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Maia Hamann

Berneking fellow Maia Hamann

Hot air bassoon ride

Fellowship puts music student in the driver's seat

From M, fall 2006

A weekly Minneapolis-St. Cloud commute might sound like a drag. But to music grad student Maia Hamann, the two-hour round-trip signals opportunity.

Hamann, who studies bassoon, makes the trek to perform with the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra. Taking part in a professional music group wouldn't be possible for Hamann without the generous Berneking Fellowship she receives. "Instead of working at a restaurant, I can find performance jobs that don't pay as much but provide great experience," she says.

A native of Wilmar, Minnesota, Hamann started playing bassoon at age 13. "I remember hearing the bassoon on the radio and I was very attracted to it. I thought it had such a neat sound." She hopes it's a tune that will carry to a doctorate and eventually a teaching position at a college or university.

Before he died in 2002, Harvey Berneking, M.A. '48, made a $5 million bequest to create fellowships, and maintain and purchase instruments at the U's School of Music. Berneking received his piano performance degree at the U, and despite spending most of his life in California investing in real estate, he never forgot where his love of music was nurtured.

His gift is the largest ever to the U's School of Music and among the largest to a public music school. In just three years, 65 students have already benefited.