Veatch Fund to Award Music Scholarships to Local Students

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Graduating high school seniors from seven area high schools will be honored on Friday, June 7 at Yorktown’s Town Hall when The Justin Veatch Fund presents each of them with a $1,000 music scholarship. The 6 p.m. program will include a keynote address from Mark Barden of Sandy Hook Promise and will also be attended by State Senator Peter Harckham and Yorktown Supervisor Ilan Gilbert. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

The 2019 recipients are Kathryn Czerwinski of Peekskill High School, Francis Fedora of Croton-Harmon HIgh School, Edward Fiscella of North Salem High School, Scott Murdock of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, Michael Sottile of Mahopac High School, Stephanie Tateiwa of Harrison High School and Kian Tortorello-Allen of Fox Lane High School.

Scholarships began in 2009.

The Justin Veatch Fund Music Scholarships honor the legacy of Justin Veatch, a Yorktown High School senior who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. The 2019 awards bring to 42 the number of $1,000 scholarships awarded by The Fund since it began the award in 2009.

“This year we had twenty applications for six planned awards,” says Jeffrey Veatch, president of the fund and Justin’s father. “Our scholarship awards committee had a tie in voting for the sixth recipient, so we decided we would award a seventh this year.”

One of the awards will be dedicated to the memory of former Yorktown Supervisor Al Capellini. Also new this year is the fact that five of the awards have been fully sponsored. Those sponsors are the Yorktown Small Business Association, Tricy Cushner & family, Alan & Ellen Marzelli, Graham Keenan & family and the law offices of Joseph J. Tock. Each sponsor is invited to attend the awards program and will be presented with a framed photo of the metronome award that will include their names on the inscription.

The 2019 Recipients:

Kathryn Czerwinski

Kathryn Czerwinski is graduating from Peekskill High School and has been accepted to attend Berklee College in Boston in the fall. Kathryn’s focus is as a vocalist but she also performs on guitar, violin, piano and drums. Kathryn’s talent might have been seen as quite unlikely as a young child because she was born 75% deaf in both ears. Kathryn said she began studying music in 5th grade with the encouragement of her dad. She says there was something about music that gave her joy and she has taken advantage of that in writing and performing music. She has been involved in the Peekskill HIgh jazz ensemble and a mainstay in the highly regarded A cappella group The City Singers.

Francis Fedora

Francis Fedora will graduate from Croton-Harmon High School and attend Yale University this fall. Francis is a cellist whose Bach performances and personal compositions profoundly impressed the scholarship committee. Francis will pursue physics and math at Yale, but plans to audition for the symphony orchestra and continue his music education at every opportunity. In describing Francis, his Greenwood Music Camp teacher spoke of “the goodness of his heart and willingness to put others before himself” in recounting Francis’ actions in the wake of a community member’s death. That same teacher went on to call Francis “the glue that holds our community together.”

Eddie Fiscella

Eddie Fiscella is graduating from North Salem High School and will study at Berklee College of Music in the fall. Eddie says he is pursuing a career in music and is expanding his education for a number of options like performing, composing, songwriting and film scoring. One of his music teachers of seven years says Eddie’s humble personality, talent and collaborative disposition gives him a musical maturity rare for his age. His work as a keyboard artist earned first place in three bandjam competitions, winning the NYSSMA electronic composition competitions two years in a row, and performing with the Westchester All County Jazz Ensemble.

Scott Murdock

Scott Murdock is graduating from John F. Kennedy Catholic High School and will attend Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall. Scott specializes in drums and percussion but also plays guitar and bass. His keen interest in the artistic and technical aspects of music puts him in the music producer’s realm. Scott sees his future role in music as anything from the sound guy in a theatre to a Grammy nominated record producer. He’s performed multiple years as co-principal percussionist in youth symphony performances at Lincoln Center and achieved a near perfect score in the NYSSMA All-State Jazz Drum kit category.

Michael Sottile

Michael Sottile is graduating from Mahopac High School and is considering enrollment in Pace, Marist or SUNY Albany for the fall. He specializes in piano but also plays bass and sings. Michael’s musical journey has taken a slightly different route than many. Michael started by performing the compositions of artists he admired like The Beatles, The Doors, Billy Joel and Elton John. As he perfected his versions of these songs he began to perform them in public at open mics and in other venues. Michael says in college he will continue his piano studies and hopes to develop his improvisational skills in jazz.

Stephanie Tateiwa

Stephanie Tateiwa is graduating from Harrison High School and will attend the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY this fall. There, she will pursue jazz saxophone performance and music education. She aspires to become a Broadway pit musician. In the wake of an earthquake in Japan eight years ago, Stephanie and her family moved to New York, where she struggled to learn English and fit in with her new peers. After being introduced to the saxophone she says she felt she gained her voice through music. Stephanie has since become proficient on piano, clarinet, flute and oboe. Stephanie has a long list of awards and honors as a musician, including serving as the lead alto sax for the Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra.

Kian Tortorello-Allen

Kian Tortorello-Allen is graduating from Fox Lane High School and plans to be a flute performance major at Purchase College in the fall. He is a product of the prestigious Hoff Barthelson honors program and has been heavily involved in advanced programs like the Greater Westchester Youth Symphony. Kian says he struggled with bullying in his early teens. His goal is to perform in musical theatre pits, teach, and to use his talent to help LGBT kids and others in communities of color succeed. He says one day he hopes to create a non profit organization to further those goals.

Justin Veatch was a talented musician and singer/songwriter whose original recordings along with covers were released by Polyvinyl Records in 2010, one year after his death, on the CD Permagrin: The Music of Justin Veatch. Music from the CD has been streamed in more than 30 countries. The documentary film Whispering Spirits tells Justin’s story and how the Veatch family has dealt with the loss. The multimedia talk, “A Message from Justin,” presented by Jeffrey Veatch in schools and other events, is designed to inspire teens to take better care of themselves, to avoid the perils of substance abuse and to watch out for their friends.

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