Music Educator Awards
Since our first concert for young people in 1941, the North Carolina Symphony has been committed to educating and inspiring the next generation of musicians and music lovers. Throughout the year, we work hand-in-hand with outstanding music educators who help carry out the Symphony’s programs in their schools and work every day to build their students’ musical skills and appreciation.
The North Carolina Symphony’s annual Music Educator Awards recognize outstanding teachers who make a lasting difference in the lives of students of all abilities and backgrounds; serve the community in an exemplary manner as a role model in music education; inspire students to reach high musical standards; and instill a love for music in children.
Honorees receive monetary awards that are generously supported through an anonymous annual gift.
Know a music educator in your community who should be recognized for their work?
Nominations for the 2020/21 school year can be made now using this form. Nominated teachers will be contacted to provide supporting recommendations from students, colleagues and/or members of the community.
For more information, contact Jason Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.789.5461.
Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator
The Maxine Swalin Award for Outstanding Music Educator is named for Maxine Swalin who—together with her husband Dr. Benjamin Swalin, NCS music director from 1939-1972—raised funds to establish the Symphony’s children’s concert division in 1945. Set in motion by Ms. Swalin, the Symphony’s music education program is now the most extensive of any symphony orchestra, engaging 52,000 fourth and fifth graders each year though free Education Concerts and offering opportunities at every grade level, preschool through college.
2019/20 Honoree: Barina Bailey
Barina Smith Bailey has shared her love of music with children for more than 30 years and currently teaches at Heritage Elementary School in Wake Forest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Appalachian State University and is Nationally Board-certified, specializing in early childhood music. Her students audition for and participate in the North Carolina Elementary Honors Chorus each year. She has served on the Elementary Board of the North Carolina Music Educators Association and as the coordinator of the North Carolina Elementary Honors Chorus. She also serves on the advisory board for the All Raleigh, All Boy, All Choral Festival in conjunction with the Raleigh Boychoir.
Mrs. Bailey began the Heritage Elementary Honors Choir in 2010. This choir of auditioned fifth-graders has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, the Raleigh Boychoir, the Capital City Girls Choir, and the Harlem Globetrotters, and has participated in the Raleigh Fine Arts Society’s Elementary School Choral Celebration. She was instrumental in initiating the Heritage Choral Festival and the Wake Forest Choral Celebration.
Mrs. Bailey’s students have recorded seven school-wide CDs program at Heritage Elementary to help support the school’s music program. She includes every student in the recording process to give her students hands-on experience in the recording industry.
During the spring of 2020, the students of Heritage Elementary have been able to thrive during online education. Online tutoring on the recorder and testing was a daily occurrence, which furthered students’ musical education.
Mrs. Bailey also serves as the Children’s and Youth Choir Director at Wake Forest United Methodist Church. She lives in Raleigh with her daughter, Kennedy, and husband, Allen.
Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement
The Jackson Parkhurst Award for Special Achievement is named for the Symphony’s former director of education in recognition of his longstanding service and commitment to young people in the state of North Carolina.
2019/20 Honoree: Matt Fry
Matt Fry, currently in his 32nd year of teaching, is the Chorus Director at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, North Carolina, where he was named Teacher of the Year for 2006/07 and again for 2017/18. He is a graduate of Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he received a bachelor’s degree in education, with honors, and was named the Outstanding Graduate in Vocal Music in 1988. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA).
Mr. Fry taught for 12 years in Caruthersville, Missouri, where his choirs and soloists consistently received “Superior” and “Excellent” ratings at district and state music festivals. He taught for one year at Eaton-Johnson Middle School in Henderson, North Carolina, before finding his home at Jordan-Matthews. His choirs have achieved “Superior” and “Excellent” ratings in the annual North Carolina Music Performance Adjudication. Several of his students have participated in NCMEA’s High School Honors Chorus and All-State Choral Festival.
In addition to his teaching, Mr. Fry is also the director of the Fearrington Village Singers and the choir at Rocky River Baptist Church in Siler City. He sang for nine years with the Duke Chapel Choir and for several seasons with the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Durham, both under the baton of Dr. Rodney Wynkoop.
Mr. Fry is a founding board member of the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, an organization promoting the student artists at Jordan-Matthews. His philosophy of education is inspired the name of his school’s mascot, the Jets: Just do your job. Expect excellence from yourself and others, Teach others what you know, and Show up!
North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award
The North Carolina Symphony Musicians Award honors emerging music educators with fewer than 10 years of teaching experience. This award is named for the musicians of the North Carolina Symphony in appreciation of their contributions to the children and communities of North Carolina, and in recognition of the fact that each one of the musicians on our stage has been influenced by excellent music teachers.
2019/20 Honoree: Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt currently serves as one of the Orchestra Directors at Durham School of the Arts alongside co-director Joey Walker. He previously served for five years as the Director of Orchestras at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, North Carolina.
Growing up in Dobbs Ferry, New York, about 20 miles north of New York City, Mr. Holt studied cello under Lisa Olson of the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra and renowned cellist Lila Ainsworth. After participating in the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestra, the White Plains Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, and the New York State School Music Association’s All-State Orchestra, he went on to study music education at Susquehanna University as well as studying cello with cellist Andrew Rammon of the Grammy-nominated Eaken Piano Trio.
In 2015, Mr. Holt received his bachelor’s degree in music education with a dual focus in Baroque cello performance and in conducting, which he studied under Eric Hinton, Julia Thorn, and Gregory Grabowski. He led the Susquehanna Strings community orchestra for three years along with colleagues, participated in chamber ensembles and early-music ensembles, and was named cover conductor of the Susquehanna University Orchestra in 2015. He also served as musical conductor for Selinsgrove Area High School in 2015, collaborating with the University to bring together the two schools. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music education through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Mr. Holt has conducted in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. Guest appearances and clinician appearances have helped him improve and grow as a young educator. Professional musicians he has invited to work with his students include Associate Conductor Wesley Shultz and Associate Principal Second Violin David Kilbride of the North Carolina Symphony, Scott Laird, Jim Waddelow, Yang Xi, Petia Radneva-Manolova, Lauren Alter, Alice Ju, Casey Spillman, Kevin Giraldi, Rebecca MacLeod, David Michael Wolff, and many others.
With Jason Spencer, Director of Education of the North Carolina Symphony, Mr. Holt organized and led a side-by-side concert with his student musicians and members of the North Carolina Symphony, featuring the Brahms Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn.
Outside the classroom, Mr. Holt has served as Director of Education and as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Moore Philharmonic Orchestra in Southern Pines.