Our History

Martha Lee Cain Tranby, a Kansas City, Missouri resident for more than fifty years, was a high school music teacher who also gave private piano lessons, and who played the organ at her church and was a choir director for two other churches.  

She was a charter member of the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity chapter in the University of Kansas City (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City), was the chapter’s first president, and was a member for 58 years.  She lived in a typical middle class home on a typical street in northeast Kansas City where, for more than 45 years, hundreds of children came for piano lessons. 

This experience gave her a deep belief in the power of music to affect people’s lives for the better.  Although she was a person of modest means, careful planning allowed her to establish the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Music Enrichment Fund in 1991. 

The purpose of the fund is “to promote, inspire, foster, encourage, assist with and engage in, either alone or with others, the promotion of music education, composition, performance or any other music endeavor by individuals, groups or institutions.”  Her foresighted estate planning and insurance meant that, after her death in October 2004, her Fund grew to more than $1 million.  

“Martha Lee had the best of both worlds,” said her attorney Myron Sildon of Sildon Law Group, P.C., who helped her establish her trust and who advised her in the formation of the Fund, and who still serves as one of the Trustees. “Her wealth came through the richness of music and the enjoyment she brought to the community.  By leveraging her investments through insurance, annuities and other products, she was able to bequest significantly more money to the fund upon her death.”  

The Trustees and Selection Committee of the Fund have elected to make grants only to performing music organizations serving greater Kansas City, Missouri, as it was Martha Lee Cain Tranby’s intent to benefit residents in her own home area.  

Previous beneficiaries of the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Music Enrichment Fund have included such professional performing or sponsoring organizations as the Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Friends of Chamber Music, Harriman Jewell Series, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Kansas City Chorale, Bach Aria Soloists, Summerfest, Musical Theatre Heritage, Quality Hill Playhouse and New Music Institute of Kansas City (newEar). 

In addition, however, the Fund has made grants to talented nonprofessional organizations, such as the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, Liberty Symphony Orchestra, Lee’s Summit Symphony, Heartland Music Academy, Charlotte Street Foundation, Liberty Community Chorus, and the Gem Cultural and Education Center.