The Alice Downs Scholarship for Summer Orchestra Programs at PIMF

The Alice Downs Scholarship, in honor of Valma Lock Hunter, is a select scholarship open only to residents of Camden, Gloucester, or Burlington County in New Jersey.

Past scholarship recipients:

  • 2011 – Derek Li, Haddonfield Middle School
  • 2012 – Julia Chin, Haddonfield Central School
  • 2013 – Kate Schell, Collingswood Middle School
  • 2014 – Joshua Baw, Voorhees Middle School
  • 2015 – Joshua Baw, Voorhees Middle School
  • 2017 – Anthony Monoyios, Rohrer Middle School, Haddon Township
  • 2018 – Julia Hart, Haddonfield Middle School
  • 2019 – Alena Zhang, Beck Middle School, Cherry Hill
  • 2020 – Delayed due to COVID-19
  • 2021 – Alena Zhang, Cherry Hill East High School
  • 2022 – Livia Kam, Moorestown Friends School

The Alice Downs Scholarship for Young Violinists was established in 2010 in honor of Valma Hunter on the occasion of her 90th birthday. (Mrs. Hunter passed away in December 2020, shortly after her 100th birthday. This scholarship is now offered and awarded in her memory.) Learn more here.

Born in Brisbane, Australia, on November 4, 1920 to Joseph and Catherine Lock, Valma spent her early years in the outback of Queensland on her father’s sheep and cattle station, “Alice Downs.” Valma’s mother was a cultured English lady who wanted her son George and daughter Valma to be accomplished in the arts. To that end, she took them periodically to Brisbane – 470 miles away (17 hours by train) – to further their education. George studied violin and elocution. Valma studied piano, violin, elocution, and ballet (her real love).

At age six, Valma watched the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova dance at His Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane. At nine, she herself danced professionally on the same stage. In her late teens she was appointed assistant teacher at the city’s premier dance academy. She also taught under her own name and was the first teacher of four-year-old Garth Welch, who progressed to become the principal male dancer for The Australian Ballet, and a noted choreographer. Arrangements had been made for Valma to continue her ballet studies and career in London, but those plans were dashed by the death of her mother and, in 1939, the outbreak of World War II. She married Colin Hunter in 1942 and gave birth to daughter Diane in 1943 while her husband was in England with the Royal Australian Air Force. Their son David was born after the war – a baby boomer.

Valma’s keen interest in the world of ballet and music never wavered. She arranged for her children to take lessons and although neither of them excelled in those areas – David always preferred wielding a cricket bat to a violin bow – they both credit their mother with instilling in them a love for music and an appreciation for the arts. The Alice Downs Scholarship for Young Violinists is intended to enable a promising student of the violin or viola – a resident of Southern New Jersey , age 13 to 19 – to enroll as a Day Participant at the Philadelphia International Music Festival’s two-week summer program at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA.

The Scholarship recipient may enroll in other programs offered by the Festival, including the Extended Day and Residential programs, and private lessons with our world-class faculty. The Alice Downs Scholarship does not include private lessons; the Scholarship recipient may purchase private lessons at $135 per lesson.

The recipient of the Alice Downs Scholarship receives: Full tuition to a two-week program* at the Philadelphia International Music Festival, Wayne, PA (9:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.).

*The tuition scholarship is in the amount of $2950 for the two-week Symphony Orchestra program day camp. Choosing another program option or resident type may result in additional fees.

Who May Apply?

Any student of violin or viola between the ages of 13 and 19 residing in Camden, Gloucester, or Burlington counties in New Jersey.

Application Requirements:

Compose a 250 to 300-word essay on the topic “Why Violin [or Viola] is the Coolest Instrument in the Orchestra.”

Email your essay to PIMF Operations Director, Jacob Heil, at Be sure to include your name, instrument, contact information, and home address in your email.

Scholarships will be applied to any Two-Week program tuition.

Application Deadline: April 30, 2024

The Alice Downs Scholarship for Young Violinists is funded by The Gumnut Group LLC (Media & More), Haddonfield NJ and presented by the Rotary Club of Haddonfield Foundation.

The Rotary Club of Haddonfield Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides financial assistance to students in Haddonfield and vicinity who are furthering their education in a college, vocational, or other educational settings. Since 2001, the Foundation has awarded scholarships valued in total at more than $150,000. The award will be presented during a Rotary dinner meeting at the Tavistock Country Club in mid-late May, 2023. The recipient of this scholarship is expected to attend that meeting to receive his/her award.