By Amy Matzke-Fawcett
An upcoming concert will honor the life of a former Old Dominion University student and benefit a scholarship in her memory.
The ninth "Her Melody Lingers On" concert benefits a scholarship commemorating Claire Cucchiari-Loring and her passion for music. Cucchiari-Loring was a music major at ODU when she was shot and killed in December 2006 by her ex-boyfriend, a few months before she planned to graduate magna cum laude.
The concert will take place at the Chandler Recital Hall in the F. Ludwig Diehn Center for the Performing Arts on the ODU campus at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7.
Cucchiari-Loringwas driven, focused and was a featured vocalist for multiple concerts and styles of music, said F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music Professor John Toomey. He and Cucchiari-Loring's mother, Kate Loring, are organizing the concert. Toomey, who heads the ODU jazz program, will be one of the performers.
"She was a standout," Toomey said of his former student.
Along with Toomey, the concert will feature internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and producer Justin Kauflin in "An Evening of Jazz Piano Duets."
This is the second time Kauflin, who grew up in Virginia Beach, and Toomey have teamed to benefit the scholarship - the first time was a sold-out concert in 2016.
"I was fortunate enough to be one of John's students while I was in high school," Kauflin said. "It has been such a joy to be able to perform with a teacher and hero of mine, as well as make music for such a meaningful cause."
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Claire Cucchiari-Loring Music Scholarship, which provides around $4,000 per year to support students in the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music's Jazz Choir. The scholarship has been awarded for 27 consecutive semesters, and Cucchiari-Loring's mother, Kate Loring, is happy that it will continue in perpetuity.
"I am very committed to 'Her Melody Lingers On,' and have been since its inception. Kate's drive and focus is nothing short of amazing, and her efforts have resulted in the scholarship fund growing over four times the original gift," Toomey said. "So many students in the Jazz Choir have benefitted semester after semester from the fund."
The concert series began in November 2007 after Loring met with a group of her daughter's friends from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach. Loring had already started the scholarship, but they wanted to do more.
"We thought, what can we do to memorialize Claire, and focus on her life instead of her death?" Loring said. "Benefiting the scholarship and focusing on the music Claire loved was a way to do something positive."
Along with supporting the scholarship, Loring speaks to high school- and college-age young people about intimate partner violence.
"When speaking about Claire, I emphasize the ways she was a tough cookie, independent and strong. She was not someone you might expect to be in an abusive relationship," Loring said. "I want people to recognize that intimate partner abusive relationships may not conform to stereotypes and that emotional abuse can escalate to physical abuse."
Resources on relationship violence will be available at the concert.
The jazz choir was Cucchiari-Loring's love, and her friends and professors at ODU meant the world to her, her mother said.
"Part of why I've continued to grow the fund is that I want Claire and her love of music to live on, but I'm also grateful for what the ODU music department gave her," Loring said.
For more information or to buy tickets for the concert, visit oduartstix.com. For more information on the Claire Cucchiari-Loring scholarship fund or intimate partner abuse, visit ourclaire.net.