Monday, December 10, 2012

MAFA program to celebrate 10th year with free concert, reception

Jazz musicians Eric Heukeshoven, left, and John Paulson, right, are hosting and performing at a free concert Saturday – in appreciation for the support the Music Access for All program has received in the past 10 years.    
WINONA, Minn. — The Music Access for All program in Winona will celebrate 10 years of service with a free concert of jazz and Christmas selections Saturday, Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Maplewood Townhomes Community Center, 1756 Kraemer Dr. The John Paulson-Eric Heukeshoven Jazz Duo will perform, and light refreshments will be served. This public event is being held in gratitude to the Winona community for all of the support MAFA has received.

In December of 2002, Saint Mary’s University professor Dr. John Paulson founded the MAFA (Music Access For All) program at the Maplewood Townhomes with the goal of getting instruments, music and lessons to students in need of assistance. On Christmas Eve that year, he obtained instruments for three girls in the same family and experienced the joy of watching their faces as they opened their instrument cases for the first time. Shortly after the program began, one of his best friends A. Eric Heukeshoven, also from the SMU Music Department, expressed an interest in helping with the program.  For several years, the two men taught lessons Saturday mornings at the Maplewood Townhomes Community Center and hosted winter and spring concerts to show off what their students had accomplished.  Their goal was to ultimately get the students into public school music programs to continue and expand on what they had learned.

Currently, they work through area music teachers like Paula Bratten of the Winona Middle School and place instruments with students in need of assistance. Donated instruments are checked over by Bob Ogren of Leithold Music in La Crosse, and they are then stored there until they find a new home. The program depends completely on cash contributions and instruments from the community, and many people have come forward to help.  If you’d like to donate an instrument, or you know of a student in need of assistance getting one, contact Paulson at or (507) 454-4948.  Checks can be made out to Saint Mary’s University/ MAFA and sent to Eric Heukeshoven at Campus Box 1473, Saint Mary’s University, Winona, MN 55987.