Saturday, May 10, will mark the annual "Celebration of Music Education" at Kleinhans Music Hall, presented by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and sponsored by BOCES of Western New York. A reception and awards ceremony open to honorees, music educators, administrators and supporters of music education will be catered by Oliver's and take place at 6:30 p.m. At the beginning of the 8 p.m. concert, honorees will be recognized in front of the BPO audience.
The Niagara County Music Educators Association and the BPO will present the Award for Excellence in Music Education to Dean Vallas, director of choruses at North Tonawanda High School. Vallas, a native of Hamburg, conducts three choral ensembles at the school. The advanced women's and mixed choirs placed first in their divisions at national competitions. He has served the NCMEA in leadership roles as the vice president of choruses (four years), vice president (four years), and as president (five years). He is the current music coordinator for North Tonawanda City Schools, and producer of the school musical and a cabaret dessert theater.
The Erie County Music Educators Association and the BPO will present Awards for Excellence in Music Education to Mark Flynn of the Akron Central School District; Wayne Moose and Maureen Reilly of the Williamsville Central School District; and will present a special award to Joe and Edie Clouse of J&E Instrument Service.
Flynn has taught at Akron Central Schools since 1983. He currently teaches middle school and high school concert bands, middle school jazz and high school marching band, and lessons for grades 6-12. He created a pep band program at Erie Community College and is credited with reviving the marching band for the Division I football program at the University at Buffalo. Known for inventive teaching methods, Flynn incorporates many creative tools to improve student learning and enhance performances. In 2005, he invented "Finger Fixers," a device to help students develop good hand position. He is a recipient of Akron's Outstanding Teacher Award.
Moose has taught in the Williamsville Central School District for 14 years. He currently conducts symphony orchestra, philharmonic orchestra, jazz orchestra and jazz ensemble; teaches theory, composition, chamber ensembles and jazz improvisation; and conducts the pit orchestra for the musicals at Williamsville East High School. Moose co-developed the "Legends of Jazz" Series at Williamsville East High School, bringing nationally renowned artists to perform with the jazz orchestra. Moose is an active member of ECMEA, Buffalo Musicians' Association, and NYSSMA.
Reilly has taught in the Williamsville Central School District for 23 years; the past 21 years at Williamsville East High School, where she has instructed four choirs and taught music theory. Her choirs have received gold medal ratings at the NYSSMA Major Choral Festival and top honors at several national music festivals. Reilly has hosted the Zone 1 NYSSMA Major Choral Festival since 1996. She has guest conducted and chaired several all-county festivals, and served on the board of directors of ECMEA from 1997-2001. She has directed the adult choir at St. Amelia R.C. Church in Tonawanda for the past 15 years.
Joe and Edie Clouse have operated the Amherst-based J&E Instrument Service since 1982. Joe Clouse was a former band director in the Williamsville Central School District, and a graduate of Ithaca College. He is active in the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, serving as regional vice president and as president. J&E Instrument Service has served the music education community faithfully, selling and repairing instruments for students.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will recognize George and Bodil Gellman with the Leadership in Music Education Award. The Gellmans have supported music education programming at the BPO since the 1980s, and have been the principal sponsors of the current Symphony Scholars program since 2003. Through their dedicated sponsorship, hundreds of high school students from the Buffalo Public Schools and beyond have been able to attend BPO concerts and participate in activities with BPO musicians, conductors and guest artists. George Gellman is one of three founders of The Benchmark Group. He has extensive experience as an owner, investor, developer and operator of real estate projects throughout the U.S. He and his wife, Bodil, also support health and wellness initiatives in Western New York.
The Friends of the BPO will recognize their scholarship winners during this event. Duo Xu, a pianist from Williamsville East High School, won the $3,000 scholarship. Teagan Faran, a violinist from Williamsville High School, won the $2,000 scholarship. Alexander Cousins, a cellist from Grand Island High School, won the $1,500 scholarship.
Xu began her piano studies at age 4. She is the accompanist for Williamsville East's Chorale and a member of the school's orchestra, with whom she will perform a concerto this year. Her resume includes wins in national and international piano competitions, including first prize in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's Concerto Competition, Duquesne Young Artist National Piano Competition and Heddy Killian Piano Competition; second prize in Ithaca's Piano Competition; and third prize in the Chopin International Thousand Islands Competition. She was featured in Buffalo's Chinese New Year Performance and is the 2014 Amherst Symphony Orchestra Scholarship winner.
Faran was concertmaster of NYSSMA's All-State Orchestra; co-concertmaster of ECMEA's Area All-State Orchestra and National Association for Music Education All-National Orchestra; and concertmaster of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. She won the Vermont Concerto Competition and earned honorable mention in the Empire State Competition. Faran is the winner of both a Buffalo Chamber Music Society's Silverman Scholarship and a $3,000 ECMEA Student Scholarship.
Cousins has participated in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra with whom he performed a concerto, played bass in NCMEA's orchestra; and played cello in ECMEA's orchestra, NYSSMA's Area All-State String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, Cheektowaga Community Symphony Orchestra, and STAGE Summer Pit Orchestra. He is the winner of Buffalo Chamber Music Society's Silverman Scholarship and a $3,000 ECMEA Student Scholarship.