The award was presented on September to the nationally recognized teacher, clinician, pianist, author and Professor of Piano and Coordinator of the Piano Department at Westminster Choir College by Westminster Dean Marshall Onofrio and Jacobs Music Senior Vice President Bob Rinaldi at the College’s Opening Fall Convocation on September 5, 2017. He explained that what inspired us to create the Al C. RINALDI LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD “is the legacy that my father left to my family and to all of us at Jacobs Music. Al Rinaldi was abandoned as a baby, raised in a tenement in Scranton, PA and had a very difficult upbringing. If that were not enough, from early adulthood he survived cancer more than a dozen times. The common theme in Al’s life is that music saved his life, figuratively and literally. As a very small child he sang in bars and passed a hat for money to buy food. He was a boy soprano in his church choir and a highlight of his young life was singing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. He played an instrument in his Navy base band…and he turned to music when my brother Michael was diagnosed with terminal cancer and through his own many battles with cancer. Once again, Music saved his life. My father’s motto was ‘a Life without Music is a life without meaning.” I think each one of us in this room will agree – a life without Music is a life without meaning.
In this spirit, it gave us great pleasure to have presented this first-ever Jacobs Music Al C. Rinaldi Lifetime Achievement Award to Ingrid Clarfield whose life is the subject of a documentary “TAKE A BOW,” released in 2011. It tells her inspirational life story and her tenacious fight back to teaching after a devastating 2007 stroke. The myriad recognition she has received from her peers in music education include being the first recipient of the New Jersey Music Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year Award in 2009, being named “Teacher of the Year” by the Music Teachers National Association in 2012 and in 2015 receiving The Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. Ms. Clarfield has also authored many collections for Alfred Publishing Company and maintains an independent studio in Princeton. Her students have performed concertos with several orchestras, were featured on NPR’s “From the Top,” have won top honors in state, national, and international competitions and have performed in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Kennedy Center, Merkin Concert Hall, Steinway Hall, and several concert halls in Beijing.
Bob Rinaldi concluded: “Sharing the love of music with our colleagues and future generations is a responsibility of us all. Some who do so must overcome giant obstacles, with great physical and mental duress way beyond expectation, yet they don’t complain, all for the love of music.” He continued: “These super human individuals show up each day with a great sense of duty, not for their own gain but for that of others. They have no knowledge that the rest of us are watching and that they provide us the inspiration to fight and fight hard for Music. I am here today because of those who have inspired me – beginning with my father by fighting and beating cancer over a dozen times and going back to work while still lying in his hospital bed and today especially because of one other very special individual, Professor Ingrid Clarfield. Ingrid has inspired me by overcoming the effects of her stroke and her recent surgery. Ingrid Clarfield comes to work every day in spite of the physical toll on herself, all for the love of music and for that of her students. Ingrid you are a very special person and all of us in this room and hundreds more who aren’t here today. THANK YOU for coming back to work in spite of the hurdles…To all of the young people in this room I say: keep an eye on Professor Clarfield. The life lessons that you will learn by watching her determination, grit and will are that which no class will ever teach.”