Each local association is invited to name a Member of the Year for their group. These individuals are recognized at the annual state conference for their outstanding contribution and service to their local association.
2021-22 Members of the Year:
Chicago Area MTA (CAMTA): Junichi Steven Sato
A frequent adjudicator at piano and composition competitions, Junichi Steven Sato (BM, DePaul University; MM, Indiana University) served as Chairman of the Jury for an international competition in Albania, and had chaired ISMTA’s Composition Competition and Chicago Area MTA’s Savler Piano Contest. He is webmaster for CAMTA. Sato teaches at DePaul University and Sato Music Studios (La Grange). His compositions and arrangements have been performed at Ravinia Festival and on National Public Radio.
North Shore MTA (NSMTA): Eric Sutz
Eric has been an active member of the NSMTA since 1978. He has held a number of positions in NSMTA and is currently the president. His book: “How to Play and Teach Popular Music Creatively” was published in 1986 and has had three printings. Eric is a faculty member of the MIC and Stevenson HS. His hobbies include: Martial arts, investing, travel, yoga, fitness training, scubadiving, history, natural history and reading.
NCTM West Suburban (WSISMTA) Janna Williamson, NCTM
Janna maintains an independent piano studio in the suburbs of Chicago. A teacher of teachers, Janna works as a Content Creator for Top Music Pro and mentors less experienced piano teachers through her online Teacher Consultation service. She also freelances as a collaborative pianist. Janna holds piano performance degrees from the Chicago College of Performing Arts (Roosevelt University) and Wheaton College Conservatory of Music (both summa cum laude). Janna has been an ISMTA member for 20 years; she has regularly presented programs and held numerous board positions, including directory coordinator and AIM coordinator. For more information, visit jannawilliamson.com.
Gateway Arch East (GAEMTA): Marshall Gurley
An active member for 42 years, he served as secretary and his students participated in recitals and A.I.M. exams. He holds music degrees from SIUCarbondale and SIU-Edwardsville and he taught music for over 20 years in the public school system in the St. Louis area. He has operated an independent music studio in East St. Louis for over 50 years, and also served as a music director for over 60 years at his church. Marshall was a founding member of the East St. Louis-based Westbrook Green Concert Choir, and another highlight in his career was teaching vocal classes at the famed James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America. When asked what advice he might give to a young music teacher, Marshall said to keep growing and learning and find an organization to belong to such as GAE.
Decatur Area MTA (DAMTA): Samuel Gingher
Samuel has performed in music festivals in Austria, Switzerland and across the US. Sam has received many performance awards, including First Prize in Brevard Music Festival’s International Solo Piano Competition and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Debut Artist Award. Dr. Gingher has taught at Millikin University since 2014, with previous appointments at UIUC and Bradley. He released Carl Czerny’s piano trios on Naxos, and another CD of 4-hands music with Pei-I Wang in September, 2021. Dr. Gingher earned his DMA, MM performance and MM piano pedagogy degrees at UIUC. He currently serves as AIM theory coordinator for DAMTA.
Waubonsee Valley MTA (WVMTA): Gwyn Downey
Gwyn, bassoonist and pianist, has been a performer and private music instructor in the Fox Valley area since 1985. She teaches bassoon at Judson University, bassoon and piano at Elgin Community College as well as her home studio in Elgin. She currently plays bassoon with the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra, Fox Valley Orchestra, Music Lumina Orchestra and Chicago Folks Operetta. She has also performed for the radio program entitled “Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin” which is a daily classical radio program broadcasted throughout the United States. She plays piano at her church, accompanies solo instrumentalists and student recitals.
North Shore MTA (NSMTA): Jennifer Cohen, NCTM
Jennifer is an active member of NSMTA, having held positions as past president, Sonata- Sonatina Festival chair and is currently the AIM chair, a position held since 2010. Jennifer also serves on the ISMTA Board as Director of Competitions and enjoys mentoring teachers pursuing MTNA Certification. Jennifer has presented at local associations, ISMTA state conference and most notably, at the MTNA national conference in 2018, “Do the Studio Crawl” with her colleagues Helen Grosshans, Levonne Mrozinski, and Beverly Taylor. The four independent music teachers known as the Studio Crawl have developed a number of programs that have been presented with rave reviews.
Egyptian Chapter MTA (ECMTA): Ken Wollberg
Majoring in viola, Ken has studied, performed, and taught violin & viola in six states and Korea. Discovering the “Mother Tongue Approach” in 1970, Ken has become a registered teacher in the American Suzuki Association. Ken & wife Peggy were teachers in Seoul, Korea, 1995-’99 . Returning home in 2000, Ken taught in the Suzuki program at S.I.U. – Carbondale, drove semis 2002-’11, resumed teaching, opened Heart Strings Music Studio and became an active member of the Egyptian Chapter of the ISMTA. Ken will join Marion’s new “Court Street Music Conservatory,” which opens in Fall, 2021.
Salt Creek MTA (SCMTA): Angela Swenson
Angela has enjoyed teaching kids at the keyboard for over ten years. She believes kids learn best when they are having fun, and she incorporates duets, games, and group performance into her students’ lessons. She loves introducing young students to the piano and is mother to three small musicians. Angela earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and has served as the treasurer, technology chair, and second vice-president for the Salt Creek MTA Chapter.
Salt Creek MTA (SCMTA): Cassandra Crowell
Cassandra has been playing the piano since 1991. She graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music emphasis in piano performance. Cassandra was the piano and vocal teacher as well as accompanist for Faith Christian Academy in Geneva from 2009-2015. She currently teaches at First Conservatory of LaGrange. She earned her Master of Music degree in piano performance from Roosevelt University in May 2019. Cassandra is the current Achievement In Music Chair for the Salt Creek Chapter of ISMTA.
South Suburban (SSMTA): Marjorie Colvin
Marjorie has been chosen as the SSMTA Member of the Year 2021 because of her vital contribution to maintaining the viability of our small chapter. She secured a new venue for monthly meetings and recitals on short notice, and quickly acquired the knowledge necessary to implement Zoom technology during the pandemic. Marj has served the chapter as President, Vice-President, Secretary, AIM Chair, Historian and Webmaster. Marjorie earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from North Park University. She currently maintians a private piano studio and serves as church choir director and pianist.
Naperville MTA (NMTA): Yuyin Wang
Chairman of AIM Piano Performance 3-12 and Repertoire Chair of the Sonata-Sonatina Festival of NMTA, is highly respected as a piano teacher. Her expertise and willingness to devote her time help these two important student-center programs to happen. When facing difficult situations, her training as a music educator propels her to handle her tasks with patience and a focus on making decisions that are best for our students and NMTA. She is instrumental in keeping up the high standards of the ISMTA AIM program when our exams were challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.