By Douglas W. Wesner
During its storied 154 history, the Ringgold Band has entertained eight generations of Berks Countians with its unique and professional musical renditions.
The group of musicians established a new award this year to advance two of its major objectives: fostering the musical talents of young people and keeping quality band music alive in Reading and Berks County.
The first recipient of the Young Artist Award is Exeter Township High School Senior Amy Dawe, a pianist and flautist who has played an integral part in Exeter's music programs since elementary school.
Ringgold Band director James Seidel said a panel of judges, consisting of Ringgold musicians, reviewed the talents and personal attributes of applicants from five counties during solo performances and interviews.
"Amy's flute solo and interview best exuded the confidence, poise and ability needed to play before a large audience," Seidel said. Applicants had to demonstrate a desire to pursue a teaching career in music in order to qualify as a finalist for the award.
"We presented the Young Artist Award for the first time in 2006 to help foster the development of budding young instrumental musicians with the desire to teach others," Seidel said. He added that one of the reasons the Ringgold Band has existed for so long is the fact that many young budding musicians have been encouraged to play with the Ringgold family.
As a result of the award, Dawe, the daughter of William and Linda Dawe of Strawberry Run, will be the featured instrumental soloist at Ringgold's Anniversary Concert on Sunday, Apr. 9 at 3 p.m. in the Scottish Rite Cathedral of West Reading.
A cash prize has also been awarded to defray some of the cost of Dawe's first year of college. In the fall she will begin studying music and education at Mansfield University.
"I was a little nervous at first," Dawe said, "but the judges kept the audition very low key and made me feel very comfortable."
Dawe's enthusiasm bubbled over as she described her "multi-faceted" musical experience at Exeter, which ultimately led to winning the Young Artist Award.
She has been active with the school band and orchestra on the elementary, junior and senior high levels, often accompanying the chorus and school musicals on the piano and flute.
"It is a wonderful music program," Dawe said. "The instructors [including Mansfield alumni Andrea Brumbach and Seidel] wanted you to have fun while having a great learning experience."
Amy also works with Seidel, helping to set up rehearsals and with instrumental sectionals.
To further prepare for a career in education, Dawe works as an aid to junior high reading teacher Tina Masarak. She has also amassed over 400 hours of public service. Normally seniors are required to do 30 hours in order to graduate.
Admittedly, Dawe loves to stay busy by diligently working on her studies, practicing her instruments and logging additional public service hours for her church.
Recently, she was nominated for the Prudential and Presidential Volunteer Service awards and is persuing scholarship assistance from the Reading Music Foundation.
Seidel said he had no doubt Amy will make a wonderful teacher and be a credit to the profession.