WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Somers resident Steve Ucko, a longtime donor to the Westchester Philharmonic, received the organization’s 2017 Golden Baton Award at its annual Friends of Phil Dinner at the Mansion on Broadway in White Plains.
The dinner, held Wednesday, May 10, is a tribute to individuals in whom the power and beauty of music stir a personal desire to help sustain it. Ucko has served as both a member of the board of directors of the Westchester Philharmonic and a member of the orchestra’s education committee.
“Steve has been a tremendous supporter of the orchestra nearly since its inception, with a special passion for our educational programs,” said Lenore Eggleston, director of marketing and development for the Westchester Philharmonic.
The Westchester Philharmonic is a professional symphony orchestra that performs in the concert hall of the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. The orchestra was founded in 1983 by a group of music lovers, led by flutist Paul Lustig Dunkel, who served for 25 years as the orchestra’s music director and conductor.
In only its fifth year, supporters of the philharmonic enjoyed a discussion on the arts and print media with writers Phillip Lutz, Susan Hodara, Andrea Kurtz and broadcaster and singer Pamela Kuhn. The discussion was preceded by a performance by violinist Deborah Wong and husband and cellist Chris Finckel.
Ucko began his career as a student teacher in Manhattan and went on to work as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and eventually principal throughout New York City. He has been recognized for his active participation as chair of the New York City Principals Arts Network and a member of the National Council of School Administrators.
When he was being recruited to work at a school about 34 years ago, Ucko was told by a teacher about the new orchestra that was beginning in Westchester. It was soon after that he said he was drafted to join the philharmonic’s board of directors and education committee.
In Westchester, Ucko has been a member of the Somers Education Foundation and the Somers Board of Education, serving as a trustee for both. As a volunteer, he serves his community as a board member at Heritage Hills, where he lives, through his local Rotary Club (including serving as its president), and as a volunteer captain at Caramoor. He was also a member of the Somers Lions Club.
Ucko was elected to the Board of Education in the late-90s on a platform of supporting the arts (and full-day kindergarten). Since that time, he said, he is pleased with the district’s commitment to the arts.
“They realized something that we saw years before, which was the fact it’s not just a matter of creativity and culture, but these kids really become thinkers,” Ucko said.
Learn more about the Westchester Philharmonic at westchesterphil.org.