New award made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund to celebrate orchestra musicians and the work they do in their communities
Penny Anderson Brill, violist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, is one of only five exemplary musicians selected by The League of American Orchestras to receive The Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service. A new program made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund, the awards celebrate orchestra musicians and the essential work they do in their communities.
“To see Penny honored in this way is a testament to her passion and dedication to her art and her community,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Our entire organization is committed to community engagement and education at all levels, and Penny has always been a trailblazer in those activities. We are deeply grateful for all that she does for her orchestra and her community.”
“These five musicians serve as models and mentors to the entire orchestra field,” said Jesse Rosen, the League of American Orchestras’ President and CEO. “Their commitment and dedicated work, whether by inspiring under-served students, bringing comfort in healthcare settings, or bridging cultures through their artistry, is on the leading edge of orchestras’ service to their communities. We are grateful to Ford Motor Company Fund for helping support this vital program and for enabling us to publicly acknowledge and share the important work of these musicians.”
”It is a pleasure to honor these dedicated musicians who bring the joy of music from the stage to the community,” said Yisel Cabrera, community relations manager, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Thank you for taking the extra steps to entertain, educate and lift people’s spirits. Bravo!”
Award recipients and their orchestras include:
- Penny Anderson Brill, viola – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music and Wellness Program
- Shannon Orme, bass clarinet – Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Neighborhood Residency Initiative
- Jeffrey Paul, principal oboe – South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s Lakota Music Project
- Brian Prechtl, percussion – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids
- Beth Vandervennet, cello – Oakland Symphony’s Music for Excellence Program (MUSE)
Brill, a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s viola section since 1980, is perhaps best known for her innovative work with the use of music in health care. In addition to helping to implement and support the Pittsburgh Symphony Music and Wellness program, she advises and provides resources for orchestras and orchestral musicians throughout the country who wish to play in medical settings or work with special needs children, veterans or refugees. She has given a number of workshop presentations at national conferences on how to design and implement programs in cities with extremely varied demographics, needs and music preferences. She will be making many of those design ideas and resources available on her soon-to-be-launched website, Musacor (“Musicians as a Community Resource”).
In 1985, she won the Pittsburgh YWCA Tribute to Women Award in part for her work on redesigning the hiring process at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In May 2002, she won the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Vince Calloway Customer Service Excellence Award for her work with Music and Wellness. In 2003, she won the National American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) Advocacy Award. In 2006, she won AdagioHealth’s Tempo Award in recognition of “generous and significant contributions to improve the health and wellbeing of women and families in western Pennsylvania.” In 2010, she won the AMTA Mid-Atlantic Region’s Advocacy Award. In 2013, she won the Paul J. Ross Award for excellence in education and community engagement.
She was part of the A.W. Mellon Orchestra Forum, as well as the Mellon Task Force, which were looking at the future direction of orchestras. She is the former treasurer of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) and is one of only two women to have chaired the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Committee. She was a founding member of Blues on First, a jazz string group.
She is currently on the board of United National-affiliated Music as a Global Resource, as well as the International Association of Music and Medicine (IAMM).
Brill is originally from Seattle and Portland, Oregon. She began her music studies on viola and piano. She competed internationally in middle distance track events (when women were allowed to run in them), including the finals of the first national women’s 1500 meters in Denver, Colorado (1968). She is a graduate of Smith College and the Juilliard School. She taught at the Oberlin Conservatory for two years, played for the Buffalo Philharmonic and one year later joined the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Through the Music and Wellness Program, the Pittsburgh Symphony works with music therapists and other healthcare professionals to bring therapeutic, live music to individuals at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the VA Pittsburgh’s H. J. Heinz Campus, and other facilities in the Pittsburgh area and abroad. Pittsburgh Symphony musicians lead music and wellness sessions for small yet diverse groups of participants that include patients, their families and healthcare staff. By interacting with participants and performing relevant and meaningful music, the musicians help participants meet their physical, emotional and social needs.
The five orchestra musicians were selected by a panel of industry professionals through a competitive nomination process to receive the awards. They include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to their home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for its musicians.
The awardees and their orchestras will receive their awards at the League’s National Conference in Baltimore, June 9-11, 2016. The musicians will also participate in a conference presentation and separate webinar, providing the orchestra field opportunities to learn from their experience.
Community work is defined as meaningful service through music: education and community engagement programs at schools, hospitals, retirement homes, community and social service centers, places of worship and wherever people gather for civic, cultural and social engagement. Those served may include low-income or at-risk populations, homebound elderly, immigrants, veterans, prisoners and students of all ages, as well as members of the general public who may not otherwise have access to or are not traditionally served by orchestras.
The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service mark the League’s second partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, which was previously the title sponsor of Ford Made in America, the largest commissioning consortium in the country’s history.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, celebrating 120 years of music in the 2015-2016 season, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900—including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Visit pittsburghsymphony.org.
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 65 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Driving Dreams, Ford Next Generation Learning and other innovative programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit community.ford.com.
The League of American Orchestras leads, supports and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.