Community Benefactors Support UNLV School of Music Through Student Scholarships

Nov. 6, 2019

The UNLV School of Music plays a valuable part in enriching the cultural environment of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, and recent generous scholarship donations to several of the School of Music’s programs reflect the community’s appreciation of the difference made by UNLV’s talented and dedicated students.

Five new scholarships have recently been created, and the recipients of each of these scholarships will benefit greatly from the generosity of these benefactors: 

  • Laura Taylor Jazz Studies and Music Scholarship/Laura Taylor

  • Christy and Alan Molasky Music Scholarship/The Alan and Christy Molasky Charitable Foundation

  • Composers Showcase Scholarship/Keith Thompson

  • Ken Hanlon International Trombone Association (ITA) Scholarship/Carrie Hanlon, faculty and staff, and friends in memory of Ken

  • Mark H. Alden UNLV Alumni Association Music Scholarship /Mark Alden and Tungalag Has-Ochyr, and friends in memory of Mark Hastings Alden

We are pleased to introduce these generous donors, and we invite you to learn more about each of them.

Laura Taylor Jazz Studies & Music Scholarship Fund- undergrad

Laura Taylor is the product of a rich musical background. Her mother was a Juilliard graduate, concert pianist and teacher, and her father was a successful businessman and a gifted singer. Together, they instilled in Laura a love for music which has been the guiding force in her life. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Laura was raised in Watertown, New York, and Monroe, Ohio. At 17, Laura was awarded a scholarship to study opera at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with the renowned voice teacher, Professor Robert Powell. After two years of study with Professor Powell, his untimely death prompted a move into commercial music and jazz for Laura. 

Laura’s distinguished career holds many accomplishments in several cities including New York City, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Opening for the comedian Don Rickles, in Atlantic City and Las Vegas led Laura to a long engagement in the Starlight Theater of the Desert Inn Hotel and a move to Las Vegas. Critical acclaim and national radio airplay have been given to Laura’s five jazz CDs. Her engagement with UNLV includes regular appearances as part of the legendary Joe Williams Scholarship Concert, and Laura has also appeared with UNLV’s Division of Jazz and Commercial Music students as the featured soloist in The Duke Ellington Sacred Concert, as well as being included on the UNLV Jazz Division’s 2018 and 2019 CDs.

In Laura’s words: “Offering scholarships to support young aspiring jazz artists and other musicians at UNLV will enhance the chances of those musicians going on to achieve their professional goals and dreams.  I’m passionate about supporting these talented students and inspiring them to thrive as they pursue a rich and rewarding education at UNLV School of Music.” 

Christy and Alan Molasky Music Scholarship Fund- undergrad

Christy Molasky is a graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and she earned a full scholarship towards her MBA from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s a gifted singer, with a three-octave vocal range which has taken her across the globe. Christy is a mother, a leader in the local community, and a passionate sponsor of education and the arts. 

Christy performs as a soloist, accompanied by friends and family, and also with her group “The Shoutouts;” performing a variety of music from country, rock, classical, religious, and blues, to standards. Christy is well-known for her solos in the Temple Ner Tamid choir, and she often takes the stage at benefits and charity events honoring luminaries such as Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo, JDRF, Planned Parenthood, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
The Nevada School of the Arts recently honored Christy with the Encore Award for her support of arts education and the performing arts Past recipients include celebrated Strip entertainers recognized for their talent and their educational and philanthropic work in our community.

While at UNLV, Christy performed as a member of both the UNLV Choirs and the UNLV Jazz Ensembles. Christy said, on behalf of her family, “We are happy to support our local UNLV School of Music students, and we wish them all the best.” ~Christy, Alan, Jess, and Josie Molasky

Composers Showcase Scholarship Fund- undergrad

The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas is an entertainment forum that allows local and visiting composers, lyricists and songwriters the opportunity to present original material to a supportive audience in an informal cabaret-style setting. The Showcase is hosted by Broadway veteran, Keith Thompson. The Showcase’s focus is on providing a platform for writers to showcase their original music while uniting the Theatre, Music and Arts communities of Las Vegas and revealing the creative spirit that abounds in all of us who strive for artistic expression.  

The Composers Showcase has been presenting its showcase at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas since 2012. 

Since becoming a non-profit organization, the Composers Showcase of Las Vegas has been able to expand its mission statement, which is to provide a platform for composers and songwriters and their original music, to encouraging the development of new works from young composers just beginning their journeys as the writers. From Keith Thompson, Composers Showcase co-founder:  Offering a scholarship to support young aspiring composers on the college level will hopefully enhance the chances of those writers going on to achieve their professional goals and dreams. This is also a way to give back to the community that has supported the Composers Showcase for more than a decade in Las Vegas. 

Ken Hanlon International Trombone Association Memorial Scholarship- grad/ undergrad

Dr. Kenneth Hanlon was a beloved Las Vegas trombonist, UNLV professor of music theory, and director of the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center. He attended Peabody Conservatory, performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, played for traveling Broadway shows, and backed up such acts as Mel Torme, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lana Cantrell, and the Temptations, among others.

In 1968, Ken moved his family to Las Vegas in order to play on the Strip. He also served as principal trombonist for the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra. In 1970, while still playing for acts on the strip, Ken approached the then-chair of the Music Department at UNLV and offered to teach trombone as an adjunct faculty member. Ken was hired, but after two weeks was told the chair was resigning and Ken immediately assumed the role of Chair of the Department of Music, a position he held for 16 years before being recruited as an associate provost. After five years in administration, Ken returned to the music department, where he taught and ran the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center until his retirement in 2017 after 47 years at UNLV. 

Ken also helped found the Nevada Dance Theater (now Nevada Ballet Theatre) in 1972 and was instrumental in the establishment of the Nevada School for the Arts, New World Brass Quintet, Sierra Winds, Las Vegas Opera Association, Las Vegas Chamber Players, Las Vegas Jazz Society and other arts organizations. In 1984, Hanlon was chosen to receive the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award as an arts educator. Hanlon was also president of the International Trombone Association.

The scholarship was established in Ken Hanlon’s memory. Ken passed away November 27, 2018.

Mark H. Alden Alumni Association Music Scholarship Fund- grad/ undergrad 

This scholarship is established by the late Mark Alden (1944-2019), longtime Nevada System of Higher Education Regent, in memory of his son, Mark H. Alden (1969-2013).

Mark created the scholarship after the untimely passing of his son, in celebration of his love for music, Nevada, and UNLV. "Mark Hastings Alden, of Las Vegas, passed into the night to a better place, March 1, 2013. He came into this life Dec. 28, 1969, in Reno. Mark loved the serenity of life, the mountains of Nevada, his saxophone, his beloved animals, his friends and his very proud parents. He believed in the better good of mankind. After years of fighting his disability, God took him to a better place."

Thanks to all of the donors who helped to endow this scholarship. Fulfilling the endowment was a labor of love for Mark.