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The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Presents: Ovation Award Finalists!

Ten music educators from the Delaware Valley will be honored by the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) during their Annual Festival Concert at the Kimmel Center on June 1st for "inspiration and outstanding leadership in music education."

Current and former students nominated their music teachers for the Orchestra's inaugural Ovation Award. Out of the 130 submissions, a blue-ribbon panel chose 10 finalists. At the June 1st concert at 3 pm, Maestro Louis Scaglione (president and music director of PYO) will present the winner with a trophy and the grand prize award, which includes a check for $1,000 from the H.E.L.P. Foundation and a $500 gift card from J.W. Pepper. Jacobs Music Company will provide plaques for all finalists and a crystal trophy for the winner. Finalists will each receive a $100 cash prize from H.E.L.P. and a $100 gift card from J.W. Pepper. WRTI's Jack Moore will be your host for the ceremony.

The goal of the Ovation Award is to honor exceptional music educators who change students' lives by not only imparting musical knowledge, but by helping to build character and confidence for a lifetime. The appreciative students wrote glowing essays about their music teachers. The ten finalists are: Derek Barnes—Merion Station, PA; William Cain—Willow Grove, PA; Thomas Elliott—Narberth, PA; Elizabeth Kaderabek—Bala Cynwyd, PA; Anthony Prisk—Philadelphia, PA; Hirono Oka—Cherry Hill, NJ; Angela Riggs—Flourtown, PA; Kimberly Rowe—Philadelphia, PA; Shelley Beard Schleigh—Wilmington, DE; and Byrnina Socolofsky—Glassboro, NJ.

Plan now to hear the talented members of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra perform, and cheer on these devoted teachers on June 1st at Verizon Hall. The program includes: Britten: "Four Sea Interludes" from Peter Grimes; Elgar: Sea Pictures; Holst: The Planets; and Elgar: "Pomp and Circumstance," No. 1. Louis Scaglione conducts. Mezzo-Soprano Chrystal E. Williams is soloist. Sunday, June 1st at 3 pm, Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall. Ticket information here.

Ovation Award Finalists:

Merion Station, PA

Derek Barnes inspires and enlightens students about “the beauty and spirituality of musicianship.”

A native of Philadelphia and member of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995, Derek Barnes previously held the post of co-principal cello of the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia (now the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia) and has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and the New York String Orchestra.  Mr. Barnes has appeared as soloist with the Curtis Symphony, the Tanglewood Music Center Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Anderson Symphony, and the Muncie Symphony. He has also participated in the Tanglewood Fellowship program as a Bernstein Fellow and at the summer music festivals of the Taos School of Music, the Encore School for Strings, and Congress of Strings. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. Barnes has performed chamber music with many notable musicians and has appeared on television in “Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood.”

Jake Aronchick, Villanova, PA

Jake studied cello for seven years with Derek Barnes, who through his generous actions and principles became as a role model in all aspects of Jake’s life.  A Philadelphia Youth Orchestra alumnus, Jake currently attends Boston College where his is a member of the Boston College Symphony Orchestra.

Willow Grove, PA

“Music in its many forms has surrounded me throughout my life and I have always felt compelled to pass my knowledge and my passion on to the next generation of musicians.”

A member of a musical family, Bill Cain began performing percussion at the age of nine in his home town’s band where he cultivated a lifelong devotion to music.  Since 1982, Mr. Cain has taught instrumental music to hundreds of students at the Wissahickon Middle School, where he leads three concert bands, two jazz bands and a marching band.  Mr. Cain has performed with the Philly Pops, the Delaware Symphony and the Princeton Chamber Symphony.  He is currently Principal Percussionist with the Kennett Symphony of Chester County. As a music teacher, he notes that there is no greater moment than when a student finally understands a difficult concept, and then masters it. He believes that music gives his students the ability to pursue a long range goal until it is realized—even if it takes years to come to fruition.
Michael Brookshire, Horsham, PA

Michael, a Philadelphia Youth Orchestra alumnus, notes Bill Cain taught him about discipline, values, and the impact arts have on the world—ultimately helping him to perform at Lincoln Center and tour Europe playing the jazz vibraphone.

Narberth, PA

Thomas Elliott considers the whole person, not just the budding musician, in each of his students.

Thomas Elliott, a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, is the founder and former director of the Westminster Brass. He has performed as trombonist with many ensembles including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera and the Marlboro Music Festival. Mr. Elliott has played jazz and commercial music with notables such as Mel Torme and the Glenn Miller Band and was a resident orchestra member at the former Valley Forge Music Fair. As a full-time music educator, Mr. Elliott has been Director of Instrumental Music at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA since 1989, and also developed an innovative program to introduce classical music to young children.  Mr. Elliott took a recent sabbatical in Venezuela to take part in the El Sistema music initiative that is impacting young people all over the world.  He returned with a renewed excitement of what music can do in children’s lives.

Elizabeth Sher, Cambridge, MA

Elizabeth, formerly a trombone player with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, was not only inspired by Thomas Elliott to be a better musician, but to also be a generous, creative and “wide awake person in the world.”

Bala Cynwyd, PA

Elizabeth Kaderabek inspires students to reach their utmost potential and to improve themselves as individuals.

Elizabeth Kaderabek, daughter of retired Philadelphia Orchestra principal trumpet player Frank Kaderabek, began studying the violin at age six with the famous concertmaster and teacher Mischa Mischakoff, and culminated her education at the Philadelphia Musical Academy as a student of Frank Costanzo and then William dePasquale. For ten years she was a member of the New York City Opera National Company, the last three as concertmaster, and spent time each year bringing opera to small towns across the United States. For the past 20 years she has spent her summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a member of the Santa Fe Opera. In Philadelphia she is the assistant principal second violinist with the Chamber Orchestra, a first violinist in the Pennsylvania Ballet and Opera Philly, as well as a regular substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She enjoys teaching a broad range of private students, from beginners to very advanced, and is also on the faculty of the University of the Sciences.?

Jason Herrmann, Bryn Mawr, PA

Jason, a member of a number of prestigious musical organizations including the National Youth Orchestra and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (Assistant Concertmaster), is bound for Harvard in the fall and believes Ms. Kaderabek’s teachings not only strengthen her students’ musical skills but also profoundly enrich their academic and extracurricular pursuits.

Cherry Hill, NJ

Hirono Oka teaches her students the importance of a positive attitude and respect for fellow musicians.

Hirono Oka, a violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, made her debut in her native Japan at the age of eleven with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. She continued her studies at The San Francisco Conservatory and The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Ms. Oka has appeared as soloist with The San Francisco Chamber Ensemble, The Utica Symphony Orchestra and numerous other orchestras throughout the country and in the Philadelphia area. As a chamber musician she has appeared with multiple prestigious musical organizations, including The Marlboro Music Festival, The Theatre Chamber Players of The Kennedy Center and The Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Series. She has performed and collaborated with world-renowned artists and is a faculty member of Temple University and its Music Preparatory Division.  

Helenmarie Vassiliou, Berwyn, PA

A student of Ms. Oka’s for eight years, Helenmarie credits her teacher as a brilliant educator who lovingly instills self confidence in her students.  Helenmarie is currently a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, YCO (Temple Music Prep), and the Settlement Music School Braverman Quartet.  

Philadelphia, PA

Anthony Prisk teaches his students that musicianship gives them the opportunity to transmit profound beauty to the world.

Anthony Prisk joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2013 after spending 11 seasons playing the trumpet with the Houston Symphony. He has performed internationally with a number of important musical organizations, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, the Boston Symphony, and the Moscow Philharmonic. Mr. Prisk has won two international trumpet competitions and can be heard on recordings with the Houston Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and the McGill Symphony. Teaching and community outreach are important to Mr. Prisk. He participated in Houston’s Fidelity Future Stage program, bringing instrumental music instruction to inner city schools, and has presented master classes at the New World Symphony, the University of Texas, Baylor University, Bowling Green State University, Northwestern University, and Iowa State University, among others.  

Di Yue, Blue Bell, PA

Di, a member of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s Bravo Brass ensemble and of the All-State Orchestra in Pennsylvania, appreciates Anthony Prisk for teaching his students to focus on the beauty of music as well as technique and perseverance to always improve.

Flourtown, PA

Angela Riggs has been a source of inspiration to music students of all ages throughout the Philadelphia area for 43 years.

A Philadelphia native, Ms. Riggs was a star musician in the bands and orchestra at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, PA, leading to her appointment as first clarinetist in Philadelphia’s All City Band and the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Band, and graduating with a gold medal in music.  She pursued her passion for music after high school, earning a diploma in performance and teaching, along with a certificate in music theory and applied musicianship from Philadelphia’s Neupauer Conservatory of Music.  She began her music teaching career with Jacobs Music Company, and has since taught classroom music, piano, organ, band instruments, voice and music theory to children and adults in private and public schools and in her home studio in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. ??

Alka Swanson, North Wales, PA

Alka began taking piano lessons when she was in her forties, and credits Angela Riggs with giving her the confidence to pursue her lifelong dream of mastering the piano.  

Philadelphia, PA

Kimberley Rowe models unselfish devotion to her students while she facilitates their achievement.

Kimberly Rowe is known in the harp community as an innovative performer, writer, publisher, and teacher. She has played with ensembles throughout the region, including frequent performances with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and has been a featured musician at conferences of the American Harp Society and the World Harp Congress. Ms. Rowe co-founded the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar and Competition summer program in Georgia, which has become one of the premiere training programs for aspiring young harpists worldwide.  She also founded the internationally acclaimed Temple Music Prep Harp Ensemble and teaches undergraduate students at Temple's Boyer College of Music and Dance. A mentor with the National Music Festival in Chestertown, MD, she has also been on the faculty at Rowan University, the Saratoga Harp Colony, and the Philadelphia International Music Festival. Kimberly currently maintains a thriving harp studio in Philadelphia that includes some of the area’s top students.

Ruth Boyajian, Lumberton, NJ

Ruth, a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and the Harp Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra at Temple Music Prep, has studied with Kimberly Rowe for nine years and praises her “unusually artful balance of exacting expectations with sincere affirmation.”

Wilmington, DE

Shelley Beard Schleigh motivates her students with contagious enthusiasm and gives them confidence to embrace new challenges.

Shelley Beard Schleigh is the Suzuki Academy Department Head and Master Faculty member at The Music School of Delaware, and has served as Vice President of the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association and President of the Philadelphia Viola Society. Ms. Schleigh is a graduate of the Peabody Institute (BM) and Indiana University School of Music (MM) and has received the Suzuki Association of the America's Certificate of Achievement. As an active chamber musician, Shelley Beard Schleigh was a founding member of both the Tononi Quartet and the prize-winning Mühlenberg Piano Quartet, and performed with these ensembles at numerous concert venues including The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, Peabody Conservatory and the Westminster Choir College. Chamber music collaborations include performances with members of the Minnesota and Cleveland Orchestras, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and at many prestigious summer music festivals.

Conor McAvinue, Wilmington, DE

Conor, a member of a number of musical ensembles including Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Brandywine Fiddlers, appreciates Shelley Beard Schleigh for taking a sincere personal interest in her students and for teaching them to not be afraid of setting challenging goals.  

Glassboro, NJ

Byrnina Socolofsky has touched thousands of lives in more than seven decades of teaching music.

Byrnina Brooks Socolofsky first picked up a viola in high school in 1929, and she has maintained her passion for music and music education for over 80 years.  After receiving her BA in Music from Ottawa University, she relocated with her husband to Southern New Jersey where she played violin for a professional trio for 12 years and helped organize the Woodbury Symphony Orchestra , serving there as principal violinist for 14 years. As an educator, she developed the Glassboro, NJ public schools string program—the Glassboro High School Symphony Orchestra earned some of the state’s top honors under her leadership.  Ms. Socolofsky was the first woman to conduct the All South Jersey High School Orchestra, and has been a member of the Music Educators National Conference and the New Jersey State Board of Directors for the American String Teachers Association.  Affectionately known as “Mrs. Soc” to her students, for decades she has taught innumerable young people how to excel at playing the violin and viola.

Elizabeth McPeak, Metuchen, NJ
It was Elizabeth’s admiration for Byrnina Socolofsky’s passion for teaching that inspired her to pursue music education as a career.  She explains that “Mrs. Soc” not only changed her life, she helped create it.

Daniel Demetriou, Voorhees, NJ?
A member of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Daniel said, “Mrs. Soc made me the musician that I am today.”  Now a teacher himself, he wants her to know that “her students remember her, and that we are incredibly grateful for all that she has done.”