Leveraging the Legacy of a Whirlwind

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When Bruce Montgomery, the multi-talented composer and charismatic personality who directed Penn’s Glee Club for close to half a century [“Monty in Full,” May|June 2000], died suddenly in June 2008, he left behind a trove of artistic materials and intellectual property, as well as some unfinished projects and dreams. Now, following the chaotic interlude caused by his death, his family, friends, and fans have created the Bruce Montgomery Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization that will leverage Monty’s artful assets to provide financial and professional support for college and high-school students trying to pursue a career in the performing arts. And it’s fair to say that Penn students—especially Glee Club members—will receive special consideration when the grants are awarded.

“The foundation will give grants to high-school and college students who have dreams of pursuing a career in the performing arts but who just can’t afford to get things done that they need to do to achieve their dreams,” says Elizabeth Montgomery Thomas, Monty’s sister and the foundation’s executive director. “Let’s say there’s a playwright who’s written a wonderful play, but he needs a theater to stage it and doesn’t have the money to rent one. Or there’s a music major who wants to take conducting lessons from a famous conductor but can’t afford to. Or a choir that’s planning a trip to China and they’re a couple of thousand dollars short for travel expenses. Those are the kinds of things that Bruce knew intimately—the practical needs of young people pursuing dreams in the performing arts.”

The foundation now owns “everything Bruce created,” Thomas explains, and one of its immediate goals is to preserve and market that abundant intellectual property. It ranges from his off-Broadway musical The Amorous Flea, to the still-unpublished Penn Song Book, to his heavily annotated director’s scores for all 14 of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Even something as seemingly non-commercial as Monty’s choral setting of the Gettysburg Address has tangible value, as evidenced by the fact that Wayne Baruch C’68, a Glee Club alumnus and the founding partner of Baruch Gayton Entertainment Group, used it in his acclaimed “Stadium of Fire” Fourth of July extravaganza.

In addition to Thomas, the foundation (BruceMontgomeryFoundation.org) is chaired by former Philadelphia Orchestra Association Chair Peter Benoliel G’58, and its board members include Radclyffe Thompson C’67 (vice chair), Marc Mostovoy G’67 (vice president), Dawn O’Croinin C’96, Brendan O’Brien W’87, and Greg Suss C’75. A gala fundraiser will be held soon to help create an endowment. “There are enough people who felt that Bruce shaped them as human beings and as artists that we’re going to be able to raise the funds we need to have a really viable foundation,” says Thomas. “We’ll do occasional galas and aggressively market all of his work, and everything that happens from that will go to the foundation. It’s an ambitious mission, but we’re already achieving success to the point where we know we’ve got a good thing going.” 


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