The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service
A Program of the League of American Orchestras
Made Possible by
Recognizing the transformative power of music, the League's Ford Musician Awards honor professional orchestra musicians who offer exemplary education and community engagement initiatives in their communities. Now in its fourth year, the awards program, made possible through the generosity of Ford Motor Company Fund, celebrates the commitment of these extraordinary musicians and the impact of their work.
Learn more about past awardees:
- 2018 Ford Musician Awards press release
- Videos of the 2018 musicians in action
- 2017 Ford Musician Awards press release
- Symphony magazine article on the 2017 awardees
- Videos of the 2017 musicians in action
- 2016 Ford Musician Awards press release
- Symphony magazine article on the 2016 awardees
- Inside Exemplary Service, a webinar featuring the 2016 awardees
The musicians were presented with their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference in Chicago and discussed their work at an elective session for Conference delegates.
Associate Principal Flute
Lullaby Project, Sensory Friendly Concerts, Simple Gifts Initiative, among others
Jeffrey has collaborated on developing Sensory-Friendly Concerts, coached sectionals for side-by-side performances with local high schools, and actively supported the Seattle Symphony’s Lullaby Project and Simple Gifts initiatives, which empower individuals experiencing homelessness to connect with their creativity. Jeffrey has immersed himself in addressing homelessness in Seattle. In addition to his work with the Seattle Symphony, he also advocates on issues of homelessness by speaking publicly and helping partner organization Mary’s Place raise money for shelters.
John R. Beck
HealthRHYTHMS drumming with cancer and pediatric behavioral health patients; collaborative research study with physicians on the benefits of interactive group drumming
John’s work has had a broad reach, covering hospitals, schools, and senior centers, serving both children and adults. His current efforts are focused on adult stem cell transplant recipients: both the patients and their families experience the therapeutic benefits of drumming as an aid in healing and to mitigate stress, anxiety, and pain. His work has a clinical component: collaborating with an oncologist who is a symphony board member to study the psychological and physiological impact of participation in group drumming. With the support of the orchestra, a concert series was devoted to cancer awareness featuring commissioned music dedicated to and performed by people living with cancer.
Community Engagement Director, Flute
Firelands Symphony Orchestra
Providing in-school access to quality music programs for students in rural communities
“Miss Jody,” as she’s known to her students, is a licensed music education instructor who has been working with students in “music deprived” communities in the Firelands area since 2012. Personally providing over 5,000 children in mainly rural communities access to music in this year alone, she has created engaging educational programs for pre-k through third grade students, introductory year band and orchestra students, and band students in grades 5-12. These programs are designed to instill a desire for life-long learning of music and the arts, and to create a new generation of music lovers.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Concerts for Kindness, DSO’s Young Strings program, DSO Teen Council
For six years, Erin’s annual Concert for Kindness events have demonstrated the interaction of the arts, education, and civic causes. Supported by the DSO’s Principal Grant Program, Concert for Kindness recognizes the value and talent of high school and college-aged visual artists and musicians, who develop and produce this annual benefit concert raising funds for Operation Kindness, the oldest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas. The event features live music, visual art, and photography, with participation by young musicians and rescue animals. Students from the DSO’s Young Strings program and Teen Council are also involved, providing pre-concert musical entertainment and serving as ushers and volunteers.
Juan R. Ramírez Hernández
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Musicians in Schools, Musicians in Communities, and Talent Development Program, among others
Over a 45-year time period, Juan has created a series of music programs and organizations with the aim of connecting with Latino young people and adults. A committed performer, composer, teacher, mentor, and community leader, he has brought music into the lives of students who might not have access to instruments and training, and has engaged many constituencies on stage, in high schools and libraries, and at community events, both local and international. He has a long history of working with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s education and community engagement programs, and has also formed his own performing arts organizations, teaching, conducting, leading workshops, and performing.
Photo credits: Jeffrey Barker (Brad Kevelin); John Beck (Laurie Beck Photography); Jody Chaffee (ML Photography); Erin Hannigan (Teresa Berg Photography); Juan Ramírez (Teresa Penley-Sheppard)
The musicians were presented with their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ 72nd National Conference in Detroit, June 6-8, and discussed their work at an elective session for Conference delegates. Read the press announcement and an article in Symphony magazine.
Diane McElfish Helle
Five exemplary orchestra musicians were presented with the inaugural Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service at the League’s National Conference in Baltimore on June 10, 2016. Read the press announcement and an article in Symphony magazine.
Penny Anderson Brill
Photo Credit: Alicia Dal Lago
Photo Credit: Cybelle Codish
Photo Credit: Jeff Paul
Photo Courtesy of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Photo Credit: Seano Whitecloud