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These new instruments will make an immediate impact on UMass Boston music students. Image by: Christian Arthur
November 3, 2017

Gift from retired UMass Boston professor's sons helps students in music department


  • Boston
Brothers fund a dedicated music classroom bearing the name of their late father

UMass Boston music students have new violins, cellos, horns, and flutes thanks to a generous gift from two UMass Boston alumni. The donation from brothers Christopher Tawa ’76 and Dr. Nicholas E. Tawa, Jr. ’77 also funded a dedicated music classroom that now bears the name of their late father, a retired professor.

The Professor Emeritus Nicholas E. Tawa Music Classroom, located on the first floor of University Hall, was dedicated during a celebration last month. Family, friends, and colleagues of Tawa -- a founding faculty member and five-year chair of the Music Department -- gathered in the building’s Recital Hall to share memories and celebrate his lasting contributions to music at UMass Boston.

Professor Tawa’s sons, retired professor and longtime friend Laurence Berman, and current department chair David Pruitt all spoke of Tawa’s legacy and commitment to UMass Boston. Later, guests enjoyed a performance by a student jazz quartet. Bassist Dominic Davis said although Professor Tawa retired in 1993 and passed away in 2011, his legacy of inspiring budding musicians has lived on. Tawa founded the chorus and jazz ensembles, and his influence is clear in the teaching styles of current professors whom he taught and mentored.

Tawa’s contributions extend far beyond the UMass Boston campus. He authored 14 seminal books on American music, including A Sound of Strangers, Sweet Songs for Gentle Americans, and The Great American Symphony.

Christopher Tawa said seeing the instruments on display in the Professor Emeritus Nicholas E. Tawa Music Classroom was extraordinarily gratifying. Davis assured him, “We’ll take good care of them, and play them until we wear them out.”

The Professor Emeritus Nicholas E. Tawa Music Classroom is the first named space in UMass Boston’s newest academic building, which opened last year. To learn how you can make a transformational gift and name a space at the University of Massachusetts Boston, contact Vanessa Carta, director of donor engagement and stewardship, at 617.287.5328.