Oakes to be honored at concert

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lesley Oakes, Foothills Music Club founder, will be honored at a concert on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m., at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon. Pianist Chenny Gan, from Bavaria, will present a program of Haydn, Debussy, Schumann, Gershwin, and Kapustin. Gan will perform to honor Oakes and as a benefit for the Foothills Music Club’s Young Musicians Scholarship Fund.
The Foothills Music Club will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2013, and this Sept. 9 concert will be the kick-off event for a 16-month celebration, recognizing the important role the music club has played and continues to play in Polk and Rutherford counties, Landrum and beyond. The mission of the Foothills Music Club is to give its members encouragement to continue practicing their craft of music, with opportunities to perform for each other, and to provide scholarships for young musicians who qualify to continue their music study, purchase music, repair or purchase an instrument.
Oakes happily tells the story of the founding of the Foothills Music Club. Lesley and Mervin Oakes knew Kathleen and Joseph Erwin before either family moved to Tryon. After both families were established in the area, Lesley, who played flute, began playing concerts with Kathleen, a violinist, and Joseph, an organist and pianist. They played frequently at the Congregational Church in Tryon and in the homes of both families. From time to time, other musicians were asked to perform with them in the concerts. One of these was pianist Genevieve Ross. Oakes spoke with Ross about the idea of having a music club, and they decided to send a letter to area musicians to ascertain their willingness to be part of such an organization. Oakes already was a member of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Music Club, and it was that club’s format that gave her the impetus for the mission statement of the Foothills Music Club.
The first meeting of the Foothills Music Club was held March 10, 1988. Besides founder Lesley Oakes, two other members who helped the club establish a solid foundation were Betty Van Buskirk and Kathleen Erwin, both well-known musicians in Tryon. Erwin was the club’s first president. The three major scholarships given each year by the Foothills Music Club are named for Oakes, Van Buskirk and Erwin.
Today, 25 years later, many musicians in Polk and Rutherford counties and Landrum credit their membership in the Foothills Music Club for their continuing to practice the fine art of music making.  In addition, over the years, more than $36,000 has been given to young musicians in the form of scholarships from the music club.
Two public performances are given each year by music club members.

– article submitted by Foothills Music Club

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