Live United in Music II a success | News, Sports, Jobs

Al Nacinovich receives the second LIVE UNITED in Music Lifetime Achievement Award from JanAnn Todd, United Way’s
Director of Community Impact as Walt Straiton looks on. Photo Credit: Rick Mason Photography.

UPMC was the presenting sponsor for LIVE UNITED IN MUSIC II, benefitting the Lycoming County United Way, on Tuesday, April 19 at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport.

Over 800 in attendance got to sing along to the Music of Sir Elton John, starring Michael Cavanaugh and his band backed by the 50-piece special Live United in Music Pops

Orchestra conducted by Walt Straiton.

Joining Cavanaugh and the orchestra were featured performances by Zavon Braggs who performed Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love,” Mallory Scoppa Gardner who performed Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” and Jessica DeShong who performed Mack Warren and Eddie Gordon’s “At Last,” made popular by the late Etta James. The show kicked off with Ghost Riders in the Sky, featuring local violinist, Jason Hurwitz.

All of the special music was arranged by local artist Rob Byham.

Jeremy Leidacker, whose parents Aegina and Bobby played with the orchestra, said hello from The Netherlands via
FaceTime. Leidecker also arranged several of the Elton John pieces for orchestra.

LIVE UNITED in Music II was cancelled in 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19 and was postponed

until 2022.

The signature event is part of a yearlong 100th anniversary celebration for the local United Way which was founded as the Williamsport Welfare Corporation in April 1922.

Named the new voice of the American Rock ‘n Roll songbook, Michael Cavanaugh was hand-picked

by the Piano Man, Billy Joel himself to star in the smash Broadway hit Movin’ Out, which was

Local pastor Zavon Braggs sings Amazing Grace before performing Bobby Caldwell’s What You Won’t Love.
Photo Credit: Rick Mason Photography.

nominated for both Grammy and Tony Awards. Michael began playing at age seven and formed his

first band at age ten. In January 1999, Michael received an offer that would unknowingly change his life: an opportunity to play Las Vegas at the famed New York, New York Hotel and Casino. It was there in 2001 that Billy Joel spotted Michael and joined him on stage. It only took two songs before Billy had found his new Piano Man. In 2008, Michael signed with Warner/ADA and distributed his first CD.

Since then, he has performed countless shows and continues to tour today. Michael Cavanaugh is a truly professional musician that always puts on a one-of-a-kind show.

In addition to the performances, Ron Frick, President of the the United Way presented a special video showing the impact of its work on our community and thanked 27 sponsors for their generous support of this show and the one that was postponed in 2021.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the second LIVE UNITED in Music Lifetime achievement award to Mr. Albert Nacinovich, who was the longest-tenured conductor of the oldest non-military band in continuing existence in the United States, before retiring in 2019. Nacinovich dedicated his entire life to music in his community and his leadership of one of the revered institutions in this community is not only a testament to the man but to the history he is a part of.

The award was first presented in October 2019 to Dr. Oscar Knade, former Superintendent of the Williamsport Area School District, and the architect of much of the musical excellence in Williamsport.

The award was commissioned by the Lycoming County United Way from local artist and proprietor of Dirty-Dogs Studio and Gallery, Worth Rawson. Worth and his wife Chelsea are part of the fabric of our community, originally as a downtown small business, and now as part of the Pajama Factory and we are thrilled that for the second time, Worth has been able to marry the art of pottery with the art of music.

Presenting the award to Mr. Nacinovich were JanAnn Todd, Director of Community Impact for the

United Way, Dr. Knade and Walter Straiton.

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Anita Shire

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