By Barb Van Atta
The public is invited today (Nov. 1) to celebrate the recipients of the Broome County Arts Council’s Heart of the Arts and Lifetime Achievement Awards. The ninth annual presentation ceremony and celebration will begin at 6:30 p.m. in BCAC’s gallery space adjacent to its office on the fifth floor of Stephens Square, 81 State St., Binghamton. The theme of this free community celebration is “The Arts Connect … .” For more information, call the arts council at 723-4620 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two 2012 Heart of the Arts recipients, nominated for recent contributions to the Broome County cultural landscape, are Ron Sall, chairman of Binghamton’s annual JulyFest celebration, and Julie Deemie, creator of Johnson City’s Carousel Day. For more about them, see http://tinyurl.com/d5zhwny in BAMirror. The two Lifetime Achievement winners, who will be honored for their long-term impact on the arts in Broome County, are Jan De Angelo and Terry Burke. For more about them, read on:
Jan De Angelo
Jan De Angelo is a choreographer, director, pianist, accompanist, music educator, composer, actor and singer. In his spare time, he also is a personal trainer and corrective exercise therapist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He and his wife, Shannon, have four children and live in Endicott.
A music graduate of Binghamton University, De Angelo is working on his Masters in Voice at Shenandoah University in Virginia. He has taught music, theater, dance and circus skills, including flying trapeze and tightrope, at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton and is the music director at St. James Church in Johnson City.
BAMirror asked De Angelo about his reaction to learning that he was a HOTA winner. “I was in total disbelief when Sharon (Ball, BCAC executive director) called. Then, after jumping up and down and saying a few unprintable expletives, I called my wife. I was surprised to know that she knew I had been nominated. Apparently everyone knew about the nomination but me. Even my kids knew. But I am so very humbled by it .I can’t thank my peers enough for this.”
This year’s HOTA celebration notes the connections that the arts have with all other aspects of our life. Sall and Deemie both are being honored for recognizing the role of the arts in revitalizing a community, a concept also important to De Angelo. “I think that, when a community stops trying to create and re-create itself, it falls inward and collapses,” he said recently. “I think the arts community is what has kept Binghamton and the whole Triple Cities alive after all the industries left.
“We, as an arts community, continued to try to create beauty and raise spirits and give the community something to be proud of. I think we have so many creative forces in this area that the future looks pretty bright. … We have so much to offer here. The natural beauty and the created beauty make this area a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”
As a teacher as well as a performer, De Angelo has long recognized the struggle to prove the arts’ continued relevance in education. “The arts have always been the first programs to be cut and will continue to be. That is unfortunate, but true. This is a cultural issue, not an educational one. We pay professional athletes millions of dollars. We pay art and music professionals far less. A musician in an orchestra or a singer on a stage has had to practice every bit as much as an athlete in a sport. But our culture is conditioned to place its values on sports, not arts. Until minds change, it will always be a matter of proving our relevance, whether it is in education, or in society at large.”
According to his HOTA nominator, “For Terry Burke, music is life, and his life is sharing music.” For 44 years, Burke has worked in every aspect of the music and entertainment business. The one constant: his “steadfast dedication to serving the Greater Binghamton community.”
Burke’s lifelong career was set in motion when he picked up a guitar as a young boy. By age 14, he was playing in bands, and just three years later, he launched his own business, the Music Workshop in Endicott. “This was a labor of love that he ran for the next 30 years,” according to his HOTA nomination. “He provided an outlet for others to discover and enjoy music by selling and renting instruments, teaching lessons and doing sound for local bands.”
Burke eventually became known in Broome County as the go-to tech guy. For 15 years, he served as technical director of First Night. More recently, he has done sound and lighting design for every type of occasion from weddings and graduations to local festivals and church gatherings to major events for organizations such as UHS, IBM and Binghamton University.
“Those who know Terry … know him as a kind, hard-working, easy-going guy who is incredibly talented but, even more so, generous to a fault. He has done sound for four U.S. presidents and lit up office buildings for senators, but he’s also done gratis lighting and sound for small churches in need and given young kids of limited means a break on buying their first instrument. It’s not just his talent that defines his achievement—it’s the kind of person he is.”
BCAC created the Heart of the Arts Awards in 2004 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts in Broome County. Award winners are nominated by the public and chosen by the ballot votes of BCAC’s membership and board of directors.