SUNY Fredonia alumna again named a Finalist for the Music Educator Award from the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum

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Lynne Ruda

Lynne (Bona) Ruda, '07, '09

Editor's Note: It has been announced that the GRAMMY ceremony has been postponed until March 14.

Fredonia School of Music alumna Lynne (Bona) Ruda has again been named one of 10 Finalists nationwide for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum.

The Lancaster (N.Y.) Central School District music educator is one of the more than 1,989 music educators from throughout the country nominated for the honor. The winner will be named during GRAMMY Week, and will receive a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school’s music program. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants.

Mrs. Ruda earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fredonia in 2007 and 2009, both in Music Education, and as a cellist earned the coveted Performer’s Certificate from the School of Music.

The Fredonia School of Music’s Music Education program currently has a 100 percent placement of its graduates.

Mrs. Ruda’s news comes on the heels of the announcement of GRAMMY nominations in recording categories for several Fredonia School of Music faculty and alumni. Read the related article.

Mrs. Ruda has served as the Director of Orchestras at Lancaster High School since 2008. Under her leadership, the high school orchestra program has tripled in size. In a typical year, annual programming includes a Masterworks concert, Concerto Concert and Guest Artist concert. Her orchestra students are Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Symphony Scholars where they regularly attend concerts (currently virtual concerts) and participate in ‘behind the scenes’ activities at the philharmonic. This year, her students have worked to show another side of music, performing in virtual concerts and creating musical projects using technology. Mrs. Ruda is the conductor of the Greater Buffalo Youth String Orchestra, and is also an Assistant Faculty Member of the Bravo Workshop.

As an active cellist in the area and a member of the Buffalo Musicians Association - Local 92, Mrs. Ruda has performed throughout the Western New York region, including with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra and the Clarence Summer Orchestra. She has also performed with The Who and Weird Al Yankovic in concert.

Mrs. Ruda is an active member of the Erie County Music Educators Association, having co-chaired the Senior High All County Orchestra since 2011. She currently serves on the ECMEA Executive Board and is a co-chair of the ECMEA Instrumental Committee. She is also a member of the New York State School Music Association and National Association for Music Education.

In addition to her professional pursuits, Mrs. Ruda is a Trustee for the Village of Lancaster and the Director of Economic Development. She is currently a candidate for Mayor in the upcoming village elections. She serves on the board of directors for the Lancaster Opera House, and is an active volunteer firefighter for the Village of Lancaster, where she is proud to be the first female driver and interior firefighter in the Eagle Hose Company.

At Lancaster High School, Mrs. Ruda serves as the advisor of the First Responders Club - a club devoted to bringing first-hand First Responder experiences to high school students. She also runs the String Chamber Ensembles. Mrs. Ruda encourages her orchestra students to give back to the community through their music and in a typical year, her students can be found performing in village shops and Lancaster nursing homes. For the last two years, the Lancaster High School Orchestra program has collaborated with Buffalo String Works, an organization that provides music lessons to refugee and immigrant students in the Buffalo area. 

The Music Educator award, as described by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, “recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

The first-ever Music Educator Award presented in 2014 by the Recording Academy was bestowed upon Fredonia School of Music alumnus Kent Knappenberger, ’87, a teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School.

Fredonia School of Music Interim Director Dan Ihasz noted, “Lynne was an outstanding student musician here at Fredonia for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is a fine cellist and teacher, but more importantly, an incredibly warm and giving person. She is truly a gem and I couldn't be prouder of her!”

Dr. Katherine Levy, coordinator of Music Education at Fredonia, said, "Lynne is an outstanding and innovative person who strives to provide the best possible learning opportunities for her students! She excels as artist and teacher, and she is never daunted, even when the odds are against her."

Dr. Christian Bernhard, another Music Education faculty member, noted, “It is no surprise that Ms. Ruda is a GRAMMY Finalist again. She works tirelessly as an advocate for her students and for the profession of music education. Even during the current pandemic climate, Lynne rises to the challenge of successful teaching and music making.”

Mrs. Ruda was a Finalist in 2020 for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award, and also named a New York State 2020 Woman of Distinction. She was a recipient of the 2019 Buffalo Philharmonic/Erie County Music Educators Association Award for Excellence in Music Education and received the 2020 Agent of Change Award from the Lancaster Chamber’s Women in Business Gala. In 2018, she was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce, and she received the 2016 “Chief’s Award” from the Lancaster Fire Department and was the 2015 “Member of the Year.”

Bringing more recognition to Fredonia, School of Music faculty Drs. Nick Weiser and Vernon Huff were named Quarterfinalists for the 2021 award. Fredonia alumni Quarterfinalists from schools in New York State include Lawrence Dubill, ’90, who teaches at Hamburg (N.Y.) High School, and Matt Pendrak, ’01, who teaches at Amherst (N.Y.) Central High School.

Legacy applicants for the 2021 award include Elisabeth “Betsy” Stambach-Fuller, ’07, who teaches at South Glens Falls High School, and Ryan Mack, who teaches at P.S.52K Sheepshead Bay.

Alumnus Andrew Bennett, ’08, who leads the music program at Fredonia Central School, was named a Semifinalist for the Music Educator Award in 2020.

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