Rockwood couple’s estate pledges $250,000 to Kiwanis Music Festival

GUELPH – The Kiwanis Music Festival of Guelph announced that a special gift from the estate of Rockwood’s Klara and Oscar Bookbinder will ensure the long-term sustainability of the festival and have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of aspiring musicians.

The Bookbinders’ estate donated $250,000 to the festival to ensure it can continue to provide performance opportunities to local musicians and to implement several exciting new initiatives in honour of the couple.

The estate also recently gave $250,000 each to Hospice Wellington and the Kodaly Society of Canada.

The Kiwanis Music Festival is the area’s largest youth arts services program, with nearly 3,500 performers each year.

Oscar Bookbinder was a musicologist and piano teacher who dedicated much of his life to the study of the folk music of his native Hungary.

In his honour, the festival will be implementing a brand new Composition Competition for emerging composers aged 25 and under.

The winner of this adjudicated competition will receive a $1,000 prize, the Oscar Bookbinder Composition Trophy, as well as a performance of the work and its publication.

Klara Bookbinder was a dedicated piano teacher who sent her prize-winning students to the festival every year for decades. She also self-published several books of piano compositions for young children, as well as two books of her own students’ compositions.

To honour Klara, the Festival will implement a new Scholarship Competition for Advanced Level Performers.

Following the festival each year, two senior level performers from each discipline as selected by the adjudicators will have the opportunity to compete for the coveted Klara Bookbinder Memorial Cup and the $1,000 first prize.

All winners will have the chance to perform at a future concert organized by the festival.

In keeping with the Bookbinders’ deep affection for teaching music to young students, especially in the rural community that welcomed them, the festival will offer several initiatives for music education and community support.

A new annual workshop for elementary music teachers will be instituted; bursaries will be made available for busing subsidies to encourage more band and choir participation in the festival; limited bursaries will also be available to assist with student needs such as entry fees, accompanist fees, private lessons or instrument rentals; and new scholarships will be designated specifically for rural students.

“The Bookbinders were devoted music teachers and the Kiwanis Music Festival of Guelph was a very important part of their piano studio,” stated Peter Hannam, executor of the Bookbinder.

“The Festival gave their piano students from the Rockwood area a unique performance venue and the opportunity to receive professional adjudication.

“The estate is very pleased to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the festival as well as the launch of new initiatives to support music education in Guelph and Wellington County.”

Kiwanis Music Festival officials say they are delighted to receive such a generous gift from the Bookbinders’ estate and are so grateful for the positive impact it will have on the lives of countless talented and dedicated musicians, their families, and their teachers.

Festival coordinator Heather Fleming stated the funding “will allow the festival to implement exciting new initiatives that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Klara and Oscar Bookbinder immigrated to Canada from their native Hungary.

After living in Toronto, they settled in Rockwood, bringing with them a devotion to and a long history of teaching music to children, both in Toronto and Rockwood.