• Professor of Music Lois Ferrari
    Carlos Barron

Southwestern Professor of Music Lois Ferrari has recently been honored with two awards from The American Prize 2018–2019 program. The maestra received second place in Community Orchestra Conducting for her work with the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO), as well as second place with the ACO in the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, Community Instrumental Division.

Founded in 2009 by the Hat City Music Theatre, Inc., The American Prize is an annual series of nonprofit competitions that recognizes standout recorded performances from across the U.S. among secondary schools, colleges, churches, and the professional and community spheres. Ferrari has been recognized by this national competition in the past, having previously taken second place in Community Orchestra Conducting in 2016 and 2012. However, this is the first Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for Ferrari and for the ACO. 

This unique contest, which honors one of the pioneering composers of American music, brings recognition to the best performances of music by American composers from any period and in any style. Chosen from submitted recordings among a worldwide pool of ensembles and individual performers, the contest considers not only performance but also the music itself in cases of new or lesser-known works. Ferrari and the ACO were recognized for their recorded performance of a locally composed piece as well as the works of Lee Actor and William Grant. In addition, the ACO was lauded by The American Prize organization for their 2017–2018 season, Made in America, which celebrated exclusively American music.

Ferrari serves as artistic director of the fully volunteer-run ACO. This nonprofit civic organization produces six to eight concerts a year, featuring local professional and nonprofessional musicians and serving various musical tastes. Throughout her career with the ACO, Ferrari has headed impressive achievements, including founding the organization’s Composition Contest, running the Pearl Amster Chamber Music Festival and Texas Rising Stars Contest to bolster emerging artists, and premiering just under 30 new works. She has also introduced renowned guest artists such as David Amram, Peter Bay, Lauren Lane, and Jessica Mathaes to ACO programs. Her work with the ACO has been locally recognized as well, with a 2009 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Symphonic Performance and a 2010 honor as the first woman to conduct an orchestral performance at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin.

Ferrari has been a crucial member of the Southwestern music faculty since 1993, conducting the SU Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, teaching conducting courses, and serving as a host and clinician of the SU Conductors Institute. This year, you can witness her award-winning conducting at Southwestern University’s Alma Thomas Theater during the Southwestern Orchestra and Wind Ensemble concerts on November 23, 2019, and April 18, 2020, as well as at the on-campus ACO concert on February 8, 2020