Like many music lovers, Cindy Curme (CFA’76,’80) sometimes worries about the future of classical music.
That’s why she’s one of the most generous supporters of Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI). She sees it as a critical part of the pipeline that is essential to developing the next generation of musicians.
“Education is the key to the propagation of the art form,” says Curme, a longtime supporter of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, first as an employee, then as a volunteer, and now as a trustee.
Dedicated students who come to the Berkshires can pursue “a very fine education program” in a seamless continuum, Curme says, “starting in middle school with DARTS [The Days in the Arts, a summer residential program], and then BUTI in high school, and then the Tanglewood Music Center fellowships.”
And because it’s for high schoolers, she says, BUTI is key to that continuum.
“For students who care about music, the high school experience is kind of the turning point,” Curme says. “If it is truly important to you, that is when you figure it out.”
She knows that from her own life. As a teenager in Philadelphia, she attended a summer music camp associated with the Settlement Music School, one of the nation’s oldest community music schools.
“It changed my life,” Curme declares. “I was in love with music but hadn’t yet determined that I needed to devote my life to it, and my experience there really solidified that understanding.”
So she came to the Boston University School of Music, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance. And she soon landed her first job with the Boston Symphony, eventually working at the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center (TMC).
“I feel so happy with the education I got at BU,” she says. “I could have gone to a conservatory, but to have really a conservatory within a university—I think BU does that better than most people would guess.”
For Curme, her summer music experience was a crucial step in this journey toward a life in music. It’s the kind of step she wants to give the next generation, through her support of scholarships for BUTI students. And she thinks those students get an even better look at the path ahead than she did, thanks to the institute’s proximity to Tanglewood, its affiliation with the Boston Symphony, and its 50-year history as a unique program of Boston University.
“Students who come to BUTI not only get exposure to listening to the music at the very highest level, but also are taught by those same musicians,” Curme says. And when they see the students at TMC, the next point in the pipeline, performing alongside BSO musicians, “the BUTI students get inspired. I’m sure they see that and think, ‘I want to do that next.’ I think it makes the path very clear.”
That’s good for the Tanglewood ecosystem, Curme says—and it’s great for BU.
“It’s really good for BU to have that connection to Tanglewood, one of the major music festivals in the world, put on by a major symphony orchestra,” she says. That’s why, for her, “the best way to be connected with BU at this point in my life” is to support BUTI.
“I’m enjoying working with the institute and supporting it philanthropically—it makes me feel really good as a BU alum,” Curme says. “And BUTI is a fantastic program. I think it’s an important part of the Tanglewood experience.”
– by Louise Kennedy
Cynthia and Oliver Curme are the generous sponsors of the 2018 Young Artists Orchestra. Mrs. Curme is a member of the BUTI Advisory Council.