Newsome High School Orchestra director Christopher Allen (right) receiving a giant check for $10,000 from musical icon Barry Manilow as part of his Manilow Music Teacher Award last month.

Newsome High School Orchestra director Christopher Allen received the Manilow Music Teacher Award last month at the concert at Amalie Arena. He was invited to see Barry Manilow perform as well as to speak with him backstage where the award was presented. He was given 10 tickets and took some of his family and his Orchestra Boosters.

“I am honored and humbled, of course, but also uncomfortable; it’s been a little uncomfortable in the most positive way possible,” said Allen. “I am not used to the attention.”

During the voting process, Allen would encourage his students to vote at the beginning of class by playing “Copacabana” at the beginning of every class.

“Before this competition, I honestly had not heard much from Barry Manilow, but now when I hear that song, I’ll remember the time in orchestra where we were voting,” said Allen.

Allen was given a shoutout during the concert performance and a spotlight was shone on him as Manilow expressed the importance of music directors and how he would not have gotten to where he is without people like Allen. After the concert, many people walked up to Allen and his large check to congratulate him, which Allen described as his “15 minutes of fame.”

“The biggest positive is exposure for my program to the general public. That is the biggest one. Everybody’s talking about Newsome High School Orchestra in general and music in general; it gets conversations going about music education. I am very grateful,” said Allen.

Allen explained that meeting musical icon Manilow was very exciting, and while he does not often listen to Manilow’s genre, he highly enjoyed the performance. The award means so much to him and to the program, and the $5,000 that went toward the program will be used for instruments and other equipment.

Allen and the Newsome High School Orchestra want to extend their thanks to everyone who voted and made this possible.

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