In October 2009, while attending the inaugural Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, Fla., Albert H. Cohen happened upon a string quartet playing Beethoven—a group of undergraduates from the Florida State University College of Music. A classical music critic since 1976, Albert was impressed with the students' passion, communication and commitment to the music. Later that same evening, his positive impression of the university's music program was reinforced when he heard the University Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven's 5th Symphony.
So when Al was approached about making a contribution to the Florida State College of Music, he chose to make a very generous gift to support baroque music study at the university. "Baroque music—in particular, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach—is a great legacy today that too few people understand," Al says. "Because FSU has an exceptional music school with a segment already devoted to baroque music, my hope is this gift will help more people to appreciate this incredible period in music history."
Al's music reviews and features have appeared in the Asbury Park Press (one of New Jersey's largest newspapers), St. Petersburg Times, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, and papers in Texas and Virginia. He served as the managing director of the Music Critics Association of North America for 12 years.
Having worked and lived for most of his life in New Jersey, Al has since moved and now calls Florida home, and he wanted to support an institution in his "home state." His gift will establish the Albert H. Cohen Endowed Fund for Excellence in Baroque Music Performance and Scholarship. The funds will provide support to undergraduate and graduate students and to a senior faculty position with specialization in baroque music performance practice.
When structuring his gift to the College of Music, one asset Al chose to use was his individual retirement account (IRA). "All the funds from my IRA will go to two charities," says Al, who, with his wife, supports the Sarasota branch of a national charity that aids children and families. "Giving from an IRA is the most tax-efficient way to give to charity, as almost any other use of IRA funds in a legacy leads to future taxation problems."
Thanks to his generosity and foresight, Al will ensure the highest quality performance and scholarship in baroque music throughout the Florida State College of Music for generations to come.
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