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Justin Veatch Fund Awards Six New Music Scholarships

Updated: Jun 19


BY JEFFREY VEATCH JUNE 13, 2024–The Justin Veatch Fund awarded six new $1,200 music scholarships to graduating high school seniors at an awards program at Yorktown Town Hall. The six, chosen among 19 applicants from 11 high schools, are Madeline Galgano of South Salem, Christian Laughlin of Cortlandt Manor, Annabelle Newberger and Tyler Olener of Yorktown Heights, Mia O’Malley of Peekskill, and Noah Volkman of Granite Springs.


This is the 16th year The Fund has awarded scholarships to students who live within a 40-mile radius of Yorktown. The scholarships honor the legacy of Justin Veatch, a Yorktown High School senior who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. Veatch was a talented musician who had been on the verge of releasing an album of his original songs. The album, titled Permagrin, was later released with the help of cover recordings from other artists.“We lost Justin far too young and it’s hard to believe the Fund has been awarding these scholarships for almost as long as he was on this earth,” says Justin’s sister Elena Veatch, who is a member of the Fund’s Board of Directors. “But it’s endlessly inspiring to review these applications each year and to watch recipients go on to do incredible things inside and outside of the music world.”


The six new scholarships were awarded in a program at Yorktown Town Hall. Craig Schulman who played leading roles in Broadway’s Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Jekyll & Hyde was the keynote speaker.


The 2024 award recipients:

Madeline Galgano, graduating from John Jay High School, plans to major in musical theater at Penn State University in the fall. Galgano says musical theater will allow her to share her passion for music with the world, and inspire others to expand their horizons. She believes through music, society is better able to feel a collective emotion and understand each other. The artistic director of the theater group Curtain Call says he has rarely had the opportunity to work with an artist like Galgano who, he says, consistently takes command of the stage with stellar performances. One of her music teachers at John Jay said Galgano’s musicianship skills have far surpassed those of her peers and her desire to hone her skills continually elevates her compositional technique.

Christian Laughlin, graduating from Walter Panas High School, plans to attend Ithaca College in the fall. Laughlin specializes in the clarinet, but is also proficient on other instruments including unlikely companions like the tuba and bass trombone and has been composing songs since the age of 10. One of his teachers, who called him “a musical force within our department,” says Laughlin is often seen entering his school’s band room with multiple instruments that he had brought home either to practice or for a gig he was part of. Laughlin says his efforts at composing music has inspired him to work with a variety of instruments. Another of his teachers says he has been impressed with Laughlin’s ability to learn difficult music very quickly, and play with excellent musicality. Laughlin is also known for his generosity, offering lessons to other music students who need help. His goal, he says, is to play professionally in orchestras and wind ensembles.

Annabelle Newberger, graduating from Yorktown High School, plans to study vocal performance and business at Cornell University in the fall. Newberger says she’s always had a passion for music. But despite having been involved in piano, violin, drums, and being an “avid” recorder player–it was her own voice that resonated most deeply, and that musical theater has allowed her personal instrument to flourish. She says the phrasing, the melody, the tone, and the sustain of each word transcends mere speaking, rising to a higher level of communication. One of her teachers says Newberger’s love of musical theater is contagious, inspiring her peers to rise to her level. And her achievements are many. She was accepted into the 2023 NYSSMA Area All-State Choir as well as other honors including the solo NYSSMA festival during the past two years. Newberger says her ultimate goal is to continue to pursue her passion while working toward a college degree and one day make her Broadway debut.

Tyler Olener, graduating from Yorktown High School, will be studying classical voice and opera at New England Conservatory in Boston. But Olener says his interest in music is not limited to that medium. In fact, outside of playing trumpet in his school’s wind ensemble, he says he’s also an avid drummer and practices rock, heavy metal, and jazz fusion. He says his involvement in musical theater led him to study voice. And that opened up a new universe of classical repertoire which has now become his primary focus. Olener has performed in a variety of theatrical productions in Westchester County. His vocal teacher says he has wonderful musical abilities, good sight reading skills, and the ability to quickly grasp techniques to learn new classical material. Olener says he believes conservatory study will give him the tools he needs to become a successful professional musician.


Mia O’Malley, graduating from Hendrick Hudson High School, plans to major in choral music education at the University of Delaware this fall. O’Malley has been selected to participate in numerous Regional, State, and National Honor Choirs and played leading roles in several of her school’s theatrical productions. Her school’s choral music director says O’Malley consistently achieves beyond what is expected, that she has never worked with a student with such a high work ethic. O’Malley, she says, is “the kind of student that inspires me to be a better teacher.” That sentiment is echoed by her school’s band director who says O’Malley is one of the most gifted vocalists they have ever worked with. O’Malley herself says she truly believes her time studying music education at the University of Delaware will not only allow her to build on her skills as a musician, but make her a more well-rounded and dynamic human being, and future music educator.


Noah Volkman, graduating from Somers High School, plans to attend Syracuse University in the fall. Volkman’s involvement in music is all-encompassing, often combining his piano performances with other music production. In addition, he’s been involved as a stage crew sound technician and engineer, and created over a thousand original beats. He’s released three full-length albums along with several EPs and singles and collaborates with other musicians across the country. His songs have now been streamed over 400-thousand times across channels like Spotify and YouTube. Volkman says he wants to fully explore the developing nuances of the music industry with the goal of being involved in music business and marketing. One of his teachers says none of his students has ever demonstrated more clearly that music is in his veins. He says Volkman is a fantastic role model for aspiring fellow students, yet very humble in his approach to others.


Each Justin Veatch Fund Scholarship recipient is awarded an engraved working metronome along with a $1,200 check. The Justin Veatch Fund is a non-profit organization and registered New York State charity.


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