Elizabeth Upjohn Mason Youth Enrichment Fund ensures the future of Gilmore Family Concerts
October 8, 2018
ELIZABETH UPJOHN MASON HAS ENSURED that the popular Gilmore Family Concerts, held in conjunction with each biennial Festival, will be presented in perpetuity by planning a bequest to The Gilmore. Her generous gift will establish the Elizabeth Upjohn Mason Youth Enrichment Fund, which will generate distributions to provide general support for The Gilmore’s programs for youth under the age of 22, including the Gilmore Family Concerts.
Mrs. Mason, who is renowned in Kalamazoo for passionate support of many nonprofit organizations, also has a deep and abiding love for classical music. She played the cello throughout her teen years and fondly remembers listening to classical music performances on the radio. She said it seemed like a natural fit to become involved with The Gilmore when it was established in the early 1990s.
“When The Gilmore was created, I was delighted that it was focused on supporting the career of a promising pianist who might not have the means to achieve a fruitful career,” she said. “It was also clear that the Gilmore Festival was a wonderful addition to the community, and I wanted to be part of it.”
As a result, Mrs. Mason served on The Gilmore’s Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2000, helping to lay a strong foundation for the organization in its early years. She and her late husband, Lowell “Jerry” Mason, took things a step further in 2004 when they facilitated the creation of the Gilmore Family Concerts by becoming the series sponsor.
“Family concerts, offered free of charge, seemed to us like a perfect way to welcome more members of the community to the Festival and show how classical music can be fun and relatable,” Mrs. Mason explained. “I attend many of the concerts, and it’s a joy to see the children completely engaged, tapping their feet, moving to the music, and rapt with attention!”
In the long run she hopes these experiences will have an impact far beyond the immediate concert experience. “If children are inspired to become involved in their school’s chorus or jazz band, and it keeps them in school through graduation, well, we’ve done some good,” she said. “In the meantime, I see them enjoying themselves at the concerts, and I witness what the education dollars can do, so it’s very important for me to make sure that these programs continue.”