Arts Hall of Fame Inductees 2018
Leslie Northwood Block (SHS Class of 1976)
Leslie Northwood Block grew up in Springfield and graduated from Springfield High School in 1976. After high school, she attended Delaware County Community College and then graduated from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science with degrees in Business Administration. She and her husband Gary have two daughters, Lindsay (Class of 2006) and Taylor (Class of 2012).
Leslie volunteered in various capacities as her girls were growing up. She was a Girl Scout leader for six years and she became active in the Band and Orchestra Parents Association (BOPA) when her girls attended SHS. Leslie was a BOPA member from 2003-2011. She started out working in the uniform closet on game days and later served as Vice President for two years and President for four years. Leslie helped organize and launch the concession stand for sporting events, which raised funds for the music department and SAEF. New band uniforms were purchased during her time with BOPA. She enjoyed working with the BOPA Executive committee, parents, and students.
Leslie would like to thank Betsy Klinger, Kathleen Boyer and Kevin Cooper for the countless experiences her family shared during their time at Springfield. Her daughters were part of both the marching band and the orchestra while at SHS. Performances at the Kimmel Center, Carnegie Hall, Boscov's Thanksgiving Parades and trips to Chicago, Boston and Walt Disney World are all memories her family will never forget. Leslie is proud to have been able to support the Music Department in providing these experiences for the students in the Springfield School District.
THELMA RICHARDS DAILEY (SHS CHORAL MUSIC TEACHER 1956 – 1964)
Thelma Richards Dailey came to Springfield High School to teach vocal and choral music in 1956.
She graduated with a BS degree from West Chester University and an MS from Penn State University. During her time at Springfield, Miss Richards directed a Grade 10-11-12 80-voice mixed choir, a grade 11-12 100-voice girls’ chorus, a 9th grade boys’ chorus, taught several music appreciation classes, and helped sponsor the annual all-school talent show. She directed the yearly December Candlelight Service and enjoyed collaborating with long-time, highly-respected instrumental teacher Luca Del Negro for the annual Spring Choral & Orchestra Concert. This, while also providing music for the June Baccalaureate Service and Commencement Programs. Thelma Dailey also directed a girls’ triple-trio, a Barbershop quartet, and worked with Concert soloists, the Balladeers folk trio, and accompanied at the organ for all-school assemblies.
As Secretary-Treasurer of the Southeastern Music Educators Association, Thelma motivated a number of Springfield music students by encouraging, rehearsing and providing transportation for them to audition for the annual Southeastern District Chorus, All-State Chorus and National Honor Mixed Choir. These musical experiences--involving highly competitive auditions in front of other music teachers, against students on local, state and national levels provided Springfield students with unmatched musical experiences. Due to these unique activities, a few of her students made music their professional career.
Miss Richards was so loved by the students of Springfield High School, that the Class of 1963 honored her by dedicating the annual SHS Scrivener Yearbook to her memory:
“Among the cherished memories of Springfield High School, some of those held in highest esteem revolve around music. To say anything revolves around music in Springfield is to say it revolves around Miss Thelma Richards. Through all her wonderful contributions to Springfield High School, Miss Richards has become endeared to us all. In order that we can express our deep appreciation, we dedicate this yearbook to her.”
As this is written in April, 2018, Thelma Richards Dailey, age 98, is still living a full life, plays Bridge twice a week, watches TV musical and news programs and enjoys the company of guests in her apartment at a senior home in New York.
Donna Wurzer Grantham (SHS Class of 1977)
Born and raised in Springfield, Donna began the violin at age 8 through the program at Central School. (The elementary school that used to be across the street from the fire house). She studied privately with Joan Rosenberg until high school graduation in 1977.
Donna attended West Chester State College from 1977-1979. She studied with Sylvia Ahramjian and Jonathon Mott, and was a music education major. Realizing she wanted to perform, she transferred to the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. There she studied with Mr. William dePasquale, assistant concertmaster with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Upon completion, she worked an exciting 2 seasons with the Shreveport symphony, Shreveport Louisiana. The Shreveport symphony programmed not only classical music, but also ballets, operas and pops concerts.
Homesick, she came back to the area and began working with Delaware, Lancaster and Kennett Symphonies.
She was then teaching privately at ET Richardson Middle School.
Currently she works with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Opera Philly, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philly Pops, Academy of Vocal Arts and Delaware Symphony.
In addition to her contracted spots she also freelances and has played with Luciano Pavorati, Tony Bennett, Steve & Eddie, Electric Light Orchestra, Ian Anderson (previously known as Jethro Tull), Page/Plant (previously known as Led Zeppelin), Rod Stewart, The Moody Blues just to name a few!!!
She enjoys teaching violin privately at home, and has had several very talented students continue with violin at college, both performing and educating.
When not working, Donna enjoys spending time with her husband Craig and grown children, son Carl and daughter, Dana. She looks forward to being a first time grandmother in July.
Brian Gibson (SHS Class of 1975)
Brian Gibson has been described in reviews as “a pianist of superior talent and extraordinary ingenuity” and his compositions, for solo piano as well as varied ensembles, have been cited as expressing a “unique stylistic and emotional musical signature” and a “heartfelt lyricism”. Many of his compositions feature his poetic lyrics that “speak of the life experiences we all share” with “compelling imagery”. He has four CD’s of original compositions to his credit and his compositions and playing have been used for PBS and HGTV soundtracks.
Brian learned his musical craft studying classical piano at West Chester University, jazz piano at Temple University, and with the legendary pianist, author and educator, Jimmy Amadie. All the while, he was attaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history, education and the liberal arts from West Chester and Villanova.
Brian is the house pianist and vocalist for the Kimberton Inn, where he plays and sings most weekends, and has entertained thousands of patrons of this fine establishment for over 20 years. His vocal ensemble, Harcapella, for which he arranged, composed and directed, for over two decades performed at some of the area’s top establishments and music festivals. He enjoys sharing his talents with others and regularly plays music at senior citizen centers and has performed for many other charitable causes.
During his 20 years as music director at the Gladwyne Presbyterian Church, Brian had the opportunity to collaborate with many fine musicians, work with a myriad of musical genres, and honor the deeply spiritual environment of this beautiful community. He and his fellow artists at the church not only used their gifts to enrich Sunday services, but also presented numerous concerts during his tenure.
In his ‘other’ life, Brian, for 25 years, has worked as a social studies teacher at Haverford High School. Early in his career at Haverford, he was able to move a piano into his room and, since then, has used music in an entertaining and informative manner to enhance the study of American history, World Cultures and American popular culture. (And the kids enjoy it too!)
Brian has two adult children, both musically gifted, and he and his wife reside in Bucks County.
DAVID HARRISON (SHS Class of 1975)
At Springfield, David was a member of wonderful bands & orchestras, a fine brass quintet and an exceptional piano trio. He served as a rehearsal pianist for the "Music Man" and performed on trumpet with Dennis Lauffer and the AYSC Cathedral Concerts tour of England and Scotland in the summer of 1975. He studied piano with Elijah Yardumian and William Abbott, and trumpet with John Mills and Claude Gordon. Like so many of us, his experiences at the Springfield Schools under the mentorship of outstanding teachers and the daily interaction with exemplary student musicians formed the foundation upon which his future career was built.
David has thus far taught music for 37 years. He earned a BMus at Hastings College and a MMus at the University of Nebraska. He completed PhD coursework and comprehensive exams while on the band staff in Lincoln, and pursued further study at the Grove Music Workshops in Hollywood, Thinkspace Education in the UK, and with the International Baccalaureate Organisation in Basel, Switzerland and Dubai, UAE, certifying to teach both the IBDP and the MYP curricula in the International Schools. He assisted Tim Lautzenheiser with Student Leadership Workshops for Bands of America, and was named "Nebraska's Outstanding Teacher" in 1989. He served as an Associate Conductor and Designer/Instructor for the Cornhusker Marching Band, also co-directing the Symphonic Band, Women's Athletic Bands, and tutoring theory & analysis, atonal solfeggio and brass methods classes. He has served several times as both ensemble clinician and workshop director for the AMIS Honour Jazz Festivals in London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Tokyo.
David currently teaches music through technology-inspired arts classes such as Songwriting, Electronic Dance Music, Hybrid Sound Design and MIDI Orchestration for Film & Media. Known by some as "Ragtime Harry" in high school, he finally got around to recording the complete ragtime works of Scott Joplin in 2012, releasing Volume One in that year as a fundraiser for Lupus charities in both the US and the UK. He is a patron of Wigmore Hall, the UK home of European Chamber Music. He lives in London in a lovely but tiny multigenerational, bilingual home with his loving wife and extended family.
Steve Kolb (SHS Class of 1981)
Steve Kolb received a B.M. in Piano Performance from Wheaton College (1985) and an M.M. in Piano Performance/Pedagogy from Northwestern University (1987). Steve also served on the piano faculty at Wheaton, and founded a successful community children’s music program there. He has appeared in numerous classical and jazz roles, and has recorded with the Virginia Symphony. From 2001 to 2002, he served as Chairman of the Southern Region of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.
In 1991, Steve founded The Academy of Music, a community music school serving Hampton Roads, VA. Under his leadership, the school grew to over one thousand students. Steve remains an active faculty member at the school, and leads music activities at senior centers throughout the region.
One of Steve’s passions in life is establishing programs to reach underserved children through the arts. These include the Park Place (Norfolk) Boys Choir, Park View Elementary (Portsmouth) string program, and the Park Place Child Life Center, providing hundreds of children with afterschool music, art, dance, and karate instruction, combined with homework help and nutrition. In 2001, he received an Alli Award from the Cultural Alliance for outstanding contributions to the Cultural Life of Greater Hampton Roads.
Steve and his wife, Joann, have three sons between them, and live in Norfolk. They love cooking, camping, hiking, and life in general.
Rich Mento (SHS Class of 1991)
Rich is an award-winning casting director and producer, who counts himself fortunate to have successfully worked in theatre, TV, film, and new media, both in New York City and Los Angeles.
His introduction to the craft of casting was on Broadway productions such as RAGTIME, FOSSE, and both Harold Prince’s SHOW BOAT and PARADE. Rich relocated from NYC to Los Angeles in 2001 and launched his own casting and production company, Oneiric Asylum in 2013.
Select film and TV/digital casting credits include: Remember Me, Warm Bodies, The Wackness, The Step Up Movie Franchise (all 5 films!), Dear John and Safe Haven, Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids, Take Me Home Tonight, and No Strings Attached He’s worked for Blumhouse Productions, casting both their first horror/comedy series and serving as Casting producer on the first ever horror reality show. He’s cast music videos (including U2’s “Song for Someone” starring Woody Harrelson), short films, new media and interactive/gaming projects for both Electronic Arts and Bad Robot, and consulted for the Park Avenue Armory in NYC on MASSIVE ATTACK v. ADAM CURTIS. Films currently in post-production for a 2018 release are Ashes in the Snow, based on the “New York Times” best selling novel Between Shades of Gray, and Juggernaut, on which, in addition to casting, Rich also served as an executive producer.
Rich lives in Los Angeles with his partner, filmmaker Josh Levy, and is currently serving as both Vice-President and an executive committee member of the National Board of Directors for the Casting Society of America.
Valerie Townsend Moth (SHS Class of 1982)
A 1982 graduate of SHS, Valerie was a French hornist and harpist in Luca DelNegro's band and orchestra, and served as student director of Al Brennan's choir. She also represented SHS in District, Regional, and All-State Bands and Orchestras, and as a member of the Delaware County and Philadelphia Youth Orchestras.
Valerie received a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music-University of Rochester. She married fellow Eastman hornist, Chris Moth, and they moved to Nashville, TN. Over the years, they have performed in numerous groups, some highlights being Opryland's Brenda Lee Show, Orchestra Kentucky, and the Nashville Wind Ensemble. Valerie also taught horn privately and at Lipscomb University while she pursued a career with Nortel Networks, where she managed the North American Customer Survey Program and later moved into marketing. For several years, she served as CFO of Daisy Systems, a software business started by her husband while at Eastman, which they sold to floral wire service company Teleflora in 1998.
After earning her MBA in 1999, Valerie and Chris started their family, and have three children, Brian, Ellen, and Carolyn. For the last 15 years, "Ms. Valerie" has led school music programs, and serves as the director and pianist for Christmas and Graduation shows. She has also held numerous volunteer positions in the PTOs and tutoring programs at her children's schools, as well as at her church.
Valerie is thankful for the education and musical training she received from the Springfield School System, and for the support of her parents, who devoted countless hours of their lives to her musical pursuits. She especially thanks her mentor, fellow Hall of Famer Dick Miller, who invited her to join the harp program in fourth grade and served as her horn teacher until college.
Carol Crissey Nigrelli (SHS Class of 1969)
By the time Carol Crissey graduated from Springfield High School in 1969, she took pride in her reputation as an orchestral and chamber music cellist. She began cello in fourth grade at Scenic Hills Elementary School and studied with a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra through high school. She and classmate Ted Moore, a longtime professional musician (and a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee) copped “Most Musical” honors their senior year. Unlike Ted, she never considered majoring in music. She wanted to be an actress. After graduating with a degree in Latin and Greek from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Carol’s desire to perform on stage took a back seat to the necessity of a steady income. She decided to take a shot at broadcasting.
Carol got her first job as a “girl Friday” at an FM station in Harrisburg. Within a year she (figuratively) crossed the street and joined the morning news team at the capital city’s up-and-coming rock station, becoming the first woman on morning radio in Harrisburg. Known for her wisecracking banter, Carol transitioned to a morning show personality and, with her male co-host, enjoyed ratings success. Carol got called up to the majors in 1976 when WFIL radio brought her home to Philly as a newscaster, working with the “boss jocks” like the late Jim O’Brien. It was O’Brien who suggested a career in television.
Carol joined the NBC affiliate in Wilkes-Barre as a roving reporter then returned to Harrisburg as the 11:00 co-anchor and “weather girl” at WHP-TV. She reported around-the-clock during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, feeding stories to the CBS network. In December of that year, she took main anchor job at WIVB-TV in Buffalo, New York, where she remained for 23 years and raised her family. Carol has earned an Emmy and an Associated Press Award for her reporting expertise and has been a member of the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame since 2003.
When Carol married fellow news anchor Craig Nigrelli in 2002, she retired from broadcasting to let him do all the heavy lifting. Omaha is the latest stop on their adventure. Carol writes for Omaha Magazine and has come full circle with her music. She’s the cellist at Creighton University and maintains a busy schedule of wedding and chamber music gigs.