Conductor/Musician wins local award
Posted: 03/29/2009 01:01:19 AM PDT
Keith Stout, poses with wife Martha. He was honored
Saturday by the Vaca Arts Council with the Marianna Pokorny Award.
Most education specialists agree teachers are the most important
element in any classroom, so consider what the 20th century's
greatest scientist, Albert Einstein, once said about them: "It is
the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression
And it is teachers, especially music
teachers, who have so greatly influenced well-known Vacaville
musician Keith L. Stout.
In a recent e-mail, he cited a number
of them, calling them "inspirations" and "big ingredients" while
growing up in Vacaville. From them, as mentors, he learned not only
the love of music and key vocabulary -- the circle of fifths,
various scales, time signatures, for example -- but he also learned
practical life lessons.
"I wanted to let you know," he said,
"that Mrs. Pokorny was a wonderful inspiration to all of us
teenagers in the school music programs. She encouraged me to
participate and get involved in the community arts and was always a
great cheerleader to myself" and his music-loving brothers, Ken and
Stout, a city of Sacramento Asst.
Architect for nine years, Trumpeter and founder-conductor of local
Alive Music Orchestra, cited Pokorny because Saturday night he held
in his hands a small but tangible part of her legacy as the beloved
longtime choir director for Vacaville Unified -- the Marianna
The top honor
bestowed annually by the Vaca Arts Council, it is given to someone
in Solano County whom advances the group's mission: to support,
coordinate the cultural arts. Additionally, the award recognizes
someone whose arts activities benefit the city's youth in some way.
To a standing ovation, Stout received
the evening's final award at the council's 19th Salute to the Stars
gala at the Opera House, a black-tie event that shines a spotlight
on people, most of them volunteers, and area businesses involved in
the county's visual, performing and lively arts.
In an interview, he sounded modest
and surprised, saying, "It's quite an honor. It was very unexpected,
especially with the economic times the way they are right now."
Stout got word from arts council
president Richard Gideon, a retired visual arts teacher with
Vacaville Unified, who e-mailed the news. Unfortunately, it was the
same day Stout, 46, who earned a bachelor of science degree in
environmental design from the University of California, Davis,
learned that he "probably will be laid off" from his job by
"It was a good time to receive the
news," said Stout, one of the prime movers behind the Vacaville Jazz
Festival and its spin-off youth jazz camps. "It really lighted up my
Sounding upbeat in the face of a
likely layoff, he said he has much to be grateful for, especially
his wife, Martha, and three children, Amanda, Ally and Keaton. He
celebrates his seventh wedding anniversary today.
As the conversation turned to the
city's annual jazz festival, in its 10th year, Stout said, "We're
diligently trying to keep this (free festival) alive. The focus is
being able to provide an opportunity for local people to enjoy the
arts, especially from their own musicians in the area."
The festival-sponsored jazz camps, he
noted, are ways to preserve the uniquely American musical idiom and
pass on its beauty -- and its collaborative and improvisational
nature -- to the next generation.
As conductor of Alive Music Orchestra
for the past twenty years, Stout has always nurtured local young
talent, seeking interns from area high school jazz bands, noting
that that Andy Herout, band director at Vacaville High, was once a
Making the public aware of the
importance of music education in public schools has been a
particular passion, especially in the last year, he said, lamenting,
"It's a shame we're at this state of challenging economic times. The
arts are the first to suffer. I'm trying to be as optimistic as
"The (public school music) programs
are going to be cut from the state (budget)," he predicted. "I think
it's going to hit Vacaville, Travis and Fairfield. Some of our (jazz
festival) programs might have to supplement and help them, with
classes and clinics for kids."
No surprise, but the classes and
clinics are staffed by adult volunteers, local musicians who give
their time and talent, Stout said.
Stout cited a number of teachers and
mentors he respects and credits for his success as a musician, among
them Jim Tutt, Dick Grokenberger and Gideon.
"He was one of my teachers in junior
high school," he said of Gideon. "We all look up to people like
Richard Gideon, Don Kidder and others for a sense of reassurance and
direction. Their impact on the arts and ideas will be carried
through people in our generation, so we can teach the next."