Giving story

The 10 Mile Student Assistance Fund

Sophia terHart

A big heart for music

In 1939, 12-year old Sophia terHart and her mother marched purposefully down a narrow side-street in Amsterdam. As they entered the residence of the local violin maker, Sophia’s smile widened. She had waited years to own a violin. From that moment on, Sophia’s life was full of music.

“It was rare not to hear music in some form or other resonating throughout our house,” says Stella, Sophia’s daughter, as she remembers her mother’s enthusiasm for singing, playing and listening to music. As a direct descendent of the Italian composer and violinist Tomaso Vitali, a passion for music pulsed through Sophia’s veins, and oozed from every pore, spreading to family, friends and the wider community. In fact, she and husband Jan dedicated much of their lives supporting and promoting the arts tirelessly.

Searching for the right tribute

When Sophia passed away last year the home fell silent. As the loss echoed through him, Jan wondered if that infectious enthusiasm for music must die with his wife. Sophie loved to help others find joy in music. How would the family honour that through her death? He felt a music-filled celebration of her life wasn’t enough.

Instead, Jan thought about establishing a music award in his wife’s memory at the University of Victoria. Daughter Stella, who is a professional musician, was overjoyed to learn of her father’s plans. “At first he wasn’t aware of how an endowed award works,” she says. “When I explained to him that this award would last in perpetuity, he was very excited. It made a difficult situation much easier for us all.”

Vitali and Sophia’s legacy

The terHart family’s decision has touched folks in the School of Music. “It helps our mission to create the best musical and learning experiences for our students,” says Dr. Art Rowe, acting director. The Sophia terHart award will defray tuition costs for incoming students and open doors for talented musicians to pursue their passion at post-secondary level. “I can’t say for sure, but I predict Vitali’s Chaconne will be on the program at the school’s donor appreciation concert in 2017,” he says.

While the family connection to Vitali adds history and prestige to this award, Sophia’s true legacy isn’t the musical talent she carried within her, but the way it bubbled out of her to infect others. Through their gift to UVic, Jan and his family have found a way to ensure that this infectious passion will continue on in generations of musicians to come.

How your gift makes a difference

Every gift you make, regardless of timing or size, has a positive outcome. Here are a few examples of how you can help:

  • $450 pays for a student to take one course
  • $2,500 pays a student's tuition for one semester
  • $5,000 pays a student's tuition for one year
  • $20,000 pays a student's tuition for 4 years
  • $25,000 establishes an endowed named bursary or scholarship
  • $50,000 establishes an endowment for more than one undergraduate student
  • $100,000 establishes a graduate student award

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