• EYSO Recognizes Music Educators of the Year

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    March 01, 2018
    Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO) will present two outstanding music educators with its annual Music Educator of the Year Award on Sunday, March 11 when EYSO presents its March concert, Water, on Sunday, March 11, with performances at 2:00, 4:30, and 7:30 pm. in the ECC Arts Center Blizzard Theatre, 1700 Spartan Drive.
    The leadership of music educators Michael Kasper and Beth Mazur Wood will be recognized from the stage at each of the three performances, and at a reception from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. in the lobby of the theater.
    Kasper has served as band director for nine years at Carpentersville Middle School, where he directs the seventh and eighth grade concert bands, which have more than doubled in enrollment in recent years.  He also directs two auditioned jazz bands. With colleague and noted jazz educator Mark Bettcher, Kasper has grown the CMS Jazz Program from non-existent to what has been described as a "treasure of the school." The jazz ensembles perform regularly throughout the District 300 community and throughout Chicagoland.
    Beth Mazur Wood has taught strings in District 300 for seventeen years. Currently at Carpentersville Middle School, Wood conducts the 7th and 8th grade orchestras. With a strong interest in string pedagogy, Beth has also overseen tremendous growth at CMS, both in student participation and artistic excellence.  Beth is an alumnus of the EYSO, having played in its top group, the Youth Symphony, during her high school years, and also served as conductor of both its PrImo and Prelude Orchestras for many years.
    "It's unusual for us to give this award to two teachers in one year, but this is a dynamic duo," said EYSO Artistic Director Randal Swiggum.  "Together, they strongly model collaboration for their students, and they have gotten hundreds of kids excited about music—and not just the joy of playing an instrument at a high level, but also the rewards of hard work and commitment.  They are making a difference."
    For tickets to Water, call (847) 622-0300 or go to tickets.elgin.edu.
    EYSO serves nearly 400 students from 70 Chicagoland communities and has a national reputation for providing students with an engaging musical experience and a comprehensive learning environment of curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and collaboration. Students explore a thematic curriculum each season – one which helps students develop artistically and technically, and prepare them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizen. This approach has led hundreds of alumni to successful careers as professional musicians, educators, and strong leaders in every field.    
    EYSO will host Springboard 2018 (its annual gala) Saturday, April 14, at the Elgin Country Club. For information about Springboard 2018, or EYSO auditions and performances, visit https://www.eyso.org or call (847) 841-7700.    


    Michael Kasper
    Michael Kasper rarely finds his desk chair. During the school day, he can be found energetically participating in his two passions: education and music. He has started his school day for the past nine years at Carpentersville Middle School where he leads two auditioned jazz bands and the seventh and eighth grade concert bands. Working with jazz educator oracle Mark Bettcher, Michael has grown the CMS Jazz Program from non-existent to a treasure of the school. The jazz ensembles perform regularly throughout the District 300 community and around the Chicagoland area. When Michael started at CMS, the concert band program numbered 80 students in the combined seventh and eighth grade ensemble. As of the 2017-2018 school year, there are over 200 students in five curricular ensembles which meet daily at the school. Michael has had the pleasure of working under the two best principals in the State of Illinois, Dr. Stephanie Ramstad and Dr. Asia Gurney, who are equally responsible for the fruition of music within the school. Michael often goes to them with about 100 new ideas every year, and these two wonderful administrators listen to every single one.  In 2017, the CMS 8th Grade Band was selected to perform a demonstration clinic at the Illinois Music Educators Conference.  The performance included a newly commissioned piece titled “The Dawnland,” written by Joni Greene. Throughout the composition process, the students of the CMS 8th Grade Band were connected with Ms. Greene, meaning their ideas have been integrated throughout the piece. Michael also keeps a private French horn studio in the DeKalb and Sycamore area. Many of his students have been or are currently involved in the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his journey, Michael has been lucky to study under great teachers and musicians, including Lisa Feuerbach, Laura Fairfield, Chris Nicholas, Scott Mertens, Ken Goodman, Ken Tonaki, Kazimirez Machala, Gerald Wood, Paul Blackstone, Dr. Peter Griffin, Dr. Joseph Manfredo, Don Spencer, Cindy Anderson, Brian Wis, Jim Stombres, and his parents, Robert Kasper and Mary Kasper. Michael is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the Illinois Music Educators Association, the Illinois Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance Committee, and holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northern Illinois University. Finally, Michael is eternally grateful to his colleague, Beth Mazur Wood, who has patiently guided and supported him and his students for the past nine years, and when needed, has made sure he locates his desk chair.
    Beth Mazur
    Wood The 2017-2018 school year marks the seventeenth year Beth Wood has been working with students through music in Community Unit School District 300. Currently at Carpentersville Middle School, Beth conducts the 7th and 8th grade orchestras. Teaching string pedagogy has always been an area of interest to her, leading her to serve as Conductor of the Primo and Prelude Orchestras for many years with the EYSO. She has many fond memories of her time working in the EYSO family. Beth was first introduced to the EYSO as a high school student and member of the Youth Symphony, then called the Elgin Area Youth Orchestra. Returning to the EYSO as a conductor was exciting for her and she now enjoys attending the concerts as an audience member. She is very grateful to Randy Swiggum and Mark Bettcher for their continuing mentorship and guidance and for seeing the potential in her as a young teacher. Beth is currently a member of the Illinois Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) Project and belongs to the National Association for Music Education, the Illinois Music Education Association, and the American String Teachers Association. She started her musical journey as a small child, learning to play the violin with Betty Haag-Kuhnke, who is now her daughter’s violin instructor. As a member of the performing group, she toured locally and internationally to Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Italy where she played for dignitaries including Pope John Paul II, Daniel Barenboim and the President of Kazakhstan. 
    During her undergraduate studies, Beth was selected to be part of the Apprentice Program with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, working with EYSO founder and former ESO Music Director, Robert Hanson. She earned her Bachelor of Music Degree in Education from the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University where she studied with Cyrus Forough, and later earned a Master of Arts Degree in School Leadership from Concordia University.
    Beth is privileged to continue to work with the amazing students of Carpentersville Middle School and District 300. She has also enjoyed working with students in Illinois and Wisconsin as a guest conductor and adjudicator. She would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Asia Gurney and Dr. Stephanie Ramstad, current and former Principals at Carpentersville Middle School, for their continued support, guidance, collaboration, for creating opportunities, and for challenging her to do her best for the students. Grateful to her parents Sue & Gary Mazur, Beth also thanks her husband Brian, and daughter Madeline for their support, encouragement, and from time to time, helping with ‘school projects.’
    Beth is pleased to be selected for this honor along with her colleague and friend Mike Kasper, and would like to thank him for often being the instigator of their many adventures!
    Kari Christensen, Dir of Development and Community Engagement
    (847) 841-7700
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