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Steeltown Friends of Mohawk Music

Under the auspices of the Hamilton Music Collective, the Steeltown Friends Of Mohawk Music is a non-profit, volunteer fund-raising group, comprised of private citizens, employees of Mohawk College Of Applied Arts and Technology and Mohawk College music students, whose main purpose is to raise funds to aid, abet and enhance the music programme at the college, while at the same time enjoying the camaraderie and love of music one to the other.

During the hazy days of the summer of 2000, a number of concerned and interested private citizens banded together with the Mohawk music faculty and formed an ad- hoc volunteer group to try and raise money to assist the music department, which at the time was dealing with some severe budget restraints.

It was decided that a live jazz concert was the most obvious means of raising money. Under the banner “The Steeltown Friends of Mohawk Jazz,” Hillfield-Strathallan’s Artsplex Theatre was booked, faculty member Dave McMurdo put together a solid big-band and invited esteemed Toronto based flugelhorn player Guido Basso to appear as the featured artist.

Since that time there have been twelve additional fund-raising concerts, four black-tie gentlemen’s dinners, three themed dinners at Ancaster’s Rousseau House and three special concerts following “artist-in-residence” sessions. The committee has managed to raise well over $600,000 since its inception and has provided a large number of full tuition scholarships, funded all the master classes , purchased a grand piano, sponsored students to attend special music events and underwritten a number of miscellaneous endeavours.

None of this would have been possible without the generosity of the many sponsors who have donated to the cause, plus the large number of music loving citizens who have purchased tickets to our concerts.

In late 2009, in an effort to create something for perpetuity, it was decided to convert the existing Bickert and Nimmons annual SFMM scholarships into full endowments to go along with the already existing Rolston endowment. With the generous assistance of government sponsored funding matching schemes, the total funds sitting in endowments has increased from an initial $12,000 to $200,000. New scholarship level donations now have the option of remaining in annual scholarship form or being contributed to this new endowment funding.

While the SFMM’s main goal is to offer as much support as possible to the Mohawk music program, we also pride ourselves on the fact that we have managed to serve the needs of the music appreciating public by featuring a long list of outstanding national and international stars such as the aforementioned Guido Basso, Phil Nimmons, Ranee Lee, the late Rob McConnell, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes, the late Bob Brookmeyer, Tom Scott and Larry Carlton.

The Steeltowners continue to work closely with the college on a number of initiatives and it is indeed our sincere pleasure to offer our support to this excellent and valuable course of study.