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At 33rd Annual Music Educators’ Awards Night


Rochester, NY – The musicians of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) honored four area music teachers and one organization onstage in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre last Thursday, March 16, immediately prior to the 7:30 PM Stephen Hough Plays Brahms concert led by Music Director Andreas Delfs. Founded in 1988, the annual Music Educators’ Awards (not awarded in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID) work to strengthen the relationship between area music educators and the musicians of the RPO.


“Through their tireless efforts, these music educators have inspired, challenged, and encouraged students to develop their musical talents and achieve their full potential,” acknowledges RPO Lisk Morris Foundation Vice President of Education Chair Barbara Brown. “Beyond their skill in teaching music, the recipients demonstrate a deep commitment to their students’ overall well-being. They have gone above and beyond to foster a positive and inclusive learning environment where every student feels valued and supported, and we are thrilled to recognize them for their contributions to music education.”


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

·         Laurie Kennedy: Instrumental Music, Strings (K-12)

·         Michael Struzik: Instrumental Music, Band (K-12)

·         Patricia Welch:  Instrumental Music, Band (K-12)

·         Ellice McQuay: Choral Director (K-12)

·         The Hochstein School: Special Award


Laurie Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Music Education from the University of Michigan. Since graduating over 35 years ago, she has taught all levels of music, from first-grade classroom and beginning Suzuki lessons to Senior High Orchestra and Chorus in the Penfield and West Irondequoit School Districts. In 2022, Laurie retired from Cobbles Elementary School, where she had the honor of starting students on their musical paths. She was a middle and high school orchestra teacher in West Irondequoit for 12 years and conducted the Asbury First United Methodist Church orchestra for 25 years. A member of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra for 33 years, Laurie has relished the opportunity to make music with others, including several former students, while keeping her own skills fresh. Five years ago, she took on the role of coordinator of the PSO Young Artist Competition, where she organizes auditions and communications with the next generation of amazing musicians. In addition to her work with the Penfield Symphony, Laurie also stays busy with a small private studio.


Michael Struzik is a 1988 graduate of the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. He retired after 26 years from Brighton High School in 2020, where his responsibilities included directing the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Jazz Band, as well as teaching brass and percussion lessons to students in grades 9-12. He also taught music theory and advanced-placement music theory and directed the pit orchestra for the annual spring musical. Michael has conducted All-County and honor band festivals in several counties in New York State as well as in Virginia. He’s a past recipient of the University of Rochester’s Excellence in Secondary Education Award, the 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the New York State Band Directors Association, and the 2019 Helen Hosmer Excellence in Teaching Award from the Crane School of Music. Michael is an All State-certified adjudicator and is also an adjudicator for major organization festivals. During the summer, he teaches at Crane Youth Music in Potsdam, New York.  He also performs regularly with the Orchestra of Northern New York and the Penfield Symphony Orchestra. He’s a member of NYSSMA, MENC, and the International Trombone Association, and has served on the executive board of the New York State Band Director’s Association in a variety of positions, currently as its Executive Director. He is also a Past President of the Monroe County School Music Association. 


Patricia Welch is celebrating her 30th year of teaching 7-12th grade Instrumental Music (band) – 28 of them with the West Irondequoit Central School District. She received her bachelor’s in Music Education and Performance and her master’s in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. She has served as Public Relations Coordinator and President of the Monroe County School Music Association and is a NYSSMA adjudicator for Solo and Ensemble Festivals. She is a member of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, and she serves as the K-12 representative on the official Standard Literature List Committee for the ITEA. Patty takes pride in her years of collaborations with the music therapy team at the Mary Cariola Children’s Center and with the Dagara Music Center in Accra, Ghana. She maintains an active private euphonium and tuba studio and has performed with the Vermont Wind Symphony, the Greater Rochester Music Educator’s Wind Ensemble, the Eastman Community School Music Educator’s Wind Ensemble, the Central Winds Music Educator’s Wind Ensemble, the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic, and the Penfield Symphony Orchestra.  


Ellice McQuay is in her fifteenth year of teaching at Eastridge High School in East Irondequoit, where she directs the Concert Choir and Chorale and teaches IB Music 11 and 12. During her time at Eastridge, she has received a Board of Education award for her dedication to her students and the Golden Apple Teacher Award through News Channel 8. Outside of Eastridge, Ellice has music-directed students through Webster Theatre Guild, Brighton Summer Arts, Lyric Voices Up, and JCC SummerStage. Last summer, she arranged her first, full musical score for a new show called Rise – which focuses on female couriers who resisted the Holocaust – that premiered at the JCC. She is so thankful that she can encourage her students through music and be inspired by them every day. You can follow her teaching adventures on Instagram @Ms.McQuay.Music.


Established in 1920 as The David Hochstein Memorial Music School, today The Hochstein School serves students from a 12-county region surrounding Rochester with offerings in music, dance, and expressive arts (music, art, and dance therapy). The School was founded to commemorate the genius of the late David Hochstein – an acclaimed violinist who was killed in action in World War I – and opened in the Hochstein family home on Joseph Avenue to 250 eager students on January 2, 1920. Hochstein now serves approximately 3,500 students each year, many supported by need-based tuition assistance. Hochstein employs a faculty of more than 120 specialists in music, dance, and therapeutic arts who hold advanced degrees and are experienced teachers as well as active performers. The school continues its commitment to the Rochester community by offering a variety of free and low-cost concerts and performances in the Hochstein Performance Hall throughout the year. More than 100,000 audience members come to Hochstein each year to attend concerts, student solo recitals, and dance and music therapy department recitals, as well as events presented by other area arts and cultural organizations. Hochstein also collaborates with WXXI and the High Falls Business Association to present free concerts each summer at Hochstein at High Falls. For more information, visit


ABOUT THE RPO: The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its origins in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Andreas Delfs was named music director in 2020 following notable RPO music directors Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, now in his 29th season, has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO. The RPO reaches more than 15,000 youth through its specific education programs.