Percussionist and Columbia Music Lecturer Jeffrey Milarsky Wins 2013 Ditson Conductor’s Award
Jeffrey Milarsky, distinguished musician, scholar, teacher and conductor, is the recipient of the 2013 Ditson Conductor’s Award for the advancement of American music, Columbia University has announced.
The prize will be presented this evening at a performance of the Juilliard Orchestra, conducted by Milarsky, at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Pianist Gilbert Kalish, head of the Ditson Advisory Committee, will bestow the award. Milarsky will receive $5,000 and a citation on behalf of Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger.
“Jeffrey Milarsky deserves the Ditson Conductor’s Award not only for his brilliant accomplishments as a conductor of contemporary music with major ensembles such as the Manhattan Sinfonietta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but also for his commitment to educating young performers in the contemporary repertoire,” said Fred Lerdahl, secretary of the Alice M. Ditson Fund and the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia. “As the director of such groups as the Columbia University Orchestra, Juilliard’s Axiom Ensemble, and the Manhattan School of Music’s Percussion Ensemble, he has trained generations of musicians to perform at the highest standards. His dual achievement as conductor and educator is a lasting contribution to the music of our time.”
The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University established the Ditson Conductor’s Award in 1945. It is the oldest continuing award honoring conductors for distinguished contributions to American music. Previous recipients include James Levine, Christopher Keene, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and, last year, George Manahan.
Milarsky is known worldwide for his impeccable musicianship, exhilarating presence, and innovative programming. His wide-ranging repertoire, which spans from Bach to Xenakis, has enabled him to lead such accomplished groups as the American Composers Orchestra, MET Chamber Ensemble, the Milwaukee Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York New Music Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, Cygnus Ensemble, Fromm Players at Harvard University and the New York Philharmonic chamber music series. In the United States and abroad, he has premiered and recorded works by leading contemporary composers, including Charles Wuorinen, Milton Babbit, Elliott Carter, Gerard Grisey, Jonathan Dawe, Tristan Murail, Ralph Shapey, Luigi Nono, Mario Davidovsky and Wolfgang Rihm.
He is senior lecturer in music at Columbia, where he is the music director and conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra. Additionally, he is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music as artistic director and conductor of the Percussion Ensemble. He is the music director of AXIOM, the Juilliard School’s critically acclaimed contemporary music ensemble. In September of 2008, he was named to the conducting faculty of the Juilliard School.
In the summer of 2008, Milarsky was called to Tanglewood to substitute for Maestro James Levine in an all-Elliott Carter program in honor of his 100th birthday. In 2006, he substituted for Levine at Carnegie Hall, conducting an all-Milton Babbitt concert of his chamber music. In 2007, he led the New York premiere of Elliott Carter’s only opera, “What Next,” to sold-out performances and critical acclaim.
A much-in demand timpanist and percussionist, Milarsky has performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony, among other ensembles. He was named the principal timpanist for the Santa Fe Opera in 2005. As an active chamber and orchestral musician, he performs and records regularly with the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Stamford Symphony and Concordia.
He received his bachelor and master of music degrees from the Juilliard School. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding leadership and achievement in the arts. He regularly conducts the Juilliard Orchestra, with whom he has premiered more than 150 works of Juilliard student composers.
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