4 Southern Utah musicians recognized by American String Teachers Association

Sara Penny and Dr. Xun Sun, Date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Delivering nearly 4,000 babies, plus surgeries and emergency room care would be a complete career, but for Dr. Norman Fawson, it’s only a part of his contribution to Southern Utah.  He was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Utah Chapter of the American String Teachers Association at their winter meeting in St. George, along with recognition for Dr. Xun Sun, Jason Bonham and Sara Penny.

Dr. Norman Fawson, Date and Location not given | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU), St. George News
Dr. Norman Fawson, Location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah, St. George News

Fawson helped organize the Southwest Symphony, and when the concert hall lacked an acoustical shell, he helped procure funding and arranged for a performance shell to be designed and built. Along with Audrey Bush, he started an early morning program to teach string instruments to young people.

For 33 years, he taught early morning violin and viola. The string programs have now become an integral part of the Washington County schools.

In his remarks during the acceptance of the award, Fawson stressed the value of music training of young people and the excitement of having flourishing orchestra programs throughout the area. His service in both music and medicine have enriched Southern Utah.

Dr. Xun Sun

Orchestra of Southern Utah conductor and Southern Utah University professor Dr. Xun Sun was named Educator of the Year. Sun directs the symphony orchestra at Southern Utah University as well as serving as the music director for the Orchestra of Southern Utah. He completed his doctorate degree at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, New York.

Xun Sun, Date and Location not given | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU), St. George News
Xun Sun, Location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah, St. George News

Sun has continually broadened his professional career as an orchestral conductor and has worked diligently to promote world peace through music. He has conducted the Orchestra of Southern Utah since 2003, several opera productions at Southern Utah University and orchestras in America, Ukraine and China. Sun continues to teach the master-class in conducting in Hunan, China. He has taken American musicians to China for performances and brought many Chinese guest artists and conductors to perform in America.

Born in the city of Taiyuan, China, Sun manifested distinctive musical talent at an early age. He began his formal music training and violin studies at Wuhan Conservatory of Music at age 11 through the government’s scholarship program for exceptional music students. This substantial music training led him to successful graduate studies in the United States.

In addition to the American String Teachers Association award, Dr. Sun was recognized by Musical America as one of 30 professionals and “influencers” this season.

Jason Bonham

Jason Bonham pic.jpg
Jason Bonham, Location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah, St. George News

Jason Bonham was recognized as Secondary Education Teacher of the Year for his work developing the Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts music program. He was the Director of Orchestras at Tuacahn and the founder and artistic director of the Tuacahn Summer Arts Institute. He has been a faculty member at Brigham Young University and Dixie State University

Additionally, Bonham has served on various boards, including the American Viola Society, Kayenta Arts Foundation and the Chamber Music Society of Southern Utah. Currently, he is on the faculty at Nevada School of the Arts and teaches viola at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In fall of 2016, he will join the faculty at California State University, Long Beach.

Sara Penny

Sara Penny was named Studio Teacher of the Year. Penny has directed the Suzuki Strings of Cedar for 33 years and participated in numerous Suzuki workshops and trainings. She plays viola in the Orchestra of Southern Utah and serves as administrative assistant. She has also been president and manager for the orchestra.

Sara Penny, Date and Location not given | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU), St. George News
Sara Penny, Location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Orchestra of Southern Utah , St. George News

Penny started playing her granmother’s violin at age 8 and ultimately received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah. Some of her teachers have included R. L. Halversen, Cedar City; Norma Lee Madsen Belnap, University of Utah; Alfred de Reyghere, Ireland and Eduard Schmieder, Texas. She has also attended numerous Suzuki workshops with clinicians such as William Starr, John Kendall, William Preucil and Terry Durbin, as well as directed annual regional workshops in Cedar City.

In addition to Fawson, Sun, Bonham and Penny, American String Teachers Association recognized David Park as Higher Education Teacher of the Year and Karen Chandler for Outstanding Contribution to Music Education. American String Teachers Association provides training and opportunities for string teachers throughout the nation.

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