2016 End-of-Year Update

 Another year has passed, and we are pleased to announce a couple of big changes and the programs that Nina’s Fund has contributed to in 2016.

First of all we decided to change the mission statement and name of the fund from Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund to simply Nina’s Fund. This came as a result of examining our widening scope of interests in funding groups and individuals that we feel Nina would like to support, not just in the arts, but in social justice and education in general. The new mission statement reads like this:

Nina’s Fund’s mission is to empower individuals through charitable giving in the areas of the arts, humanitarian and social justice efforts, as well as projects that address violence against women.

Here are the projects that we supported in 2016:

TYMS (Taos Youth Music School):

In 2015 we challenged the board of directors at Taos Youth Music School with a matching challenge grant. By the end of 2015 the directors had raised $1900, and in January of 2016 Nina’s Fund wrote TYMS a check in that amount as our matching contribution. Since Nina had a great interest in music from an early age, if the Taos Youth Music School had existed at that time she would very likely have attended at least one of the after school music classes, and we are sure that she would be happy with this contribution to help make this after school music program available to the youth of Taos.

STEM ARTS @ the Paseo:

 STEMarts LAB@The PASEO youth program is a series of educational workshops that go into the schools, allowing students to collaborate with PASEO artists exploring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in their art making process. An artist is placed into every middle and high school in Taos. Teacher and students work with the artist up to one week prior and then perform/install their work live at The PASEO event.

Students learn valuable STEM skills through creative expression, social practice and collaboration, and are empowered as their creations become part of a real world event. We believe that the challenge and potential of STEM education in the future is for all students to have access to the latest technologies and 21st century thinking. The PASEO is the perfect platform for students to use these tools to play, explore and imagine a better world. Nina’s Fund donated $1000 to the STEM Arts Program.

Taos Chamber Music Group “Play it Forward” and “Transcending Time” programs (for the 2017 season):

 We have worked for many months with the Taos Chamber Music Group to find a way to follow up our successful event in January 2015 that featured the young composer Corey Dundee. We are therefore very excited to announce two concerts that TCMG has scheduled for next season and that Nina’s Fund is sponsoring with a $5,500 award.

Play It Forward

  1. Saturday, April 15, 2017, 5:30 pm2.
  2. Sunday, April 16, 2016, 5:30 pm

Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art

This year’s program featuring young composers and musicians also addresses the idea of music as a transformative force. Eddie Pogossian (age 19) will be featured in a Bach Cello Suite and join TCMG members for Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor and David Lang’s Shortfall for piccolo, violin, cello and piano, a piece that Lang says expends a large amount of effort to go a very small distance. Robert Bradshaw’s Concerto for Catherine for flute, violin and piano, written for a flutist with cerebral palsy, is based on the idea of uneven gait being a kind of dance, and Conrad Tao’s (b. 1994) A Walk for solo piano aims to capture an imagined conversation with his first teacher, if he were still alive.

Elizabeth Bakerviolin   |   Eddie Pogossiancello   |   Nancy Laupheimerflute   |   Robert Twetenpiano

Transcending Time

  1. Saturday, May 13, 2017, 5:30 pm
  2. Sunday, May 14, 2017, 5:30 pm

Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art

Transcending generations and art forms, TCMG’s season concludes with a multimedia collaboration with optics artist Ethan Jackson and features young musicians, Eliana Razzino Yang (16) and Michelle Cann (28). In addition, flutist Gretchen Pusch returns for J.S. Bach’s Trio Sonata 1029 and Yuko Uebayashi’s Transcending Time for two flutes and piano. Cann will also perform solo in Debussy’sImages, and Yang joins her for Beethoven’sCello Sonata No.4 in C Major, Op. 102, No.1 and plays George Crumb’s Sonata for Solo Cello.

Michelle Cannpiano   |   Eliana Razzino Yangcello   |   Gretchen Puschflute   |  Nancy Laupheimerflute   |   Ethan Jacksonartist

We are looking forward to 2017, and we have a several new projects in mind to support in memory of Nina. We are very grateful for your contributions to Nina’s Fund in past years, and we hope that you will consider further support in the coming year.

Thank you, and best wishes for 2017,

Nina’s Fund Board of Directors,

Kate Nilssen
Joleen Montoya Dye
Etai Freedman
Morten Nilssen


2015 End-of-Year Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund Update

2015 marked a great year for Nina’s Fund where we were able to partner with several wonderful organizations and fund exciting musical projects.

The first of these projects was the performance of “Migration Minatures” by Corey Dundee. In 2014 Nina’s Fund and the Taos Chamber Music Group commissioned this gifted young composer to write a piece of music to be performed in Taos. Corey came to Taos in January 2015 and performed “Migration Miniatures” with the Taos Chamber Music Group. Corey also performed “Star Bits”, his 2014 NEN Scholarship entry. The audience responded with loud applause and appreciation to both pieces of music.

In March, we contributed $660 to the A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco, California, in honor of Nina’s deep roots in the city, to have their choir chimes refurbished and to purchase a much-needed choir chime case. We were delighted to hear from them that this moderate grant had such a big effect:
The other day, the advanced hand bells were practicing in one room, and eavesdropping on the beginners who were practicing in the other room. One student came up to me and exclaimed, “I didn’t know the chimes could sound so nice!” I, of course, couldn’t help but giggle that even an 8th grader could hear the difference.

 Also in March we granted $1,000 to the Friends of School of the Arts Foundation in San Francisco in support of their Jazz Choir master class. Here is what they said about the grant:
Due to your investment in our students, we have been able to provide new learning opportunities that continue to make the program even more exciting and prevalent within our school and community. Jazz Choir students meet twice a week and have spent the past five months focusing on a wide variety of accompanied and a cappella musical styles to include; jazz standards, popular music, and originals. Most importantly, the students are engaged and excited about the jazz program! The growing anticipation of presenting their first standalone Jazz Choir helps them work even harder.      

Sunset PianoNina’s Fund contributed $1,000 to the Burning Man grant for Sunset Piano Project in July at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens bringing nine pianos throughout the gardens for both public performances and private playing in nature. The San Francisco Examiner wrote up a nice article on the project here.

“Sunset Piano” photo by Kathryn Rummel

In September we challenged the board of directors at Taos Youth Music School with a $2,500 matching challenge grant. As of today they have raised $1,800 towards this challenge for their very important and successful after school music education program for Taos children and youth.

We are looking forward to 2016, and we are seeking appropriate projects to support in memory of Nina. We are very grateful for your support in past years, and we hope that you will consider further support in the coming year.

Thank you, and best wishes for 2016,

Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund Board of Directors,

Kate Nilssen
Joleen Montoya Dye
Etai Freedman
Morten Nilssen


Today we granted $1,000.00 to the Sunset Piano Project in San Francisco.


On March 3o we granted $1,000.00 to the Friends of School of the Arts Foundation in San Francisco, CA. in support of their Jazz Choir masterclass. From their grant proposal:

“We would like to request a grant to support a 2015 Fall Performance Masterclass for our newly established Jazz Choir. The Jazz Choir instructor will prepare masterclass curriculum and song selection, under the direction of the vocal director, to insure it accomplishes its goal of tutoring and motivating singers through hands-on learning. The lesson will include: coaching by a professional a cappella group; interactive vocal percussion techniques; exploring new perspectives on staging and presentation; collaboration, constructive assessment and critiques. The workshop will culminate with a public concert showcasing students and members of the professional a cappella group.”


On March 30, we contributed $660.00 to the A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco, CA to have their choirchimes refurbished and also to purchase a much needed choirchime case. From the grant proposal:

“The A.P. Giannini Handbell Choirs are a unique addition to our choir program. This program is only offered to choir students who are willing to go above and beyond in their music studies, and also who are very committed. The choirchimes are a great tool used to display the benefits. After mastering the choirchimes, the handbell players go on to playing in venues all over the city including most recently City Hall and the Asian Art Museum. These handbell programs are very rare and even more rare in the public school setting.”


The 2014 Young Composer Scholarship was awarded to Tyler Capp of the University of Missouri – Kansas City. For more information visit.


We granted Vista Grande High School in Taos, NM $850.00 towards a poetry workshop for their students. The workshop will be led by Steve Rose.


The Concerts at the Harwood Museum of Art were sold out and huge successes. Corey DundeeCorey Dundee presented his composition Star Bits,  and the headliner was his commissioned piece “Migration Miniatures” which was a world premiere performed by Corey ( Saxophone) and Taos Chamber Music Group’s Nancy Laupheimer (flute) and Sally Guenther (cello). Here’s a live recording of Saturday’s concert:



Last week Nina’s Fund awarded $500.00 to the music program at Enos Garcia Elementary School to purchase ukuleles. This is the second such program we support, and ukuleles seem to be the instrument of choice for little fingers. This was a grant funneled through Taos Community Foundation teacher grant program.

We are looking forward to the big event in January:



The 2104/15  Scholarship application is now available for download here.


BIG News:
Taos Chamber Music Group joins with the Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund in commissioning a new work for flute, saxophone and cello by the young, up-and-coming composer Corey Dundee for this jazz-inflected program. Dundee will also be featured on his composition for solo saxophone, Star Bits. Other works include Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2 (inspired by American blues and jazz), Russian composer Nikolai Kasputin’s improvisatory-sounding Trio for flute, cello and piano, and Kenji Bunch’s Swing Shift for violin, cello and piano, a nighttime jaunt through New York City.

Saturday, January 10, 2015, 5:00 pm
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 5:00 pm

Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico


We contributed $500.00 to Young Audiences Of Northern California.
From the executive director Kris Murray:

Yes, we can direct your gift to support programs in schools.  We have a program we call Access for All, through which we aggregate program gifts to implement arts residencies in classrooms.  By combining gifts with one another, we can implement longer and more meaningful programs.  All of our programs are led by practicing, professional artists, and all of our Access for All programs are implemented in schools where there is no other art program at all.  We are changing little parts of the world and will steward your gift carefully in doing so!
Kris Murray
Executive Director
Young Audiences of Northern California


Congratulations to Kenji Kuriyama, the recipient of the 2013 Scholarship Award. You can read more about him, and listen to his composition “Redemption” here.


Our old friends Linda Grace and David Leach donated three hand drums including a high quality doumbeck drum, a beautiful tambourine, and an almost brand new alto recorder. We passed them on to our friends at Taos Youth Music School. Many thanks to Linda and David!

2013 Student application form published:


On May 7 we attended a recital at the Taos Youth Music School and listened to wonderful music by a number of kids of various ages, and their enthusiastic teachers. The ukuleles the school bought with our grant are perfect entry level fret board instruments for small fingers. Having always been on the receiving end of grants, I found that being on the giving side of the equation is far more rewarding.


11/23, 2012

We are thrilled to announce that we have awarded our first round of scholarships. Many talented student composers applied for the scholarships, and we are impressed by the quality of the work that was submitted. Nina was always exploring, in her art and otherwise in her life, and exploration was a key word as we searched for the first two scholarship recipients, and they are:

Nick Bacchetto, San Francisco State University’s School of Music and Dance who submitted his composition “Disintegrations”.

Yu-Chun Chien, Manhattan School of Music who submitted her composition “Sunny Rain”.


We awarded Taos Youth Music School $1,500.00 which they will use to buy ukuleles for their K-12 program, and to upgrade equipment for their Garage Band!

We hope the kids will enjoy their new instruments!