The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Awards 5th Annual Ovation Award

Music teachers make a tremendous impact on the lives of their students and, for the fifth year, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and several partners search for an outstanding and inspirational teacher to honor with the PYO Ovation Award. Nominators who are current or former students and of any age, submit a 250-word statement about "the music teacher who changed my life." The PYO Ovation Award is endowed by H.E.L.P. Foundation and sponsored by Jacobs Music Company, J.W. Pepper and WRTI-90.1 FM.

Nominations open on February 19, 2018 with the deadline being March 30, 2018. Nominees should have imparted musical skills and knowledge, but also helped build students' character, self-confidence, and capabilities that have impacted overall development and achievements. To nominate a music teacher for the PYO Ovation Award, statements should be submitted online at Nominees from prior years are still eligible and nominators are welcomed and strongly encouraged to nominate them again. A blue-ribbon panel of representatives from major music organizations and music departments of area universities will choose ten finalists and the award winner. All finalists are awarded prizes with the grand prize winner also receiving a $1,000 honorarium. Additionally, the nominator of the grand prize winner will receive a $250 gift card. The winning presentation will take place on Sunday, June 10, 3 p.m. prior to the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra performance in Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center of Performing Arts.

Louis Scaglione, president and music director of PYO, is very proud of this award. He said, "It seems remarkable that we are entering our fifth year of presenting the Ovation Award. Over time, we have read about hundreds of very impressive music teachers. As a music education institution, we at Philadelphia Youth Orchestra witness the positive impact teachers have on their students every day. They share their passion for music and inspire students to strive to do their best. We are so pleased to have this opportunity to recognize music educators who rarely get the attention they deserve."

Each of the honorees from the past four years is unique in their own way. The first recipient of the Ovation Award, who was honored in June 2014, is Bill Cain, a music teacher and Band Director at Wissahickon Middle School in the Wissahickon School District. When he received this award he said, "This is the best recognition for an educator that anyone could ever have! Thank you for reminding all music teachers that we are not alone in this battle for music to survive and how important it is for music to stay on the daily schedule in our schools. Schools must teach the whole child and exercise both sides of the brain." His nominator was Michael Brookshire, who knew Bill for 30 years. Bill taught him when he was the percussion instructor for Upper Moreland High School Band.

The second recipient was 83-year-old saxophonist, teacher and mentor Tony Williams. His nominator was Mark Mitchell. In his essay, Mitchell explained that Williams not only introduced him to new techniques of playing saxophone, live performances in front of an audience, and jazz music at the Mount Airy Cultural Center that Williams founded, but he also "inspired me to see the importance and desire to give back through volunteerism, he showed me examples of leadership, and he always stated that he uses music as the vehicle to unlock a young person's potential." When Williams was presented the award, he beamed. He later said, "Of all the honors I have received, this captures me the most. I am so amazed to be the one chosen among so many outstanding people standing around me."

The third year we recognized cello teacher Jennifer Jie Jin who is the Director of the Honor String Ensemble at Archbishop John Carroll High School, Co-Director of Chamber Strings Summer Music Festival, Vivace Music Competition and Vivace Orchestra. Jin's nominator was Jessica Zhang, a private cello student who plays cello in the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra. She not only enhanced her cello skills under the guidance of Jin, she also learned to perform in front of an audience. She said, "Mrs. Jin is a super teacher. My cello skill improved quickly under her mentorship and I was so proud to perform (annually) for a group of seniors. They all looked at me with love, like looking at their grandchild. I suddenly understood why we were here to play." Jin was honored to be a finalist and totally surprised to receive the grand prize honor. She said, "This honor is a tribute to all music educators who work tirelessly and passionately each and every day. I know that music is more than an interest or hobby. It has a significant impact on all of life as it builds self-esteem, cultural awareness and the desire to achieve."

Last year, music teacher Dimitri Kauriga, of Southampton, PA received the honor. He taught more than 30 years at Philadelphia High School for Girls as well as being a private teacher. Directly after receiving the honor, Kauriga said, "It's fantastic to be recognized, but being a part of music is the most beautiful part. When you're in the process of educating and you later realize the difference you make in someone's life, it is very meaningful". Kauriga's nominator, Elisabeth D'Alessandro met Kauriga while he taught her music in high school. D'Alessandro writes in her winning essay that Kauriga instilled a love of music in her so strong that she decided to pursue her current profession as a music teacher at The Philadelphia High School for Girls. D'Alessandro writes, "Mr. Kauriga was a model of commitment and dedication. He got to school early, stayed late, and rarely took a break. He embodied the work ethic which he demanded of his students. He inspired generations of students to achieve above and beyond what we thought we could. His faith in our ability gave use the confidence we needed to excel."

The PYO organization is one of the nation's oldest and most highly respected youth orchestral and college preparatory music education institutions for gifted and talented students. The Ovation Award is endowed by the H.E.L.P. Foundation, which was established to assist non-profit community-focused endeavors. Gary Frank, CEO of H.E.L.P. Foundation and LCG, Ltd., and member of the PYO Board of Trustees, is pleased with the legacy of this award. He said, "It is our honor to again endow the Fifth Annual Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Ovation Award, recognizing the finest music teachers in the Delaware Valley. We are delighted to honor these talented individuals who are devoted to educating youth, and we share their enviable passion and commitment to the musical arts."

Three renowned music organizations with historic ties to the Philadelphia community are partnering with PYO as sponsors of The Ovation Award: Jacobs Music, one of the nation's most respected piano merchants and the Tri-state region's exclusive representative for new and authentically restored Steinway & Sons pianos, representing Yamaha and many other fine pianos as well, J.W. Pepper, one of the leading sheet music merchants in the world and WRTI, broadcaster of the region's most comprehensive classical and jazz radio programming.

Chris Rinaldi, President of Jacobs Music Company and member of the PYO Board of Trustees, is happy to continue Jacobs' support of the PYO Ovation Award. He said, "The tremendous life-changing impact of a music education on every facet of a student's development has long been documented. We are very pleased to have this opportunity to show our appreciation for the invaluable contributions of the many outstanding music teachers who make this possible. Jacobs Music has been honored to support the PYO Ovation Award since its inception; as a new PYO board member, it is especially meaningful to me this year."

For more information and to access the Ovation Award application, visit, or email questions to the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra at

About H.E.L.P. Foundation and LCG, Ltd.: H.E.L.P. Foundation, the philanthropic division of LCG, Ltd., dedicates time and resources in furtherance of community service and in support of charitable causes and non-profit organizations, both regional and nationwide. LCG fosters an organizational commitment to compassionate service as the nation's largest privately held employee legal plan provider. LCG maintains its national headquarters in Bala Cynwyd, PA, and has been implementing its exclusive H.E.L.P. legal plan for worksites of all sizes and industries since 1995. For more information, please visit

About Jacobs Music Company: Jacobs Music Company is the area's exclusive representative for new and authentically restored Steinway & Sons, and Steinway designed Boston and Essex pianos. Jacobs also represents many other highly respected new and used piano manufacturers from around the world, including Yamaha, Disklavier, Clavinova, and Roland, all at great values. Jacobs Music Company has seven showrooms, including its flagship Steinway Selection Center at 1718 Chestnut Street in center city Philadelphia, as well as Ephrata, West Chester and Willow Grove, PA and Cherry Hill and Lawrenceville, NJ.

About J.W. Pepper: J.W. Pepper, based in Exton, PA, is the leading retailer of sheet music in the world. In business for over 140 years, they have 12 store locations and two distribution centers across the country. Customer care is at the heart of their services for school music programs, private studios and all levels of performing musicians. For more information, visit

About WRTI: WRTI is a member-supported, public radio station that broadcasts the very best classical music and jazz recordings, and produces innovative, entertaining, and informative content. The station has 14 frequencies, extends west to Harrisburg and north to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and reaches as far south as Dover, DE and to the South Jersey shore area.

About Philadelphia Youth Orchestra:

Now in its 78th year of training tomorrow's leaders, the renowned Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization is one of the nation's oldest and most respected community music education and youth orchestra performance programs, providing talented young musicians from across the tri-state area with exceptional musical training. Students go on to excel in many diverse fields, and it is with pride that Philadelphia Youth Orchestra notes that many members of the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra are alumni. For more information, please visit

The anchor group is the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), conducted by President and Music Director Louis Scaglione, featuring 120 gifted instrumentalists who range in age from 14-21. Young musicians 12-18 years old are featured in PYO's companion ensemble, the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, which is led by Director and Conductor Maestra Rosalind Erwin, who is Music Director and Conductor of Drexel University Orchestra. Philadelphia Young Musicians Orchestra (PYMO), directed by Maestro Kenneth Bean, is a beginning to intermediate-level full symphonic orchestra that provides most students with their first introduction to large orchestral playing featuring students age 10-17 years old. Bravo Brass, directed by Curtis Institute Dean of Faculty and Students, Paul Bryan, is an all brass ensemble for promising middle and high-school instrumentalists. PRYSM (Philadelphia Region Youth String Music) and PRYSM Young Artists ensembles provide string large ensemble and sectional master class instruction for beginning and intermediate musicians ages 6-14. The director and conductor of PRYSM is Gloria DePasquale, cellist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and conductor of PRYSM Young Artists is Andrea Weber. Tune Up Philly (TUP) is PYO's engagement program, directed by Paul Smith, that focuses on creating and inspiring true community by providing children in under-resourced communities with invaluable opportunities to learn and perform a differentiated orchestral music curriculum.

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