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2016 Ditson Conductor's Award Ceremony: Cliff Colnot

  • Harris Theatre Chicago, IL (map)

Join Ear Taxi organizer Augusta Read Thomas as she presents Chicago conductor, Cliff Colnot, with the prestigious 2016 Ditson Conductor’s Award

The Ditson Conductor's Award honors conductors who have a distinguished record of performing and championing contemporary American music. Established in 1945, it is the oldest continuing award of its kind.


2016 Ditson Conductor’s Award
Cliff Colnot

In 1940 the Alice M. Ditson Fund was established by Columbia University to make grants “for Fellowships, Public Hearings and Publication” of the work of talented musicians the Fund deems worthy of assistance. To encourage public performance of the music of gifted contemporary American composers, the Ditson Conductor’s Award was created in 1945. With the 2016 Award, Columbia University proudly adds Cliff Colnot to the roster of distinguished conductors so honored.

Maestro Colnot, you have conducted innumerable premieres and performances of a large, diverse, and distinguished group of American composers.  Your advocacy of this enriching music and your meticulous preparation in bringing scores to life is exemplary.  Thanks to your dedication, the rich nuances of every composition are revealed.

You are a musician of uncommon range, and your work with younger players is outstanding.  You served as assistant conductor for Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Workshops for young musicians from Israel, Egypt, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries.  You worked extensively with the late Pierre Boulez and served as his assistant conductor at the Lucerne Festival Academy.  You have been principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW ensemble since its inception; principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for twenty-two years; principal conductor of the University of Chicago’s Contempo Ensemble for fifteen years; and, currently, you conduct the DePaul University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.  You have appeared as a guest conductor with professional orchestras all across America.

As a result of your ability, generosity, and perseverance, you are training, inspiring, and mentoring generations of current and future musicians and lovers of music in the richness of the American music of our time.

 Columbia University therefore recognizes your splendid record of dedication and accomplishment by conferring on you the Ditson Conductor’s Award of 2016 for distinguished service to American music.