Juneau couple supports big band education

Ron, Kathy Maas dedicate $100,000 to fund four music scholarships to Sitka Fine Arts Camp every year

Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010

A longtime Juneau couple recently dedicated $100,000 to ensure the continuation of big band music education for youth.

Kim Andree / Juneau Empire
Kim Andree / Juneau Empire

For the love of big band music, Thunder Mountain Big Band leader Ron Maas and his wife, Kathy, created the scholarship - called the Maas Big Band Scholarship - to pay for four music students to attend the Sitka Fine Arts Camp each summer, indefinitely.

"The purpose is to promote interest in big band music and performance," said Ron Maas, who grew up in the era. "I used to listen to the big bands all night long in bed. And then as I grew older in high school, I started playing in a big band, and I've just been really fascinated by it ever since."

Ron Maas, 82, has played jazz trumpet for the past 70 years, and Kathy Maas, 58, has played violin more than 38 years.

"We want it to continue," Ron Maas said of big band music. "All over the United States the cities all have a big band of some kind, and people who are interested in that really love it. So I'm trying to keep it going, and hopefully we can do that."

Longtime JDHS music teacher Ken Guiher suggested the camp to the Maases, and good friend Susan Burke, who plays in a string quartet with Kathy Maas, also helped the couple think of ways to support big band music education.

"We've done very well, and we like to do things for other people," Ron Maas said.

"Particularly musically," Kathy Maas added.

"We both love music, and we've been playing all of our lives," Ron Maas said.

•••

To qualify for a scholarship, students must be attending a Juneau school music program in either middle or high school and have an interest in big band jazz and an interest in the future of big band performance.

Scholarship money will be paid directly to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and applicants must enroll in jazz band and concert band at the camp. The scholarship includes tuition and room and board, but not transportation.

The four winners will be chosen by the Maases together with two music teachers. Applicants will write a letter to their teachers indicating their interest in big band music and why. They also will have a short interview with the judges in the month of April.

Scholarship winners will be announced no later than May 1 this year. Students and parents should contact their music teachers for more information.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at kim.andree@juneauempire.com.



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