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Lions Club music competition to award student scholarships

The Lions clubs of the counties of Gloucester, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond and Tappahannock are looking for gifted young people in the vocal and instrumental area who would be interested in winning a musical scholarship and furthering their musical education. The competition has been scheduled for February 3, 2013 at 2 p.m. at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury (RWC) in Irvington.

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world. Since 1917 Lions have been meeting the needs of local communities and the world. Currently, 1.35 million men and women in 207 countries and geographic areas conduct vision and health screenings, build parks, support eye hospitals, award scholarships, assist youth and provide help in time of disaster, like Hurricane Sandy and much more.

A program to benefit and assist youth, the Lions of Virginia Bland Music Scholarship Foundation Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) on July 1, 2007. Under the aegis of the Lions organization, the Bland Foundation has been providing performing opportunities as well as scholarships to gifted music students, both vocal and instrumental, since 1948.

The purpose of the foundation is to promote cultural and educational opportunities for the musically-talented young people in Virginia (primarily of high school age). This goal is achieved through progressive competitions, beginning in February and culminating in May in a competition among 12 finalists. The Bland Foundation oversees the running of the competitions and also provides as much as $18,000 in scholarships to the 12 finalists. The scholarships must be used for college tuition, music lessons, summer music programs or other music education endeavors. As tuition and lessons are extremely expensive, the Bland Foundation provides needed assistance to these talented, hardworking music students and their families.

Many participants in the program (especially the finalists) go on to be accepted into the top music schools, conservatories and colleges in the United States.

Who was Bland? James Bland, an African-American, was a popular composer in the late 1800s. In 1948 the Lions of Virginia were instrumental in having Bland’s composition, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” adopted as a state song. To honor this prolific writer of Americana, the Lions wanted to create a “living monument.”

“Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” is now the state song emeritus but the Lions organization still honors James Bland and his place in American musical history through this successful, well-established program for supporting musically-gifted youth.

If you are a vocalist or an instrumentalist and would like to compete, please contact Middlesex Lion Dick Brown at 776-8342 to register, or for more information.

posted 01.02.2013

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