The Abaco Pathfinders Scholarship Foundation in conjunction with the Bahamas National Symphony Orchestra presented its Symphony by the Sea concert at Abaco Inn in Hope Town on March 15 and Abaco Beach Resort’s Marquee on March 16.
As guests lounged on the lawn of Abaco Inn, they were served wine and hors d’ouevres. Scholarship applicants were assigned a committee member, and they walked from table to table introducing themselves to the specially-invited guests while sharing their college aspirations.
Beneath a star-studded sky and raging Atlantic sea before them, the orchestra began performing a number of classical and contemporary songs. Among them were popular songs like Grand March from Tannhauser; Moonlight Nights in Nassau and Bahama Lullaby; The Impossible Dream; Egmont Overture; Goombay Fantasia; and Radetzky March.
During intermission, guests were invited to revisit the silent auction table to bid on prized items. A special plea was also offered to donors making a donation of $1,000 or more to receive a copy of the newly released “The Delphi Club Guide to the Birds of Abaco.”
Meanwhile, Leazona Bethell commended the orchestra on their outstanding performance despite windy conditions. Turning to the audience, and with several of the applicants standing before them, Bethell offered another opportunity for donations to be made to the Abaco Pathfinders Scholarship Fund.
Applicants were screened based on their needs, maturity and academics.
Bethell spoke about the applicants’ stellar grades, extracurricular and community-related activities, and how some have gone as far as to save a portion of funds needed for their college tuition.
Abaco Pathfinders is currently supporting 40 college students, and over the past 14 years has been committed to the idea that “by building and investing in young people, we create a strong community.”
Some of the 2014 scholarship applicants are: Abidemi Simon; Monet Brown; Conrad Cornish; Dashane Knowles; Jannell Collins; Alexandria Bethel; Amanda Bethel; Seanna Albury; Tristan Albury; and Nadia Thompson.
Bethell added that several persons applied who are already in college and or had other commitments.
Each year their goal is to add 10 students to the list, and donations of $300, $1500, $2,000 or $15,000 makes the difference in purchasing books and supplies for one semester to covering tuition for a semester or on average a year for undergraduate studies.
Michael Albury also strengthened Mrs. Bethell’s appeal on behalf of the students.
“So the money we raise tonight will determine how many students go off for the four year or two-year vocational school or program of whatever they choose,” he affirmed. “They wind up going all over the world; we have students in China, Canada, Spain, Nassau and all over the U.S. of course… and that’s thanks to you.
“If we don’t raise enough money, some kids will not go.”
According to concert master Jennifer Hudson, the Sunday afternoon performance at Abaco Beach Resort was a superb occasion because the improved acoustics in the indoor location allowed the orchestra to perform to its full potential allowing them to deliver a stellar performance.
The Marquee at Abaco Beach Resort was tastefully decorated with the area above the stage draped with swathes of white tulle and accentuated with two chandeliers and several potted palms which added to the ambience.
“The performance was so much better because the orchestra did not have the severe breeze problems we had on Saturday,” she said. “It was very difficult trying to play in that wind. The sound was blown out to sea, and we had to keep catching our music from also going out to sea!
“On Sunday, we were indoors, and there was no comparison with the sound of the performance. It really was fantastic on Sunday. We had a standing ovation; everybody loved it.”
A special tribute was given to Peter Sweeting, one of the Abaco Pathfinders’ founding board members at the Sunday concert.
Abaco Pathfinders is still seeking donations on behalf of the applicants. American and Canadian donors can receive tax credit because Pathfinders is a 501 (c) (3) registered U.S. corporation