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PYO Music Institute Announces 2021 Ovation Award Recipient


There was a surprise presentation outside the home of this year's recipient, Charles Salinger, in Ambler, PA.

PYO Music Institute Announces 2021 Ovation Award Recipient

Celebrating music educators, the 8th Annual Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute Ovation Award took place this spring with over 50 nominations of music teachers by current and former music students. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there was a surprise presentation outside the home of this year's recipient, Charles Salinger, in Ambler, PA. The sponsor partners -- Lee Paynter, COO of J.W. Pepper, Chris Rinaldi, President of Jacobs Music Company, and Bill Johnson, General Manager of WRTI 90.1, presented the award to Salinger.

Created by PYO Music Institute in 2014, the award recognizes inspiration and outstanding leadership in music education. There have been hundreds of nominees over the years, which demonstrates the respect and dedication students have for their music teachers in the Delaware Valley, who not only successfully teach music to their students, but also instill confidence in them. The nominees were reviewed by a panel of judges including Debra Lew Harder, mid-day classical host and Saturday morning host of Classical Coffeehouse on WRTI 90.1, Christine Witkowski, non-profit consultant, and Dennis Creedon, former Assistant Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

Salinger, a clarinet player, PYO alumnus, and private teacher, was one of 10 finalists. They were all recognized on June 10th during the PYO Music Institute's 2021 Virtual Gala entitled "More Than Music". In the Ovation Award video presentation, produced by J.W. Pepper and hosted by WRTI's on-air host Kevin Gordon, it was announced publicly that Salinger is this year's Ovation Award Recipient. He was also a finalist in 2016 and 2019. Salinger received seven nominations by former and current students including Ian Abrahams, Max Reese, Kristin Nelson, Andrew Battaglia, Kimberly Birk, Ken Silvers and Michael Evans. Michael Evans wrote, "Mr. Salinger is more than a teacher. He is a friend, mentor, and inspiration. His grasp on the study of music and his kind personality have made him one of the best figures in my life." In addition, going along with the theme of this year's gala, "My teacher has changed my life through showing that music is more than just notes on a piece of paper."

Salinger was totally surprised when presented with the award. He said, "This is such a surprise and so surreal. The fact that music has made such an imprint in my students' lives that they want to talk about it and take the time to write about me is a wonderful feeling. When I teach, I don't care if the students become professional musicians. But, I hope they love music for the rest of their lives and they support the arts. After all, that's what really matters." He shared a story about one of his former students, Terry Gross, host of "Fresh Air" on NPR. "I asked Terry recently if she still plays the clarinet, and what she told me overwhelmed me. While she admitted to not playing anymore, she said that what she learned from me helped her understand what to ask in her interviews with musicians. Right there -- THAT's what teaching is all about!"

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