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Fredonia alumna named finalist for 2020 GRAMMY award

Submitted Photo Lynne (Bona) Ruda

State University of New York at Fredonia School of Music alumna Lynne (Bona) Ruda, ’07, ’09, was named among 10 Finalists for the 2020 Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum from more than 3,300 initial nominations from 50 states.

Director of Orchestras at Lancaster High School since 2008, Ms. Ruda conducts the Lancaster High School Symphony Orchestra and Swing Orchestra. She was also a recipient of the 2019 Buffalo Philharmonic/Erie County Music Educators Association Award for Excellence in Music Education.

Ms. Ruda was nominated for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award by a former Lancaster student, Alyssa McDonald, who is now a sophomore in the Music Education program at Fredonia.

The Music Educator award recognizes teachers who have made a significant and lasting contribution to music education and demonstrates a commitment to maintaining music education in schools.

A cellist, Ms. Ruda earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Music Education, along with the coveted Performer’s Certificate, from the Fredonia School of Music.

Ms. Ruda is also conductor of the Greater Buffalo Youth String Orchestra and a member of Buffalo Musicians Association – Local 92 and regularly performs with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and Clarence Summer Orchestra. She recently performed with The Who and Weird Al Yankovic in concert. She is an active member of the Erie County Music Educators Association, co-chairing the Senior High All-County Orchestra since 2011.

In addition, Ms. Ruda is connected with Buffalo String Works, an after-school program providing music lessons to mainly refugee and immigrant children, which was founded by violinist Yuki Numata Resnick and operates at the Buffalo Dream Center. Ruda and her Lancaster high school students travel to the center on Fridays to work with string students in lesson and orchestra settings, noting, “It has been such a positive, amazing experience.”

In addition to her many music-related activities, Ms. Ruda is an active member of her community, in her 12th year as a volunteer firefighter and third year as a Village of Lancaster trustee. She is also advisor to the Senior Class and the First Responders Club at the high school.

The winner of the GRAMMY Music Educator Award will receive a $10,000 honorarium and attend the 62nd Annual GRAMMY awards and related events at the end of January. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Ms. Ruda noted, “I think that the most important part of this GRAMMY award process for me has been that the media has brought more attention to the importance of music education.”

In recognizing Ms. Ruda’s achievements, cellist Dr. Natasha Farny of the Fredonia School of Music faculty noted, “Lynne was always a hardworking, serious cellist. Her optimism, sharp mind, and drive to succeed back in those days was so clear, and it makes me proud to see her continue to do important work, recognized by the larger national community of arts.”

Music Education area coordinator Dr. Christian Bernhard noted, “Lynne (Ruda) was an outstanding Music Education major at Fredonia, demonstrating strong teaching, musicianship, and leadership. She served as president of our student chapter for the American String Teachers Association and spearheaded a trip for that group to the national conference in Detroit, Mich. It is no surprise that she has found such success as a high school orchestra teacher in Lancaster. Her students consistently thrive, including many who participate in regional and state honor ensembles. Ms. Ruda also serves as a mentor to current Fredonia Music Education majors, welcoming them to her high school for early field experience and student teaching opportunities. We are proud of and thrilled for Lynne to be receiving this well-deserved recognition!”

More honor was brought to the School of Music when Fredonia alumnus Andrew Bennett, ’08, (music ed.) was named one of the 25 semifinalists for the 2020 award and will receive a $500 honorarium with a matching school grant. He leads the music department at Fredonia Central School. Betsy Stambach-Fuller, ’05, ’07, (music ed.) was named a quarterfinalist for the award. She teaches in Glens Falls High School, where she directs the school’s award-winning a cappella choir, is in her 13th year as theatre director, and is a clinician with professional and amateur a cappella groups across the Northeast.

The first-ever recipient of the GRAMMY Music Educator Award presented in 2014 was Fredonia alumnus Kent Knappenberger, ’87, a teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School.

The matching grants provided to the schools are made possible by the generosity and support of the GRAMMY Museum’s Education Champion Ford Motor Company Fund. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, and National Education Association support the program through outreach to their constituencies.

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