Mike Fincken, the owner of New World Music Center, was recently named the Baldwin Businessperson of the Year in recognition of his contributions to the community since the center opened in 1988.
Business owners and merchants across Nassau County celebrated their successes at the 35th annual Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce Businessperson of the Year and Legislative Breakfast on Oct. 18 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
A musician himself who has performed on local stages as well as at Carnegie Hall, Fincken founded the center to bring professional music instruction to the community. He has been featured on radio and television over the years, and has appeared on recordings of various artists. But his focus is on the center’s mission: to provide students of all ages with the skills they need to enjoy making music.
“Mike Fincken, of New World Music, has been a tremendous asset to the Baldwin community,” Baldwin chamber President Erik Mahler said. “His achievements in teaching all ages musical instruments is well-founded. He deserves this award more than any other business for his tireless contributions to the Baldwin community.”
New World has offered professional music lessons for 32 years, and has helped thousands of students im-prove their skills, whether preparing for a New York State School Music Association audition or just playing for fun. The center also offers instrument sales, rentals and repairs. And Fincken pointed out that 30 percent of his students are adults.
Fincken is an active member of the Baldwin chamber, and arranges musical performances for Baldwin Day and the Christmas tree lighting each year. He works with Ginny Foley, a chamber board member and former president who founded Baldwin Day 23 years ago.
“He does all the work, and there’s very little work for me to do,” Foley said, adding that Fincken has served the chamber for more than 20 years, organizing the musical performances for various events around town. He helped coordinate the recent Grand Baldwin Festival in the Baldwin Public Library parking lot on Oct. 19 with Colette Carrion and Ida Zambrano.
“Music makes a party — it makes the event,” Foley said. “He has to rehearse with [the musicians] and get all the acts together. As you know, without the music, the event wouldn’t be as great as it is, so we’re very grateful for him. He puts on a wonderful show for Baldwin.”
Originally operating in a rented space at 1858 Grand Ave., Fincken bought the building in 2004. He also gives back to the community: New World offers free admission to its popular recitals and collects food items that are donated to local families in need. Fincken also donates instruments to the Friends of Music, which gives them to underprivileged children.
“It was a great honor to be recognized amongst my peers in the Baldwin community after working here in our 32nd year,” Fincken said. “It’s quite an honor to feel that what you’re doing is making a difference.”
He attended the ceremony with his family, Foley and Mahler.
“We’re really proud to nominate him this year, and it’s long overdue,” Foley said. “He’s been helping us out for a long, long time. We were happy to honor him. He really, really, really deserves it.”