Nonprofit organization's primary activity is to fund youth scholarshipsWhen the Astoria Music Festival gave away 200 free "Don Giovanni" tickets to seven high schools, and only four students actually used them, Lawrence Taylor realized how infrequently students are exposed to classical music.

"We can't even give the tickets away and get their parents to bring them!" said Taylor, who is president of Astoria Performing Arts and serves on the board of directors of The River Theater.

Taylor and others in the music community hope to make classical performances such as this more accessible, and to increase the ability of low-income children to study music.

The Astoria Cultural Fund has been established to support classical music in the Lower Columbia Region. The primary activity of this nonprofit organization is to fund youth scholarships for the study of music. Other uses include purchasing tickets to concerts for students, covering miscellaneous expenses such as summer institutes, instrument purchase or repair, and sheet music. The fund also subsidizes the production and performance of classical music.

TO DONATEDonation forms can be obtained by writing to the Astoria Cultural Fund, P.O. Box 1171, Astoria, OR 97103, or sending e-mail to

(Lawrence_d_taylor@yahoo.com) Lisa Nelson, fund board member and founder of the Astoria Conservatory of Music, has discovered a great need for musical scholarships. Funding for music programs in schools has been reduced or eliminated, leaving many students without access to musical instruction. With private lessons averaging $40 per hour, continuing the study of music is not possible for many cultural fund members said.

Additionally, the average age of concert attendees continues to increase. Unless a younger audience is developed, cultural fund members said, the market for classical music concerts will diminish until live music performances can no longer be supported. The cultural fund will work with local schools to make concert attendance accessible to as many students as possible.

"I see who attends concerts, the average age is around 90," Taylor said. "It's unusual for people to take their kids to classical music concerts."

In addition to Lisa Nelson and Lawrence Taylor, the board of directors includes Ann Lederer, Ruth Dobson and Keith Clark. Lederer is a musician and attorney with a home in Astoria.Vocal instructor Dobson's credentials include founding the Bel Canto Institute at Portland State University and serving on the board of directors of the National Opera Association. Keith Clark conducts orchestras internationally, and is a professor at Portland State University. Both Dobson and Clark have adopted Astoria for musical performances, and were key participants in the 2003 and 2004 Astoria Music Festivals.

The fund is accepting donations. The board would like businesses and organizations to adopt students by supporting the costs of their musical instruction. Young children cost approximately $320 per semester of study, and young adults cost approximately $640. Contributors to the fund can designate the usage of their gift or leave it to the discretion of the board of directors. Funds for music lessons can be used at the conservatory or with any private, legitimate teacher.

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