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 in honor and celebration of their dedicated hard work throughout the school year.

This photo of our 2023 award winners was taken at our May 6th reception.

The Vincent and Harriet Palisano Foundation, founded in 1962, has provided over two decades of support to the BPO’s education programs, totaling over half a million dollars. The tremendous impact of their support for the Next Generation Education Fund is seen in the expansion of the BPO’s breadth of programming and geographic reach into all 8 counties of Western New York. And the Foundation’s willingness to be flexible in the designation of its annual giving has allowed the BPO to direct funds each year towards the incredible holiday concert at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. This concert is one of the most special BPO performances, and their support has enabled this annual event to become a longstanding, beloved tradition between the BPO and St. Mary’s.

Trevor Jelowski is in his 14th year of teaching after beginning his career as an elementary vocal/general music teacher in the North Tonawanda City School District. He then taught in the same position in the Sweet Home Central School District before landing in West Seneca, where he is now in his sixth year. Jelowski is currently the choral director for West Seneca West Middle School and serves as the District Coordinator for Music Education. He co-directs the middle school musical, while also providing technical support to all district theatrical performances. Jelowski is consistently supporting students and encouraging them to participate in ECMEA festivals and will be serving as co-chair to the ECMEA Jr. High South SSA Ensemble next year.

Jelowski serves as a worship leader at Trinity Lutheran Church in West Seneca and is also co-owner of On Cue of WNY, a company that provides rentals and technical support for cinematic projections and projection mapping. He currently lives in Elma with his incredible wife, their three children, and their portie named Bruno.

Mrs. Alicia Struckmann is in her 15th year of teaching in the Western New York area. She holds a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s degree in Viola Performance from SUNY Fredonia. Her career began teaching K-5 general music at Lake Shore Elementary Schools. After two years, she transitioned to Lake Shore Middle School, where she was the director of orchestras and musical pit director. Under her direction, the string program doubled in size.

Mrs. Struckmann is currently the Director of Orchestras at Iroquois Central School District, where she teaches 6-12 orchestra and is the director of five various ensembles. While at Iroquois Central, the string program and the chamber ensemble program grew and flourished under her direction. Throughout her career, her students have performed and received high honors at NYSSMA Majors, Darien Lake Music Festival, Fantasy Island Music Festival, Roswell Park, Roycroft Music Festival, BPO Community Spotlight Performance Series, and many other local events.

Over the years, Mrs. Struckmann has played in the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, the Erie Chamber Orchestra, the Southern Tier Symphony Orchestra, and various community groups, as well as with many local chamber ensembles and quartets throughout Western New York. Mrs. Struckmann is an active member of the Erie County Music Educators Association and New York State School of Music Association. She has given back to the music community and the music students of Western New York by adjudicating the ECMEA and NYSSMA Solo Festivals throughout the years, chairing many All-County festivals and the NYSSMA Senior High Area All-State, presenting at the ECMEA Conference, and as conductor of the Jr. HS All-County in 2016.

Many of her students have continued to pursue careers in music and have kept music in their lives. Her hope as a music educator is to inspire lifelong music makers, music listeners, and music advocates. In addition to her active teaching and performing schedule, she enjoys creating art, volunteering, and world travel. Mrs. Struckmann lives in West Seneca with her husband Paul-Joseph and their beautiful daughter Ellanorah.

Rudy Tichy of Twin Village Music has been a leader in the music education community for decades. His knowledge of musical instruments is unmatched, and as a longtime member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, he is a master of instrument repair. Following in his father’s footsteps, Rudy has established Twin Village Music as the go-to destination for everyone in all branches of music. Rudy has been a consummate professional and has developed great relationships with every school district in Erie County. His passion for keeping school music programs alive and strong, before and after the pandemic, has made him a beloved figure in the community.

Rudy has donated the services of Twin Village Music in many roles in the community, including running Instrument Zoos at the Buffalo Philharmonic, presenting at music education conferences, training technicians, advising teachers, and mentoring lesson instructors. He lends his personal expertise to music department leaders on purchasing high-quality instruments for their students. Twin Village Music has been a fixture in the WNY music community for over 60 years.

Annelle VanNortwick received her Bachelor of Music from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2002, as well as her Master of Music from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2007. Her career began teaching high school music at Williamsville North High School, where she was the choral director as well as the vocal director and producer for musicals. She transitioned to the elementary level a few years later and became certified in Music Learning Theory – Early Childhood.

Mrs. VanNortwick is currently teaching K-5 general music and chorus at Clinton Elementary in West Seneca. She has been a guest conductor for numerous All-County festivals at the elementary, middle, and high school levels throughout Western New York during her tenure as a music educator. Additionally, she was an adjunct professor of voice at the State University of New York at Buffalo for the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Mrs. VanNortwick lives in Lancaster, NY with her three busy and beautiful children and her husband Ryan.

Judy Peterson has been teaching for 33 years, 27 of them at Newfane Central School in Niagara County. 24 of those years were spent building and directing the middle school band program, and the last three teaching 5th-8th grade general music. She directed the district musical for 18 years, advised high school and middle school drama clubs, and coached modified track. Judy has been a leader in her school district, having served on the district safety and facilities committee, the middle school building planning team, and as a founding member of the district crisis team. Judy has served as a mentor, both formally and informally, to many young music teachers throughout Niagara County and her school district. Judy has held the office of Vice President of NCMEA for the last 8 years and is the administrator of the NCMEA Scholarship Award program. In addition, she has served as chairperson and conductor for several All-County ensembles and enjoys serving as a brass area adjudicator for NYSSMA.

Judy earned both Bachelor and Master of music degrees from SUNY College at Fredonia. Upon completion of her Master’s Degree, she worked with the Fredonia Faculty Woodwind Quintet for 11 years at the Fredonia Woodwind Chamber Music Summer Camp. Judy is a brass specialist and performs regularly in pit orchestras with Curtain Up Productions at the Palace Theater in Lockport, with Lake Plains Players theater group, and at many school musical productions throughout the area. Also, Judy is a founding member of the Great Lakes Brass Ensemble.

Judy would like to thank her family and all the music teachers in Niagara County, and throughout the region for their guidance, support and inspiration provided throughout her career.

Friends of the BPO Young Musicians’ Scholarship Awards

Honoring exceptionally musically talented high school seniors who are continuing their pursuit of music in college.

Annelyse Wilson began studying the oboe at the age of nine under the teaching of Craig Incontro. An accomplished musician, Annelyse plays oboe, English horn, alto saxophone, classical guitar, and composes on piano. Annelyse is principal oboe/English horn in the Williamsville East High School Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Orchestra and has also performed in the jazz band and pit orchestra. Annelyse was named to the ECMEA All-County Orchestras in 2020 and 2022, and to NYSSMA Area All-State Orchestra in 2022. As a member of East’s Chorale, Annelyse has participated in the Buffalo State Honor Choir and performed in East’s spring musical “Anastasia.” In 2022, Annelyse was the English horn soloist with the Williamsville Central School District’s High School Wind Orchestra at the world premiere of “The Painted Bird,” under the direction of composer/conductor Johan de Meij.

Annelyse has performed with the Williamsville Community Band and was the oboe/English horn soloist for the Ken-Ton Community Theater production of “Beauty and the Beast” this past summer. She has been a member of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra for the past two years and currently holds the position of principal oboe/English horn. Annelyse was selected as the GBYO Senior Concerto Winner for the 2022-2023 season.

Annelyse studies in the studio of BPO English hornist Anna Mattix and has attended master classes and taken lessons from Colin Maier, Dr. Aaron Hill, Dr. Sarah Hamilton, Dr. Erik Behr, Frank Rosenwein, and Dr. Nancy King. Annelyse plans to major in Oboe Performance in college.

Jonathan Yi is currently a Senior at Clarence High School and studies with David Ying. Jonathan started cello at the age of 7, studying with Keiko Ying, and is a student in the Eastman Community Music School’s Precollege Diploma with Honors Program, where he has also studied chamber music with Janet Milnes and Elinor Freer.

Jonathan was a finalist for NPR’s From the Top Learning and Media Lab Fellowship and the runner-up at the Heddy Kilian Empire State competition. He has also performed in chamber music masterclasses with David Ying and Renée Jolles, and in a solo masterclass with Thomas Landschoot.

Next year, he will be a Freshman at Northwestern University where he plans to major in Cello Performance and Cognitive Science.

Rebekah is honored to be a recipient of the Friends of the BPO Scholarship this year. She is a Senior at Amherst Central High School and plans to pursue Voice Performance in college. This past summer she studied voice and opera at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan and at the SUNY Fredonia Summer Music Festival. She has performed in numerous musicals including “Sweeney Todd” (Mrs. Lovett), “Titanic” (Ida Strauss), “Mamma Mia!” (Rosie), and “Seussical” (Gertrude McFuzz). She also directed the play, “The Plot, Like Gravy, Thickens” and will be directing the play, “4 A.M.” this Spring.

Alongside performing, Rebekah can be seen as the Founder and President of the Mental Health Awareness Committee at Amherst, Director of the Sweet Sixteens acapella group, President of Amherst Concert Chorale, Historian of Amherst Symphony Orchestra, Treasurer of Amherst Drama Club, and Model U.N. member!

She would like to thank the Scholarship Committee and all her friends and family for supporting her in her future musical endeavors!

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.

Vincent Conlon has a passion for music and broad creative interests as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer. He has studied privately on harp (10 years), piano (12 years), and voice (5 years). Vincent is an active member of the Lancaster Central Schools music department and in the Lancaster music community. He has played harp for the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, Area All-State, and Honors ECMEA ensembles. He has also sung in the Lancaster Concert Choir, Show Choir, Men’s Choir, and was a Tenor 2 in the 2022 Conference All-State choir. In addition, Vincent is a lead steel drum player in the Carnival Kids Steel Drum Orchestra.

Beyond his ensemble work, Vincent has performed in the Lancaster High School and Youth Bureau musical productions, playing the likes of The Beast from “Beauty and The Beast,” Jack Kelly from “Newsies,” and Frank Abagnale, Jr. from “Catch Me If You Can,” where he was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Male Role for the 2022 Kenny’s.

Starting in the Fall of 2023, Vincent intends to major in Music Production and Arranging at NYU, Berklee, or SUNY Fredonia.

Past Award Recipients

Click on the award name below to view past recipients.

2022  James Schwanz, Buffalo Public Schools

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

2022  Daniel DeAngelis

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

2022  Megan Dray, Lockport City Schools

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

2022  Charles Hibschweiler, Clarence High School, trombone
2022  Paul LaGreca, Lockport High School, alto saxophone
2022  Jackson Kelly, Amherst Central High School, voice

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

2022  Aidan Carney, Lancaster High School, tuba

2021  Aubrey Gerhardt, Iroquois High School, clarinet