For the love of music

David and Shelagh Williams sits at the piano smiling at the camera

“We don’t have children, so who do we leave the money to? The simplest thing is to leave it to charities or organizations that we’ve been supporting all our lives and that we’re passionate about.”

One thing’s for sure: David and Shelagh Williams love music — passionately. The couple frequently attends operas, concerts and recitals, sometimes several times a week.

The Williams are neither uOttawa alumni nor former employees. They’re just aware of underfunding of the arts in Canada, which gave them the idea of supporting up and coming artists in their own city.

The couple have donated to the School of Music at the University of Ottawa for 20 years. And as donors, David and Shelagh have no shortage of great stories to tell.

For example, David mentions the student who wrote to them after winning one of the scholarships they’ve created at the School of Music. The money helped the young man to attend an audition in Honolulu, and, ultimately, land a prestigious position as assistant principal double bass. His benefactors were overjoyed.

“It’s better than (having our money) sitting in the bank, isn’t it?” says Shelagh. “It’s actually doing some work!”

Pianist Ylan Chu has also benefitted from the Williams’ generosity during her studies. “Not only do David and Shelagh Williams support students financially, but they also attend concerts and events. They have a warm presence that encourages and motivates us to produce our best work,” says the grateful Chu.

For now, the Williams’ bequest to the University aims to ensure the future of their two scholarships at the School of Music.

“We don’t have children, so who do we leave the money to?” jokes David. “The simplest thing is to leave it to charities or organizations that we’ve been supporting all our lives and that we’re passionate about.”

But already, the young musicians the Williams have supported are pleased to thank them in the nicest way possible: by continuing to make music.

Back to top