The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service
A Program of the League of American Orchestras
Made Possible by
The League's Ford Musician Awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement. Now in its fourth year, the awards program is made possible through the generosity of Ford Motor Company Fund.
The five musicians will receive their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference Luncheon, June 4 at 12:45 p.m., and discuss their work at Musicians Transforming Communities, an elective session for Conference delegates on June 4 at 9:00 a.m. Videos of the musicians in action will be posted on the League’s website after the Conference.
Victoria Griswold, Violin
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Teddy Bear Series, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement
Since 2015, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Violinist Victoria Griswold has written the programs for the ISO’s Teddy Bear Series, which provides thousands of young children access to free music programs at local libraries, hospitals, and preschools. Two of her Teddy Bear programs have been turned into children’s books through the Macy’s Gives program. The program integrates live music, storytelling, and age-appropriate movement for children ages 3-6, but typical audiences include infants through age 8.
“It is magical to see a room full of children hearing musical instruments for the first time and it feels wonderful that these programs are reaching the general public in a way that is welcoming and inclusive.” – Victoria Griswold
Jeff Handley, Principal Percussion
Audience Matters and SEED, in-school residency programs for students from underserved communities
Principal Percussionist and Education/Outreach Program Director with Chicago Sinfonietta and Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Jeff Handley created two programs with the goals of exposing students to classical music. Both programs model diversity through the musicians sent to the classrooms, with the goal of preparing young musicians to move forward to college and auditions. Audience Matters is a six-week, in-school residency program for 4-6 grades that provides music education and engagement to students in underserved communities; SEED provides intense small group instruction by Chicago Sinfonietta musicians for high school student musicians in chamber-sized ensembles.
“If we can help these students overcome some of the incredible challenges they face by helping them to see what they are capable of, who could ask for more rewarding work?” – Jeff Handley
Rebecca Patterson, Principal Cello
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
NHSO Harmony Fellowship Quartet / Recording Composition Class, for students from underrepresented communities
Rebecca Patterson is one of two New Haven Symphony Orchestra musicians and two student Fellows from underrepresented communities in the NHSO Harmony Quartet. The Quartet implemented the Recording Composition Class, working with a high school music class for a complete school year to facilitate the creation of new works merging classical and hip-hop traditions. The students put their own poems and lyrics to songs performed by the string quartet, and which were then recorded. This program created a lasting positive impact on the students well beyond the initial work in the classroom, influencing their self-esteem, social circles, mental focus and studies, and direction in life.
“If creating music has planted the seeds of imagination, perseverance, and the belief in oneself that is needed to overcome the many hurdles and extreme challenges encountered in life, then who knows what positive ripples may ensue down the road.” – Rebecca Patterson
Donna Parkes, Principal Trombone
Teaching children at the Heuser Hearing Institute with hearing and speech impairment skills such as singing, clapping with rhythm, and dancing.
Introducing the wonder of sound and music to hearing- and speech-impaired children, and working with a team that includes hearing specialists, teachers, musicians, and administrators, Donna Parkes has been bringing the joy of music to dozens of youngsters and their families for eleven seasons. Taken from the National Standards of Music Education for pre-school and early Childhood, the program’s goals include singing and playing instruments; creating music; responding to music; and understanding music.
“Through our music, we have this incredible tool to share our art with anyone. We can form relationships that cross many barriers, and this gives me the chance to share my music with a true purpose.” – Donna Parkes
Rebecca Young, Associate Principal Viola
New York Philharmonic
Very Young People’s Concerts
Rebecca Young was first introduced to music at the age of two when her parents took her to the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts led by Leonard Bernstein. Today, she is the host of the Philharmonic’s popular Very Young Peoples Concerts, intimate chamber music concerts where she has tap-danced, played drums, ridden a scooter around the stage, and even sung Gilbert & Sullivan. She has expanded the program’s reach to touch outlying areas, including the New York’s outer boroughs and even overseas.
“To share classical music with young children, people with special needs, and countless others is both a gift we give and something from which we receive so much.” - Rebecca Young
Photo credits: Victoria Griswold (Greg Whitaker); Jeff Handley (Chicago Sinfonietta); Rebecca Patterson (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco); Donna Parkes (Sam English); Rebecca Young (Chris Lee)