Chorus America has announced the recipients of its 2015 awards program. The awards recognize a broad range of achievements in choral music, including artistic excellence, adventurous programming, innovative education programs, and lifetime service to the choral field.
“We’re thrilled to recognize these leaders in excellence and innovation. Ultimately, their success benefits the entire choral field,” said Catherine Dehoney, president and CEO of Chorus America.
Independent panels selected the following individuals and choruses to receive awards, which will be presented at Chorus America’s 2015 Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, June 17-20.
Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence
This award honors the memory of Margaret Hillis, founder of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, for her more than 40 years of professional achievement and outstanding contributions to the choral field. The award is presented annually to a member chorus that demonstrates artistic excellence, a strong organizational structure, and a commitment to outreach, education, and/or culturally diverse activities.
The 2015 Hillis Award goes to The Crossing, led by conductor Donald Nally. A professional Philadelphia-based ensemble dedicated to expanding the contemporary choral music experience, The Crossing has presented over 40 world premieres since its inception in 2005. Each season culminates in the “Month of Moderns,” a four-week festival of three or more programs focused on a singular commissioning project that connects the concerts.
Chorus America Distinguished Service Award
The Chorus America Distinguished Service Award recognizes a member whose long-term service to the choral field significantly furthers Chorus America’s mission “to build a dynamic and inclusive choral community so that more people are transformed by the beauty and power of choral singing.”
The 2015 Distinguished Service Award goes to Terry Knowles, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) since 2000. During Knowles’ tenure, LAMC has increased its operating budget by more than 80%, undertaken ambitious commissioning projects, toured around the world, released six commercial CDs, and created a recording partnership with Decca Classics. Knowles led the Chorale's expanded relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the launch of the "Voices Within" education outreach program. Under Knowles's management, the Chorale has twice received the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming - in 2003 and 2010 - as well as Chorus America's prestigious 2012 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, the nation's highest choral music award. Knowles served on the Chorus America Board of Directors from 1990-1996. During her career, she also served as President of the Dale Warland Singers’ board of trustees and held leading fundraising positions at major institutions including the California Institute of the Arts, KUSC Radio, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Minneapolis United Way.
Dale Warland Singers Commission Award
Chorus America and the American Composers Forum partner to present this award in honor of Dale Warland’s lifelong commitment to new music as embodied through his work with the Dale Warland Singers. The award is made possible by the Dale Warland Singers Fund for New Choral Music, a permanently restricted endowment fund established in 2004.
The 2015 recipient of the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award is the Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, conducted by Susan McMane. They will partner with Seattle-area composer and conductor Karen P. Thomas to compose a multi-movement work for YWCP's premier ensemble (the Young Women's Chorus of San Francisco) set to poetry by Sara Teasdale, focusing on texts that are particularly relevant to young women. Thomas will work with the chorus to choose phrases that are especially meaningful to the singers, and selections from their highlighted words and melodic fragments will be woven into the texture of the composition. The piece will receive its world premiere at the end of the chorus’s 2015-2016 season.
Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art
Named after one of the founders of Chorus America, this Honorary Citation was established in 1978 to honor an individual with a lifetime of significant contributions to the professional choral art.
The 2015 Korn Founders Award goes to Craig Hella Johnson, founder and artistic director of Conspirare as well as music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble. A celebrated composer, he previously served as artistic director of Chanticleer from 1998-1999 and has also guest conducted the Austin Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Berkshire Choral Festival, Taipei Male Choir, and Oregon Bach Festival. He has also held the positions of director of choral activities at the University of Texas at Austin from 1990-2001 and artist-in-residence at Texas State University’s School of Music.
Chorus America/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and Alice Parker Award
The Adventurous Programming awards recognize choruses that demonstrate a sustained commitment to adventurous programming through performances of choral music written in the last 25 years. The 2015 winners are:
• Choral Chameleon, Vince Peterson, founder and director
• San Francisco Choral Artists, Magen Solomon, artistic director
• Portland Symphonic Girlchoir, Roberta Q. Jackson & Debra Burgess, co-conductors
The Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award honors composer Alice Parker, whose career has spanned six decades and has been devoted to the creation of works for the human voice. The award was established in 2003 to recognize a chorus for programming recently composed music that expands the mission of the chorus and challenges the chorus’s audience in new ways. The 2015 award goes to The Cecilia Chorus of New York, an adult volunteer chorus led by music director Mark Shapiro. The ensemble’s April 2014 concert in Carnegie Hall featured the world premiere of Credo for a Secular City composed by Tom Cipullo for chorus, baritone, and orchestra. In weaving together spiritually oriented texts drawn from a cross-section of secular writers, the piece represents an organic yet thought-provoking extension of the fundamentally sacred nature of the Chorus’s core repertoire.
Chorus America Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award
The Chorus America Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award honors the life and achievements of educator, conductor, and arranger Brazeal Dennard by recognizing individuals or organizations whose work builds upon his commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and furthering African-American and other diverse choral traditions through performance, research, or the creation of new compositions of significance.
The 2015 Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award goes to the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC), led by artistic director Anthony Trecek-King. BCC’s programming and philosophy promote inclusiveness, and the organization’s model has inspired the formation of diverse urban youth choruses around the world. Seeking works that address themes of social justice and unity, BCC commissions and performs works by African-American composers and highlights diverse choral traditions.
Chorus America Education and Community Engagement Award
This award recognizes education and community engagement programs that expand a chorus’s role in its community. Successful programs demonstrate mission-based program development, viable music education, effective management and fiscal integrity, a commitment to artistic excellence, and collaborations that are sustainable, beneficial, and meaningful for all partners.
The 2015 Education and Community Engagement Award honors the best collaborative program, and goes to the Pacific Chorale in Santa Ana, California for the Pacific Chorale Academy program. Based on Venezuela’s “El Sistema,” the Academy provides weekly after-school music and team building instruction. Offered at no cost to participating students, the program serves 4th-6th graders at two local Title I schools. Curriculum includes training in vocal technique, ensemble singing, and overall musicianship and is provided by school music teachers and Pacific Chorale teaching artists.
Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal
The Botto Award was established in memory of Louis Botto for his artistry, selfless service to the choral art, and entrepreneurial spirit in founding the men’s vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The award is given periodically to a mid-career choral leader who, through his or her work with a member ensemble of Chorus America, has demonstrated innovative action and entrepreneurial zeal in developing a professional or professional-core choral ensemble.
The 2015 Botto Award goes to Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Currently in his 14th season with the Chorale, Gershon has led more than 100 performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall over his tenure, including numerous world premieres. He has appeared as guest conductor with the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the LA Chamber Orchestra, the Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, and many other organizations.