Benefactors and Beats

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New music scholarship program helps students.

Songbirds will get a chance to fly at SUNY New Paltz through a new music scholarship program.

Gary and Janaki Patrik’s mutual love for music led to their donation to the SUNY New Paltz Music Department and the establishment of the Gary and Janaki Patrik Music Endowment.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to directly support students with this gift,” Mary Hafeli, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, said. “[The endowment] will provide scholarships to support students majoring in music.”

Dr. Carole Cowan, the Music Department chair, said that while students can receive “a great education at SUNY for a comparatively low price,” music majors face unanticipated additional costs — including instrument repair and maintenance and applied lesson fees — which “add considerably to the expense of college.”

“The students will be selected by the Music Department faculty,” Cowan said, “but many factors may be considered, including leaderships skills, grades, performance ability [and] ensemble participation.”

Music students will be able to apply for the scholarships starting later this spring as part of the scholarship awards application process, Hafeli said. The first scholarships will be awarded during the 2012-13 academic year.

Gary Patrik’s involvement in the SUNY New Paltz music community “makes this gift especially meaningful,” Hafeli said.

Gary Patrik, a retired mathematician and actuary, has played the trumpet since before graduate school. He is in his fifth year in the SUNY New Paltz symphonic band and currently plays in a few jazz chamber ensembles.

Janaki Patrik, a piano and flute player in her youth, is now a full-time professional Kathak — classical North Indian — dancer and Western modern dancer. She is also a choreographer and dance company artistic director in New York City.

“We have been blessed in our lives and are in a position to help others,” Gary Patrik said.

The Patriks said the endowment will help students during this hard economic time by funding “private lessons and anything else they need to play music.”

Gary and Janaki Patrik decided to donate to the Music Department because they were impressed by the “expertise [and] dedication” of the SUNY New Paltz faculty and staff. Gary Patrik also said he is “extremely grateful to the college for giving him the opportunity to play and learn music.”

Music has been deeply rooted in the couple’s lives since their early childhood. The two met in a community band in high school and have been playing music together since their wedding 45 years ago.

“Music [is] fundamental to the human spirit,” Gary Patrik said. “How dull life would be without it.”