The late Christine Kefferstan will be memorialized in the West Virginia University School of Music thanks to a $50,000 gift from alumnus and American Pops Orchestra Founder Luke Frazier.
The Christine Kefferstan Awards for Excellence will award eight $1,000 - 2,000 gifts annually to support students, faculty and the greatest student needs in the School of Music.
Frazier equates much of his success to the top-notch training and unconditional support he received from Kefferstan throughout his time at WVU.
“I can say that because of my training at WVU and the commitment to excellence across all the disciplines, it prepared me in a way that I can never repay,” Frazier said. “One of the things I love about WVU, as well as excellence in music, it's about treating every student with respect and finding the best in them and bringing that out. It's a healthy, beautiful culture there.”
Frazier, a Parkersburg native, began his collegiate career at a small state school. At the end of his freshman year, Frazier was encouraged to visit Kefferstan at WVU for his piano lessons. For a year, Frazier made the commute to Morgantown for his weekly piano lessons, ultimately applying to WVU and transferring for his junior and senior years.
“I think the thing about Dr. Kefferstan is she taught her students not only technique and all of the fundamentals of piano, but something that has changed my life certainly as I spend my time primarily as a professional conductor, is she taught every student how to listen,” Frazier said. “That sounds like a simple thing, but to listen much more deeply than I think most people would approach music. Every single measure, every single note, she would get you to really make sure it was purposeful and be the exact color you want and exact texture in the measure that you want.”
Aside from her attention to fundamentals and details, Frazier said it was Kefferstan’s humility and humanity that made her so beloved by her students.
“Dr. Kefferstan was so kind, she was always honest,” Frazier said. “You never questioned that she was on your side as a teacher and she was your big champion. And simultaneously she knew when to challenge you and to push on you when you thought you couldn't do something. She was always the rock.”
Frazier took into account Kefferstan’s career when deciding how to best honor her within the School of Music. The gifts awarded annually will be:
- $2,000 scholarship for a music student studying piano.
- $1,500 supporting an outstanding faculty award.
- $1,500 supporting the greatest student need/s of the School of Music.
- $1,000 scholarship for a music student studying a string instrument.
- $1,000 scholarship for a music student studying a wind instrument.
- $1,000 scholarship for a music student studying voice.
- $1,000 scholarship for a music student studying percussion or jazz.
- $1,000 scholarship for a music student majoring in music education/any instrument
“In addition to being a fantastic solo pianist, Dr. Kefferstan was also an excellent collaborative pianist,” Frazier said. “That's something I do all the time in my career and as my chamber music coach, she coached me on how to work better with singers and how to work better with instrumentalists. So I thought expanding from keyboard scholarships was a fantastic way to not only continue her legacy for pianists in particular, but also to expand it out and pay tribute to her legacy and all of her collaborative work.”
West Virginia residents will be given first priority to all Christine Kefferstan Awards for Excellence.
“Being from West Virginia and having most of my family still in West Virginia, I realize how important it is to make sure that every student, especially in rural areas, has the financial resources to pursue a degree in music,” Frazier said. “It’s not considered the most traditional route professionally and if I hadn't had the support of scholarships, it would have made all of that more difficult.”
Frazier isn’t done helping his alma mater. Now, he hopes to encourage other young alumni involved in giving back.
“I started my gifts to the university small when I first started many years ago,” Frazier said. “I want to make sure that everyone knows that you can enter at any level and that every gift matters.”
To learn more about making a donation, visit give.wvu.edu.