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 in honor and celebration of their dedicated hard work throughout the school year.
Please join us in celebrating our 2022 award recipients by watching the video below!
Congratulations 2022 Award Recipients!
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.
James Schwanz, is the Supervisor of Music for Buffalo Public Schools (BPS), working collaboratively with a department of more than 85 classroom, instrumental, and choral music teachers. James has worked closely with the BPO Education and Curriculum committees for more than 10 years, first as a BPS teacher at International Preparatory School PS #198 and presently, as the Supervisor of Music.
A graduate of the small, rural school district of Portville Central School, located approximately 85 miles southeast of Buffalo, James began playing the trumpet in 4th grade and actively participated in the school’s concert band and jazz ensemble. Heavily influenced by his father, a pianist, and the constant support of his mother to practice, James fostered an early love for music performance and piano composition. Listening to his father perform an eclectic repertoire including original compositions, Beethoven, Scott Joplin, Boogie Woogie, Vince Geraldi, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beatles, and Kansas, James developed a passion and appreciation for a wide range of musical styles and genres.
Upon graduating high school in 1999, James spent his first two years studying Music Education as a trumpet major at Houghton College, before transferring and ultimately graduating from SUNY Fredonia. James received his M.Ed. in Music Education from SUNY Buffalo, and his educational administration certification from St. Bonaventure University.
Some of James’s accolades and highlights of his career as an educator and administrator include being awarded the Yale Distinguished Educator Award, Buffalo Business First’s 40 Under 40 Award, securing Title IV: Well – Rounded Education Grant funding to increase access to grades 4 – 8 instrumental music and increase the BPS band and string inventory, facilitated the expansion of string programs to include access for students in grades 3 and 4 at BPS Early Childhood Centers, coordinated the introduction of BPS’s first music recording and technology programs, and recently began the process of collaborating with Erie Community College to provide BPS high school students with dual high school and college credit courses.
James currently resides in the village of Kenmore with his wife, Dawn, three boys, Avery, Carson, and James, and their three dogs, Remy, Camille, and Lady. As a family, they’re actively involved in athletics, kayaking, biking, and traveling. James has been an avid hockey player since the age of 4 and still enjoys playing goalie in men’s hockey leagues at least twice a week. A country boy at heart after spending years working on a vegetable farm, during his spare time, you can find James working on one of his many hands-on passions including gardening, home renovations, and auto repair.
BPO/ECMEA Awards for Excellence in Music Education
Established in 1994 with the Erie County Music Educators Association, this award recognizes and honors 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.
Daniel DeAngelis is currently in his 24th year of teaching music in the Lancaster
Central School District, and 11th year as Chairman of the K-12 Music Department. At Lancaster High School he is Director of Performing Arts, Producer of the annual
Musical, and Manager of the newly-constructed Black Box Theatre/Music Hall. He is also Director of the Wind Symphony, Woodwind Choir and Handbell Choir. Daniel is Co-Founder of the Lancaster Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts, a comprehensive program inside Lancaster High School designed for students pursuing a career in the arts.
Under Daniel’s leadership, the Lancaster Music Department has recently been
awarded the New York State School Music Association’s Presidential Citation Award, an honor achieved by only 25 school districts across New York State since 1984. Also, Lancaster is consistently named one of the best communities in America for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
Daniel serves on the Board of Directors for the Erie County Music Educators
Association. He has also served as Public and Government Relations Chair, Festival Assignments Coordinator, Festival Host and All-County Conductor. Daniel is proud to also serve on the Education Committee for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been an adjudicator at solo festivals and a presenter at conferences for the New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA). He is also Associate Conductor of the Lancaster Town Band.
Daniel earned his Bachelor of Music in Education degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia where he studied conducting with Dr. Russel Mikkelson, and his Master of Science degree in Education Administration from Canisius College.
Daniel enjoys playing saxophone in his local polka band, especially on Dyngus Day! He lives in Lancaster with his wife, Kristina, and two sons, Nicholas and Alexander.
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.
Megan Dray has been teaching at Lockport High School in the Lockport City School District for twelve years. She is currently the director of the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble. In previous years, she has directed the Concert Band and taught general music and special education music courses. Mrs. Dray is currently in her second year as President of the Niagara County Music Educators Association and has previously served as the Vice President for Band for five years.
Megan is a graduate of Niagara County Community College and SUNY Buffalo State College, earning an Associate degree in Music, a Bachelor degree in Music Education, and a Master of Science degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Music Education and Educational Psychology.
Throughout her career, Megan has enjoyed performing in the Western New York area with various pit orchestras, community groups, chamber ensembles and the Erie County Wind Ensemble. In addition, she has served as chairperson and conductor for several All-County ensembles and enjoys serving as a woodwind adjudicator for NYSSMA and local counties.
Megan would like to thank her husband, Stephen, and their children, Ava, Bradley and Emmett, for their love and support. She is so grateful for and appreciative of this special honor!
Friends of the BPO Young Musicians’ Scholarship Awards
Honoring exceptionally musically talented high school seniors who are continuing their pursuit of music in college.
Charley Hibschweiler is a senior at Clarence High School. He will be majoring in trombone performance in the Fall of 2022. He currently studies with Tim Smith.
During his time at Clarence High School, Charley has been involved in a large variety of ensembles. He has been the principal trombonist in the Clarence Wind Ensemble for all 4 years. He plays in the Jazz Ensemble, as well as the pit orchestra for the musicals. He is also heavily involved in the choral department. He sings in Chorale as well as several extracurricular choirs such as Vocal Jazz, Chamber Choir, and Guys’ Choir.
Outside of school, Charley has been a member of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra for 3 years and is currently the principal trombonist. This past summer he attended Interlochen Arts Camp on a full orchestral scholarship and was the principal trombonist in the Interlochen Philharmonic.
This summer, he will be attending the Boston University Tanglewood Institute where he will study with the principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Toby Oft.
Paul LaGreca is currently a Lockport High School senior studying saxophone under the direction of Timothy Martin, Megan Dray, and Christopher Perraciny. Paul loves performing and learning both classical and jazz saxophone repertoire, and has taken lessons and masterclasses with such revered artists as Timothy McAllister, Chien-Kwan Lin, Steven Banks, Michael Nascimben, Paul Cohen, Wildy Zumwalt, Wonki Lee, Anne Kunkel, and Chisato Marling. Paul has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City through the Honors Performance Series twice, and has also taken part in a week-long saxophone intensive at the Interlochen Arts Academy.
In addition to the Friends of the BPO Scholarship, Paul has also received the NCMEA Music Scholarship and participated in the Buffalo Rising Stars Radio Show in 2020. He has also participated in All-County since 2015, and has performed in Area All-State in 2017, 2018, and 2021.
Paul is the alto saxophonist of the local jazz band, The Bagg’s Jazz Project, a group which he co-founded and has co-written the original song, Magic Writing Stick for. Paul has participated in school theatre since Grade 7, performing as leads in shows like Into the Woods, Grease, Godspell, Radium Girls, Clue On Stage, and many others.
Paul has auditioned at SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Potsdam, Nazareth, Roberts Wesleyan College, and the Manhattan School of Music.
Jackson Kelly is currently a Senior at Amherst Central High School. Jackson has been involved in music since he was little, singing with the Celtic Angels at the Buffalo Irish Center. He sings with the Amherst Concert Chorale and plays cello with the orchestra. Jackson has played cello for 10 years, since he began in 4th grade. His appreciation of music grew as he participated in his school’s musicals, performing in the Amherst Operetta, and even working as stage crew set and sound production.
He sings the Gaelic, Canadian, and American national anthems for Irish dance Feiseannas. He has been an Irish dancer for the past 13 years, and is currently a preliminary champion world qualifier.
Next year, he will be attending college for Music Education, and hopes to continue his contributions to the music community.
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 2021, 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.
Aidan Carney is a Senior tubist at Lancaster High School. Aidan has had the fortune of performing with multiple local, county, and state ensembles such as the ECMEA Honors Band, Honors Orchestra, NYSBDA Honor Band, and the Conference All-State Symphonic Band. Aidan, holding multiple leadership positions across the board at Lancaster High School, has enjoyed helping others and fostering a positive atmosphere of education, and is excited to continue this in his future career as a music educator. Aidan will be attending SUNY Fredonia for Music Education next Fall.
Past Award Recipients
Click on the award name below to view past recipients.
2021 All WNY Music Educators
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
2021 Randy Czosnyka
2021 Betsy Gengo
2021 Ken Kowalski
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 Aguglia
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
2021 Wallace Goodman, Niagara-Wheatfield & Wilson Central School Districts
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
2021 Morgan Chalmers, Clarence High School, French horn
2021 Aubrey Gerhardt, Iroquois High School, clarinet
2021 Madelyn Stoklosa, Interlochen Arts Academy & Frontier Central High School, trombone
2020 Ben Mekinulov, Amherst Central 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 Central 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
2021 Aubrey Gerhardt, Iroquois High School, clarinet