Koeze Is Nuts About Music

February 7, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Putting to use his love of music and his personal and professional interest in philanthropy, Jeff Koeze has taken his company to join the ranks of Target, Comerica and Ford Motor Co. as sponsor of the 6th annual Sphinx Competition.

The Sphinx Competition will take place Feb. 11-19 in Detroit and Ann Arbor and is designed to encourage, develop and recognize classical music talent in the black and Latino communities.

This is the first year the Koeze Co. has been involved and as of now, the company is only a financial participant. But Koeze said that may change because this competition parallels in so many ways what he wants to achieve in terms of philanthropic activities.

“I look for things with multiple benefits. If I can achieve multiple things and make a variety of people happy, those are the types of activities I want to be involved in,” said Koze. “This opportunity is perfect for us because I have such a personal interest in the arts and musical education. We also have the opportunity to partner with one of our good customers and to bring our product into Detroit, which is a good market for us.”

The Koeze Co. is able to do philanthropic work such as this through the help of its not-for-profit affiliate, Third Coast Partners. What Third Coast Partners does is to buy Koeze products and re-market them for not-for-profit groups and businesses for employee or client gifts.

Third Coast Partners distributes Koeze products to nearly 40 groups in the Detroit area, and Koeze said the Sphinx Competition is a great way for his company to show those clients that it has a presence in the area. And not only in the business arena, but in the field of music and the arts, which is what the Sphinx Competition is all about.

The Sphinx Competition is held every year and is open to all junior high, high school and college age black and Latino string players residing in the United States.

The competition offers young black and Latino classical string players an opportunity to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and to perform with established professional musicians in a competitive setting.

During the competition week, semifinalists receive coaching and master classes from the jury members. Semifinalists then rehearse and perform in chamber groups, while networking among themselves and building lasting friendships.

The competition culminates with three main concerts: the Junior Division Honors Concert, the Sphinx Symphony Concert and the Finals Concert.

From these competitions, past winners and semifinalists have gone on to do great things; some have gone on to attend schools such as the Curtis Institute of Music, Julliard and Interlochen. Others have gone on to play music across the country as visiting instrumentalists in various symphonies.

It is Koeze’s hope that by supporting this program more students will go on to perform and learn about music.

“We plan on staying with this program for quite some time,” said Koeze. “I think it would be terrific if they asked us to participate more. We will continue to learn about it and look for more opportunities next year.”           

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