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.
Congratulations 2023 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.
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.
BPO/ECMEA Award 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.
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.
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.
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