Music Professor at Cal State Long Beach marks 20th year of running marathons

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Cal State Long Beach Professor John Barcellona celebrating two decades of sweat philanthropy by running in the 20th Annual Scholarship Run last Saturday, a personal fundraiser he created to generate funds for the University Wind Quintet he directs. Barcellona’s fundraiser took place during the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach.

To date, Barcellona, also a professional flutist, has raised nearly $60,000 for his students. Netting about $3,000 a year, he is able to guarantee each of the students in his quintet about $300 a semester.  Still, he believes in the expression “a little goes a long way.”

“When I started this, I wanted to attract quality woodwind students to our program, and I thought we needed some scholarship money to attract them. But, there wasn’t then and still isn’t a lot of scholarship money out there for a wind quintet,” said Barcellona.

This is the second year Barcellona ran the Surf City Marathon for this scholarship fund. He began running for the wind quintet in the Long Beach Marathon in 1990, followed by the Los Angeles Marathon until last year when the race was moved by new organizers to May, which is too late in the spring semester.

The quintet is a select group of musicians comprised of a horn player, flute player, clarinetist, bassoonist and oboe player. The five are chosen based on auditions held at the beginning of each academic year and are considered the university’s best at their respective instruments.

Since the inception of his annual scholarship run, Barcellona believes there has been an improvement in the level of musicians selected for the quintet, which he said has acquired a very good reputation over the last two decades.

Besides the ample supply of talent of woodwind musicians Barcellona has trained over the years, he was also impressed with the second cohort of Cole Scholar musicians who came to campus as freshman this past fall. The Cole Scholarship program is the result of a $16.4 million donation, the largest in university history, from the Bob Cole Trust to provide scholarships for student musicians to attend CSULB and its newly-named Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.

“Cole Scholarships have brought us many top-quality students. This is making the conservatory even more competitive with the top musical institutions nationally,” said Barcellona.

Barcellona, 62, began running in the Army during basic training. Now, with a regimen that is not quite as tough, he still runs three days a week and lifts weights four. Two to three weeks before the marathon he will tackle a 20-mile run to ensure he is prepared.

“I decided to start running marathons to raise money 20 years ago when I saw groups of people putting together events, such as walk-a-thons, jog-a-thons and 5Ks,” he said. “It was a natural fit for me since I’ve been running for so long. And I get a great workout in the process.”

To solicit donations, Barcellona prints and mails out fliers to mailing lists he has accumulated over the years, including those who have given in the past, Carpenter Center patrons who enjoy chamber music, and all of the woodwind players in Local 47, a musicians union. This year, donors will receive free tickets to the quintet’s annual concert, which takes place Wednesday, April 14.

Anyone interested in making a pledge to Barcellona’s 20th Annual Scholarship Run can call him at (562) 985-4739.  Donations may be sent to: Dr. John Barcellona, Music Department, Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA  90840.

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