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A night of stars for Howard County's Arts Council

Attendees at last year's Celebration of the Arts mingle at the reception.
Attendees at last year's Celebration of the Arts mingle at the reception. (Courtesy photo)

Local supporters of the arts are planning what to wear for the Howard County Arts Council’s 21st annual Celebration of the Arts on Saturday, March 24, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Center.

It’s an opportunity to dress up, meet and greet, watch performances and, yes, raise money for the arts council.

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The festivities include honoring three recipients of the Howie Award for career achievement, a Rising Star Performing Arts Competition, a food- and drink-filled reception featuring area restaurants, a silent auction of work by local artists and pre-show entertainment.

Honorary chairs for the event are Buddy and Sue Emerson, who are supporters of community and charitable organizations. Event emcee is Myron “Mo” Dutterer, a longtime fixture as a teacher and director in the Howard County theater community, and himself the recipient of the 2003 Howie Award for Outstanding Arts Educator.

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This year’s Howie Awards go to actor Ric Ryder as Outstanding Artist, Tolly Rumbaugh Peddicord as Outstanding Arts Educator and Michael J. Clark as Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts.

“I am honored and humbled by it all,” said Ryder, 56, a New York City resident who added that his professional singing and acting roles owe a lot to the role played by his Howard County upbringing.

“Columbia was being created then and it was pioneering itself in the arts,” Ryder recalled of a career that began when he played both title roles in a production of “The Tortoise and the Hare” at Northfield Elementary School. Locally, Ryder sang in the choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church, was a member of the Young Columbians, and graduated from Centennial High School in 1979. He studied music as a teen at the Peabody Prep, and received his BFA in vocal performance from UMBC in 1984.

“It was a natural progression for me. I found that singing was my thing,” Ryder said about a career that includes five Broadway shows, as well as other work in film, TV and radio. Indeed, he’s appeared everywhere from cruise ships to Opryland USA.

Ryder is a voice teacher in New York City, where his students include numerous performers appearing in Broadway shows.

He frequently returned to Howard County over the years for family visits, as well as to teach local voice students. Also, he directed a show at Silhouette Stages in Columbia, and has participated in arts-related benefits in Howard County.

Tolly Rumbaugh Peddicord has taught in the Howard County Public School system for 30 years. Proof that she enjoys staying in one place is that she has taught at St. John's Lane Elementary School for the past 21 years. She is also active statewide in educational associations and related programs.

“I can’t even tell you how wild this all is,” said Rumbaugh Peddicord, 53, who lives in Eldersburg, about receiving a Howie Award.

Her voice is filled with the same enthusiasm that she brings to the classroom as an art teacher.

“I create solid relationships with the students and I am a part of what’s going on at the school,” she said. “Whatever is going on, I’m there! I teach all the grades and really get to know the students, so I have a very strong fan base at my school. I’m fun and playful. The kids grow as artists each year. Inside the art room, it’s a place where everyone can find success. I have art lessons that connect to their world.”

Michael J. Clark had a 30-year career as a Baltimore Sun reporter, of which 20 years was spent covering Howard County. He has been busy in retirement, too, with award-winning activities that include helping to create a phone referral service and outreach ministry at Christ Episcopal Church. Among his other projects have been a holiday gift project for low-income families, a program to support Hispanic immigrants, and a backpack and school supply program.

Clark, 78, and his wife Lois, who live in Ellicott City, are so involved with such programs that they qualify as being among the most active citizens in Howard County.

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“It’s all about creating communities,” Clark said about his various activities. “Because I had covered the county (for the Sun), I knew all the agencies and how they work. As a reporter, I had a rapport with many people here.”

In terms of arts-related activities, Clark has had a strong connection to the Little Patuxent Review. This literary and art journal was founded by the late Ralph and Margot Treitel in the 1970s and subsequently became dormant. Clark was among those who revived it around 11 years ago. He served as its publisher for 10 years and recently became publisher emeritus, meaning that he still takes an active interest in a journal that publishes two issues per year and also has related public readings at Oliver’s Carriage House.

“As the publisher, my role was to support good ideas and give (the staff) total freedom. That’s why I accept the award not for myself, but for all of the people engaged in this,” Clark said, adding that the journal “gives a sense of community to writers and artists.”

A related activity for the past decade is a monthly Salon that the Little Patuxent Review co-sponsors with the Columbia Art Center.

Another important component of the upcoming Celebration of the Arts is the Rising Star Performing Arts Competition, in which 10 finalists compete for a $5,000 cash award. There will be live performances and then the audience gets to vote on the winner.

This year’s finalists are Junghoon Park, piano; Elizabeth Milligan, flute; Pacing Bodies (Ryan Bailey and Maia Schechter), dance; Brian Nabors, musical theater; Keely Bosworth Borland, classical voice; Tyler Fitzpatrick, jazz guitar; Arelle Oberlander, classical voice; Lindsey Landry, musical theater; Alexandra Rodrick, classical voice; and Benjamin Lurye, musical theater.

The Celebration of the Arts is Saturday, March 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia. Tickets are $100 and $50. Call 410-313-2787 or go to hocoarts.org.

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