Joan Tower, one of America's most significant living composers, will receive the League of American Orchestras' highest honor, the Gold Baton, at the League's 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5, 2019.
Tower has a strong connection to the city of Nashville: in 2008, a recording of her work Made in America featuring this year's Conference host, the Nashville Symphony, and conductor Leonard Slatkin won three Grammy Awards. Tower's widely performed work was commissioned by a consortium of 65 orchestras through the League's Ford Made in America, the largest orchestral commissioning consortium in the country's history. Tower is also in the midst of celebrating her 80th birthday year, with numerous concerts and events taking place throughout this season.
Tower will receive the Gold Baton during the Conference's Closing Plenary, June 5, 1:30-3:00 p.m. CST, at the Omni Hotel Nashville.
'We are so happy to celebrate Joan Tower's immense contribution to orchestras', said League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen. 'She has been a beloved presence in our community: an exemplary musical citizen, an inspiring mentor, an energetic champion of new music and, in particular, women composers and performers, and a delightful colleague whose music has been broadly embraced by musicians and audiences alike'.
Given annually since 1948 for distinguished service to America's orchestras, the Gold Baton recognizes individuals and institutions whose far-reaching contributions to the field serve to champion and advance the cause of orchestras and symphonic music throughout the country.
Previous Gold Baton recipients include, among many others, Leonard Bernstein (1959); The Ford Foundation (1966); Aaron Copland (1978); Beverly Sills (1980); Morton Gould (1983); William Schuman (1985); Betty Freeman (1987); Pierre Boulez (2000); Michael Tilson Thomas (2003); John Williams (2006); Ann Hobson Pilot (2017); and Yo-Yo Ma (2018).
About Joan Tower
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, Paul Neubauer, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Nashville, Albany NY, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra).
The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville’s latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-11). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-85. She has received honorary doctorates from Smith College, the New England Conservatory, and Illinois State University. She is Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972.
Complete list of Gold Baton recipients
Listen to Joan Tower's music