About: Martha McCrory - Class of 1937
The Gift of Music
The Gift of Music: Quincy native donates $1.5 million to Tennessee prep school
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
By Hannah Flesner
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A Quincy native who spent 42 years teaching music is helping to build a performing arts center in Sewanee, Tenn.
Martha McCrory, a 1937 Quincy High School graduate, has donated $1.5 million for the center at St. Andrew's-Sewanee School. The donation came through the McCrory Foundation, which was established in 1999 to support and promote young instrumentalists.
The Rev. William S. Wade, head of St. Andrew's-Sewanee School in Sewanee, Tenn., shows Martha McCrory plans for a new performing arts center. (Submitted Photo)
"My focus has always been on young people," McCrory said. "Exposure to good music at an early age is essential for music appreciation and development. Clearly, this is a school with a passion for developing young people to their fullest capacity."
Ground will be broken Friday and the building is scheduled to be completed by fall 2007.
"This is the largest donation the school has ever received," said Sherri Bergman, director of marketing at the school. "The community is very excited."
McCrory was director of the Sewanee Music Center from 1957 until her retirement in 1998. After graduating from QHS, she earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a master's degree from Eastman School of Music.
She played cello in many orchestras in Tennessee, including the Bryan Symphony in Cookeville, which she still performs with today. She served on the faculty of Trinity University in San Antonio and the Cadek Conservatory of Music at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga before being named manager of the Chattanooga Symphony.
Soon after being offered a teaching position at the University of the South in Sewanee in 1957, she became principal founder of the Sewanee Music Center.
"The president of the university asked me to start a summer music program," McCrory said in a telephone interview. "It grew very quickly and soon we had students from all over the world."
During her 42 years of teaching, McCrory traveled to Nashville to play and record with many famous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Neil Young and Chet Atkins.
"Playing with famous musicians allowed me to save a lot of money and now I can use it to jump start the careers of many young and talented musicians," she said.
"I've spent years of my life teaching music and running the center and it was a tremendous joy and success. To allow young people the chance to be exposed to music is something I care very deeply about and, therefore, this is my gift to the youth of this community."
In honor of her contribution and years of service, the new center will be called McCrory Hall. Plans include a large theater for student productions and many practice rooms.
"It will be the first time we will have a theater large enough to fit our entire student body," Bergman said.