Music educators deserve to be recognized, and an alliance of organizations along with Louis Scaglione, president and music director of PYO Music Institute (PYO), has created a new award to honor excellence in this field. The PYO Music Institute’s inaugural Ovation Award for Inspiration and Outstanding Leadership in Music Education was launched this winter and ten Delaware Valley Music teachers have been named as finalists. They were nominated by students (current and former) who answered the question in an essay, “How Has a Music Teacher Changed My Life.” The Ovation Award is presented and endowed by H.E.L.P. ® Foundation and sponsored by Jacobs Music Company, J.W. Pepper and WRTI-90.1 FM.

The goal is to honor exceptional music educators who change student’s lives by not only imparting musical knowledge, but by helping to build character and confidence for a lifetime. The appreciative students wrote glowing essays about their music teachers. The ten finalists, selected by a Blue Ribbon panel of musical experts, are: Derek Barnes—Merion Station, PA; William Cain—Willow Grove, PA; Thomas Elliott—Narberth, PA; Elizabeth Kaderabek—Bala Cynwyd, PA; Anthony Prisk—Philadelphia, PA; Hirono Oka—Cherry Hill, NJ; Angela Riggs—Flourtown, PA; Kimberly Rowe—Philadelphia, PA; Shelley Beard Schleigh—Wilmington, DE; and Byrnina Socolofsky—Glassboro, NJ.

The inaugural Ovation Award winner will be announced and presented with a tribute, cash prize, and gift cards from J.W. Pepper at PYO’s 74th Annual Festival Concert in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia) on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 3 p.m. The ten finalists will be recognized on stage and the grand prize winner will be announced at that time. The nominator, whose essay clinched the award for the winner, will also receive a cash prize from an anonymous donor.  The public is invited to attend the concert and presentation. Tickets are $10-$20 and can be purchased through Ticket Philadelphia: 215-893-1999.

The blue ribbon panel of experts included four regional leaders in music education and performance charged with selecting the ten finalists and winner of the Ovation Award.  Serving on the panel were: Emily C. Threinen, DMA, Director of Bands, Associate Professor of Music, and Artistic Director of Winds and Brass, Department of Instrumental Studies, Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University; Joseph Caminiti, Chair, Instrumental Studies and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at Cairn University;  Dr. Richard Dammers, Associate Professor, Music Education and Chair, Department of Music at Rowan University; and Kerri Ryan, Assistant Principal Viola for The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Louis Scaglione was overwhelmed with the responses and is most appreciative of sharing this award with such prestigious partners. He said, “The statements collected from students in this award process reinforce our shared belief that music education needs to be recognized because of the positive impact it makes on lives. In addition to musical training, music teachers instill confidence and passion in students. They teach them discipline and commitment. With so many education systems eliminating arts education from budgets, we felt this was the ideal time to bring positive attention to music educators.”

The partners in the Ovation Award bring more prestige to this recognition program. The PYO organization is one of the nation’s oldest and most highly respected youth orchestral and college preparatory music education institutions for gifted and talented students. The Ovation Award is presented by H.E.L.P.® Foundation, which was established to assist non-profit community-focused endeavors. Two renowned music organizations with historic ties to the Philadelphia community partnered with PYO as sponsors of The Ovation Award: Jacobs Music, Jacobs Music, one of the nation’s most prestigious piano merchants and the Tri-state region’s exclusive representative for new and authentically restored Steinway & Sons, Yamaha and many other fine pianos, and J.W. Pepper, one of the leading sheet music merchants in the world.WRTI, broadcaster of the region’s most comprehensive classical and jazz radio programming, is media sponsor for the Ovation Award.