An instrument of the symphony

DeWayne Bartels

When Sharon Reed, director of fine arts for District 150, accepted a check recently from members of the Peoria Symphony Guild, it was another chapter in a long history of supporting musical education in Peoria schools.

Ann Guilfoy, treasurer of the guild, made the presentation of a check for $4,180.

The money, Reed said, will be used to purchase two string basses and three cellos.

Other instruments to be purchased have not yet been selected.

“The Musical Instrument Grant Program is part of our Youth Education Program and a priority for Peoria Symphony Guild members,” Judy Dutton, guild president, said. 

“We believe all children who want to play an instrument should have an opportunity to develop their talents.”

Guilfoy, following the presentation, called the program by another name.

“I call this the 49 students and 16 instruments award,” she said.

“One of our members some years ago found a teacher who had 49 students with permission slips to play in the school orchestra. Yet, she had only 16 instruments.

There were students whose parents did not have the resources to provide instruments.

After that, we decided we would fund an annual grant.”

The guild’s Youth Education Program includes a musical puppet troupe that travels to area schools; a Young Artists Competition, which includes scholarships and a performance with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra; and the annual students concerts held at the Peoria Civic Center for Central Illinois students in grades 3 through 12.

This is the 39th year for the puppet troupe and the 56th season for the student concerts. 

“We’re delighted to do this,” Guilfoy said.

Just like District 150 administrators, Judy Furniss, executive director of the Peoria Symphony, said she is a guild fan.

“Without a question, the guild is important to us,” Furniss said.

“Their whole purpose is to promote the symphony. They do a lot on behalf of the symphony. It would be very difficult to keep the arts alive without supporters.”

And, Furniss said, there is a desperate need for the work the guild does to keep the arts alive in District 150.

“There’s a need for instruments for children who have a desire to play, but not the resources,” Furniss said.

“They are very open to any opportunities they can provide to young people.”

 The guild, in September, is hosting a North Peoria fundraiser to fund its activities.

The event — The Symphony Guild Showhouse at the Villas of Waterstone —  is Sept. 20-28.

 Developer Whitehouse Homes is providing the guild with a home with an interior decorated by Peoria interior decorators.

The cost of the event is $12 for the first ticket and $10 for subsequent tickets.