The League of American Orchestras will bestow its highest honor, the Gold Baton award, upon Ann Hobson Pilot at its national conference this June in Detroit. Hobson Pilot performed for 40 years as principal harpist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; she was the first African American woman to serve in a principal position with a major orchestra.
“For over 50 years, Ann Hobson Pilot has been trailblazer in the world of orchestras and classical music,” said Jesse Rosen, League of American Orchestras President and CEO. “From her earliest years, she has been a compelling musical presence and an inspiration to colleagues, students, and audiences. We are proud to present her with the gold baton, the League’s greatest honor, recognizing her immense impact on the orchestra field.”
The annual award is given to someone who serves to “champion and advance the cause of orchestras and symphonic music throughout the country,” according to the league. Previous recipients include notables such as Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Arthur Fiedler, Aaron Copland, Beverly Sills, Isaac Stern, and John Williams.
Ann Hobson Pilot is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Alice Chalifoux; she performed with the Pittsburgh and National Symphony Orchestras and became principal harp of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1980. She was profiled in the documentary Harpist’s Legacy – Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change. (Watch below.) She retired from the BSO in 2009, but continues to have an active solo career, with recent performances including the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and performances of the Ginastera Harp Concerto in Buenos Aires and Boston.
Read more about Ann Hobson Pilot at www.annhobsonpilot.com. Read Harp Column’s feature interview with her in our May-June 2008 issue, along with our 2015 Q and A following the release of her recording Astor Piazzolla: Escualo.