Tom Zajac Scholarship Fund
The fund will provide grants to early music performers and scholars who wish to pursue specialized study in ethnic and folk traditions, instruments, or styles for the purpose of enriching the early music field with cross-cultural connections. Inquiries into eligibility and how to apply for a grant will be available through Early Music America. At least one grant will be made during 2018.
About Tom Zajac (October 1, 1956 – August 31, 2015)
Thomas Edward Zajac, Jr., multi-instrumentalist and music educator, died on August 31, 2015 from brain cancer. A person of immense talent and extraordinary professional accomplishment, Tom was known for his unassuming warmth, humor, and generosity of spirit.
Tom’s career began in New York City in the 1980s, where he was praised for his stylish playing. He became a member of the wind band Piffaro and was a co-founder of the theatrical/musical group Ex Umbris. Tom appeared regularly with the Tallis Scholars, Folger Consort, King’s Noyse, Newberry Consort, Waverly Consort, Boston Camerata, and other leading US ensembles. He performed as a percussionist for a number of BEMF opera productions, and was the on-stage recorder player in Lully’s Psyché.
Tom’s versatility afforded him unique opportunities over his 35 year career. He performed 14th-century music at the White House during the Clinton years, a work for serpent by PDQ Bach on A Prairie Home Companion, hurdy gurdy with the American Ballet Theater, and shawm for the NYC Gay Men's Chorus at Carnegie Hall. A recording of his bagpipe awoke the astronauts every morning on a 2001 space shuttle mission.
Tom had a passionate interest in the musical cross-fertilizations that occurred when disparate cultures came together. He researched and directed projects from Colonial Latin-America, the three religious cultures of Spain, and Eastern Europe from Poland to the Ottoman Empire. He traveled widely, playing in virtually every country in Europe and Britain, as well as Hong Kong, Australia, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Guam, Australia, Israel and Turkey.
Tom was a beloved teacher of amateurs, students, and professionals alike, inspiring new generations of musicians with his creative approach to early music. He was a fixture at the Amherst Early Music Festival and many other workshops, and directed collegiums at Mannes College, the University of Maryland, and Wellesley College. Tom bequeaths to his community a rich legacy of his musical and creative life.