Roser Piano and Keyboard Department named after gift from longtime music champion

Published: April 11, 2017 By

becky roser making speech

Becky Roser talks about what music means to her at the music+ campaign kickoff event.

Thompson. Eklund. Ritter. For the CU Boulder College of Music community, these are household names, spoken with gratitude and always associated with a deep-seated love and selfless support of music. They are the names of Boulderites and alumni who have endowed programs at the college.

Now, you can add the name Roser to that list.

Becky Roser, a longtime College of Music supporter and former chair of the Music Advisory Board, recently created a $2 million endowment, naming the keyboard area the Roser Piano and Keyboard Program.

It’s a gift Roser says gets back to her roots. “I’ve always loved piano. My mom and dad bought me a piano back in 1951. I played that piano from the time I was young, and then my daughter Nicole played it, too.”

Roser, who now chairs the music+ campaign committee, wanted to help kick off the $50-million fundraising campaign with a gift whose influence would be felt well beyond the College of Music’s 2020 centennial.

“It makes me happy and it brings me joy to be able to do this,” she says. “An endowment goes on forever, and now more than ever, it’s important to have done this.”

The gift represents the latest in a series of shows of support from the Roser family to the CU Boulder campus. The Roser Visiting Artists Program brings artists, musicians, dancers and filmmakers to campus as guests; in 2009, the ATLAS Institute’s home on campus was named the Roser ATLAS Center in honor of a transformative gift by Becky and her late husband Jim Roser.

Helen and Peter Weil Professor of Piano David Korevaar says he and his colleagues are honored Roser chose to support their work. “She’s been such a friend of the college and the university. It’s a wonderful feather in our cap. Having a named program gives us a nice status that translates outside the college. It’s a testament to the quality of what we do.”

Adds Professor of Piano Andrew Cooperstock, “We are honored for keyboard to bear Becky’s name. The piano is so important to her, and she has always been such a friend of the area. We are thrilled to have her emotional and financial support.”

Second year doctoral student Sarah Rushing says the gift confirms what she and her peers already feel about the program. “It shows the public that we have a really high-level department. It also opens up a lot of opportunities for us to get more professional and real-world experiences.”

Among the ideas faculty have discussed for the funding are increased scholarship support for students, a summer piano festival and more guest artist residencies throughout the year.

Roser, who last year led a fundraising campaign to refinish the pianos in Grusin Music Hall and the Chamber Hall, says the gift will also resonate across the other departments in the college.

“The piano traverses all areas. It’s pervasive in the education of all our students, whether they’re choral or instrumental or composition. So in a way, this is helping everybody.”

On the heels of the public announcement of the college’s music+ campaign—which is already nearly halfway to its goal of $50 million raised toward program enhancements—Assistant Dean for Advancement Lissy Garrison says Roser’s gift is just one example of the supportive culture at the college.

“Music is like a family here,” Garrison says. “The four named programs we have are really partnerships. These partners are willing to invest not only their resources but their time and their love and their name.

“It lifts everybody up—including incoming students, who come in knowing that there are partners in this community who care so deeply about what they’re doing.”

For current students like sophomore Sophia Zervas, the gift will help bring more support to an already supportive community of musicians. "This kind of support is a blessing. It communicates to budding musicians, "We want you to succeed," and comes as a great encouragement that we should continue to pursue a music career."

Roser says at the end of the day, supporting music at CU Boulder is something she does out of a sense of gratitude.

“I have amazing admiration for our talented musicians and their dedication to what they do. The other part is the emotional impact that music has on me. It touches my soul.

“Music crosses all cultures and brings people together. It lifts us up.”