The Ferris-Burtis Music Scholarship Foundation



The Ferris Burtis Scholarship Fund was established in 2002 by two men who devoted their lives to music. With the cost of education ever on the rise, this scholarship is designed to aid and encourage young musicians of talent as they prepare for careers in classical music.

John Ferris, a graduate of Michigan State University, was for 32 years the organist and choirmaster of Harvard University until his retirement to Sandisfield, Massachusetts in 1990. He taught organ and conducting at Boston University, lectured at the Harvard Divinity School, and conducted The Cantata Singers, a professional chorus in Boston. He was musical editor of the 1964 Harvard University Hymnal and choir director of the Congregational Church of Colebrook, Connecticut, and taught piano in his home studio.

Herbert Burtis, a graduate of Columbia University, has gained international renown as a pianist, organist, and teacher of voice. He has performed throughout Europe, the West Indies, and the United States. He is the author of several books on singing and a treatise on the piano methods of Theodor Leschetitzky.  Vocal students of his perform at the Metropolitan Opera Company, the New York City Opera Company, and in opera houses and with symphony orchestras throughout the world. Mr. Burtis continues a busy teaching schedule in New York City, New Jersey and in Sandisfield, MA.

Applicants must be students who are graduating high school seniors who have been accepted in a conservatory or school of music for the fall term for the purpose of pursuing a career in some form of classical music. Applicants must be full-time residents of the Berkshire Taconic region. Exceptions may be made for students attending boarding schools whose families are currently residents of the Berkshire Taconic region.

One award of $2,000 will be given. This award will be renewable for up to three additional years provided the student remains in good standing in his/her music program and academic studies. A follow-up audition will be required at the end of each year. 

Completed applications must be emailed to by 5:00 p.m. on April 1.

Complete the attached application form and email it to Berkshire Taconic along with:

  • Two letters of recommendation from a recent teacher, counselor or community leader, at least one of which must be a music teacher who has taught you.
  • A completed Financial Aid Form (FAFSA), which can be obtained through your guidance office. You may add one additional sheet, if necessary, to explain any unusual financial circumstances that you think should be taken into consideration on your behalf. PLEASE NOTE: Special financial information is held in confidence by the Foundation and is not given to the Committee. The Foundation gives the Committee only general financial information about the applicant.
  • Evidence of acceptance into a conservatory, school of music or music program within a college or university.
  • A typed or printed one page essay on the following: What is your history as a student of music? What are your goals as a musician?
  • A music file of your performance (see application form).

Finalists will be selected to perform the pieces submitted with their applications in a live audition in Sandisfield, Mass., or Colebrook, Conn., before a panel of judges. Singers and instrumentalists must provide their own accompanist. A two manual tracker organ by Fritz Noack (7 stops) (Colebrook) and a Steinway M piano will be available at the audition. The panel’s recommendations will be reviewed by Berkshire Taconic’s Distribution Committee and Board of Directors.

The applicants will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

  • The quality of the applicants' performance
  • The applicants' efforts and ambitions to achieve their music and life goals
  • Financial need

NOTE: An award will only be given if an applicant meets the above criteria.

Applicants will be informed of the foundation's decision no later than August 1.




March 15

How to apply

Please read these important instructions.