John Barcellona is clearly a professor who goes the "extra mile" for his students...or in this case, "extra miles."
When the Cal State Long Beach music professor takes to the streets for this year's Los Angeles Marathon (on Sunday, March 5), it will be the beginning of a second decade of running and raising money for his students as he embarks on his 11th annual run for the University Wind Quintet Scholarship Fund.
For the last 10 years, Barcellona, also a professional flutist, has used his participation in, at first, the Long Beach Marathon and, now, the annual Los Angeles Marathon as a scholarship fundraiser for members of the University Wind Quintet, a group he directs.
The University Wind Quintet is a select group 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 best at their respective instruments on the campus
To date, the 53-year-old Barcellona has raised more than $20,000 through his efforts, all of which has gone to help some 90 CSULB students offset their college expenses.
"When I started this, I wanted to attract quality woodwind students to our program, and I thought we needed some scholarship money to attract those quality students. But, there isn't a lot of scholarship money out there for musicians," explained Barcellona, woodwind coordinator for CSULB's Music Department.
"I figured my own resource was running, and all of the time I see people putting together run-a-thons, walk-a-thons and jog-a-thons," he continued. "So, I figured why not go that route, and to be honest, it is probably one of the best ideas I've ever had."
Barcellona has been running since Army basic training in the fall of 1969. During those daily jaunts, his drill sergeant would encourage recruits to continue running even after graduation. Even today, he still hears his drill sergeant's voice when he is in those "dog miles" of a marathon-the last six miles or so when many runners struggle to the finish line.
Admittedly, Barcellona doesn't train much for a marathoner. He runs just three days a week. One day a week he runs three miles, one day six, and the third outing is a long run-nine or 10 miles on an off week and up to 23 miles other weeks. He also lifts weights four days a week.
Whatever his training regimen, it appears to be enough. In all, Barcellona has completed 26 marathons to date. This year's L.A. Marathon will be his 27th.
To solicit donations, he prints up and mails out flyers to mailing lists he has accumulated over the last 10 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.
Averaging about $2,000 a year, Barcellona admits it is not a lot of money. Through his efforts, he is able to guarantee each of the students in his quintet about $200 a semester. Still, he believes in the expression "a little goes a long way."
"You would be surprised at the students' reactions. For an aspiring professional musician, there is nothing like getting paid, no matter how little it is," Barcellona pointed out. "It is the idea that they're getting remuneration for professional services, and they like that a lot. It is a prestigious sort of thing. They really feel like they've accomplished something, you know?"
Since the inception of his annual scholarship run, Barcellona believes there has been an improvement in the level of musicians selected for the University Woodwind Quintet, which he said has acquired a very good reputation over the last 10 years. But, there is more to his fundraising efforts than that.
"There is a great deal of satisfaction in working with and inspiring young professionals for whom music means a great deal," Barcellona said. "It gives me great joy."
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News