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CPCC event honors the life, memory and legacy of CPCC donor James Douglas Zeller

by Mallory Benz

Zeller's living trust supports College's music program, provides student scholarships

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) held a special celebration event last night to honor the late James Douglas Zeller, a beloved music teacher who taught Music Appreciation and Applied Music at CPCC for more than 30 years. Zeller chose to “continue the music” at CPCC by establishing a trust that named CPCC's music program as the primary beneficiary. CPCC Foundation, Board of Trustees and academic officials gathered in the College’s Overcash Academic and Performing Arts Center on the CPCC Central Campus to celebrate Zeller's generous support and unveil a plaque in his memory.

Before his passing at the age of 59 in 2006, Zeller established a $750,000 trust to benefit CPCC's music program. His legacy gift was used to purchase a Steinway piano for CPCC’s Dale F. Halton Theater and a piano in Tate Recital Hall for student performances. Other priorities included the establishment of a James Douglas Zeller Endowment to help CPCC students prepare for music careers, a Zeller Music Performance Endowment to support student productions and visiting artists, and equipment updates for the newly-named Zeller Piano Laboratories at CPCC.

"Doug was a teacher who inspired students to learn," said Dr. Tony Zeiss, president of CPCC. "He energized students, fascinating them with the works of today's most recognized composers. His gift supports the causes that were near to his heart – music education and extending educational opportunities to deserving students. Because of Doug, CPCC will be better positioned to create the rising stars and accomplished musicians of tomorrow."

During the event, Nobuyuki Tsujii, gold medal winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn International Competition, gave a special performance before attendees in the College's prestigious Halton Theater. Tsujii is in Charlotte to help kickoff Charlotte Concerts' 2010-2011 season, at CPCC tonight at 8 p.m.

Zeller held a bachelor's degree in music from Furman University and a Master of Sacred Music degree from the School of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary in New York. An accomplished musician, he also studied organ at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.