Orion Wins National Award

January 13, 2001

The "secret" is out: Orion Ensemble now is known nationally for its excellent programming and performance of the chamber music works of today's finest composers. Major recognition came in the form of a first-prize award for Adventurous Programming from Chamber Music America (CMA) and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Orion received the 2000 award in the Festivals category for its outstanding Millennium project. Mostly Music, Inc., Orion's consortium partner for the festival, received matching commendation.

The award was presented in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the CMA National Conference in New York City on January 13, 2001. The prize was a standout in its category. ASCAP and CMA deemed that no other application came close to the magnitude of Orion's and Mostly Music's accomplishment.

The award-winning Millennium Festival featured concerts, panels, and workshops in several locations throughout Chicagoland. All together, 5 remarkable contemporary composers participated in the panels and presentations of their music.

One of the more renowned composers, Peter Schickele, was called upon at the CMA/ASCAP ceremony to present the award to Orion's Executive Director (and clarinetist), Kathy Pirtle. Composer James Wintle watched from the audience along with Orion Board member, Roberta Stewart, and Orion volunteer, Lenore DuPree.

In accepting the award, Kathy thanked the many participating organizations who made the Festival possible, including Roosevelt University, Northern Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago Cultural Center, Merit Music School (a school for gifted inner-city children), American Women's Composers, WFMT-FM, WNIB-FM, WBEZ-FM, as well as composers and panelists. These included composers Peter Schickele, William Bolcom, Augusta Read Thomas, James Wintle, and Jean Milew.

Orion is grateful for the financial support received from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Illinois Council for Humanities, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Chicago Millennium Celebration, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Northeastern Illinois University, and the American Women's Composers, as well as many individual donors. Without funding, the festival could have been no more than a dream.

The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation,
the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund,
and generous donations from our dedicated patrons.
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