Several outstanding music educators and businesses will be recognized at the annual "Celebration of Music Education" on Saturday, April 20, at Kleinhans Music Hall.
The BPO award for leadership in music education will be presented to Time Warner Cable Northeast Region. For the past three years, Time Warner Cable has partnered with the BPO to broadcast an education concert to classrooms around Western New York, allowing the BPO to reach more than 33,000 students who may not have been able to travel to Kleinhans. Through Time Warner Cable's "Connect a Million Minds" initiative, the BPO was able to partner with the Buffalo Museum of Science and Buffalo State College to develop programs relating to the science of sound.
The BPO/ECMEA awards for excellence in music education will be given to Keith Ersing, Karen Robinson, and Walter and Pat Pidgeon.
Ersing has been the choral director at West Seneca West Senior High School for 13 years. For the past four years, he has chaired the ECMEA vocal jazz festival. He has conducted numerous All-County and NYSSMA concerts, and is an adjunct vocal instructor at Fredonia State College.
Robinson is celebrating her 25th year teaching music at Union East Elementary School in the Cheektowaga Central School District. Robinson has held many leadership roles within the district, including district curriculum leader, specials team leader, and teacher's union representative. She also developed a district-wide music booster parent organization. She is active in the ECMEA, and has organized four ECMEA Elementary Festivals at her school and has served as the choir chairperson.
For more than 40 years, Pat and Walter Pidgeon ran U-Crest Music Center on George Urban Boulevard in Cheektowaga. The store was patronized by everyone from elementary school students purchasing their beginner books to established musicians such as Doc Severinsen. At its peak, the store sold more than 1,000 instruments and rented 1,100 instruments in a single year. Last summer, the Pidgeons retired, and gave more than 1,000 students a chance to purchase their rented instruments at a drastically reduced rate before closing the store.
Ken Fick is the recipient of the BPO and Niagara County Music Educators Association award for excellence in music education. For 12 years, Fick has been the director of choruses at Edward Town Middle School in the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District. He served as the chair for high school classroom music for NYSSMA, and coordinated professional workshops on the topic at two of their conferences. He is the vice-president for choruses on the Niagara County Music Educators Association executive board, and is also the director of music at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Tonawanda.