The American Association of University Women has selected Gayel Pitchford of Tehachapi as the recipient of the 2014 Named Gift Award. The AAUW gives this honor each year to a person who has promoted learning and service to the community or the organization.
"Pitchford has encouraged, promoted and taught music in this community since 1996," said Phyllis Belcher of the AAUW. "She is responsible for much of the growth and appreciation of music in Tehachapi. She is a co-founder of Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra and serves as its concert master. She promotes old time fiddling and is instrumental in the continuation of Fiddlin' Down the Tracks, an annual fiddle contest."
A resident since 1997, Pitchford says music has always been her avocation.
She conducts two orchestras which meet in her home.
She not only volunteers to do this, but also purchases the music for the group. One orchestra is for beginners, and the other is for those a little more advanced. Both of these orchestras are composed mostly of youngsters, however, all ages are welcome. As players' skills increase, many of these orchestra members go on to play with Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra.
"I have about 40 students," said Pitchford, who teaches violin, viola, cello and bass.
Several of Gayel's students have received college scholarships based on their musical ability.
"She is an advocate for further education and continually encourages her students to pursue their studies," said Belcher. "Because of her dedication to teaching, encouraging, and promoting music, she has promoted AAUW goals of education and life long learning. She has done so much for the growth of music and the playing of music."
Although Pitchford says she is now retired, Belcher jokes that she is the "busiest retired person" she knows.