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A Special Honor for Larrocha

April 26, 1998|Daniel Cariaga | Daniel Cariaga is The Times' music writer

It started as a practical solution to an academic problem, but it has become an opportunity to honor one of the important musical icons of our century. In forming a scholarship fund for pianists at Cal State Fullerton, where he teaches, Eduardo Delgado, the Argentine-born mid-career pianist, decided to name the effort after the legendary Alicia de Larrocha.

"It was so surprising when I asked Alicia's permission to put the scholarship in her name," he says, "She was very moved, and so honored, she said. Always modest, she suggested I name it after someone else. Seriously."

The campaign to raise funds for the scholarship has begun, but its official launching will be Friday, when Delgado, with Larrocha in attendance, gives a benefit recital, featuring works by Bach, Liszt, Granados, Guastavino and Ginastera, at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, not far from the Fullerton campus. The event will also note Larrocha's 75th birthday, which is May 23. Delgado says he has invited the veteran pianist to play Friday but cannot guarantee that she will.

"I met Alicia 30 years ago when I was a student at the Manhattan School of Music in New York," Delgado remembers. "She has been a great inspiration to me in my development as a musician and an artist. And I also like her very much as a person."

Giving the scholarship in Larrocha's name not only honors the great Spanish artist, but will also serve as a reminder to a coming generation of pianists of her stature in this century, Delgado hopes.

The fund, too will have the effect of filling a gap in Fullerton's musical resources. "When I first came [here]," Delgado says, "I realized there was no provision for offering gifted students financial aid."

Even when benefit concerts raised money for financial aid, those funds went to the whole school and not to the piano department, the 54-year-old pianist said.

"This was a very precarious situation," he added, "and we lost some good pianists as a result."

The initial goal of the Alicia de Larrocha Scholarship Fund is to salt away at least $100,000 as an interest earning endowment before starting to award the scholarship.

"I think we really have to build a principal before we begin giving the money away," Delgado says, adding, "the sooner the better is what I want."

*

CHALLENGED NO MORE: Accomplishing a five-year fund-raising goal more than a year ahead of schedule, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has completed its financial stabilization plan by raising its portion--$750,000--of a challenge grant offered by two anonymous donors. In January of 1994, the orchestra faced a $1 million deficit. Now, there is "a healthy cash flow reserve," said the president of the board of directors, Jennifer Diener.

"We are operating with a $330,000 accumulated surplus," says L.A. chamber's executive director Ruth Eliel, who was appointed last fall.

Since the completion of the challenge grant, the names of the original donors have been revealed: They are Richard D. Colburn and Warner W. Henry, both longtime supporters of the orchestra.

The needed matching funds have been given by the Mellon Foundation, Clarence E. Heller Foundation, Ahmanson Foundation, Hearst Foundation, Mitsubishi Electric America, Joseph Drown Foundation, Jules & Doris Stein and Charles and Peggy Champlin.

L.A. Chamber Orchestra returns to Royce Hall at UCLA, Sept. 26, to launch its 1998-99 season. Beginning in October, it will give two performances of each of its programs, the first on a Friday night at Royce, the second on the following Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

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