Soulful Symphony founder receives 2013 Top 100 MBE Prestige Award

— On Wednesday, October 30, 2013, Soulful Symphony founder and artistic director, Darin Atwater received one of the region’s most prestigious awards— the 2013 Top 100 MBE Prestige Award. The Prestige Award is intended for an individual who brings prominence to the region and has obtained national recognition. It is a celebration of their accomplishments and their stature as a role model. It is recognition of their demonstrated successes and their ability to brand through their many diverse projects.

Darin Atwater receives the 2013 Top 100 MBE Prestige Award from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 during a ceremony at the mayor’s Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Week at the War Memorial in downtown Baltimore.

Photo Courtesy: Office of the Mayor

Darin Atwater receives the 2013 Top 100 MBE Prestige Award from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 during a ceremony at the mayor’s Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Week at the War Memorial in downtown Baltimore.

The awards ceremony took place during Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Week at the War Memorial located at 101 Gay Street in downtown Baltimore.

Atwater has earned a distinguished international reputation as Artistic Director, Pianist, Composer, Conductor and Cultural Advocate for the Arts all while single-handedly redefining what has remained a quintessentially European art form: the symphony orchestra.

In 2000 Atwater founded Soulful Symphony, an 85-member orchestra with vocals made up of mostly African American and Latino musicians. After 10 wildly successful seasons of sell-out performances in a joint venture with the Baltimore Symphony, Soulful Symphony is now the first resident ensemble at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center where the organization has entered into a historic partnership with Hippodrome Foundation, Inc.(HFI) and Broadway Across America.

Atwater is honored to be receiving the 2013 Prestige Award. He said, “Baltimore has been so good to me, so supportive. We started Soulful Symphony as a dream in 2000. With art and music in general, audiences are dwindling. So the fact that the citizens of Baltimore and beyond have been coming in droves to support culture and art makes as much of a statement as the music. To me, receiving this award says that what you do as an artist can become something larger, part of the cultural fabric of the community.”

Soulful Symphony’s next concert, “Soulful Holidays” will be on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 8 p.m. at the Hippodrome Theatre. The concert captures the magic and wonder of the holidays with original orchestral arrangements, magnificent vocal performances, spectacular dancing, and the incredible sounds of Soulful Symphony. The concert reflects a broad range of holiday music while incorporating rousing renditions of Christmas carols and traditional holiday favorites. The orchestra will perform the final concert of the 2013/2014 Concert season on May 3, 2014. This concert, “So Many Stars,” will benefit HFI programs that serve thousands of students every year.

Woodlawn High School celebrates 10 year anniversary of Kevin Liles Stadium

— Woodlawn High School recently honored alumnus and entertainment and media entrepreneur Kevin Liles for consistently giving back to the Baltimore County school where he got his start. On October 25, 2013 Woodlawn hosted a recognition ceremony at Kevin W. Liles Stadium during halftime at the 2013 Homecoming game.

“It’s always good to come home to my alma mater, and I’m honored to be a part of the schools growth over the years. I look forward to celebrating 10 years with the Woodlawn community,” said Kevin Liles, Founder/CEO of KWL Enterprises.

In addition to being presented a key to the school from students, Liles was given a citation from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for his outstanding contributions to Woodlawn High School on the 10 year anniversary of Kevin Liles Stadium. Additionally, October 25, 2013 was officially declared Kevin W. Liles Day.

Baltimore student brings Ravens star to school

— If Charles Bellamy IV was, it’s a safe bet that the Gwynns Falls Elementary School first grader did not want to be awakened.

Young Charles was the toast of the school after he won a Metro PCS and FAN radio contest, which afforded him the opportunity to bring Baltimore Ravens star wide receiver Torrey Smith to school on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.

“What made it even more special is that no one told the other students who the winner was or what was going on,” said Jay Hoffman, the regional vice president of sales and operations for Metro PCS. “The students gathered in the auditorium and they didn’t know why, but out came Torrey Smith.”

The contest, sponsored by the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), began in September. Parents and students in grades K-8 who attend school in Baltimore City, Baltimore, Howard, Carroll, Harford and Anne Arundel counties, were invited to fill out entry forms for a chance to bring Smith to school. Principals and teachers also could enter by filling out forms at any Metro PCS store in the area, according to the official rules.

On October 15, officials randomly selected Charles’ entry, which made him the coolest kid in the school.

“Their faces all lit up,” Hoffman said. “Charles’ mother and grandmother were there as well. It’s nice and Torrey Smith is the perfect spokesperson for education and this is also one way in which Metro PCS tries to give back to the community.”

Smith, a Virginia native and university of Maryland graduate spoke of his interests outside of football where he and the Ravens are trying to defend their Super Bowl championship.

The Ravens’ star and his wife, fourth grade teacher Chanel Williams, enjoy a history of advocating good education for children. Earlier this year, the couple posted a You Tube video to help encourage children to study for the Maryland School Assessment, a reading and math achievement test that meets the requirements of the federal No Child Left behind Act.

“Bring your pencil, get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast, budget your test time, and re-read all the directions if you don’t understand the questions,” Smith urged students.

Metro PCS officials say they also reward students who do well.

“Children can receive gift cards for a free pizza, we also have tablet giveaways and other things,” Hoffman said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to give back.”

For Charles and his schoolmates, the visit by Smith counted as a huge gift from Metro PCS, the Fan radio station and the Community College of Baltimore.

“It’s something they’ll remember for a long time,” Hoffman said