Beautiful music feeds the soul. And thanks to The Nisita Fund for Music Excellence, gifted to Florida Gulf Coast University five years ago by Maurizio and Laura Nisita, more students interested in studying piano at the Bower School of Music & the Arts and more people interested in listening to beautiful music are able to do so.
“I can’t emphasize enough how the Nisita Scholarship allows us to recruit and keep extremely talented piano students,” said Michael Baron, professor of music, head of FGCU’s piano program and The Nisita Concert Series. “We’re very fortunate. We have been able to offer scholarships to world-class students, many of whom don’t have access to a musical education or the financial resources to give them what they need.”
In addition, the gift supports the Nisita Concert Series, which showcases faculty and guest artists who produce more beautiful music. The series features a dozen concerts each season, drawing music lovers to campus from across Southwest Florida.
Maurizio Nisita retired as senior vice president of global operations for Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions based in Minnesota; Laura is an award-winning painter. A pianist himself, Nisita describes music as having both an emotional and a rational side.
“When I look at a piece of music,” he said, “I see the mathematics behind it, the structure of the piece. Then, there is the emotional side. Music makes you feel good. It reconciles with all aspects of life and helps you forget the bad and enjoy the good.”
Over the five years since the Nisitas established their fund with a $1 million gift, the students’ success after graduation has benefited not only the students themselves, but also has introduced the Bower School of Music to a national audience. Nisita references internationally known Peruvian pianist Priscila Navarro as just one example. Navarro made university history in 2013 when she performed a solo concert at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall while she was still an undergraduate student.
Which brings us to this year’s Nisita scholarship recipients – Jair Zacarias and Arturo Fernandez, also from Peru. Both began playing piano when they were very young and are thrilled with the opportunity to study in America, specifically with Baron.
Baron performs internationally and met Zacarias after one of Baron’s concerts in Lima, Peru. A piano performance major, Zacarias now studies with Baron and will graduate in 2023.
“I’ve learned many things from Dr. Baron,” Zacarias said. “His music expertise helps students develop as professional musicians and, of course, the scholarship has been crucial in supporting my education. I’ve had many performance opportunities and entered important competitions, several of which I have been fortunate enough to win.”
He states his career goal as “to learn as much as I can about music and share it with everyone who is interested in this beautiful abstract art.”
Fernandez, also a piano performance major, will graduate in spring 2023. “Besides the wonderful teaching I have absorbed at FGCU,” he said, “the Nisita scholarship has given me many opportunities to perfect my craft by participating in masterclasses, competitions, festivals and performances. It has also helped me network and meet wonderful local and international musicians.”
Fernandez won his most recent competition alongside Zacarias. The two performed together this summer at the Byrd Collegiate Piano Ensemble Competition, a statewide competition for two-person piano teams. It was the second year they took the top prize.
“My long-term goal is to create a music school in my hometown of Trujillo, Peru, to help talented musicians and to promote artistic activity as well,” Fernandez said. In addition to the Nisita scholarship, he is grateful to have received scholarships from Myra Williams and Carol Avard.
Fernandez and his Bower School peers also benefit from the Nisita Concert Series, which hosts regional, national and internationally known musicians – many of whom offer master classes for interested students. The series and the master classes afford students priceless opportunities to learn and network with exceptional musicians.
The Nisita Fund for Music Excellence not only nurtures aspiring pianists and supports excellence, but also ensures that beautiful music will continue to strengthen and sustain the human spirit.
- More details about this season’s Nisita Concert Series