The University of Arizona Opera Theater is preparing for its spring production of "The Magic Flut
The UA's classical guitar program is the largest of its kind nationally, with nearly 30 students enrolled in its degree programs and more involved by minoring in the subject or studying related areas.
The Sanford and Phyllis Bolton Endowed Chair for Classical Guitar is inspired by Bolton's desire to see the already esteemed program become the best in the world.
Jory Hancock, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said the endowment is the second largest private gift to the college. The largest was a $3 million anonymous gift to support the School of Dance.
"I respect Sandy so much for his determination and for following through on what has been his longtime dream to support the guitar program," Hancock said. "He is someone I think of as a bit of a Renaissance man – his professional career was in science, and yet what he's really passionate about is giving students a chance to become artists."
In addition to his latest gift, Bolton has also provided funds to the program that have enabled students – like Renato Serrano, a first-year doctoral student in the guitar program – to play for patients at University Medical Center.
"I love playing the guitar – it defines my life," Serrano said.
He added that being a part of the UA program is "a springboard to my dreams," in part because of its "extraordinary human quality and high standard of professional excellence that encourages every student and professor to be permanently developing their potential."
The UA's classical guitar program is the largest of its kind nationally. Nearly 30 students are enrolled in its bachelor's, master's and doctoral performance programs, and more participate as music minors or through other related degrees such as music education, theory or composition.
"I love the guitar, I love the students, and I love everything about what's happening here," said Bolton, whose academic background is in pharmaceuticals and statistics, and who was a visiting professor of pharmacy and pharmacy practice at the UA in 2004. "The people here are wonderful and they inspire me, and I want this to become the best guitar program in the world."
His endowment gift will provide support for a classical guitar faculty member, and the payout may also benefit student scholarships, graduate assistants, travel and visiting faculty in the program. Bolton has previously given annually to support the UA residency of internationally acclaimed classical guitarist and Grammy winner David Russell.
Tom Patterson, director of the UA guitar program, called Bolton's giving "creative and wonderful" and added that it will increase the value of students' degrees.
"Degrees in guitar performance from the UA are already valuable because of the reputation of the program, and this endowment will make those degrees infinitely more valuable – we're going to rise up to a much higher level," he said. "It's phenomenal."
The UA's School of Music ranks among the country's foremost institutions of higher education in music. A nationally and internationally recognized faculty of 61 artists and scholars provides instruction, inspiration and guidance to the school's approximately 550 music majors.
School of Music graduates hold significant teaching, performing and administrative positions throughout the country and abroad.
The UA Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing the UA. Managing an existing asset base of more than $650 million, the UA Foundation has helped generate more than $2 billion in private funding to support the University.