Drumming Up Support for Music Students
New music scholarship endowment honors two longtime fans of Wolfpack Athletics and the NC State marching band.
For more than 40 years, Barbara and Curtis Freeze (textiles ’53) were in the stands for almost every home NC State football game — and some away games as well. In that span, they witnessed incredible victories, heartbreaking losses and the emergence of many legendary superstar athletes. They also enjoyed some of the best pregame and halftime marching band performances in all of college football.
Cheering on the Wolfpack and the Power Sound of the South™ was a Freeze family tradition, as they rarely missed a halftime show. Sadly, Curtis passed away in 2018 and Barbara is currently battling pancreatic cancer. But their daughter, Lori Freeze Constantino (business management ’84) and her husband Mike (business management ’84 and accounting ’85) carry on their spirit and passion for the Wolfpack.
“One of our favorite parts of gameday is watching the Power Sound of the South perform during halftime and pregame,” Lori said. “Nothing gets you more excited for a football game than seeing the marching band coming through the tailgate lot playing the school fight song.”
“I think it adds so much to sporting events and to the pageantry of football Saturday,” Mike added. “We really enjoy the energy that Dr. Garcia and the students bring to the stadium each week.”
In honor of Lori’s parents, she and Mike recently gave $120,000 to the Department of Music to establish the Barbara and Curtis Freeze Marching Band Scholarship Endowment. The fund will provide need-based scholarships for undergraduate students who are participating, or plan to participate, in the marching band at NC State. One or more scholarships will be awarded each year, and the department hopes to award its first recipient this fall.
Wolfpack Fans for Life
Lori’s father, Curtis, grew up in Troutman, N.C. and was the youngest of 10 siblings. Three of his siblings fought in World War II; Curtis was involved in the Army ROTC at NC State himself. He spent his career working at the textile company Cannon Mills (later Fieldcrest Cannon) in Kannapolis, N.C. Lori’s mother, Barbara, grew up on a dairy farm and taught third grade in public school for 27 years.
Lori grew up in Kannapolis, N.C. She was raised a Wolfpack fan, attending coach Norm Sloan’s basketball camp and NC State football games starting in the mid-1970s. Music was important to Lori and her family as well. Lori was a member of her high school marching band and her parents were longtime members of their church choir. They also enjoyed attending various concerts and musicals over the years.
“I can’t imagine life without music,” she said.
When it came time for college, NC State was the only school to which Lori applied. One of her fondest memories at NC State is witnessing coach Jim Valvano and the men’s basketball team win a national championship in 1983. Another of her best memories is meeting Mike through their mutual involvement in establishing a chapter of the professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi at NC State. Fittingly, their first date was at a NC State men’s basketball game.
The couple got married in 1985 and moved to Cary, N.C. Lori worked in the mortgage industry, including 15 years at GE Mortgage Insurance Company (now Genworth Financial). Mike had a 32-year career with Ernst & Young. Throughout the years, they continued to regularly tailgate and attend sporting events with Lori’s parents. In addition to their fandom, they are lifetime members of the Wolfpack Club and NC State Alumni Association, and Mike serves as the chair of NC State’s Foundation Board. They have also endowed scholarships for the football and men’s basketball teams, and they support the Poole College of Management and College of Education as well as other programs and initiatives.
Continuing the Tradition
Following Curtis’s death in 2018 and her mother’s cancer diagnosis, Lori and Mike decided to set up a scholarship fund in their honor. Since they all cheered on the marching band together, and because the Freezes had already been annual donors to the marching band, they decided an endowed scholarship for the music department was a fitting tribute.
“We knew this was something they would both be proud of,” Lori said. “We wanted to support students in the marching band because we all enjoyed, bonded over and connected with them for so many years.”
Another reason Lori and Mike chose to make their gift was to recognize and reward the hard work by members of the marching band. Since NC State does not have a music major, there is a limited number of endowed scholarships designated for the Department of Music and students in the marching band.
“Students at NC State give so much of their time and energy for the band just because they love what they do, and I’ve always admired that,” Mike said.
More than 2,500 students are enrolled in NC State’s music courses each year. Scholarships like this help attract more prospective students to NC State and show them that they can continue their musical talents while majoring in any department at the university. They also help retain talented music students and support them as they develop their musical and leadership abilities, among other skills.
“The Power Sound of the South is not only a valuable part of the culture and traditions of NC State, it provides an important musical performance and educational opportunity for hundreds of student-musicians every year,” said Daniel Monek, professor and head of NC State’s Department of Music. “Scholarships, like this generous gift from Mike and Lori Constantino, play an essential role in reducing the barriers for student-musicians at NC State so they can continue a lifelong journey of music-making by growing and exploring their musical talents regardless of their chosen field of study.”
If you are interested in giving to the Barbara and Curtis Freeze Marching Band Scholarship Endowment or creating your own scholarship endowment within the Department of Music, please contact Peyton Stokley, director of arts development, at 919-513-4101.