Chorus America's 2013 Awards Recognize Outstanding Choruses and Individuals


Chorus America has announced the recipients of its 2013 awards program, recognizing a broad range of achievements in choral music, including artistic excellence, adventurous programming, innovative education programs, generous philanthropy, and lifetime service to the choral art.

“The exemplary leadership demonstrated by these deserving individuals and organizations serves as a model for all choruses as they strive for success in their communities,” said Ann Meier Baker, president and CEO of Chorus America.

Independent panels selected the following individuals and choruses to receive awards, which will be presented at Chorus America’s 36th Annual Conference in Seattle, WA, June 12-15, 2013.

Chorus America Distinguished Service Award

The Chorus America Distinguished Service Award recognizes a member whose long-term service to the choral field significantly furthers Chorus America’s mission “to build a dynamic and inclusive choral community so that more people are transformed by the beauty and power of choral singing.”

The 2013 Distinguished Service Award goes to Helmuth Rilling, artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival. As one of the world’s preeminent interpreters of Bach, Rilling has led the Festival since 1970. Rilling also serves as the director and founder of the Internationale Bachackademie Stuttgart and is the founder of the Gächinger Kantorei and its resident orchestral ensemble, the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart.  His accolades include the UNESCO Music Prize, the Theodor Heuss Prize, the Staufer Gold Medal, and an honorary membership of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

Chorus America/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and Alice Parker Award

The Adventurous Programming awards recognize choruses that demonstrate a sustained commitment to adventurous programming through performances of choral music written in the last 25 years. The 2013 winners are:

  • Anima—Young Singers of Greater Chicago, Emily Ellsworth, artistic director
  • Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Alan Harler, artistic director
  • VocalEssence, Philip Brunelle, artistic director

The Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award honors composer Alice Parker, whose career has spanned six decades and has been devoted to the creation of works for the human voice. The award was established in 2003 to recognize a chorus for programming recently composed music that expands the mission of the chorus and challenges the chorus’s audience in new ways. The 2013 award goes to Chorus Austin, an adult choral ensemble in Austin, Texas led by artistic director and conductor Ryan Heller. The ensemble’s In Remembrance concert featured the premiere of a multimedia piece by Robert Kyr titled The Unutterable, commissioned for the program. The piece stretched the singers’ musical boundaries and introduced the audience to a new, non-traditional concert experience.

Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence

The Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence honors the memory of Margaret Hillis, founder of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, for her more than 40 years of professional achievement and outstanding contributions to the choral art. The $5,000 award is presented annually to a member chorus that demonstrates artistic excellence, a strong organizational structure, and a commitment to outreach, education, and/or culturally diverse activities.

The 2013 Hillis Award goes to the Atlanta Sacred Chorale, led by artistic director Eric Nelson. Since its inception in the spring of 1985, the Chorale has grown from an enthusiastic volunteer choir to a nationally-recognized ensemble of auditioned singers that is known equally for its technical excellence and its unparalleled choral artistry. Throughout its development, the Atlanta Sacred Chorale has maintained a consistent focus on celebrating and performing music drawn from the entire spectrum of sacred choral music. The Chorale also hosts the Emory Community Choral Festival each year, joining hundreds of Atlanta’s most dedicated artists together.

Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art

Named after one of the founders of Chorus America, this honorary citation was established in 1978 to honor an individual with a lifetime of significant contributions to the professional choral art.

The 2013 Korn Founders Award goes to Christopher Bell, chorus director of the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus. Bell oversees more than 100 professional singers in the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus, along with the Apprentice Chorale made up of young singers from local universities. He is also the chorus master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, and the National Youth Choir of Scotland.

Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal

The Botto Award was established in memory of Louis Botto for his artistry, selfless service to the choral art, and entrepreneurial spirit in founding the men’s vocal ensemble Chanticleer. The award is given periodically to a mid-career choral leader who, through his or her work with a member ensemble of Chorus America, has demonstrated innovative action and entrepreneurial zeal in developing a professional or professional-core choral ensemble.  

The 2013 Botto Award goes to Joel Rinsema, executive director and assistant conductor of the Phoenix Chorale, whose efforts have helped the organization take risks resulting in an outstanding artistic product that is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music and of more traditional concert literature. During Joel’s tenure with the ensemble, the Phoenix Chorale has received a total of eight Grammy Award nominations and received a Grammy Award for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” in 2009 for their recording Spotless Rose.

Dale Warland Singers Commission Award

Chorus America and the American Composers Forum have partnered to present this award to honor Dale Warland’s lifelong commitment to new music as embodied through his work with the Dale Warland Singers. The $5,000 award is made possible by the Dale Warland Singers Fund for New Choral Music, a permanently restricted endowment fund established in 2004.

The 2013 recipient of the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award is The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally. They will partner with composer Joel Puckett to commission a new unaccompanied choral composition for 24-voice chamber choir. The piece will be the feature of the 2015 Month of Moderns, and will use texts from poets such as Mary Oliver and Surega Rajan. A New York performance of the piece is scheduled to follow. Puckett’s music has been performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles worldwide; he is currently a full-time faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches courses in music theory and composition.

Chorus America Education Outreach Award

The $2,500 award is presented to a Chorus America member ensemble whose education outreach program demonstrates mission-based program development, viable music education, effective management and fiscal integrity, a commitment to artistic excellence, and a collaboration that is sustainable, beneficial, and meaningful for all partners.

The 2013 Education Outreach Award honors the best collaborative program, and goes to The Larimer Chorale in Fort Collins, Colorado for their Singing for Seniors program. Led by their conductor Michael Todd Krueger, the program serves as a community outreach effort that offers the more than 26,000 senior residents of Fort Collins an opportunity to sing while also gaining multiple physical and mental health benefits, including increased lung capacity, better posture, and less instances of depression. The program aims to instill and encourage life-long appreciation of music and its health benefits.

Chorus America Philanthropic Award

The Chorus America Philanthropic Award recognizes an individual, corporation, or foundation whose financial support has been especially significant and generous to the host(s) of Chorus America’s Annual Conference.

The 2013 Chorus America Philanthropic Awards go toThe Nesholm Family Foundation for its support of 2013 Conference co-hosts the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale and Brian and Lynn Grant for their support of 2013 Conference co-host Seattle Pro Musica.  

Press Release

Download press release as PDF.