The Presser Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards that an undergraduate can receive in music. The Presser foundation was created under the deeds of trust and will of Theodore Presser in 1939. Solely dedicated to the philanthropic support of music and music education, there are few other private foundations like the Presser Foundation in the United States. Undergraduate students who receive the award must demonstrate a high level of musical and academic accomplishment and demonstrate strong qualities of leadership and citizenship. Recipients are nominated during their junior year and should contribute to the success of the music school and also show individual growth and perseverance.
Olivia has demonstrated these qualities and fulfilled these requirements to the highest standard. Olivia grew up singing with her sisters and in her childhood catholic church’s youth choir where she gained many of her musical skills and also served as a soloist and mass cantor. At the University of Arizona, Olivia has been the Secretary and President of the Symphonic Choir as well as a soloist, member, and soprano section leader. She has also served as the choral intern, President of the Undergraduate Chapter of ACDA, and helped organize the High School Honor Choir hosted by the Fred Fox School of Music. While Olivia has emphasized choral education, she also has an extensive music background in playing the tenor saxophone, flute, and clarinet in wind and jazz ensembles. She currently holds the position of assistant director for the Ladybug and Hummingbird choirs of the Tucson Girls Chorus and is student teaching in fulfillment of her degree requirements at Esperero Canyon Middle School and Manzanita Elementary School.
Presser Scholars must be nominated to receive this award. Olivia was nominated by Dr. Elizabth Schauer and Dr. Andrew Stuckey. Dr. Schauer noted that “During her time here as a music education major, Olivia has been member of and soloist Symphonic Choir since she was a freshman, has been a student in my conducting class, and has served as president of both Symphonic Choir and the undergraduate division of our student chapter of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and has provided valuable service to the FFSoM in these roles.” She also commented on Olivia’s position with the Tucson Girls chorus and her array of skills, saying “Olivia’s work with the Tucson Girls Chorus, an outstanding organization featuring ten choirs, for a variety of age levels and circumstances. During this academic year, Olivia has been serving as the assistant director for two of the choirs – one for 2nd/3rd graders and the other for 4th/5th graders. Singers are trained in music reading, vocal technique and numerous other skills and also prepare music for performance. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity for an undergraduate, and one that Olivia earned through her exemplary work as a student and in other capacities.”
In addition to being named the 2022-2023 Presser Scholar, Olivia Bustos has been awarded the 2021-2022 AMEA Outstanding Future Choral Music Educator Award and the 2021-2022 UCC Memorial Scholarship. She hopes to one day teach in North Carolina and continue her own personal creative pursuits as a singer and musician. Olivia has a bright future before her and will forever be known as a Presser Scholar.
Story by Isabelle Joy Knowles