Former piano student donates $6.7M to MacPhail Center for Music

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The MacPhail Center for Music received a $6.7 million gift to strengthen its general endowment fund – the largest gift in the organization's history.

Minneapolis-based MacPhail announced Tuesday that James E. Ericksen, who began taking piano lessons at MacPhail as an adult, donated the funds. He died in January at age 68.

“To this point in our history, MacPhail has never had a significant endowment. With his gift, James has given MacPhail the opportunity to create a sizable endowment to use towards our future," MacPhail CEO Kyle Carpenter said in a statement.

Ericksen, an Edina native, graduated from Augsburg College, was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Germany, and worked as an auditor for the state of Minnesota for 31 years.

He was a recreational piano player who had a deep love of music, MacPhail says. Ericksen began studying piano at MacPhail in the early 1990s and was described by his teachers as quiet, stoic and courteous.

“This remarkable gift was inspired by his affection for his MacPhail teachers. It is a profound example of the power of the music learning experiences offered by MacPhail’s entire faculty and the deep generosity and affinity that MacPhail students have for our institution," Carpenter said.

In addition to the gift, which will be used to build up an endowment to further support MacPhail's students, Ericksen donated a symphonium – an 1800's era mechanical music player that belonged to his mother – and a 1914 Steinway piano, also a family heirloom, the release notes.

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