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Dr. Catherine Sweeney Receives Prestigious Helmbrecht Award

Richard K. Helmbrecht Award:

Each year, in memory of Richard K. Helmbrecht, The Pocono Mountains Music Festival honors a person or organization that demonstrates the drive, commitment and tireless effort that so personified what Richard did in helping us turn an idea of a Festival into a reality.  It is with great pleasure that we award this distinction to Dr. Catherine A. Sweeney, the Pocono Mountain School District Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  

Richard and his wife Rosemarie, a member of the Festival’s Board of Directors, were the first people that Peter Mark, our first Artistic Director and David S. Mazza MD, our Founder, met with to present the idea of starting a music festival in 2009. Richard realized the possibilities the Festival offered and did all that he could personally and as President of the Board of the Buck Hill Falls Company to make this Festival a reality.
Like Richard, Dr. Sweeney works tirelessly to advance the mission of the Pocono Mountains Music Festival and Performing Arts Camp Experience.  She is committed to the proposition that the performing arts can play a critical role in the education and personal development of our youth. She has demonstrated this commitment through active recruitment of students to each summer session of the camp.  

This past spring knowing that the pandemic could pre-vent high schools from producing their Spring 2021 musicals, the Festival produced “The Pocono Mountains High School Musical…Broadway and Beyond … a Musical Passport.” Dr. Sweeney recruited students and was the primary fundraiser for the production. As a result, young talent from across 8 different high schools realized their dream of returning to the stage and performing a live concert.  
The success of this undertaking was borne out by the feedback received from the students, many of whom characterized the experience as “life changing.”

Her efforts over the years have ensured that the Festival is able to offer to the youth of our community many unforgettable experiences in the performing arts.  

The Board of Directors of the Festival is incredibly grateful for her contributions.


By Marianne Zychal
President of the Board
The Pocono Mountains Music Festival