Giving Back to the Community: Melody Sawyer Richardson
Melody Sawyer Richardson was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a family that prized education, appreciated the arts, and instilled in her a core value that it is important always to give back to the community.
Growing up with a 1912 Aeolian organ in her home, she enjoyed singing along while her father played it by ear. Her mother was on the board of the Cincinnati Opera and hosted many after-performance parties for the cast. As a result of being brought to performances at an early age, Melody fell in love with opera and continues to pursue that passion as an adult.
A magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Melody continued her education, earning a master’s degree in social work from Ohio State University; a master’s in business administration from Rutgers Graduate School of Management; and a Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University Law School.
After a successful 23-year career working in New York City as an attorney at a law firm and general counsel for the banking and insurance industries, she returned to Cincinnati to restore her family home. During these years she actively volunteered on the boards of Cincinnati Symphony, Ballet, Chamber Orchestra, Opera, and May Festival, as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A few years ago, she moved back to New York City and was introduced to Manhattan School of Music by her friend and MSM alumna Noémi Karpati Neidorff, who eventually recruited her to serve on MSM’s Board of Trustees.
“My first impression of MSM was that the Board was very passionate and committed, and they welcomed me warmly,” Melody says. “I am thrilled to be a part of this board and want more people to know about this incredible School with its impressive student body of talented young artists. I am happy to work to support the School’s growth and continued financial stability because I certainly get so much more out of volunteering than I ever can give.”
Throughout her life, Melody has worked hard and feels she has been very lucky. She has continued her family tradition by passing along to her own children the importance of sharing their good fortune with others. “It doesn’t matter how much you give, but you must give,” Melody explains.
When asked to support MSM’s Centennial Project, she made a generous gift toward the renovation of Neidorff-Karpati Hall. However, having seen other organizations build new facilities and then struggle to maintain them in the future, Melody decided to also include a major bequest in her estate to establish a maintenance endowment to support the Hall’s continued upkeep for future generations. “I hope my gift will allow our students, faculty and audiences to enjoy the Hall now and for many years to come. Since music touches our souls, your gifts cannot be better placed than to support this world-renowned conservatory as it enters its second century.”
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