Ann Hobson Pilot will receive an honorary doctorate at Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) on May 19, 2018. Pilot, who graduated from CIM in 1966 after studying with renowned harpist Alice Chalifoux, is celebrated for breaking barriers as the first African American woman to hold a principal position with a major orchestra. She retired from Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2009 after 40 years as principal harpist, previously serving as principal harpist with the National Symphony and as a substitute harpist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Over the course of her career, she also served on the faculties of the New England Conservatory and Boston University, and she currently directs the harp program at Tanglewood Institute. Yolanda Kondonassis, another former student of Chalifoux and the professor of harp at CIM says, “Ann Hobson Pilot is an icon in our field, not only because of her contributions to the world of harp, but because of the obstacles she faced and overcame.” She adds, “Heartfelt congratulations to her on this well-deserved honor!” Pilot will be celebrated alongside Frank Huang, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, who will receive CIM’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and Kathryn Wyatt, executive director of El Sistema USA, who will receive the Alumni Achievement Award.
As part of the honor, Pilot will deliver remarks at CIM’s 93rd commencement. Of the address, president of CIM Paul Hogle says, “Through her persistence, grace, creativity, and exceptional musicianship, Ann overcame countless challenges to earn her rightful place in the classical music pantheon, and her advice in navigating the path ahead will be invaluable.” Though the event is closed to the public, the ceremony will be livestreamed for those who wish to hear Pilot’s remarks.