Local music teacher in the running for Grammy honor

Drew Benware (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — Drew Benware, the vocal music teacher at Saranac Lake High School, has been nominated for a Grammy — well, kind of.

The Recording Academy, which presents the famous Grammy music awards, and the Grammy Museum announced Wednesday the names of 197 quarterfinalists for their 2018 Music Educator Award. Benware is on the list.

“The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools,” a press release says.

This will be the fifth annual Music Educator Award. The quartfinalists come from 187 cities in 45 states plus Washington, D.C. They were narrowed down from more than 2,300 nominations from all 50 states.

From the quarterfinalists, 15 seminfinalists will be chosen, then 10 finalists, then one honoree, who will attend the Grammy Awards ceremony when it returns to New York City in January 2018. Each semifinalist and finalist will receive an honorarium with a matching grant for his or her school.

Benware, who grew up in North Bangor, started at Saranac Lake as a band teacher in 2003, went away to teach elsewhere and returned as vocal music teacher in 2011. He also conducts the school’s choruses and has led numerous student musical theater productions.

Outside of school, Benware is the founding artistic director and conductor of the Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble, a faculty member of Ithaca College’s Summer Music Academy, a singer in the Northern Lights Choir and Upstate New York Chorus, and an organist and pianist at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Saranac Lake as well as St. Agnes Catholic Church in Lake Placid.