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North Castle Daily News

Outgoing Board President Rodd Berro of Armonk received the Distinguished Leadership Award from Board Chair Robert Heath, also of Armonk, at the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s 15th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic – held June 20 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase. The event, which proved to be the not-for-profit community music school’s biggest ever with a $127,000 haul, honored the organization’s Music Therapy Institute (MTI) for its 30 years of “healing,” outgoing Board President Rodd Berro, and featured several special performances.

Photo credit: Alye Bea Calevaro

Music Conservatory’s Annual Golf Classic Sets Record with $127,000
“Most Successful Event Ever” Honored Music Therapy Program and Board President

July 6, 2016
With a tally of roughly $127,000 in net proceeds, the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s 15th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic – held June 20 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase - proved to be its biggest ever. The event, which was held June 20 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, honored the organization’s Music Therapy Institute (MTI), outgoing Board President Rodd Berro, and featured several special performances.

“It was thrilling to have so many generous supporters turn out for this amazing event,” said Jean Newton, the not-for-profit community music school’s executive director. “In every respect, from the spirit of celebration to the unprecedented net proceeds – it was our most successful event ever.”

Proceeds from the event will go toward MTI, whose co-directors Tina Brescia and Lisa Sandagata were honored with the not-for-profit community music school’s very first “Power of Healing” Award. In its 30th year, MTI has become the largest provider of community-based music therapy, adapted instruction and professional development in the greater Westchester region providing private and group sessions to individuals with special needs. In 2014, the program expanded to serve military veterans with combat-related injuries through the “Healing Our Heroes” program.

The enrolled veterans along with MTI student Matthew Welling, who has studied and regularly plays with James Maxson and Donald Stevens, performed at the event together. Moments before Board Vice President Joel Breitkopf of Scarsdale and Board Treasurer Nancy Goodman of Larchmont presented the honor to Brescia and Sandagata, Matthew’s father Michael Welling of White Plains said, “Musical talent is one of the greatest forms of human expression. The therapists from the MTI give this gift every day. But being able to use music to help others learn to express themselves is one of the greatest forms of gift giving.”

He continued, “I have seen their impact on Matthew and on many, many of the other students at the MTI, big and small, young and old, musically inclined and not.”

Berro was also honored at the event for his five years as board president. The Armonk resident is president of Pegasus Asset Management Inc. in Suffern, received the Distinguished Leadership Award by last year’s recipient: Board Chairman Robert Heath. “It has been such an honor to be the president of the board for this amazing organization,” said Berro.

As has been the case for the past three “Classics,” the celebratory awards dinner also featured a Broadway revue. Broadway veterans Karen Mason and Rye’s John Treacy Egan performed as did recent Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck. Sue Anderson accompanied Egan and Yazbeck.

Overall, Breitkopf, who succeeded Berro as board president July 1, summed up by saying, “The golf outing was an incredible record-setting event for the Conservatory. We had the most amount of attendees at both golf and dinner and many folks were new to the organization, which bodes well for next year's event.”

The new board president, who is Principal of Alchemy Properties, added, “The highlight of the evening was clearly the music therapy students playing music for the crowd which was spellbound by the energy and passion of the musicians.”

“The Future is a Bright One” as Music Conservatory Appoints New Dean

May 26, 2016
Music Conservatory of Westchester, a not-for-profit community music school in White Plains, has appointed Douglas Bish as their new Dean of Students & Faculty. Dr. Bish, who returns to the Conservatory after serving on the Conservatory’s faculty from 2006-2011, has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as an academic leader, conductor, clarinetist, educator, author, lecturer, and music clinician.

“The Conservatory is one of the truly iconic institutions for community music education in the country, and I’m thrilled to be able to play a part in guiding its future,” Dr. Bish said.

Jean Newton, the Conservatory’s executive director, said Dr. Bish was selected among a pool of worthy applicants, because of his extensive background and proven leadership. His appointment comes at a pivotal moment in the school’s history, as it makes plans to expand its programming and develop new studios for technology-based classes. A grant from the New York State Council on the Arts is currently supporting design development for 3,500 square feet of unfinished space in the Conservatory’s White Plains building.  Dr. Bish will play a key role in crafting a strategic plan to set goals for the next four years, culminating in the school’s 90th anniversary year in 2019-2020.
                                                                                                                                                                        
“I can’t imagine anyone better than Doug Bish to be a partner in steering the Conservatory into the future,” said Newton, who resides in Edgemont.  “Doug has it all – he’s a real leader, a consummate musician and educator whose expertise ranges from early childhood education to post-graduate training.”

Most recently, Dr. Bish was Dean of the School of Fine, Applied and Communication Arts at the City College of San Francisco. Previously, he served as Chair of the Department of Music for the Nyack Public Schools. He has conducted professional, amateur, and student orchestras and wind ensembles around the world.  He holds a master’s degree in clarinet performance and music education from the University of Oregon, and a doctoral degree in music education and conducting from Boston University. As a Fulbright Scholar, he earned an Artist Diploma in clarinet performance from the Vienna Music Academy.

“In addition to our traditional private lesson and ensemble programs, Suzuki training, musical theatre and opera, and the work the Conservatory does in music therapy and providing needed music instruction to our veterans, I’m excited to be able to help the school develop new programs in jazz, cutting-edge instruction in music technology, performance opportunities throughout the county to showcase our talented students, and other new directions in arts education that will expand the school’s reach and importance throughout the New York Metropolitan area,” explained Dr. Bish, a former Hawthorne resident who lives in Beacon, NY with his wife, Kathy Sireno, a public school music teacher and professional flutist.

Dr. Bish also said he’s looking forward to providing opportunities for his colleagues teaching music in the public schools to have a “home for their own advanced training in new pedagogies and materials” that they can bring to their students.

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Music Conservatory Announces Honorees, Broadway Tribute for its June “Classic”
Music Therapy Institute, Board President, and Broadway’s Laura Benanti to be Honored

(White Plains – April 26, 2016) Celebrating major milestones within their organization along with a major star of the stage and screen, the Music Conservatory of Westchester has announced three honorees for its upcoming 15th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic on Monday, June 20 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase. The nonprofit community music school will honor its Music Therapy Institute, its Board President Rodd Berro, and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti. The awards will be handed out at a celebratory dinner following a day on the greens and courts.

In celebration of its 30th year, the Music Therapy Institute (MTI) will receive with its very first “Power of Healing” Award. Establish in 1986 through a $5,000 seed grant from the Westchester Community Foundation, the Institute was the first community-based music therapy program in Westchester County. Since then, it has become the largest provider of community-based music therapy, adapted instruction and professional development in the greater Westchester region providing private and group sessions to individuals with special needs. In 2014, the program expanded to serve military veterans with combat-related injuries through the “Healing Our Heroes” program. MTI students will perform following the award ceremony.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we want to thank the families and partnering agencies who continue to trust MTI to provide quality programs to those we serve,” Co-Directors Lisa Sandagata and Tina Brescia said in a shared statement.
“In addition, we are grateful for the support we receive from the Board of Trustees, Executive Director, staff and generous funders. The talented and caring music therapists on our team have been integral to the growth and success of the Music Therapy Institute. We are very proud to be part of a program, here at the Music Conservatory of Westchester that has touched the lives of so many individuals these past 30 years.”

Longtime Conservatory trustee and current Board President Rodd Berro of Armonk will also be honored at the event, receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award. Berro is president of Pegasus Asset Management Inc. in Suffern.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky, as Executive Director, to have the privilege of working with such a fabulous board president,” Jean Newton said. “Rodd is passionate about the Conservatory, dedicated, creative and generous with his time and resources.”

As has been the case for the last two “Classics,” the evening will culminate with Broadway-centric performances by talents from the Great White Way. Tony Yazbeck, who received a Tony nomination for his role in On the Town will perform, along with four-time Tony nominee Laura Benanti, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Gypsy Rose Lee in the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy. She will also be honored with the Conservatory’s Achievement in the Arts Award for her distinguished career, which includes Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Nine and Into the Woods on Broadway, and The Good Wife and Nashville on television. The actress may currently be seen in the hit CBS series Supergirl and on Broadway in She Loves Me.

Funds raised from this event will support our Music Therapy Program. The proceeds will help us to continue to provide music therapy to enhance the lives of children, adults, and U.S. military veterans with disabilities throughout the community.