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In the Loop
Friends and Giving : Feb 16, 2017

Moved by music: How one performance inspired leadership for Jim Theriac

By Mandy McDade

When Jim Theriac was invited by a friend to attend a University Orchestra performance at First Presbyterian Church over two years ago, he had no idea what to expect. Despite being a Levin College of Law grad, a Gainesville resident, and seeing his three sons through the University of Florida, Theriac had had relatively little interaction with the School of Music.

It was by chance that Theriac attended the concert, and he was completely blown away by what he saw. That night, Dr. Kevin Orr was the performance’s piano soloist, and Theriac was so impressed by the School of Music Professor that he approached him after the show and asked him to get coffee.

“He seemed like a nice guy, so I went,” said Orr.

It sparked the beginning of a new passion for Theriac, who had recently retired from practicing law after 37 years. Theriac and Orr quickly formed a friendship based on mutual respect and interest in each other’s work.

“I became really fascinated by Jim’s background as a lawyer, and he was fascinated by my work as a concert pianist,” Orr explained.

From there, Theriac began attending more and more School of Music performances, and he was continually impressed by what he saw.

“I realized that we have world class talent in our music program here,” Theriac said. “And I wanted to help.”

It was not long before Theriac became a board member on the Friends of Music, which plays a pivotal role in supporting the School of Music’s students, faculty and programs. By 2016, after a year on the board, Theriac had taken on the role of President.

During his tenure, Theriac has continued the outstanding legacy of former Friends of Music president, Cherie Fine. Theriac considers the role of Friends of Music to be that of a support system, filling the needs of the School of Music and acting as advocates for the program.

“Whatever the School of Music tells us they need, we try our best to do for them,” Theriac said.

Often, these needs are financial, and the Friends of Music put on multiple fundraising events every year in order to meet those needs. This spring, they’ll team up with Friends of Theatre + Dance to host Splendor, an annual gala that raised over $50,000 last year. Splendor proceeds are given back to the School of Music and School of Theatre + Dance in the form of support for student scholarships and programs.

In addition to this, Theriac and his wife Sharon have generously established the Jim and Sharon Theriac Music Excellence Fund, a gift of $100,000 to the School of Music, which will directly benefit its students, facilities and programs.

In just two short years, the School of Music — and the College of the Arts as a whole — have gained an invaluable ally in Theriac, who, for his part, is just glad to be working with a program that is home to so many stellar musicians.

“I have full confidence in the program and the people who work here,” Theriac explained. “It’s exciting to be surrounded by world class talent like this.”