Chosen family can create ties that bind beyond geographical separation, time and, yes, even a pandemic. Bingham Vick Jr. and Judy Vick, prove that, and after spending decades mentoring, training and feeding their Furman kids – Vick’s students in Furman Singers – branches of their family tree extend all over the world.
Vick came to Furman as director of Furman Singers in 1970. He taught in the Furman Department of Music during his tenure before retiring in 2010. He serves as artistic director and conductor for the Greenville Chorale, a position he has held since 1981.
“We entertained our Singers ‘children’ in our home for 40 years,” Vick said. “Judy enjoyed preparing outstanding dinners for our students, and we always enjoyed the relaxed evenings of conversation which followed. Over those 40 years, we figure we had some personal part in the Furman experience for at least a thousand students, and we have stayed in touch with many of those students as they have grown into their own careers and families. They tell us they are proud of their Furman experience and grateful for the part Furman Singers had in their personal and professional growth.”
From Switzerland to New York City and many places in between, Vick’s influence is heard in concert halls and sanctuaries where his former students extend his teachings to new generations.
“It’s nice to know that they are out doing good things,” he said.
The Vicks have committed $200,000 in cash and planned giving to endow two scholarships benefiting a student conductor and a tenor.
“Both are very important to the ongoing high quality of what Furman Singers does,” Vick said. “I know from my own personal experience, both as an undergraduate at Stetson (University) and conducting Singers, how important it was to have a good, strong tenor – or several, really – to lead the tenor section and strengthen the singers. And the student conductor position was just so invaluable to me as a student a hundred years ago. It’s been wonderful to see those student conductors go on to significant positions themselves, including Hugh Floyd who is now conducting the Furman Singers.”
The Vicks were inspired by their friends Gordon ’65 and Sarah ’66 Herring, themselves former Furman Singers. Vick said the Herrings have been generous to the music department and the entire Furman community, as evidenced by their naming contribution that provided the Nan Trammell Herring Music Pavilion, established as part of the Furman Singers’ 50th anniversary celebration, and their most recent $6.1 million gift to establish the Herring Music Chair Endowment and the Herring Music Fellowship Fund.
“More and more, the university and particularly the music department depends on endowed scholarships to provide financial assistance for students to come,” Vick said.
But the Herrings’ influence changed the giving path for the Vicks as well.
“Judy and I had included these two scholarships in our will, but Sarah Herring made the comment that it’s nice to have a scholarship in place where you can actually meet the students and get to know them, rather than benefitting them after you’re gone,” Vick said.
As such, it can add to that growing, extended family the Vicks have created.
“We’re fortunate to be able to make such a gift, and we’re honored to do so, especially knowing that it is going to impact in such a positive way Furman Singers and indirectly, the music department and the entire campus,” Vick said.
He said many of the talented students the music department recruits may have always sung in a choir or played an instrument but hope to study law, go into medicine or be an elementary school teacher, rather than major in music.
“They can come and pursue their academic interests at an exceptionally high level and they can be involved in an outstanding ensemble like Furman Singers or the band or the Furman Orchestra,” said Vick. “It’s a real plus for Furman. If we can, through these scholarships, help attract talented students, whether they are music majors or not, they can share their talent with the ensembles and they can pursue their own professional interests.”