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2015 PYO Ovation Award Finalists

Louis Scaglione, President and Music Director of the PYO Music Institute (PYO), is proud to lead an alliance of organizations that is committed to honoring excellence in the field of music. In 2014, in order to bring greater recognition to music teachers who are truly changing, or have changed, students' lives, the organization established the PYO Music Institute’s Ovation Award for Inspiration and Outstanding Leadership in Music Education, which is presented and endowed by H.E.L.P.® Foundation and sponsored by Jacobs Music Company, J.W. Pepper, and WRTI-90.1 FM.. Recently, 10 outstanding Delaware Valley music educators were named as finalists for this year's award by a Blue Ribbon panel of musical experts. On May 31 at 3 p.m., the nominees will all be recognized, and the Grand Prize winner will be announced at PYO’s 75th Annual Festival Concert in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.

The PYO 2nd Annual Ovation Award finalists are:

  • Karen Burgman — Fountainville, PA
  • Shirley Curtiss — Philadelphia, PA
  • Jonathan P. Holland — Little Egg Harbor, NJ
  • Ralph Jackson — Lansdale, PA
  • Robert Kesselman — Havertown, PA
  • Anton Kiehner — Cary, NC
  • Irving Ludwig (deceased) — Philadelphia, PA
  • Clinton F. Nieweg — Glenside, PA
  • David Schopp — Fort Washington, PA
  • Anthony Williams — Philadelphia, PA

The goal of this award is to honor exceptional music educators who change students' lives by not only imparting musical knowledge, but by helping to build character and teaching skills that last a lifetime. The distinguished finalists were nominated by their appreciative current or former students, who submitted glowing statements entitled, “How Has a Music Teacher Changed Your Life?”

Louis Scaglione is overwhelmed with the responses in this second year and is most appreciative of sharing this award with such prestigious partners. “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 the lives of young people,” Scaglione says. “In addition to musical training, music teachers instill passion, discipline, and commitment in these students. With so many education systems reducing or eliminating arts education from budgets, we feel this is an ideal way to continue bringing positive attention and recognition to music educators.”

The second Ovation Award winner presentation will include a tribute, cash prize, and gift cards from J.W. Pepper at PYO’s 75th Annual Festival Concert in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia) on Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 3 p.m. — a performance that is generously underwritten by The Presser Foundation. The finalists in attendance will be recognized on stage, and the grand prize winner will be announced as a surprise in the presentation at that time. The highly respected broadcaster Jack Moore of WRTI-FM will serve as emcee of the award presentation. The nominator, whose essay clinched the award for the winner, will also receive a cash prize from an anonymous donor.

Last year's Ovation Award winner, William Cain, Band Director and music educator at Wissahickon Middle School in Willow Grove, PA, will always appreciate the spotlight that this award shines on the necessity for arts in the public schools, and the positive impact that music education and appreciation has in all aspects of students’ lives. “I thank PYO for remembering how important music in the schools is,” Cain says. “It often feels like nobody cares, and that we’re the only ones in a battle out there as music classes keep getting chipped away. Then, something like this happens, and you realize there IS somebody out there who cares.”

Cain joined this year's Blue Ribbon panel of experts, which includes four other regional leaders in music education and performance: 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.

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, 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.

The public is invited to attend the PYO 75th Annual Festival Concert and Ovation Award presentation. Tickets, priced at $15-$25, may be purchased online. For more information, call 215.893.1999 or visit pyos.org.