On June 2, 2024, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute (PYOMI) proudly announced Nina L. Wilkinson as the winner of the 11th Annual Ovation Award. This prestigious award, sponsored by J.W. Pepper, Jacobs Music Company, and WRTI 90.1 FM, recognizes outstanding music educators who have significantly impacted their students’ lives and their communities.

Nina L. Wilkinson, a retired music teacher from the Philadelphia School District, has dedicated her career to inspiring and nurturing young musicians. Her passion for music and education has left a lasting impact on her students and the community. Wilkinson’s ability to foster a love for music and encourage personal growth among her students has made her a beloved and respected figure in the Philadelphia music education community.

One of her former students and the winning nominator, Weijia Wang, conveyed the profound influence Ms. Nina has on her students’ lives:

Music would not be in my life if it weren’t for Teacher Nina’s guidance and encouragement. Her lessons are never a source of detriment; they are always filled with encouragement and joy. She instills in all her students a deep appreciation for music and fosters a love for the violin that goes beyond the notes on the page. Even during challenging moments, Teacher Nina has a remarkable knack for uplifting spirits and inspiring perseverance.


Nina began her musical journey with the viola at the age of eight in the Philadelphia School District. At thirteen, she earned a scholarship to the Settlement Music School, studying under Leonard Mogill of The Philadelphia Orchestra. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in Music Education and performed with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. After 38 years of dedicated service, Nina retired as an instrumental string teacher from the School District of Philadelphia in 2020. Currently, she is an adjunct viola professor at Eastern University and continues to perform with various ensembles in the Philadelphia area.

The award ceremony took place during the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s 84th Annual Festival Concert at Verizon Hall in The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. This concert, a highlight of the PYO Music Institute’s calendar, was the perfect setting to honor Nina L. Wilkinson’s achievements. The event also marked one of the last performances in Verizon Hall before its renaming to Marian Anderson Hall, adding to the evening’s significance.

In addition to the honor, Wilkinson received a $1,000 honorarium, while the student who nominated her received a $250 Visa gift card. The special announcement video, produced by JW Pepper, features Nina L. Wilkinson and representatives from our sponsors, highlighting the importance of music education and the impact of dedicated teachers.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Nina L. Wilkinson and our gratitude to J.W. Pepper, Jacobs Music Company, and WRTI 90.1 FM for their continued support of the Ovation Award. Their commitment to honoring music educators nationwide underscores the vital role that teachers like Ms. Nina play in shaping future generations.

For more information about the Ovation Award, please visit our website at www.pyomusic.org.