Celebration of Music Education

The below photos were taken at our May 14th ceremony recognizing our 2022 award recipients in a special concert for all WNY music educators.
Please join us in celebrating our 2022 award recipients by watching the video below!

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.

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.

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