Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is given to a mid-career conductor in recognition of their contributions to furthering the mission of their ensemble or organization. 


The Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was established in memory of Louis Botto for his artistry, selfless service to the choral art, and entrepreneurial spirit in founding the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, the first professional choral ensemble in the U.S. outside of the military that consistently offers full-time employment to its singers.

Previously, only conductors of professional or professional-core choruses were eligible to receive this award; the award will now rotate through a three-year cycle to recognize mid-career conductors of professional, adult volunteer, and children/youth choruses, reflecting the full breadth of Chorus America’s membership. 

This award is given to a mid-career conductor, who has been involved with an ensemble or organization for approximately 5-10 years, demonstrating innovation and entrepreneurship by:

  • Continuously advancing the artistic mission of the ensemble and taking risks to create a meaningful artistic product
  • Furthering an equitable and sustainable business model for the ensemble (e.g. fair pay for staff, singers, partners, creative audience outreach approaches, etc) 
  • Modeling a resilient, resourceful, and solutions-oriented approach
  • (For professional or professional-core years only) Demonstrating a commitment to the fair payment of professional choral ensemble singers

For the 2024 awards cycle, this award is open to conductors of adult volunteer choruses. 

The awardee receives an engraved plaque.


The nominee must be a member of Chorus America. Individuals may self-nominate for this award.

Award recognition will alternate between a mid-career conductor of a professional ensemble, volunteer adult ensemble, and children/youth chorus on a three-year cycle: 

  • 2024: Volunteer Adult Ensemble Conductor
  • 2025: Children/Youth Ensemble Conductor
  • 2026: Professional Ensemble Conductor

For the purposes of this award, a mid-career conductor is defined as someone who has earned experience and expertise but still has many years left in their career to gain more experience, advance their qualifications, pursue leadership roles, etc.

The Louis Botto Award can be received only once by any individual. 

Deadline and How to Apply

The deadline to submit via the Chorus America Application Portal (CAAP) is Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at 11:59PM ET.

The nomination application will include:

  • An overview of the nominee's qualifications for the award, outlining how their innovation and entrepreneurship have furthered the ensemble or organization and its mission. 
  • A summary of the accomplishments of the ensemble or organization under the nominee's leadership
  • The nominee’s CV or resume 

For professional and professional-core ensemble years only, applicants will be asked to provide information about the fair payment of singers in the ensemble.

Additionally, one letter of recommendation in support of the nominee is required. The request for these letters is sent as part of the application in CAAP. Recommenders who receive the request then upload the letters directly into the system.

Please refer to the Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship rubric as an additional resource. 

Please note: While there are no word limits for responses to the narrative questions, we find that concise responses that address the prompt and award rubric criteria in 2-4 paragraphs tend to be most successful.

Applications will only be accepted through CAAP

Recipients are selected by an award panel composed of experts in the award area from the Chorus America community, Chorus America board members, and/or past award recipients. This award is not required to be given annually and will be given at the discretion of the panel. 

Questions? Contact Karyn Castro at 202.331.7577 x246 or [email protected]

Louis Botto Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Rubric
Past Awardees
2024Erin Guinup, Tacoma Refugee Choir
2022Brandon Elliott, Choral Arts Initiative
2021Alexander Lloyd Blake, Tonality
2020Ruben Valenzuela, Bach Collegium San Diego
2019Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble
2018Vince Peterson, Choral Chameleon
2016Michael Alan Anderson, Schola Antiqua
2015Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Master Chorale
2014Beth Willer, Lorelei Ensemble
2013Joel Rinsema, Phoenix Chorale
2012Donald Nally, The Crossing
2011Patrick Dupré Quigley, Seraphic Fire
2010Jordan Sramek, The Rose Ensemble
2009Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare
2008Jonathan Miller, Chicago a cappella
2007Mary Deissler, Handel and Haydn Society
2004Gregg Smith, Gregg Smith Singers
2002Dale Warland, Dale Warland Singers
2000Jon Washburn, Vancouver Chamber Choir
1998Dennis Keene, Voices of Ascension