Back to Posts

RPO Musicians Honor Five Area Music Educators

Rochester, N.Y.; April 10, 2006 – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will honor the winners of the 18th annual RPO Musicians’ Awards for Outstanding Music Educators during the intermission of the Thursday, May 4 Philharmonics Series concert.

The award winners are:

  • Classroom Music – Kathleen Coughlin of Willink Middle School, Webster
  • Band Director – Kevin Coughlin of Wilson Foundation Academy, Rochester
  • Orchestra Director – Cheryl Guth of Brighton High School, Brighton
  • Choral Director – Kathryn White of Byron-Bergen Middle/High School, Byron-Bergen
  • A special award will go to James Orgar of French Road School, Brighton.

“Many of us in the RPO were inspired by a special music educator when we were younger, and these mentors were, to a great extent, responsible for where we are today,” said violinist Nancy Hunt, Chair of the 2006 Music Educators Award Committee. “Our five award winners demonstrate the utmost in dedication and professionalism to their students, schools and communities. We feel honored to showcase the talents and accomplishments of these exemplary individuals.”

The RPO Musicians’ Awards program, the first in the country administered by professional performing musicians, was created in 1988 to enhance the understanding between the musicians of the RPO and the music educators in Rochester and the surrounding nine-county area, and to recognize and honor outstanding music educators through the presentation of annual awards.

For tickets to the May 4 “Festivals and Favorites” concert with Music Director Christopher Seaman conducting the RPO with pianist Horacio Gutiérrez, call the RPO Box Office at (585) 454-2100, order tickets online 24/7 at or stop by any Wegmans Video Department. RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). The Wegmans Video Department is open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. A convenience fee may apply.

Kathleen Coughlin, Willink Middle School, Webster – Classroom Music Award
Kathleen Coughlin currently teaches at Willink Middle School in Webster. She has been an officer or chairperson for many organizations including New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), Greater Rochester Chapter of American Orff-Schulwerk Association, National Association for Music Education and Webster Teachers Association. Ms. Coughlin was one of the founding members of NYSSMA’s Classroom Music Committee in which she was instrumental in developing and promoting professional development opportunities for classroom music educators throughout the state. In addition to Orff Level I certification, she holds degrees from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and Nazareth College and a certificate in educational administration from SUNY-Brockport.

Kevin Coughlin, Wilson Foundation Academy, Rochester – Band Director
Kevin Coughlin has spent his entire teaching career teaching music in the Rochester City School District where he has been recognized for excellence in teaching. He has served in numerous capacities with many professional organizations including NYSSMA, New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA), Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Eastman Pathways/William Warfield Scholarship Program and the Monroe County School Music Association. NYSBDA has honored him with its Distinguished Service Award, and the Eastman Community Music School also has honored Mr. Coughlin with a scholarship named after him. Kevin is a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, and also holds a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester.

Cheryl Guth, Brighton High School, Brighton – Orchestra Director
Cheryl Guth is in her eighteenth year teaching strings in the Brighton Central School District, where she is responsible for lessons and orchestra. One of Ms. Guth’s focuses as a string teacher is helping the students create their own music through composition and improvisation. In Brighton, she has taught both elementary and high school levels. Before coming to Rochester, she taught for nine years in Pennsylvania. Ms. Guth earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Kathryn White, Byron-Bergen Middle/High School, Byron-Bergen – Choral Director
Kathryn White is the middle/high school choral director at Byron-Bergen Central School District, and has been president of her county music organization and still serves as their choral librarian. She has chaired numerous solo and ensemble festivals both at the county level and for NYSSMA. In 1999, she was one of the recipients of the annual University of Rochester’s Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. Ms. White started studying piano at age five, and by the age of 12 was her church’s organist and choir director. She received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Fredonia in 1970 and began her teaching career in the Attica school system where – although primarily a choral teacher – she taught all aspects of music including beginning instrumental students.

James Orgar, French Road School, Brighton – Special Award
James Orgar has worked for the Brighton Central School District for 36 years. He currently teaches brass and percussion instruments and conducts the Blue Band at the French Road Elementary School. Jim has held numerous positions in the Monroe County School Music Association and New York State School Music Association including a term as President in both organizations. He has also served as NYSSMA’s Director of Adjudicators and editor of the Trombone Solo section of the NYSSMA Manual, as well as a member of their Sectional Festival Committee, Finance Committee, Diversity Committee, All-State Selection Committee and Executive Council. Mr. Orgar holds a bachelor’s degree from Houghton College and a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Celebrating its 83rd season in 2005-06, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to perform and present a broad range of quality music; attract, entertain and educate audiences with superior musical performances; maintain and build the Orchestra’s national reputation; and enhance the reputation of the Rochester community as a place in which to live, work, play, visit and learn.