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RPO musicians to honor area music educators, including Nazareth College Music Department chair, Dr. Beverly Smoker

Published April 17, 2017

The musicians of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) will honor local music teachers at the 29th annual Music Educators’ Awards Night this Thursday, April 20 during the 7:30 p.m. Stare Conducts Mahler 5 concert in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Founded in 1988, the awards work to strengthen the relationship between area music educators and the musicians of the RPO.

"Music educators deserve to be commended as often as possible for deeply enriching others’ lives," explains Maura McCune Corvington, a member of the RPO horn section and chair of the 2017 Awards committee. “I would not have pursued and succeeded in music without stellar classroom and private music instruction."

Administrators, educators, parents and students submit nominations that are then reviewed by a committee comprised of community educators and RPO musicians. Five outstanding local music educators were chosen:

  • Instrumental Music Award, Band (K-12): Jeanne Coonan of Spry Middle School in Webster
  • Instrumental Music Award, Band (K-12): M. David Shemancik of Sutherland High School in Pittsford
  • Choral Director Award (K-12): Douglas Steves of Oliver Middle School in Brockport
  • Classroom Music Specialist Award (General Music K-12): Al Heary of DeWitt Elementary School in Webster
  • Special Award: Beverly Smoker, Professor and Department Chair at Nazareth College

Beverly Smoker is professor of music at Nazareth College, chair of the Music Department, and director of the Master of Music in performance and pedagogy. She previously taught at Cornell, Grinnell, and Coe Colleges; at the University of Iowa; and operated an independent piano studio. Her students have earned undergraduate and graduate music degrees at universities throughout the country and maintain careers as pedagogues and performing artists. A long-term Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) member, and current New York State Music Teachers Association (NYSMTA) president-elect, Dr. Smoker has presented at national, state, and conferences. Numerous appearances as pianist include performances on the Knitting Factory Composer Series in New York City; recordings for ABC Radio in Brisbane, Australia; and recordings on Centaur Records. She was a recipient of a Gramma Fisher Fellowship at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and 10 solo touring grants from the Iowa Arts Council. She has presented many recitals devoted to 20th-century music, and premiered several works.  Says Dr. Smoker: “I love seeing our students transition to successful alums making impactful contributions to their communities as music educators, performers, therapists, scholars, composers, arrangers, and in many other capacities that support the arts and music industry.”

Tickets for Stare Conducts Mahler 5 start at $23, with $10 student tickets, and are available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s Patron Services Center (108 East Avenue) and at all Wegmans That’s T.H.E. Ticket! locations.

For More Information

Mare Millow | Marketing & Publicity Manager | Nazareth College Arts Center | | 585-389-2093

Nazareth College’s academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y., challenges and supports 2,200 undergrads and 700 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.