Rolling out the red carpet for high school musicals
“It’s a great event for the community,” says Louise Copeland, coordinator for the Mancini Awards at Geneva College. Copeland is also the director of parent and church relations and an associate professor of music. Along with a panel of six judges, she attends the high school musicals throughout the year, evaluating the best lead roles, best performances, best choreography and more. The judges tally their results at the end of the year and announce their list of nominees to the local media. “It gives students the opportunity to perform for each other, and students who receive nominations can include that as an honor on their resumes.”
In addition to fostering a sense of achievement in these students, the Mancini Awards open a door to future opportunity. “Each student that participates — they don’t have to be a winner or a nominee — is eligible to receive a $1,000 first-year scholarship to Geneva College,” Copeland says.
A week before the event, the college hosts a nominees reception for students, parents, judges and directors. “All the students receive certificates and have their photos taken,” Copeland says. “And it gives the judges a chance to congratulate the nominees individually.”
The Mancini Awards program raises awareness and appreciation for the arts in the greater Pittsburgh area, and the reception always includes a performance from a prominent local artist. “Last year, Laura Cottrill, former Mancini Award winner and now a professional musician in western Pennsylvania, spoke and sang for the group,” Copeland says. “Among others, we have hosted Etta Cox, a noted jazz singer from Pittsburgh.” Aliquippa native and popular musician B.E. Taylor will attend the event this year and sing a soulful rendition of Mancini's classic song "Moon River."
This year’s program will feature performers from Aliquippa High School; Ambridge Area High School; Beaver Area High School; Beaver County Christian School; Big Beaver Falls High School; Center Area High School; Freedom Area; Hopewell Area High School; New Brighton High School; Quigley Catholic High School; Riverside High School; Rochester Area High School; Shenango High School and Western Beaver High School.
The son of Italian immigrants, Henry Mancini (1924-1994) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The Academy Award winning composer, conductor and arranger is best known for his television and film scores, which include the soundtrack for The Pink Panther. Mancini won a record number of Grammy Awards, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award after his death. Mancini’s grandson, Luca, will travel from Southern California for this year’s event at Geneva College.
For more information about the Henry Mancini Musical Theatre Awards, click here.