Bolton Gifts Transform the Guitar Program

UA College of Fine Arts
Oct. 29, 2012

Sanford Bolton was a visionary whose dream was quite simply to make the already esteemed University of Arizona guitar studies program the best in the world.

His recent generous gifts will surely enable his dream to become a reality, making the guitar program a major learning center in the United States for aspiring classical guitar artists, composers and educators and securing the future of an exceptional program.

In August 2011, Bolton gave $2 million to create the Sanford and Phyllis Bolton Endowed Chair for Classical Guitar. He recognized the importance of a named, endowed chair as one of the most prestigious honors a university can offer and was delighted that the first chair holder would be R. Thomas Patterson, professor of guitar studies.

Shortly thereafter, Bolton gave an additional $1.1 million to establish the Sanford and Phyllis Bolton Endowment for Guitar.

Both the endowed chair and the program endowment provide a permanent legacy to support critical needs, including undergraduate scholarships, graduate teaching assistantships, student travel to competitions and performances, artists-in-residence and concerts in the community.

The gifts will enhance the ability to recruit talented students from around the globe. In honor of the Boltons’ generosity, the College of Fine ArtsSchool of Music has proudly named its program the Sanford and Phyllis Bolton Guitar Studies Program.

For years Sanford and Phyllis Bolton were generous donors to the guitar program.

Their support over time has been pivotal to the success of the overall program and to the many individual students who have benefitted from being educated in a conservatory environment within a research university.

Along the way the Boltons underwrote a program for guitar students to play for patients at the University of Arizona Medical Center. They established the Bolton Visiting Artist Guitar Fund, making the UA’s guitar program the only one in the world where renowned Grammy awardee David Russell serves annually as artist-in-residence.

Bolton’s professional career was in science – in pharmacy and bio-statistics, both as a professor and in the pharmaceutical industry.

Throughout, his love of the guitar remained a constant. Sanford Bolton built them, he played them, and he listened to others play them.

Phyllis Bolton was herself a visual artist who had, as well, a special appreciation for dance. Both were passionate about giving talented students the opportunity to grow in their craft. Together they sat front and center at every guitar concert and competition held in the School of Music’s Holsclaw Hall.

Phyllis Bolton assed away in February 2011. That month’s David Russell guitar concerts were dedicated to her memory. Sanford Bolton passed away in October 2011. November’s concert by the Grammy award winning guitar duo, the Assad Brothers, was dedicated to his memory. Family, friends, students and guitar enthusiasts gathered in Holsclaw Hall for a concert that closed with the world premiere of a piece written by Sergio Assad and performed by Odair Assad, a glorious piece called “Sandy’s Portrait.”

Photo credit: DS Photography


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