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Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

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Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

The Howard County Arts Council will honor its 2019 Howie Award recipients at the 23rd Annual Celebration of the Arts. The Celebration gala, presented by Howard Bank, provides an annual opportunity for members of Howard County's arts, education, government, and business communities to recognize individuals and businesses that have made meaningful contributions to the arts in Howard County. This year's gala, originally scheduled for March but postponed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, will be held virtually; ticket holders can view the performance & vote for their favorite finalist on Thursday, August 27 at 8pm.

The Howie Awards are presented annually by the Arts Council to: an Outstanding Artist who has contributed a high level of talent and vision to the artistic life of the community; an Outstanding Arts Educator who has made an exceptional contribution to arts education in Howard County; and an Outstanding Business or Community Supporter that has made a significant impact on the arts in Howard County.

This year's honoree for Outstanding Artist is pianist Hsien-Ann Meng. Dr. Meng is currently the Chair of the Music Department at Howard Community College (HCC) as well as the Director of HCC's Music Institute and Concert Series. In her tenure as the Chair of the Music Department, she's led the college through a successful re-accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music. As the Director of the HCC Concert Series, she's built a successful Guest Artist Series that has featured stellar classical and jazz artists. Dr. Meng continues to foster the love of music through her teaching both in the classroom and in piano lessons.

Dr. Meng is also active in the Baltimore-Washington area as a duo-pianist with the Octtava Piano Duo and as a chamber music collaborator. In addition to numerous performances in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, her duo has performed internationally in the National Recital Hall and Shih Chien University in Taipei, Taiwan.

Dr. Meng holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, College Park, both Master of Music in Piano Performance and Music History degrees, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

Donna Pidel is the honoree for Outstanding Arts Educator. The British born Pidel is a freelance dance teacher and choreographer who trained in London, England with Richard Glastone, Leonie Urdang, Terence Etheridge, Ruth French, and Alexander Morrow. She received a Capezio Award at the North America Ballet Competition, Outstanding Choreographer at Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), and is also on the recommended list of contemporary choreographers for YAGP. Pidel's choreography has been featured at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia at the Vaganova Prix competition and at the Baltimore Opera Company.

Pidel has taught for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, NYC; Towson University, MD; The Urdang Performing Arts Center, London, England; and Mercator Ballet, Antwerp, Belgium. Locally, she has taught and mentored a number of notable dancers including Alicia Graf-Mack, Sean Sessions, Katherine Williams, and more.

Following the 2018 flood in Ellicott City, Pidel founded the Ellicott City Ballerina Project - a collection of photographs taken by Pidel of dancers posed among the flood recovery efforts. This project was recognized on a national level for its efforts to use art to uplift the community and restore a sense of pride after such huge losses.

The honoree for Outstanding Business Supporter of the Arts is The Howard Hughes Corporation. Since 2010, when it assumed responsibility for the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia in accordance with the County Council's passage of the Downtown Columbia Plan, The Howard Hughes Corporation has worked to create a regional hub for culture and commerce in Downtown Columbia through engaging public art and transformative arts programs.

Howard Hughes' notable contributions to the arts in Downtown Columbia include the acquisition and installation of Azlon, a towering, kinetic magnum opus by acclaimed artist Anthony Howe; the annual Books in Bloom festival featuring some of the country's best and brightest writers; OPUS, a bold one-day festival celebrating the art of sound and providing an immersion of art installations, mesmerizing music performances and treetop projection mapping; the Merriweather District Artist in Residence program, a collaboration with the Howard County Arts Council that featured open studio events, workshops, panel discussion and children's activities; and Soulful Symphony, a visionary orchestra that celebrates American music and culture.

A special Legacy in the Arts Award will be presented to Thomas Sankey, Mt. Hebron Theater Director & Howard County Summer Theater Director. Tom Sankey has been a math teacher at Mt. Hebron High School since 1980 and began directing Mt. Hebron's theatre productions in 1981. Stepping in after the sudden departure of the school's theatre director, Tom directed his favorite musical, The Sound of Music, that year and has been directing Mt. Hebron's school plays and musicals ever since. One of Tom's most memorable shows was Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Tom and his wife Mary Ann flew to London to meet with the show's producer, who granted Mt. Hebron permission to perform the show, making the school the first in the US to receive this honor.

For the past 36 years, Tom has also been the director for Howard County Summer Theatre, a community theatre group which donates the profits from its productions to local charities. The theater group's membership includes young children through senior citizens.

Tom has directed 115 shows in Howard County, accompanied the Mt. Hebron school choir, and has been involved with the arts in Howard County for 44 years.

Help us Celebrate! In addition to the presentation of the Howie Awards, the virtual gala will also include the Rising Star Performing Arts Competition and an online art auction of works by local artists. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite performing artist while chatting online with friends, or view and vote through on-demand access to the performance from Friday, August 28 at 10am through Sunday, August 30 at 8pm. The online art auction will be available during that time period as well.

Tickets are $50 and $100 and are available for purchase online at

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