Heemstra wins Young Alumni Award
Music alumna recognized by the MSU Alumni Association.
MSU Alumni Association-produced 2018 Alumni Grand Awards feature on Music
alumna Jennifer Heemstra.
Jennifer Heemstra earned her Bachelors in Music, with honors, from the Michigan State University College of Music followed by a masters in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She is a professional pianist, entrepreneur, and creator of two music themed non-profit organizations. She is founder of Kolkata Classics, a movement to empower women, inspire underprivileged youth, and build cross-cultural bridges through western classical music in India. In addition to organizing concerts, the Kolkata Classics Trust in India provides free health services for trafficked women and educates children. At one of her Kolkata Classics concerts, she saw children so engaged by the musicians that they were unfazed by passing water buffalo during an open-air performance in one of India's poorest slums. In all, she has performed for over 65,000 Indian children and adults. In late 2017, College of Music Dean James Forger, saxophone, and Professor Deborah Moriarty, piano, performed with Heemstra in a series of events in India.
In 2017, Heemstra founded the Pitch Pipe Foundation, a US-based NGO through which she organized and headlined “On the Road,” a patriotic salute to veterans. She coordinated 50 concerts to support the National Salute to Veteran Patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities nationwide. Heemstra received the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad from John Kerry. She also won the MSU College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award and served as the college’s 2017 Commencement speaker. Heemstra is a compassionate performer with a zeal for aiding others. Through her organizations, she recruits world-class musicians to volunteer to travel the world and join professionals for performances that invite audience participation.