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Fredonia School of Music faculty, alumni among quarterfinalists for GRAMMY Music Educator Award

Nick Weiser

Two State University at Fredonia School of Music faculty members have been named, along with several SUNY Fredonia alumni, among the 216 quarterfinalists and Legacy applicants for the 2021 Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum.

Drs. Vernon Huff and Nick Weiser were among the nearly 2,000 initial nominees that were submitted for consideration. In addition to the quarterfinalists, 91 Legacy applicants from 2020 will also be eligible to win the award this year. Among the quarterfinalists were music teachers from 199 cities. Semifinalists will be announced in September.

Huff is the director of choral activities and associate professor of choral music education at SUNY Fredonia, where he teaches courses in choral conducting, choral methods, graduate music education courses, and conducts the Chamber Choir and Masterworks Chorus. In 2006, Huff earned National Board certification in Choral Music, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood. He is the recipient of a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Arizona State University, Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Ohio State University, and an undergraduate degree from Furman University in Music Education.

Weiser has been the architect and director of the jazz studies curriculum at SUNY Fredonia since the program began in 2017. Among his duties at SUNY Fredonia, Weiser conducts two big bands, the Fredonia Jazz Orchestra and the DownBeat award-winning New Jazz Ensemble. In the greater Fredonia community, Weiser serves as artistic director of the Fredonia Jazz Society. His undergraduate work was at the University of Kansas, and he continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in the Department of Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media.

“It is an honor to be considered for this award by such a prestigious institution,” Weiser said. “Since coming to Fredonia, my mission has been to find creative ways to elevate and celebrate jazz music, an historically marginalized music in higher education, on campus and in the community. My hope is that this recognition further illuminates this music and the people who create it, and that my students are inspired to carry on this rich American tradition.”

Vernon Huff

Also among the quarterfinalists is SUNY Fredonia School of Music alumna Lynne (Bona) Ruda, ’07, ’09, who was one of 10 Finalists for the 2020 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Director of Orchestras at Lancaster (N.Y.) High School since 2008, Ruda conducts the Lancaster High School Symphony Orchestra and Swing Orchestra.

Other Fredonia alumni quarterfinalists from schools in New York state include Lawrence Dubill, who teaches at Hamburg High School, and Matt Pendrak, who teaches at Amherst Central High School.

Legacy applicants include Elisabeth “Betsy” Stambach-Fuller, who teaches at South Glens Falls High School.

According to a news release, the Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. A joint partnership and presentation of the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, the recipient will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2021. The eighth annual honoree will be flown to Los Angeles to attend the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards and a range of GRAMMY Week events.

The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants. Fifteen semifinalists will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.

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