Piano area student Alec Lerner was the top winner of the Carl Maultsby award Sponsored by the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation. The “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation is a Central Florida nonprofit established in 1996. Lerner is the first University of Florida Piano student to win top honors in this competition. Lerner was presented with a plaque and a check for three thousand dollars at the Loews Portifino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios this past Saturday, March 11th, where he performed the F-sharp minor polonaise by Frederic Chopin and the Negro Spiritual “Steal Away” arranged for piano by Roland Carter.
The network of programs and services through which The Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation impacts the public is known as Project GRADY-RAYAM. The agency’s threefold mission is to preserve America’s Negro spiritual songs from the slave era as part of our cultural heritage, provide training, development and scholastic assistance grants for young artists, and inspire the American public to embrace diversity through spirituals as a shared cultural legacy. Over a span of twenty years the organization has worked directly with more than 50,000 clients including senior high school students, collegians, parents, educators and music professionals. It collaborates with churches, performing arts groups and cultural or civic organizations to extend the rich legacy of the Negro spiritual through outreach in the form of workshops, lectures and recitals. The agency produces an annual season of music concerts that stimulate and inspire the wider community. It commissions scholars and musicians to produce new works, hires professional singers and players in support of the American cultural community, and shares its resources and expertise with others nationwide.