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Southwestern Music Professor Receives National Recognition

  • Lois Ferrari has served as music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra since 2002.
    Lois Ferrari has served as music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra since 2002.

Conductor Lois Ferrari is recognized for her work with the Austin Civic Orchestra

Lois Ferrari, a music professor at Southwestern University who also serves as music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra, has received national recognition for her work with the ACO.

Ferrari was named 1st runner-up for the 2012 American Prize in Conducting - Community Orchestra Division. The American Prize was founded in 2009 and provides cash awards for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. The top award for 2012 in the Conducting-Community Orchestra Division went to David Bernard, the music director of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in New York City.

Ferrari has been a member of the Southwestern faculty since 1993 and serves as conductor of the SU Wind Ensemble and the SU Orchestra. She has been music director of the Austin Civic Orchestra since 2002. During this time, the orchestra has grown from about 55-60 members to its current size of about 80-85 members. More important than the growth in size, Ferrari said, is the growth in the quality of the orchestra. “We now sight read better the same pieces we performed in concert maybe only five or six years ago,” she said.

Ferrari said she entered the American Prize competition by submitting DVDs of three works the ACO performed at different concerts in 2011-2012: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

David Katz, chief judge for The American Prize, said it is clear Ferrari is “doing amazing things in Austin.”

“Lois Ferrari on the podium reminds one of the orchestral conducting style of the legendary Margaret Hillis, the eight-time Grammy award-winning founder of the Chicago Symphony Chorus,” Katz said. “…Her no-nonsense style translates into music-making that is exciting and well-coordinated with what appears to be an enormous orchestra − not an easy feat.”

Katz said the current size of the ACO is in itself telling. “No one could possibly build a volunteer symphony of such proportions unless the musicians wanted to play for her,” he said. “Lois Ferrari’s personal skills must match her obvious musical ones.”

Ferrari said the ACO is thrilled to have achieved the distinction of finalist in a national competition and in sharing that honor with such a wonderful and diverse field of musicians. The ACO opens its 2012-2013 season Sept. 29 with a concert in Pflugerville that includes the Texas premiere of David Amram’s “Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.”

Ferrari earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Ithaca College School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the Eastman School of Music, where she was appointed assistant conductor of the renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble.

Ferrari said the recognition she personally received in the American Prize competition is both flattering and humbling.

“There are so many people out there doing great things for classical music,” she said. “I am honored to have been recognized among them.”