October 12, 2015—Herbert Merker ’62, local jazz enthusiast and an avid supporter of the University of Oregon’s program in jazz studies, gifted $125,000 to the School of Music and Dance in the spring of 2014 to fund the creation of a new ensemble composed entirely of scholarship recipients, the JazzArts Oregon Combo.
The resulting fund, the JazzArts Oregon Combo Scholarship Endowment, will fund six $1,000 scholarships annually. Scholarship are available to any student, new or returning, graduate or undergraduate. Even students majoring in other subjects are eligible.
The UO’s jazz studies faculty members will select the scholarship recipients each year through an audition process. Students admitted to the JazzArts Oregon Combo will embody the program’s ideals of talent and musicianship, and the ensemble will serve as a musical ambassador for jazz students at the University of Oregon.
Now the combo’s original lineup is ready for its big debut. The JazzArts Oregon Combo will premiere on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Aasen-Hull Hall in the UO’s Frohnmayer Music Building, including members Tony Glausi on trumpet and piano, Josh Hettwer on saxophone, Matt Hettwer on trombone and piano, Gabriel Davila on guitar, Lyle Hopkins on bass, and Ken Mastrogiovanni on drum set.
Merker graduated from Eugene High School in 1956 and received his BA degree in German language from the UO in 1962. In his youth he toured the world, carrying his love of music with him. A retired engineer, Merker is married to Marcy Hammock, with whom he was reunited after a fifty-year separation.
A true aficionado of the genre, Merker says he feels compelled to provide for a good cause like the UO’s jazz studies program. Merker and Hammock are also financial supporters of The Jazz Station in downtown Eugene.
Merker reports his admiration for Steve Owen, Philip H. Knight Professor of Jazz Studies and Music Theory; and Director of the UO Jazz Studies Program. According to Owen, the feeling is mutual.
“We are so very fortunate to have Herb Merker as a part of our very active jazz community, not only as a supporter of our students but of the jazz community at large here in Eugene,” Owen said.
“The scholarship endowment that Herb has so generously put in place is obviously a wonderful reward for the students in the JazzArts Oregon combo,” Owen continued, “but with this scholarship available to any student, it is also provides strong motivation for current students to excel and prospective students to take a serious look at our program.”
Also the donor behind the UO’s Herbert Merker Scholarship in German and Scandinavian and a supporter of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Merker is invested in providing opportunities to students throughout the University of Oregon.
Friday, November 13
JazzArts Oregon Combo
7 p.m., Aasen-Hull Hall Hall, Frohnmayer Music Building
$7 general admission, $5 students and seniors
Tickets are available at the door or in advance from the UO Ticket Office, 541-346-4363