Ken Cicerale Memorial Scholarships awarded

June 17, 2021

Members of the late Ken Cicerale’s musical family from his band 5th Avenue, and his wife Josie Cicerale awarded scholarships to Hylea Lisenby and Liam Weidmann June 7 at Cape Henlopen High School.

The Ken Cicerale Memorial Scholarship is funded through donations made by family, fellow musicians, and friends and fans of Ken and his music. It is designed to provide scholarship money to graduating high school seniors pursuing postsecondary education in the field of music. The funds are managed by the Delaware Community Foundation. Going forward, two scholarships per year will be awarded to graduating seniors in Sussex County pursuing music studies at the college level.

Hylea Lisenby is an accomplished musician who first studied the clarinet in fifth grade. Over the years, she has performed in both the concert band and jazz band at Cape High. “Hylea excelled in the Cape jazz band and was an all-state clarinet player and vocalist. Hylea is going to attend UNC Greensboro in the fall for music education. She has played clarinet and saxophone in our jazz band for three years and is one of the best classical players that has come through the program,” said Christopher Burkhart, Cape band director.

Lisenby said she looks forward to studying in North Carolina, where she was born and many of her relatives still reside. After earning a bachelor’s degree in music education at UNC Greensboro, she hopes to earn her master’s degree at UNC Chapel Hill.

At the ceremony, Ken’s wife Josie said, “Receiving financial assistance enabled Ken to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music, and he would be happy to see other young people have the opportunity to follow their musical dreams and earn a college education too. Like Hylea, he too studied classical clarinet as his first instrument.”

Liam Weidmann is an accomplished musician who is respected by his music director and peers, both for his musical accomplishments, and for the quality individual he is, said Burkhart. “[Liam] is an incredible musician who was the first-chair tuba player in All State Orchestra and band, and also first-chair guitar in All State Jazz as a junior. Liam was also selected for All Easterns as a senior,” said Burkhart.

Weidmann already is working locally as a professional musician. This summer he will be performing on bass in “Mamma Mia!” at Clear Space Theatre.

“His peers lean on him; his teachers love having him in class, and he is constantly coaching and encouraging younger musicians. He has been an absolute honor to work with,” said Burkhart.

Ken Cicerale’s name was synonymous with “intimate jazz.” A former student of legendary saxophonists Gerry Niewood and Frank Foster, he performed for many years as both leader and sideman with various jazz and pop ensembles in the greater New York area. Born in Newark, N.J., Cicerale lived in southern Delaware after a successful musical career as a performer, composer, music educator and awards director at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

With his longtime band mate from New York, Vincent Varrassi, Cicerale established and performed with the jazz group 5th Avenue. Joined by Ken Schleifer on drums and Jeff Cooper on double bass, the band played gigs and concerts in Delaware, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Cicerale’s last CD of originals, “City Lights,” was released in 2018. With Josie’s permission, the 5th Avenue group continues its performances with these musicians and occasionally others.

To make contributions to the scholarship fund, go to


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