The Long Island Music Hall of Fame supports music education with Class of 2020 student scholarships

Winners of 2020 LIMHOF Music Scholarships

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame has announced the awarding of its 2020 student scholarships.

This year LIMHOF acknowledged five students with the Distinction in Music award and an additional five students with the Merit in Music award for their accomplishments. All ten students are from Long Island and plan to pursue music studies in college.

This year’s applications came from all four counties and the winners represent Bayside, Brooklyn, Elwood, Franklin Square, Half Hallow Hills, Hampton Bays, Huntington, North Babylon, Roslyn Heights, Sayville, and Smithtown.

Students in Brooklyn, Nassau, Queens and Suffolk counties are eligible to apply for the scholarships. This program is in addition to other education acknowledgements that the Long Island Music Hall of Fame sponsors, including the Music Educator of Note and the High School Recognition Awards.

LIMHOF is able to provide these scholarships thanks to supporting received from the Long Island music community and from Jill’s Dreams, a foundation established in the name of, and in memory of former LIMHOF Board member Jill Nees-Russell.

For 2020, an additional memorial scholarship in honor of Len Rothenberg, a longtime friend of LIMHOF has been awarded. The Distinction Scholarships are for $500 each. The Merit Scholarships are for $300 each and The Len Rothenberg scholarship is for an additional $500.

LIMHOF is honored to celebrate each recipient’s dedication to music and support their college plans. An outdoor reception was held this month where students were able to receive their awards, visit the Mobile Museum and celebrate their achievements.

“Long Island Music Hall of Fame is honored to have the opportunity to support and acknowledge accomplished high school seniors who are pursuing a future in music. There were many amazing candidates and our committee was honored to be able to recognize some additional students. The talent that exists on Long Island is something we at LIMHOF want to celebrate. In addition to following their own dreams, we believe these students will encourage and inspire others,” said LIMHOF Education Chairman, Tom Needham.

Please note: Student photos are available on request. Contact Kelly Leung at

Our 2020 Distinction in Music Scholarship winners are:

Allison Brook graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School this month and will attend Northwestern University in the fall. She plans to major in Vocal Performance and Economics.

Allison’s voice teacher Jennifer Grimaldi shared her thoughts on the musician. “I believe Allison to be a superb and unique talent. She has a full-bodied rich and beautiful sound. For a younger singer, she is intensely committed, intelligent, artistically responsible singer, with a kindness, integrity and humility that are noteworthy.”

Gabrielle Caine graduated from Hampton Bays High School this month and will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. She plans to major in Music.

“I have known Gabby for the past four years and she has contributed a great deal to my vocal and instrumental music property as well as in the field program Gabby is a well-accomplished vocalist who also has tremendous skill on the cello and clarinet she is a mature accountable devoted warm and caring young woman who strives for perfection in any activities she’s involved with I have never met a student with a work ethic like Abby she is truly exceptional“ explained her Instrumental Music Director, Jennifer Halsey.

Esther Duclair graduated from North Babylon High School this month and will attend NYU’s Steinhardt School in the fall. She plans to major in Musical Performance and Education.

Esther’s Orchestra Director, Ms. Nicole Verderosa believes strongly in her talent and dedication.
“In addition to her orchestral studies on violin, Esther is an accomplished pianist and vocalist, attending NYSSMA at level 6A, level 6, and level 6A respectively. Esther maintains a rigorous home practice schedule, attends weekly private lessons on violin, piano and voice and has already performed at several professional engagements as a soloist all while balancing the other aspects of a high achieving high school senior. Esther is grateful for all of her experiences as a musician. Participating in various ensembles gave her the opportunity to be challenged by the difficult repertoire and enabled her to reach her potential as a string player.

In addition to the Distinction in Music award, Ms. Duclair has been awarded the 2020 Len Rothenberg Memorial Scholarship. Len was an avid music and arts lover and believed in supporting education and the Long Island community. Ms. Duclair’s strong work ethic, humility and dedication to her craft make her the worthy recipient of this memorial scholarship.

Michael Golub graduated Smithtown High School West this month and will attend either NYU or The New School in the fall. He will major in music performance.

“Michael is an exceptional music student who is challenging himself and succeeding at every opportunity. He is highly committed as a musician and works diligently to achieve the upmost results. In my 25 year career, Michael is among the best music students I’ve heard. His excellence is marked by his high-quality coursework dedication community into compassion for his peers. Michael will certainly succeed at the next level and dominate in his musical career path” shared Smithtown High School West Chorus Teacher, Timothy Cassera.

Melissa Mandel graduated from Elwood-John Glenn High School in Elwood this month and will attend Berklee School of Music in the fall. She plans to major in Music Performance and Music Management.

Rachel Nagle, Melissa’s Choir Director shared her thoughts about Melissa, “She is a talented and intelligent young woman, who is highly involved in our school’s music community. I have had the pleasure of having Melissa as a student for four years, and the unique experience of getting to know her in her most natural element; music. She has worked collaboratively with other musicians in the department while displaying leadership and a high level of personal responsibility for each project. As a performer, she is always looking to better not only herself but the choir. She is a perfectionist and a team player. Melissa looks for constructive criticism, applies, and adapts. She can do this as a musician, and as a student in general. Melissa is responsible, communicative and reliable.”

Our 2020 Merit in Music Scholarship winners are:

Samuel Abramson graduates from Half Hollow Hills High School this month and will attend Ithaca College in the fall. He plans to major in Music Education.

Choral Director Dr. Danielle McRoy shared “Sam’s commitment to music and theater are a testament to the kind of dedication he possesses in everything in which he chooses to take part. He has become a true leader within the department, holding leadership roles in multiple organizations. What has impressed me most is his quiet dedication to grow and learn. His musical and vocal growth has been incredible.

Shaun Gibbons graduated from Sayville High School this month and will attend The University of Delaware in the fall. He plans to major in Music Education.

Karen DiMartino, Shaun’s Chorus Director at Sayville High School shared some insight with us. “Shaun has been a dream to teach. He’s the hardest working student I have taught in my 10 years at Sayville High School. To call him a leader would be an understatement. He is confident enough to lead the group by example and equally approachable to never intimidate. His vocal abilities are exceptional for a student his age. He has often been a soloist in my groups. Sean’s hard work and dedication has lead to him getting lead roles in our school musicals and excelling at NYSSMA.

Jessica Ringston graduated from Carey High School in Franklin Square this month and will attend Purchase College in the fall. She will major in Music performance and management.

Dr. Susan Deaver, her flute teacher shared that “Jessica is currently the principal flute for the Long island Youth Orchestra and is part of Nassau-Suffolk Performing Arts. Her dedication and commitment to her craft has led to many opportunities for her to perform as an orchestral, chamber, pit orchestra musician, and as a soloist, where she has excelled. She will be an amazing asset to Purchase when she attends in the Fall.”

Rachel Schlesinger graduated from North Shore Hebrew Academy this month and will attend The University of Michigan in the fall. She plans to major in Vocal Performance.

Rachel’s vocal instructor Jennifer Toohey says “Rachel works diligently on her craft and takes instruction very well. She has strong worth work ethic paired with a generous and warm personality that makes her homework with her feel comfortable and proud. She has a mature full bodied rich and beautiful sound and I have had the pleasure of observing her perform numerous operatic areas art songs and scenes with elegance, focus and precise dramatic interpretation.

José Suarez graduated from Huntington High School this month and will attend Syracuse University in the fall. He plans to major in Music Education.

José is not only a very talented musician, but his work ethic is second to none. Most days you will find him in the band room after school, practicing for one ensemble or another. He’s always prepared, self-motivated and always goes above and beyond. He is a mature performer with great technical proficiency expression and tone quality. In my AP music theory class, Jose was a leader and he developed a deep interest in music theory. José is incredibly passionate about and dedicated to music and will be quite successful explained his Band Director, Jason Giachetti.

For more information about these awards, the winners or education scholarships and grants offered by LIMHOF please visit or contact LIMHOF’s Board Member for Community Outreach, Kelly Leung at



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