Alumnus' Family Establishes Music Scholarship Fund with $1 Million Gift

Gene Consales '50
Christine Consales, Kay Consales and J. Douglas Peters (seated) with Musical Theatre and Vocal Performance majors of the John J. Cali School of Music who performed at the dedication ceremony under the direction of Professors Clay James and Gregory J. Dlugos. 

Dedication ceremony honors Gene Consales ’50.

Montclair State University announced the establishment of the Gene Consales ’50 Endowed Music Scholarship Fund at a dedication ceremony at the John J. Cali School of Music on May 6, 2014. Endowed with a $1 million gift from Mrs. Kay Consales, widow of the late musician, composer, vocal music teacher and businessman, the new scholarship fund will provide scholarship support to vocal music students.

Montclair State alumnus Gene Consales, who died in 2011 at age 87, was a talented musician and composer who gave up a promising Broadway career to do what he loved best: teach. A high school vocal music teacher for his entire career, Consales drew the best from his students by insisting on “keeping the fun in fundamentals.” His SRO shows at the high school always ended in standing ovations.

"We are most grateful to Kay Consales for choosing her husband's alma mater to establish an endowed scholarship fund in his memory,” says Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole. “During his 42-year career as a music teacher at Union High School, Gene Consales was a positive presence in the lives of thousands of students, whom he taught, mentored and fondly called ‘his kids.’ Now, through Kay's generosity, the Cali School of Music at Montclair State will be able to continue and build upon Gene's teaching legacy as we prepare future generations of talented young musicians for success in music and in life."

Consales’ widow, daughter Christine and her husband J. Douglas Peters, as well as a number of his friends, former students and former colleagues were present at the early afternoon scholarship fund dedication. 

The ceremony included remarks and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in the Chapin Hall lobby by Dr. Cole, as well as a performance in Leshowitz Hall by University students of songs holding special meaning for the Consales family. “Sleepy Summertime” was Consales’ favorite among his many original compositions. “Tea for Two,” from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette, was Gene and Kay Consales’ favorite song. The couple performed it together – with soft shoe routine – throughout more than 60 years of marriage. 

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Consales was trained as a B-17 radio operator-gunner in the Army Air Corps during World War II, before being transferred to the entertainment division, where he played piano accordion for troops in Italy and in the U.S. 

During this time, he wrote hundreds of songs, two rhapsodies and an operetta, Voice of the Heart. It was while producing his operetta that he proposed to his future wife, Kay Horne, who was the show’s choreographer. 

Consales studied at Montclair State on the GI Bill from 1946-1950, earning both a BA in Music and English and an MA in Administration and Supervision. A vocal music teacher whose musical hero was George Gershwin, he inspired a number of students to pursue successful careers in music. He also created and directed adult choral groups and glee clubs that performed for community groups.

An equally talented businessman, Consales’ real estate investments included the Bamm Hollow Golf Club, restaurants and rental properties. He and his wife owned and managed the noted Baltusrol Swim Club in Springfield, New Jersey. 

These investments have provided funding for the music scholarship that bears his name and that will keep students making music for generations to come. 

“In the John J. Cali School, as well as in the College of the Arts, we are dedicated to two key principles: providing opportunity and pursuing excellence,” says Montclair State University College of the Arts dean Daniel Gurskis. “This extremely generous gift enables us to do both better.”