Dear Friend of SFCV
San Francisco Classical Voice's editors and staff spent an inspiring week reading the numerous essays and letters submitted in SFCV's first annual Music Educator Award competition. The winner, chosen unanimously by the editors and staff, is Todd Wedge, choral director at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. First runner-up, with an impressive 27 nominations, was Nick Vasallo of CSU East Bay and Gavilan College. Second runner up was Arkadi Serper of the Crowden School in Berkeley.
SFCV will sponsor Mr. Wedge's nomination to the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator Award (which offers cash prizes of $1000 to $10,000). San Francisco School of the Arts will receive complimentary SFCV Education membership for its music program. (Be sure to look for an article featuring Mr. Wedge in the next installment of SFCV's Kids and Families Newsletter next Thursday.)
All of us were touched by the sincerity of feeling of the letters of nomination, but not surprised. It is evidence of the deep devotion that great music teachers inspire, and the reason SFCV inaugurated this award. The nominations came from parents, co-workers, but mainly from students, including one 89-year-old woman who went to Prof. Vasallo for help writing a classical memorial piece for her daughter. The many stories we read about Mr. Wedge showed the variety of ways great teachers make a difference all by themselves:
He organizes the production of our CDs, signs us up for choral festivals, finds us summer camp information, organizes new classes for the department, and he even came in to class a few weeks ago with the news that he had arranged for us to perform at Carnegie Hall this January.
You can often find him giving students support with schoolwork, college applications, lunch rehearsals, and school clubs like the Gay Straight Alliance (he even helped us make rainbow pudding on his lunch break.)
I have witnessed his commitment first hand over and over, whether it's giving up his lunch hour so a lonely student can eat with him, shelling $5 out of his own pocket so someone isn't left out during a pizza party, or - and this is one of my favorites - coming in on a weekend to repaint his classroom.
Mr. Wedge took a choral program that was in need of direction and turned it around, inspiring the devotion of his singers in the process. Mr. Vasallo has taken on the incredibly challenging job of connecting inexperienced college students to a larger musical tradition, unlocking their own creativity in the process. Mr. Serper has spent 20 years as the central figure in Crowden's piano and music theory education, inspiring hundreds of students, many of whom have gone on to professional success as musicians and composers. SFCV salutes their contribution to their communities.