Celebration of Music Education
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates the contributions and achievements of Western New York’s music educators, administrators and school music programs. Each year distinguished awards are presented at an evening of celebration at Kleinhans Music Hall. Music educators are invited to attend an exclusive live performance on May 16th, in honor and celebration of their dedicated hard work during this challenging year.
The photos below were taken at our May 16th ceremony recognizing our 2020 and 2021 award recipients in a special concert for all WNY music educators.
Please join us in celebrating this year’s award recipients by watching the video below!
Congratulations 2021 Award Recipients!
BPO/ECMEA Awards for Excellence in Music Education
Established in 1994 with the Erie County Music Educators Association, these awards recognize and honor music educators who make possible the progression from the very first note, to the last exquisite tone, as students are nurtured into the musical art.
Randy Czosnyka is in his twenty-third year of teaching elementary and middle school orchestra. He has been the fifth and sixth grade orchestra director at Mill Middle School in the Williamsville Central School District for the past sixteen years. During his time at Mill Middle School, Mr. Czosnyka has helped to grow and maintain an orchestra program that has over 230 students in grades 5-8. He also co-founded the Mill Rock Orchestra – an alternative style ensemble that is very popular amongst the students and the Mill Middle Community.
Before teaching in Williamsville, Mr. Czosnyka spent the previous seven years teaching elementary and middle school strings in the Ithaca City Schools and Springville-Griffith Institute. Mr. Czosnyka received his Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music Education from SUNY College at Fredonia.
As a bass and cello player, he has performed in small ensembles in the Buffalo area and with the Amherst Symphony Orchestra and Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra where he has served as principal bassist for several seasons. He has guest conducted Elementary and Junior High Orchestras in Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Orange Counties over the past several years. Mr. Czosnyka enjoys serving as an adjudicator at NYSSMA Solo Festivals as well as various All-County solo festivals in Western New York. He resides in Getzville with his wife Barbara and his three children; Adam, Evan, and Lauren.
Betsy Gengo is the Elementary Band Teacher at Dodge & Heim Elementary in the Williamsville Central School District where she conducts two bands and teaches all beginning band lessons. She is a Williamsville Mentor Teacher, Music Curriculum Committee Member and often supervises student teachers. In addition, she teaches the Williamsville 5th & 6th Grade Summer Band, the Junior Band & Clarinet Choir at Bristol Hills Music Camp and has been a guest conductor.
Betsy is a bassoonist with the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas – Post 264 and the Williamsville Community Band. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with a performance certificate from the Fredonia School of Music, SUNY at Fredonia and the Master of Music Education in Arts Administration from The Florida State University.
Prior to teaching in Williamsville, Betsy was the Education/Program Director for Young Audiences of Virginia and Coordinator for the Chautauqua Institution School of Dance. When not making music, Betsy enjoys rooting for her alma mater – The Florida State Seminoles and spending time with her husband, Kyle, and son, Elliott.
Kenneth B. Kowalski attended SUNY Buffalo earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1981. From 1981-1983, he served as Band Director at Westfield Academy and Central Schools. He returned to Western New York and received his Master of Music Degree in 1984, subsequently earning two Administration Degrees (SAS/SDA) in 1994.
In 1984 he was hired by the Lancaster Central School District, where he has been fortunate to spend his career. He first taught elementary band in several buildings, and was Director of the Lancaster High School Orchestra for three years. In 1987 he began teaching band at Lancaster Middle School which is still his home today, some 34 years later, where he is affectionately and respectively known to many, simply as “Mr. K.”
Throughout his career, he has directed jazz ensembles, marching bands, pit bands, held several positions in the Lancaster Teacher’s Association, and played weekends in several music groups. He has served as Coordinator for the ECMEA Elementary Music Festival for several years.
In 2001 he became Director of the Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra, which took his career in a new and exciting direction. The group has had the incredible opportunity to perform onstage with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on two occasions, and Kowalski had the privilege of composing for the orchestra and having them accompany the CKSO as well. The CKSO has traveled and been featured alongside the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra in St. Thomas as well as Hell’s Gate Steel Band in Antigua in 2019, performed at the Grand Ole Opry (2016), at our Nation’s Capital, and opened the baseball season for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. In a 2011 competition at Buffalo State that began with 55 various high school groups, the CKSO took the first place title of Buffalo’s Most Entertaining High School Group. Feature performances in Buffalo include playing for the Sabre’s alumni, Canalside, the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival, Taste of Buffalo, the annual M&T Bank Concert Series, and many more.
Kowalski’s middle school groups in Lancaster have earned numerous Gold NYSSMA ratings, in addition to three Gold with Distinction awards. The Lancaster Middle School marching band has taken first place in every parade they have entered since 1989, boasting a 31-year winning streak!
Kowalski was eligible to retire eight years ago, but graced with the support of colleagues, great students and parents, strong supportive administration, and the incredible music opportunities backed by the ECMEA and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, he felt it was not yet time to leave something that he so loved. However, in 2018 he traveled to Portugal and fell in love with the Algarve region of south Portugal. The Algarve region may prove to be a retirement location, as Kowalski desires to travel across Europe, while continuing to play piano and teach lessons, along with his other favorite activities of cooking and caring for animals.
BPO/NCMEA Award for Excellence in Music Education
This Niagara County Music Educators Association award honors exceptional music educators for their contributions in fostering musical growth in their students and enhancing Niagara County music programs.
Wallace R. Goodman’s storied career as a music educator spans half a century. After receiving his Bachelor degree in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia and a Masters in Music Education from Ithaca College, Goodman returned to the Western New York community, earning the position of Instrumental Music Teacher and Band Director in the Lancaster Central School District in 1964. From 1965 to 1968, Goodman held the same role in the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District and in the Williamsville Central School District from 1968-1969.
He would return to Niagara-Wheatfield in 1969, where he served as Instrumental Music Teacher at the high school level through 1980, earning Niagara-Wheatfield’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1976. Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School became known, both locally and nationally, as having a stand out music program under Goodman’s direction. Many of Goodman’s students have gone on to become accomplished band directors and professional musicians. Winning in both local and national competitions became a school tradition, with Niagara-Wheatfield being the only school from New York State chosen to attend the lauded Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago in the 1970s.
Goodman boasts a stunning performance career as well, playing trombone in the Niagara Falls Philharmonic Orchestra from the late 1960s to early 70s, as well as directing the church choir at Exley Methodist Church in Wilson. He has held long-withstanding positions as Director of the Brass Choir at Christ Episcopal Church in Lockport, Director of the Niagara Falls Concert Band, and Director of the Sanborn Fire Company Band.
Goodman has conducted countless bands at All-County and various music festivals throughout Monroe, Niagara, Allegheny, Chautauqua, Onondaga, Steuben and Herkimer County, and was even selected by the National Band Association to attend the Kanazawa Band Festival in Tokyo as a guest clinician in various schools throughout Japan. Additionally, Goodman has served as Chairman for several widely-recognized professional music organizations including NYSSMA and NCMEA, as well as the 1972 Niagara County Chairman of the state-wide “Music in Our Schools Day” initiated by Governor Rockefeller and the State Education Department.
A six-year role as the Summer School Principal for the Niagara-Wheatfield School District eventually led Goodman to other higher education positions within the Wilson Central School District, where he, himself, attended high school. He served as the Middle School Principal from 1980 to 1997, additionally holding positions of both Vice President and President for Region 12 of the New York State School Administrators Association.
Goodman has always maintained a philosophy of music education focused on music being an important part of each student’s overall education, emphasizing that while not all students make music their career, what they learn in the music classroom will serve them well throughout their lives.
BPO Leadership in Music Education Award
This award honors individuals and organizations that show exceptional leadership and vision in promoting music education in our schools and community.
. . . and the 2021 BPO Leadership in Music Education Award goes to . . . YOU! This past year has seen incredible creativity, ingenuity, caring and stamina from WNY’s music educators. Bravo!
Friends of the BPO Young Musicians’ Scholarship Awards
Honoring exceptionally musically talented high school seniors who are continuing their pursuit of music in college.
Morgan Chalmers is a senior at Clarence High School and will be attending [college TBD] next year where she will be majoring in horn performance. She currently studies with Tim Schwartz and Sheryl Hadeka.
This past February, Morgan was chosen for the NAFMe All-Eastern symphonic band where she participated in virtual masterclasses and rehearsals with musicians along the East coast. She has also been involved in All-County and All-State ensembles throughout middle school and high school. Morgan is principal horn in the Clarence Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Orchestra, and is involved in Chorale and pit orchestra. She currently holds the position of principal horn in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra and has been a member since her freshman year of high school. Morgan has also attended the Csehy Summer School of Music for the past four years.
At Clarence, Morgan was the recipient of the 2020 Eastman School of Music Award for her musical abilities and leadership qualities, and received the Outstanding Orchestra Wind Player Award in 2019. She won her wind ensemble’s senior concerto competition and will be performing a solo at Kleinhans Music Hall this May. In addition to the 2021 Friends of the BPO Scholarship, she has been awarded the 2021 ECMEA Scholarship. Morgan would like to thank everyone who has supported her with her continuing music career, especially her parents and private teachers.
Aubrey Gerhardt is a Senior at Iroquois Central School and has been playing the clarinet for nine years. She participates in Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Pep Band, Marching Band and full orchestra as well as pit orchestra. She has served as the Band Vice President and is the current President. She plans on attending college to major in Clarinet Performance and Molecular Genetics in the fall.
Aubrey has been involved with the Southtowns Youth Orchestra for five years and the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra for the past three years where she is the principal chair. She played in the BPO Side By Side as well as the Orchard Park Symphony Side By Side and was part of a Chamber Orchestra last year to perform Mozart’s Requiem.
Her musical accomplishments include Conference All State, NYS Band Directors Association Honors Band, Area All State and Erie County Music Educators Association. In the summer of 2019, Aubrey traveled to Europe through American Music Abroad performing concerts in France, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
Besides music Aubrey is involved in 4-H Livestock programs, doing various community service projects and being a mentor to her peers for more than 5,000 hours over the last 8 years. She participates in Varsity Track and Field and several clubs at school.
Aubrey would like to thank her teachers and mentors who challenge her to always strive to be the best she can be: her private teacher Kate Jarvis, Mr. Iocco, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Tichy of Iroquois, as well as her parents for all they do to support her passion for music.
Madelyn Stoklosa will be attending the Eastman School of Music, majoring in Trombone Performance after graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy. Madelyn attended Frontier Central High School for three years before transferring to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Northern Michigan for her senior year. During her time in the Buffalo area, Madelyn was a member of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra (GBYO) for three years. As a member of the GBYO, Madelyn performed on tour in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. She has also participated in ECMEA, NYSBDA, NYSSMA, and NAfME ensembles. During the summer, Madelyn has participated in the NYSSSA Summer School for the Arts, the Washington Brass Boot Camp, and the Interlochen Arts Camp as a Frederick Fennell Scholar. Although her main focus is classical music, Madelyn regularly performs jazz. She has been in ensembles such as the Southtowns Youth Jazz Orchestra, Buffalo State Youth Jazz Workshop, Frontier High School Jazz Ensemble and Interlochen Jazz Ensemble. In addition to trombone, Madelyn has also been studying piano for eight years. Madelyn hopes to one day become a trombonist in a professional ensemble.
Yadzinski Scholarship for the Arts
For nearly sixty years, Edward I. Yadzinski devoted his career to the performing arts as a musician, composer, annotator, historian and educator with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and University at Buffalo. To build on this legacy, The Yadzinski Foundation established the Yadzinski Scholarship for the Arts in partnership with the Friends of the BPO to recognize a gifted high school senior in the Western New York region who has chosen to pursue music as a program of study at a university or college. The $2,500 award combines a $2,000 academic scholarship applied towards tuition and school expenses with an educational technology grant of $500 for computers, software or instruments.
$2,500 Aubrey Gerhardt, Iroquois High School, clarinet
Past Award Recipients
Click on the award name below to see past recipients.
2020 Jody Covington, Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Buffalo Public Schools
2019 Daniel Lewis, Mary Lavin and Julie Flanagan, Amherst Central School District
2018 The Tower Family Fund
2017 The Montgomery Family Foundation
2016 NOCO and the Donald F. and Barbara L. Newman Foundation
2015 Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
2014 George and Bodil Gellman
2013 Time Warner Cable, Matthew Tremblay, Northeast Communications Specialist
2012 Allentown Villiage Society, Inc. Mary Myszkiewicz, President
2011 District Superintendents (Leadership Team) of Western New York BOCES
Donald Ogilvie, Erie 1 BOCES
Robert Guiffreda, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES
Clark Godshall, Orleans/Niagara BOCES
Robert Olczak, Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES
2010 Dr. James A. Williams, Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools
2020 Kevin Duncan, Lewiston-Porter Central School District
2019 April Carere, North Tonawanda City School District
2018 Roger VanDette, Starpoint Central School District
2017 Eileen Brusino, Lockport City School District
2016 Linda Werder, Niagara Falls City School District
2015 Christine Riederer, Niagara Wheatfield Central School District
2014 Dean Vallas, North Tonawanda City School District
2013 Ken Fick, Niagara Wheatfield Central School District
2012 Paul Wos, Niagara Falls City School District
2011 Norman Alexander, North Tonawanda City Schools
2020 Charlene Brooks
2020 Cara Calabrese
2020 Craig Poissant
2019 George Kroetsch
2019 Lynne Ruda
2019 Louis Vitello
2018 John Blickwedehl
2018 Justin Pomietlarz
2018 Christine Reed
2017 James DesJardins
2017 Pim Liebmann
2017 Michael Robertson
2017 Andrea Runfola
2016 Eric Blodgett
2016 Chris Gawlak
2016 Doug Shaw
2015 John Iocco
2015 Donna Kerr
2015 Diane Sullivan
2014 Mark Flynn
2014 Wayne Moose
2014 Maureen Reilly
2014 Joe & Edie Clouse, J&E Instrument Service
2013 Keith Ersing
2013 Karen Robinson
2013 Walter and Pat Pidgeon
2012 Michael Conte
2012 Heather Holden
2012 Debra Komosinski
2011 Phil Agugulia
2011 John Hasselback
2011 Julie Furlong
2010 Alan Reed
2010 William Staebell
2009 Kristie Schlewitt
2009 Michael Shaw
2009 Dr. Roy Clare
2008 Chris Revett
2008 Evonne Michel
2008 Karen Williams
2007 Nora Murnane
2007 Richard Goss
2006 John Kryder
2006 Cristina Voto
2006 Timothy Gastle
2006 Marni Conte
2005 Dr. Maria Runfola
2005 Pamela Christie
2005 Norman Zogaib
2005 Craig Incontro
2004 Dr. Charles Stoddart
2004 Deborah Imiolo-Shriver
2004 Carolyn Lokken
2004 Martin Allen
2003 Gary Stith
2003 Joan Boissonnault
2003 Donald Carducci
2003 Cynthia Mayo
2002 Matthew Cool
2002 Michael Ried
2002 Vivian Johnston
2002 Barbara Wagner
2001 Dr. Joseph Casimino
2001 Nanci Bailey
2001 Ann Mosner
2001 Ronald Case
2001 Dr. Patricia Chiodo
2000 Kirstin Peltz
2000 Rosemary Dayton
2000 Stephen Shewan
2000 Mark & Cecilia Morette
1999 Teresa Ferraro
1999 David Cohen
1999 Terrence Gamble
1999 Dr. James Harris
1999 Cynthia Ripley
1998 Catherine Sutherland
1998 Steven Thomas
1998 Gary Lee
1998 John Maguda
1998 Eleanor Hoch
1997 Marsha Kushin
1997 John Fleischman
1997 Allan Ripley
1997 Betty Lou Cranston
1996 Nancy Seel
1996 Paul Kroll
1996 Sue Fay Allen
1996 Elizabeth Venator
1996 William Weikert
1995 Marie Sullivan
1995 Marcia Giambrone
1995 Clarke Elliott
1995 Al Hemer
2020 Ben Mekinulov, Amherst High School, cello
2020 Stephanie Magera, Clarence High School, tuba
2020 Leah Streety, Iroquois High School, violin
2019 Alexander Neubert, Kenmore East High School, bassoon
2019 Matthew Cone, Williamsville East High School, violin
2019 Liam McManus, Lancaster High School, percussion
2018 Mia Fasanello, Clarence High School, oboe
2018 Frank Wendelin, Williamsville South High School, guitar
2018 Adam Kluge, Williamsville East High School, voice
2017 Jarod Yap, Clarence High School, piano
2017 Christophe Koenig, East Aurora High School, violin
2017 Drew Cone, Williamsville East High School, cello
2016 James Featherstone, Amherst High School, Piano
2016 Madeline Ferguson, Williamsville East High School, Clarinet
2016 Sarah Troeller, Clarence High School, Cello
2015 Grace Ann Lee, Williamsville East High School, Cello
2015 Lauren Scanio, Clarence High School, Flute
2015 Angel Rhodes, Orchard Park High School, Violin
2014 Duo Xu, Williamsville East High School, Piano
2014 Teagan Faran, Williamsville East High School, Violin
2014 Alexander Cousins, Grand Island High School, Cello
2013 Cindy Q. Xue, Williamsville East High School, Violin
2013 Aaron Schuman, Kenmore West High School, Trumpet
2013 Joseph Desotelle, Williamsville East High School, Percussion/marimba
2012 Leonard Ranallo, Sweet Home High School, Classical Guitar
2012 Audrey Yu, Williamsville East High School, Oboe
2012 Anneliese Feist, Frontier Central High School, Euphonium
2011 Anne Barr, Hamburg High School, voice
2011 Nicole Elizabeth Murray, West Seneca East Senior High School, Flute
2011 Donal Sheets, Orchard Park High School, Cello
2010 Joseph Mohan- Clarence High School, Piano
2010 Joseph Isom- Williamsville East High School, Cello
2010 Jilene VanOpdorp- Williamsville South High School, Flute
2009 Joseph LoCicero- Christian Central Academy, Viola
2009 Jay Louis Dref- Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, Voice
2009 Bradley Whitney- East Aurora High School, Clarinet
2008 Michael Zuber-Frontier High School, Bassoon
2008 Hilary Lee- Home School, Piano
2008 Alina Jeon-Williamsville East High School, Oboe
2007 Ana Lia Vafai- Buffalo City Honors, Violin
2007 Lara Somogyi- Orchard Park High School, Harp
2006 Lauren Yu- Williamsville East High School, Bassoon
2006 Christopher Rogerson- Amherst High School, Cello
2005 Jennifer Christen- Frontier High School, Oboe
2005 Stephen C. Price- Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, Pipe Organ
2004 Erica Snowden-Rodriguez- Clarence High School, Cello
2004 Christopher Ziemba- Williamsville East High School, Piano
2003 Justin Gopol- Williamsville North High School, Violin
2003 Juliette Jones- Amherst High School, Violin
2002 Lauren Zang-Eastlack- Clarence High School, Violin
2001 Maureen Pohlman- Clarence High School, Violin
2000 Sabatino Scirri- Clarence High School, Flute
2000 Gregory Stass- Amherst High School, Double Bass