Published: April 4, 2017

Passion for teaching inspires giving

Contact(s): Rebecca Surian College of Music office: (517) 353-9872

Marcia Mitchell was never far from her cello. At 76 years old, the alumna of the MSU College of Music remained an active musician, on stage and performing with the Rockford Michigan Community Orchestra just a month before she passed away.

Her best friend and sister-in-law, Deanna Mitchell, remembers that performance in December 2015, remarking that Marcia hadn’t told anyone she was ill. Instead, Marcia had performed as she always did, becoming one with the instrument that had shaped the arc of her life.

“She was an outstanding musician and a perfectionist,” says Deanna. “The tone of her cello was beautiful. She was very accomplished — very musical. She loved to challenge herself. Her favorite was the ‘Dvorak Cello Concerto’ — considered one of the most difficult pieces for cello.”

Marcia’s love for music, Deanna says, resonates through her nearly 40-year commitment to teaching instrumental music in public schools to elementary and middle school students. Her passion, too, lives in perpetuity through a gift she arranged right before her death to her alma mater she adored.

Beginning Fall 2017, the Marcia R. Mitchell Endowed Scholarship in Strings will award one or more scholarships each year to a student or students in the string area who plays a leadership role in the MSU Symphony Orchestra.

“She herself had attended MSU on a scholarship, and because of that, she wanted to make sure others would have opportunities like she did,” says Deanna. “She was a very giving person. Music was so important to her, and I know for sure that her education and experience at MSU was a dominating feature in her life. Music was just part of her and who she was. She always came back to it and was the happiest when playing, performing, teaching or listening. It was the one thing that carried her through life.”

For information on how you can support the College of Music, or to learn how to establish a named endowment, please contact Rebecca Surian, senior director of development for the College of Music, at or by calling (517) 353-9872.

Reused in part with permission from the College of Music

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