The sound of clinking porcelain and the smell of coffee fill the room at Becky Craft’s Star Harbor home. Guests file in through the front door, greeting one another and complimenting the hostess on her beautiful tableware and the backyard’s stunning view of Cedar Creek Lake.

To an outsider, it was a typical elegant afternoon tea. But those at Craft’s home earlier this month knew that there was more to this gathering than an opportunity to socialize. They were together to support a cause.

The event was an official kickoff to the Trinity Valley Community College Music Department’s latest venture – the Cardinal Friends of Music.

Cardinal Friends of Music, said Music Department Coordinator Marylyn Wright, is a way for the community to actively support the college’s music program.

Over the years, Wright told those gathered, the community has supported the college’s music program. But that support has never been solidified, she said.

“This area loves the arts,” said Wright. “And this is another opportunity for our community to be involved in the arts.”

According to materials released by the music department the Friends group will dedicate itself to “the development of musical artists, the training of musicians, the development of audiences, and the support of live performances. We believe that our collaboration promotes artistic expression and a better society.”

The Friends group will not only be responsible for seeking monetary support for the department when necessary, but will also give those who want to volunteer with the program a place to be involved, said Wright.

The details about levels of membership and what roles volunteers and financial supporters will play have not yet been finalized, she noted. However, the department is now working to get the word out to those who would like to support the program.

Benefits for membership will include such things as reserved seating at concerts, free advertising in event programs and opportunities to have students conduct private concerts at a location of the member’s choosing, said Wright, with the different levels of membership providing varied benefits. Membership levels start at $25, she added.

Craft, who was instrumental in beginning the Friends group, has sung with the choir as a supporter (not a student) for several years. She said she’s always been impressed with the quality of the schools vocal program.

“This is one of the best music schools I have seen. Students here get such hands-on teaching that they are ready to go out and perform no matter where they go next,” said Craft.

“I really feel the community doesn’t know enough about what Trinity Valley has available and wanted to come up with a better way to let more people know about this great program.”

The music department has always performed for the public free of charge, Stuart Cochran said to the group. Cochran is the president of Lakeland Community Concerts – an organization that has worked with the college for several years to bring concerts to the public. Cochran also sings on a volunteer basis with the choir.

The music department presents four major concerts a year, said Cochran, with an average attendance of more than 500 at each concert. The choir’s next concert is set for 3 p.m. March 6 at Dogwood Church in Athens.

“The talents we have here are beyond belief,” said Cochran. “The students who come here are coming here because of the quality of this program. Being here is a tremendous experience for these young people.”

For more information on Cardinal Friends of Music, please contact the music department at 904-675-6230.

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