St Cecilia has long been regarded as the Patron Saint of Music and Musicians. The celebration of her festival day, 22 November, by musical performances has been the practice in Europe for many centuries.
Recognising the disadvantages that local music students face compared with their metropolitan counterparts the Eurobodalla St Cecilia Music Scholarship association was formed in 1995 to provide assistance to young musicians in the area. The association is a non religious community group incorporated in NSW and registered as a Charity with the ACNC and ATO.
Initially the awards were restricted to students from the Eurobodalla Shire but as interest in the scholarships widened to neighbouring Shires the ESCMS changed its constitution to encompass neighbouring Shires in the Region.
The scholarships are supported by local groups including Moruya CWA, Batemans Bay Rotary, and South Coast Music Society and through generous donations from the general public The Association applies for and has been granted an annual grant from the Eurobodalla Shire Council which together with entrance fees and charges for the auditions and concert are used to administer the annual audition and concert program. The ESCMS is run by volunteers, and all donations from the public attract Australian Taxation Office tax deductibility status.
Rotary Batemans Bay makes an annual grant to the Eurobodalla St Cecilia Music Scholarships to provide a scholarship of $1000 to a St Cecilia participant proceeding to tertiary music studies. The Scholarship is known as the David Harding Tertiary Music Award in honour of David’s many years of leadership as President of the St Cecilia Music Scholarships and his work as a Rotarian in support of youth.