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Luzerne Music Center receives $500,000 gift from famous songwriter

Luzerne Music Center receives $500,000 gift from famous songwriter

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LAKE LUZERNE — The estate of a man who wrote music for the likes of Frank Sinatra has gifted the Luzerne Music Center $500,000, the largest donation the summer music camp has received in its 40-year history.

The Luzerne Music Center announced the gift from the estate of Jack Lawrence on Thursday in a news release. A portion of the donation will be used to create an endowment scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to those who attend the camp.

Lawrence, who died in 2009 at the age of 96, penned such hits as Sinatra’s “All or Nothing at All” and Dinah Shore’s “Yes, My Darling Daughter” throughout his decades-long career.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.

“This gift secures Mr. Lawrence’s legacy, which fits closely with our mission of encouraging students to follow their passions and dreams,” Elizabeth Pitcairn, the Music Center’s CEO and artistic director, said in a statement.

The Luzerne Music Center was founded in 1980 by Bert Phillips and Toby Blumenthal of the Philadelphia Orchestra with the goal of providing world-class music instruction to children ages 9 to 18.

As a result of the donation, the center’s 200-seat concert lodge will be renamed the “Jack Lawrence Performance Lodge.”

Despite his success as a songwriter, Lawrence originally studied medicine and became a podiatrist at the behest of his parents. He would leave the field not long after entering it in order to pursue a career in music.

Born in Brooklyn in 1912, Lawrence served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, where he organized service bands to entertain troops throughout Europe, according to his biography on the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s website.

After his time in the military, Lawrence began collaborating with composers and his music career took off. He is credited with writing hundreds of hit songs, despite not being widely known.

In addition to the monetary gift, Lawrence’s estate also donated his original manuscripts, which will be stored in the archival museum and composition studio on the Luzerne Music Center’s campus.

The museum and studio are currently undergoing renovations as part of a long-planned capital project currently underway at the summer camp. Work on the project began this summer.

The Music Center is still attempting to raise funds for the construction project, which includes $1 million in infrastructure upgrades and the addition of 12 new student cabins and 18 new faculty cabins.

The cabins cost $70,000 and $50,000 for students and faculty, respectively.

“With this incredible gift from the Lawrence trust, we can continue to pursue Bert’s dream for the camp,” Pitcairn said.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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