Thank You For The Music: Student scholars celebrate community support

Two of Leicester’s musical stars showed their appreciation for the support of the University’s philanthropic ‘family’ at an event in the city’s Botanic Garden last week.

Dr Cristina Ruiz Villena and Moritz Wagner-Tsukamoto entertained members of the University of Leicester’s Legacy Guild on Friday afternoon with live singing and piano accompaniment.

The pair performed a series of musical numbers – including ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Misérables – before a special rendition of ABBA’s ‘Thank You For The Music’.

The Legacy Guild, formed of philanthropically-minded members of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland communities and beyond, supports a number of projects at the University of Leicester through charitable donations and other initiatives. The Guild’s annual lunch also played host to the families of individuals who have left legacy gifts to the University.

Speaking at the event, University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, described the Guild as “valued members of the University family”.

Dr Ruiz Villena, who completed her Masters and PhD at Leicester, now serves as a Postdoctoral Research Associate for the National Centre of Earth Observation (NCEO), headquartered at Space Park Leicester.

She received two music scholarships – part-funded through philanthropic support – during her time as a student, and her passion for music inspired her to join the Leicester University Chorus. She said: “The support of the people here, and people like them, is really important. Without them, I would not be able to sing as much as I can. It’s still very much a hobby for me – but thanks to the music scholarships, I try to take up every opportunity I can.

“Music unites everyone: it doesn’t matter where you are from. My dad jokes that the University Chorus looks like the United Nations, and he’s right. We’ve got members from all over the world. Having that community is really important.”

The Legacy Guild, established in 2014, supports a wide range of projects at the University of Leicester. The philanthropy of its members enables additional learning opportunities, student support, and scholarship funding.

The Jean and Arthur Humphreys Fund, for example, is being used to support the University’s first Writer in Residence, among other opportunities for students in the School of English.

Leicester-born Moritz, who will commence his studies at the Leicester Medical School later this year, added: “I really hope to be able to combine music with my studies once I start in September.

“As well as the support of the people here, a lot of Leicester’s music scene is thanks to [Dr] Paul [Jenkins]. He is the beating heart and soul of music at Leicester.

“Even before officially becoming a student I’ve had so many opportunities, and they’ve all been great experiences.”

Asha Hickin is Stewardship Manager within the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office and coordinated the event alongside members of the Legacy Guild. She said: “The generous support of individuals such as the members of our Legacy Guild cannot be overstated. Through their philanthropy, the University is able to deliver a huge range of diverse projects which may not otherwise be imagined.

“We were delighted to welcome the community to the Botanic Garden for the Guild’s first in-person lunch for some time, and wish to thank Professor Robin Graham-Brown for his continued support as chair of our Philanthropy Advisory Board.”

For more information on legacy gifts and other ways in which you can support the University, visit