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Area Music Educators to Receive Awards by RPO Musicians

Rochester, NY – Five local music educators will be honored for contributions to their students, schools and communities with the 20th annual RPO Musicians’ Awards for Outstanding Music Educators at the RPO Philharmonics concert on Thursday, April 17.  The awards will be given immediately following intermission on that concert, designated as “Music Educators Night at the RPO.”

The 2008 award winners and their categories are:

  • Lisa (Bronstein) Brumberger, Instrumental Music-Band (Scribner Road School, Penfield)
  • Cindy L. Baldwin, Instrumental Music-Strings (John Kennedy Elementary, Robert Morris School, Batavia)
  • Brenda Nitsch, Choral (Webster Thomas High School, Webster)
  • Sonya J. Zingo, Classroom Specialist (Iroquois School, West Irondequoit)
  • Maryellen Giese, Special Award

Winners’ biographies follow release.

“The students in the schools of the Rochester area are very fortunate to benefit from the expertise and dedication of many fine music educators,” said Nancy Hunt, Chair of the 2008 Music Educators Award Committee.  “My colleagues and I feel honored to recognize publicly the significant accomplishments of this year’s Awards recipients.”

Founded in 1988, the RPO Musicians’ Awards program works to strengthen the relationship between area music educators and the musicians of the RPO.  The awards commend those teachers who have shown both educational and musical excellence, and recognize the positive influence they have on the musicians and audiences of the future.  Administrators, educators, parents and students submit nominations that are then reviewed by a committee comprised of RPO musicians and community educators.  For more information, please go to:

Tickets to the Thursday, April 17 Philharmonics concert at 8 p.m. – with Christopher Seaman conducting the RPO in works by Mozart and Strauss – are available at, through the box office (585) 454-2100 or at any Wegmans location.  RPO Box Office hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.).  Wegmans is open 24/7.  A convenience fee may apply.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. 


Lisa A. (Bronstein) Brumberger, Instrumental Music – Band Award
This Penfield, NY native and clarinetist received her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and her master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.  Her 23 years as music educator have included teaching at all levels of instrumental and classroom music, acting as department coordinator for the East Irondequoit Schools and directing a band program at the Hillel School in Brighton.  Ms. Brumberger currently teaches instrumental and classroom music at Scribner Road Elementary School in Penfield.  She is actively involved with the “Arts-In-Education” program, coordinating and integrating artist residencies and performances into the classroom.

Cindy L. Baldwin, Instrumental Music – Strings Award
Completing her 30th year in education, Cindy has spent the last 24 years with the Batavia City School District – the only one in Genesee County to offer a string program to public school students.  Ms. Baldwin received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton, her master’s of music education from Ithaca College and eventually a Certificate of Advanced Study in educational administration from SUNY Brockport.  She is currently the music department chairperson and director of the Elementary Suzuki String Program, directing beginning and advanced elementary string orchestras.   Ms. Baldwin is a New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) certified adjudicator and is currently the immediate past president for the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education.

Brenda Nitsch, Choral Music
At Webster Thomas High School, Brenda Nitsch conducts the choirs and ensembles, directs the musical and serves as music department Lead Teacher.  She co-coordinates the Monroe County School Music Association’s All-County Festival SATB Choir and directs an annual summer creative arts camp.  Ms. Nitsch also contributes as guest clinician/presenter at area college workshops and NYSSMA Conventions.  She holds a bachelor of music degree from Marywood University, a master of science in music education from Mansfield University and a master of music in vocal performance from the Eastman School of Music.

Sonya J. Zingo, Classroom Music Specialist
Sonya J. Zingo has taught in the West Irondequoit School District since 1985.  During her career, she has taught all levels from the first grade classroom to sixth grade instrumental lessons, and from band programs to the senior high school chorus.  At the Iroquois School in West Irondequoit, she currently teaches both classroom and choral music to her fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.  She is an active member of the West Irondequoit Teachers’ Association and the recipient of its Sandra Baxter Service Award.  Mrs. Zingo received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music.

Maryellen Giese (Special Award)
Maryellen Giese currently conducts the Hochstein Youth Singers, the Hochstein Singers and Hochstein Chorale. She also directs Youth Choirs and the Handbell Choir at First Presbyterian Church and the “Sweden Senior Singers,” both in Brockport.  She is an Adjunct Professor at Nazareth College and is also a singer and a board member of the Rochester Oratorio Society.  Ms. Giese received her undergraduate degree in music education from Nazareth College. She is retired from 31 years at Brockport Central School District where she served as a vocal music teacher, directing choirs and vocal ensembles at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.  A member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Music Educators National Conference (MENC), she has multiple listings in “Who’s Who Among American Educators.” 


Note:  Interview and photos of winners are available.