The Wind Up/Wine Down 2013

What can you do to commemorate an incredible year for the Norwin Band?  Create a limited-edition wine!

This year saw Tim Daniels appointed as the new Norwin Director of Bands.  A product of the Norwin High School Band and a field conductor during his student years, Mr. Daniels went on to study music at Youngstown State University, and began teaching in New York.  He returned home this year to shape the Norwin Band’s aptly-named show, The Rise of The Knight.  Prophetic indeed, since Norwin took first place in the Music for All/Bands of America competition at Gateway High School, as well as the PIMBA Championship competition to cap off the year.

The 2013 Wind Up/Wine Down, a benefit to support the Norwin Play It Forward Fund, Inc., was held on Saturday, November 24, 2012 at The Greenhouse Winery in Rillton, PA, and commemorated with a specially-labelled wine, “Riesling of the Knight,” in a “Norwin blue” bottle.  A portion of all the wine sales from the evening also benefitted the fund.

And, once again, the event was a sell-out!  Music was provided by Dwight and Jan Hackett, along with special guests Joshua Gillott and Jeremy McCall, offering a variety of jazz standards along with music of the Christmas season.  Wine tasting and sales was provided by Hazuza’s Greenhouse Winery at this over 21 event, along with prizes and raffles, hors d’ouvres from Pasqualino’s Italian Eatery and a gourmet popcorn bar from the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.  Special thanks goes to Kohl’s Associates in Action program as volunteers were the servers for the evening!  This year’s door prize was a 50″ LED TV with special thanks to Don’s Appliances in Canonsburg.

At the end of the event, about $5,500 was raised to benefit the Fund, which this year is supporting 23 students with subsidies for private music lessons, and allowed students to attend music camp experiences this summer.


The Suite Cafe 2013

The 4th annual Suite Cafe 2013 was held on May 11, 2013 in the Cafeteria at Norwin High School.  This marked the third year a new venue was chosen since the event keep growing!  Our thanks go to Dr. William Kerr, Superintendent of the Norwin School District (who also attended the event along with his wife Debbie), the Norwin High School custodial staff, Carlita Colinear of the Administration Office, all the students and program teachers who performed at the event, and, of course, all those that attended, businesses that contributed prizes or desserts, and organizations that participated in the event.

A special “Thank You” goes to Mr. Robert Traugh, former director of the Norwin Band, as he leaves for a new position with the Kiski Area School District, working with young musicians in the Middle School as well as the high school students as an instructor during concert season.  We will certainly miss you!

Ticket sales, contributions from individuals, corporate sponsorships, and “In the Bag” auctions, silent auctions, a 50/50 raffle and the “Almost Famous Cake Auction” generated over $8,000 in funds to be used to continue to subsidize private music lessons and summer music camp experiences for members of the Norwin Band.  This marks not only the 4th year of the event, but continues the trend of raising more funds than Suite Cafe event held during the previous year.

Planning is in the works for The Wind Up/Wine Down which will be held in November.  Stay tuned for more details!

The Wind-Up Wine-Down 2012

What a night!  About 80 people had a great time at the 2012 Wind Up/Wine Down in support of The Norwin ‘Play It Forward’ Fund, Inc. on Saturday, November 24, 2012 at The Greenhouse Winery in Rillton, PA.  Music provided by jazz guitarist Ken Karsh and Friends (Chris Pangekis on keyboard and John Schmidt on drums) added a special ambiance to the evening, playing a variety of jazz standards along with music of the Christmas season.  A bop jazz version of Happy Birthday was player to honor Norm Princeton too.  Of course, in the spirit of “Cheers,” everyone participated in shouting, “Norm!” as those present raised their glasses in a toast.

Wine tasting and sales was provided by Hazuza’s Greenhouse Winery, along with prizes, raffles, hors d’ouvres and a gourmet popcorn bar.  While this was an over 21 event, one of the highlights was a hot chocolate bar, complete with marshmallows and whipped cream!  A Nook was the door prize for the evening.

At the end of the event, about $3,000 was raised to benefit the Fund, which this year is supporting 20 students with subsidies for private music lessons, and allowed six students to attend music camp experiences this summer.


The Suite Cafe 2012

This event just keeps on growing!  Over $7,000 was raised to subsidize private music lessons for students with need in the Norwin School District who participate or are planning on participating in the Norwin Band.

The first two years, it was held at the Shafton Fire Hall, but this year, the even was held in Mack Hall at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. Since it was held on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, a nacho bar was also featured (and sponsored by Mama Pepino’s Pizza in the Norwin Hills Shopping Center).

While the musical performances of the students was the highlight of the evening of desserts and coffee, we were thrilled to be able to honor Mr. Richard Zentner, the Operations Director of the Norwin Band.  For more years than anyone can remember, Dick has been the person that coordinates the transportation for the band members, cares for their accomodations and meals on overnight trips, and makes plans to tranport all the equipment, props, and pit instruments for each Norwin Band performance – whether it be a football game, local band festival, or Music for All/Bands of America Championship Competition.  The Norwin Play It Forward Fund honored him with a bent-wood rocker inscribed with a plaque for his dedication to not only the Norwin Band, but to the success of the Norwin Play It Forward Fund.


The Wind Up/Wine Down 2011

While news reports tell us that our nation’s economy is struggling to recover, it’s amazing to see the generosity of people that are engaged with a vibrant cause. The Wind Up/Wine Down of 2011 was a sell-out almost a week before the event! While this was only the second year of the event, it’s clear that friends are telling other friends about the great time they had at the first one, and brought their friends along for an evening of music, wine tasting and prizes. The event raised over $4,000 to help subsidize private music lessons for students in the Norwin Band as well as music students in the Norwin School District in grades 5 through 8 who are planning to be a part of the band when they enter high school.

Musical entertainment included Bad Strad, a Celtic-Rock quartet fronted by fiddler extraordinaire Bob Banerjee, as well as an outstanding jazz combo put together by Norwin’s Director of Bands Robert Traugh. The group featured Mr. Traugh on trombone, his brother Dave on bass, Evan Hertrick on sax, Kurt Wolfgang on guitar and Norwin’s own Josh Dick on drums. The Greenhouse Winery provided the perfect background with its holiday decorations and hospitable hosts Cindy Helinski and Greg Hazuza.

The interesting thing is that we can’t say that next year’s event will be bigger and better than ever – but we can say that with what we’re planning, you’ll need to get your tickets REALLY early for the event in November of 2012.

Suite Cafe 2011

The Suite Cafe 2011 is now history, and what a success it was! It’s amazing to us, that even in this most difficult economy, there are individuals willing to roll up their sleeves and help, businesses that contribute their products and services, parents and relatives that support the organization, and friends and community members that contribute gifts of time, talent and treasure to support the outstanding work of some spectacular kids, to help make them not only really good at what they do, but to excel.

Counting the 26 student performers from the Norwin Band, there were over 170 individuals that attended – over 50 more than last year. That’s phenomenal – especially on a Saturday in May. Many more folks wanted to attend but couldn’t due to prior commitments, weddings, and graduations. The unbelievable part is that those folks sent donations to the fund even thought they couldn’t be there.

Because the event was held the day after the Norwin Prom, many of the students wore their tuxes and ball gowns for another day to enhance the event’s prestige. The other change from last year was that there was no wine tasting, making this a family-friendly event, and some families really appreciated the ability to bring their children. It also offered the ability for some younger and very talented music students to perform, showing the excellence in musicianship the North Huntington, Irwin and North Irwin communities foster.

Almost forgot – the event raised over $5,000. We thank you for your generosity and commitment to what’s right with today’s young men and women. Come hear them – you’ll be amazed.


The Start of Year #2

We’ve all heard the news, watched the television reports, and read the blogs and the news services about the difficult economic times our nation is experiencing. But we’re now also hearing about signs of hope. For the people of Irwin, North Huntingdon, and North Irwin, Pennsylvania, hope is found in the young men and women that comprise the Norwin Band.

In December of 2009, the Norwin ‘Play It Forward’ Fund was begun with a small contribution to the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. It was begun after consultation with Mr. Robert Traugh, Director of Bands for the Norwin School District. When asked what did the band need to raise the musical performance level of the group, the answer was a quick one – students needed private lessons. The purpose of the fund was clear: to enhance the musical education of the students of the Norwin Band by providing funds to subsidize private music lessons and music camp experiences of students in grades 5 through 12.

Since the usual contribution to begin a fund with a special designation was $10,000, we knew our work was cut out for us, especially in difficult economic times. However, the enthusiasm for the project was high, and several major events were planned for the spring and fall to help reach that goal. Since success begets success, excitement began to build for the Norwin Band program. That excitement led to an incredible marching season, culminating in a 7th place finish at the Music For All/Bands of America Regional Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana, just one week before the program’s Grand National Championship Event. The successes of the Norwin Band has prompted financial gifts from members of the community and band alumni to both the Norwin Band and the Norwin ‘Play It Forward’ Fund.

With several major gifts and two successful events (a coffeehouse in the spring and a wine-tasting/concert event in the fall), the fund exceeded its $10,000 goal for 2010! Enthusiasm is already starting to build for this spring’s event, which now has a nickname – “The AfterProm” – since it is scheduled for the day after the Norwin High School Prom.

We’d like you to help build that enthusiastic excitement! If you’ve attended a Norwin ‘Play It Forward’ Fund event in 2010, this is the place to tell others about your experience. It takes all kinds of contributions – not only the monetary kind – to make a program grow!