NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Bethel College adjunct faculty member has been named the first recipient of the Daniel J. Sevart Community Service Award from the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Violist Kay Buskirk, Wichita, has been teaching in Bethel’s strings program since 2003. She is also starting her 25th season as a member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She serves on the faculty at Friends University as well as Bethel College and the Bethel College Academy for the Performing Arts (BCAPA).
The Sevart Award was established in 2006 in honor of Daniel Sevart, a WSO board member from 1989 until his death in 2005. He was an active board member, serving a term as president and as chair of the Conductor Search Committee in 1998-2000.
The Sevart Award will be presented annually to a member of the WSO who has demonstrated community involvement beyond her or his role in the symphony.
Buskirk saw a void in the community in terms of music education for less-privileged youth and so, in 1994, began the Northeast Area Strings Academy of Wichita (NASAW). Its purpose is to better equip African American string players of all ages with the skills, support and encouragement needed for success at higher levels of orchestral and solo performance.
To do this, Buskirk organizes private music lessons and group lessons, primarily during the summer, for young African American students who would not otherwise have these opportunities. Buskirk has taught many lessons herself and also convinced others to lend their talents, donate funds and provide musical instruments.
NASAW also offers special opportunities, as available, to students during the school year such as meeting with prominent African American musicians or taking relevant field trips.
Buskirk has bachelor’s degrees in music and music education and a Master of Music degree, all from Wichita State University. She spent 14 years teaching in the Wichita Public Schools system. She was selected to receive the Sevart Community Service Award by a committee comprised of orchestra members, board members and administrators.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.