” Bishop said about receiving the scholarship. “It made me feel like somebody believes in me.” Bishop came to Wayne State with little formal music training, and the faculty helped him catch up. Read more about Paul.

Learning in the heart of a music city
The Department of Music at Wayne State strives to cultivate a deep aesthetic understanding of music in its students and in the larger urban arts community. Its talented faculty members frequently collaborate with local arts organizations. “Because of our location, Wayne State music students have opportunities that are not found at other universities,” said John Vander Weg, chair of the Department of Music. “We are always open to experiences that will help our students grow and develop their skills.”

For Bishop, the sense of community he feels in the music program is his favorite thing about Wayne State. For him, the department is “kind of like a second family.” After graduation, he plans to sing in the Detroit Jazz Festival this summer. And of course, he said, “I want to try to compose as much as I can.” Just like Evangeline Dumesnil.

Posted on May 14, 2013

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