SILVER SPRING, MD—By the time she was six, Elizabeth White had heard her mother play classical music every night after putting the children to bed. This musical influence, plus the start of lessons with a fine teacher, was the beginning of a rewarding lifelong career of performing and teaching.
Mrs. White joined the international professional music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon, while attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
Sixty years later via the Washington Alumni Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, she received the fraternity’s highest honor, the 2013-2014 Orah Ashley Lamke Distinguished Alumni Award.
Its emphasis on music-supportive activities recognizes her “loyal service throughout many years of membership… (She) has exemplified, to a high degree, a dedication to fraternity ideals and has inspired others in a manner akin to that of the sister in whose honor the award is named.”
For the resident of Riderwood, the Erickson Living retirement community, the award is recognition of her career, but not an end to her musical journey. “To combine performing and teaching is a dream come true. I really enjoy interacting with people,” related Mrs. White.
Her active role with Mu Phi Epsilon has included participating in national conventions, chairing a performance scholarship competition, serving as chapter president during the 1990s and district director of the combined Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia chapters between 2000 and 2010, and aiding in the installation of new fraternity chapters.
Locally, she co-founded the Music Teachers Association of Bowie in 1968 and performed twice for the Prince George’s County Philharmonic.
At Riderwood, Mrs. White formed the Piano Club in 2013. The resident group meets monthly to enhance their love of the ivories through playing and sharing stories of concerts and experiences. Mrs. White also accompanies musicians on campus and plays for fellow residents at the extended care neighborhood of Riderwood.
Mrs. White counts meeting Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, considered one of the greatest performers of the twentieth century, as a career highlight. But opening doors for others will always be her main priority.
“Developing talent in others is a rewarding experience,” said Mrs. White. “Often times, it’s just a matter of overcoming shyness. I always encourage people to try music or return to the piano because music brings the world so much joy.”