IWBC Awards

About IWBC Awards

About IWBC Awards
As part of the mission of the IWBC, we provide education and resources which help respect and honor our role models in the diverse history of brass performance. At each conference we present awards and hold panel discussions where we share information about our past history. Below these downloadable Study Guides are descriptions of our award categories, followed by links for each of our conferences, with photos and information about those who were recognized at each event.

These Study Guides below were created to share the fascinating contributions of female brass players in the United States. While this is just a drop in the bucket when we consider the diverse history of brass performance, we hope you enjoy them as a place to begin learning more.  Sometimes it can seem that because we don’t see many examples of historic women of brass, there must not have been any.  These Study Guides remind us that historic accounting is often biased, and if we are willing to dig more deeply, it’s possible to find courageous role models who paved the way for our activity today. 

We salute these strong, brave women for their work.  For each performer pictured here, there are dozens more who remain less well-known and appreciated. I hope these pages can be a start, as we look to uncover more of the contributions of all. The American brass performance world is wonderful and diverse, and we work now to widen opportunities for all, to follow in the footsteps of those whose work we honor today.

Dr. Joanna Ross Hersey, IWBC President and Professor of Tuba Euphonium, UNC Pembroke

Study Guides:


At each conference, beginning with the first in 1993, the IWBC has recognized women who have been pioneers in the top levels of brass performance, breaking down barriers and living their lives effecting change for those who have followed. Each awardee’s career and spirit exemplify the goals and traditions of the IWBC.


The Beacon Award was first introduced at the 2014 conference, and given to women who have been beacons of light for those around them, both in the fields of performance and education.  These women influence so many generations of musicians through their careers sharing the art of performance, and standing for the values of equity, perseverance, and excellence.


At the 2014 conference a special group of women who made an important impact on the lives of many were honored. These women answered the call of our nation, and beginning in World War II served our country as musicians.  When it became clear that the war was going to involve the service of all available men, the United States government enlisted women to take over many jobs on the home front.  Playing music was one of those jobs.  Bands were formed in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.  Shortly after the war, the Air Force also formed a band of women.  While most of these women served only for the duration of the war years, some bands remained active.  The women’s band programs concluded in the 1970s. The Circle of Excellence Award is given to all women from all services who served as musicians during and after World War II.  The IWBC salutes their service. The biographies of three women who served, and attended the 2014 conference are included here.


The Lifetime Achievement Award was first introduced at the 2014 IWBC conference, and is given to honor those who have achieved a high level of success in the field of music, through a career dedicated to the highest level of performance, education and outreach. The life work of these women has touched so many generations of audiences, students, and fellow musicians through their careers sharing the art of music. Our Lifetime Achievement Awardees are outstanding examples of dedication, professionalism and integrity.


The IWBC President’s Award honors those who have been steadfast supporters of our activities and mission on this our twenty-fifth anniversary. We salute these award winners for showcasing true professionalism, and living their lives with a dedication to equality and service.


The Susan Slaughter Award for Leadership is being presented for the first time at our 2017 conference, to a true legend in the field of music. Marin Alsop has been a champion of equality, and her career sets the highest example of professionalism and outreach. This award is given by IWBC Founder Susan Slaughter in grateful appreciation for a career spent making a difference for women in music through a lifetime of service.


The Penny Turner Young Artist Award launched in the spring of 2018. The award is a scholarship competition created by IWBC Board Member Ginger Turner in honor of her late mother, Penny Turner. The competition is open to all female brass players between the ages of 12-18; their music teachers or private instructors may nominate competitors.  


If you’d like to nominate someone for recognition, please submit your nomination to Joanna Hersey at [email protected]

Past IWBC Awards


10th International Women’s Brass Conference: Tempe, Arizona May 2019

IWBC Pioneer Awardees

Gail Williams

Gail Williams is an internationally recognized hornist and brass pedagogue. She has presented concerts, masterclasses, recitals, and lectures throughout North America, as well as in Europe and Asia. After 20 years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Williams is in demand as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. She is currently Principal Horn of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra and has recently performed on a number of prestigious chamber music series. Gail is one of the founding members of CCME as well as the Summit Brass. In addition to her eight recordings with Summit Brass, Ms. Williams can be heard on her seven cd recordings, also available on Summit Records. Ms. Williams has commissioned many works for horn by composers Dana Wilson, Anthony Plog, Douglas Hill, James Stephenson, and Augusta Reed Thomas. Ms. Williams is the horn professor at Northwestern University, where she has been on the faculty since 1989. Her awards included Ithaca College's Young Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary Doctorate of Music, also from Ithaca College. In May of 2005, Ms. Williams was awarded the Charles Deering McCormick Teaching of Excellence Professor from Northwestern University.


Joan Thelma Watson

Joan Thelma Watson (1953-2015) was one of Canada's foremost horn soloists, principal horn, lecturer, and educator. She has been highly regarded as a consummate musician and skilled virtuoso. Her contributions across the country include serving as principal horn of the Canadian Opera Orchestra, founding member of the True North Brass quintet, associate principal horn of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 14 seasons (having won the job while 8 months pregnant), and principal horn of the Esprit Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Opera, and Vancouver Opera orchestras. Joan lived in Owen Sound, Ontario and passed away in March of 2015 at the age of 61.


IWBC Beacon Awardees

Maureen Horgan

Maureen Horgan retired from Georgia College in Milledgeville GA as Professor Emeritus, capping a 45- year career as a teacher and performer.  She holds degrees in Music Education and Trombone/ Euphonium Performance from the New England Conservatory (BM), Yale University (MM), and SUNY Stony Brook (DMA).  In her long career, she performed with ensembles including Monarch Brass, Opera Company of Boston, Honolulu Symphony, Boston Philharmonic, Pro Arte Orchestra, Jazzabelles, and with and for such musicians as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, YoYo Ma, Henry Mancini, Brian Wilson, and others.  Maureen performed with the New Hampshire Music Festival for 33 consecutive summer seasons and has recorded on several labels. An active proponent of new music, she commissioned four work. Her solo CD of new works for trombone, “Moe’s Bit o’Blues” is distributed by the Centaur label. Maureen started teaching when she was in the 9th grade, tutoring math weekly for a community outreach program in Lowell, MA in the early 1970’s.  She taught trombone and chamber music for the New England Conservatory Preparatory School for 20 years.  Other teaching credits include Wheelock College in Boston, Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH, public and private schools in Massachusetts and Hawaii, and in Honduras. At Georgia College, Maureen taught brass, jazz, music education, music and civilization, and aural skills for 16 years. Maureen is a former IWBC Board member and President, and is active in outdoor individual sports.


Carla Rutschman

Carla Rutschman, Professor of Music at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, began her relationship with the tuba 62 years ago, when she was recruited to play in an all-girl band that was heavy on flutes and light on brass. While in high school, she was selected to perform on the nationally-televised Ted Mack Amateur Hour. She later earned a B.A. in Music Education (University of Northern Colorado), M.Mus. in Performance (Arizona State University), and a Ph.D. in Musicology (University of Washington). At Western Washington University she founded and conducts the Heavy Metal low brass ensemble and maintains an active studio. Her students have secured positions in nationally known performing ensembles and graduate programs. As a conductor, clinician and adjudicator, Dr. Rutschman is active throughout the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. She has been featured as a soloist at the Women’s International Brass Conference. She performed with the Peter Britt Festival Orchestra as solo tuba for 38 summer seasons and was the soloist with Manhattan Transfer in their first live performance of Tubby the Tuba. As a 35-year member of the Washington Brass Ensemble, Dr. Rutschman brought innovative musical programs to schools throughout Washington state and British Columbia. Carla Rutschman has two grown children and two grandchildren. She and her husband reside in Bellingham, with cats and tubas. 

Joyce Johnson Hamilton

Joyce Johnson Hamilton enjoyed an early career as a professional trumpet player symphony orchestras --Oregon-principal trumpet, San Francisco-assistant principal trumpet, Oakland and San Jose Symphonies-principal trumpet and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra-principal trumpet--and as a trumpet soloist. Joyce holds bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Nebraska where she studied with Dennis Schneider.  She participated in the Aspen Music festival for six years as a student of Robert Nagel and Bernard Adelstein and as member of the Aspen Festival Orchestra. After leaving the San Francisco Symphony, she received a fellowship at Stanford for doctoral study a in the performance practice of early music and conducting. At this point Joyce began to prepare for two distinctly different career paths—one as a specialist in baroque trumpet and renaissance cornetto and the other in symphonic conducting. Between 1980 and 2011 she held the position of music director with three Bay Area Orchestras--the Napa Valley Symphony, the Diablo Symphony (Walnut Creek, CA,) and the San Jose State University Orchestra. She was a frequent guest conductor/soloist /arranger with the Seoul Philharmonic in South Korea between 1981 and 2009.  In 2011 Joyce Johnson Hamilton retired from conducting and is now working almost exclusively in the area of early music as a performer on baroque trumpet, cornetto and recorder) and as President of the San Francisco Early Music Society.

IWBC Lifetime Service Award 

Michelle Rakers

American born conductor Michelle Rakers was the Senior Assistant Director for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra from 2004 - 2018. In that capacity, she led the band and orchestra in countless high profile programs at the White House, in Washington, D.C., and across the country. She conducted ensembles for White House State Dinners, advised and conducted ensembles for White House ceremonies, and led the band on many national tours.  Ms. Rakers is in high demand as a conductor and clinician across the world. She has regularly conducted the Slesvigske Musikkorps in Denmark since 2014 and has conducted groups such as the Maryland Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Brass, members of the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester in Denmark, and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. She was a resident at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 2015 and 2016 and has been a guest conductor at many universities across the United States.  Her career with the Marine Band began in 1998 after she won a national audition for a trumpet position. She then auditioned and was appointed to the Assistant Director’s position, becoming the first female conductor and first female commissioned officer in the history of “The President’s Own,” a position that she held since 2004. Ms. Rakers earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, her Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Management from the University of Evansville.

Major Michelle Rakers was presented with the Lifetime Service Award at her retirement ceremony from The United States Marine Band on April 30, 2018 in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, D.C.  IWBC Board members Kelly Watkins, Susan Slaughter, and Ginger Turner were in attendance to present her with this recognition.  


IWBC President's Awardees

Roger Bobo

Maestro Roger Bobo is an American tuba virtuoso and brass pedagogue. He retired from active tuba performance in 2001 in order to devote his time to conducting and teaching. He gave what is reputed to be the first solo tuba recital in the history of Carnegie Hall. His solo and ensemble discography is extensive. He is the author of "Mastering the Tuba" published by Editions Bim (CH). While living in the USA, he was the resident conductor of the Topanga Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been a guest conductor with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in North America, Europe and Asia.This next Summer, Maestro Bobo will be at Italian Brass Week in Firenze., at Bobo Festival of Brass in Pennsylvania, at Pasadena, at Windsor.... then in China. Roger Bobo currently resides in Oaxaca,  prior he taught at Musashino Academy of Music in Tokyo. He served as faculty at the Fiesole School of Music near Florence, Italy, at the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland, at the Rotterdams Konservatorium in the Netherlands, and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Roger holds a Bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music. Major orchestral appointments include:Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra,  Erich Leinsdorf, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, Bernard Haitink, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, André Previn.


Deanna Swoboda

Deanna Swoboda, 2019 Conference Host, is Associate Professor of Music at Arizona State University, where she teaches tuba and euphonium, Entrepreneurship and Music courses, coaches chamber music, and designs creative music performances. Prior to joining the ASU music faculty, Swoboda was Associate Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at Western Michigan University where she was a full time member of the Western Brass Quintet.  Prior to WMU, Ms. Swoboda was tubist of the Dallas Brass, a 6-piece ensemble that travels the United States and Europe presenting hundreds of concerts each year and working extensively in the public schools and at colleges and universities. Swoboda is also the creator and performer of a motivational recruiting video and music workshop called “Band Blast Off.” Swoboda has taught at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Denver, University of Idaho.  As an international performer and clinician she has been a guest at the National Conservatory of Madrid (Spain), Deutschen Tubaforum–Hammelberg (Germany), The Higher School for the Arts in Porto, Portugal, and the St Petersburg Conservatory in St Petersburg, Russia. As a clinician and performer, Swoboda has appeared at the national and northwest regional conventions of Music Educators National Conference (MENC) on numerous occasions, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, International Women’s Brass Conference, The Army Band Tuba Euphonium Conference, International Tuba-Euphonium Conferences, and for state music educator associations.  Deanna Swoboda is a Past President for I.T.E.A., the International Tuba Euphonium Association. Her mentors are Roberts Spevacek, Rex Martin and Sam Pilafian. Her solo CD, “Deanna’s Wonderland,” was released on Summit Records in 1999.  Her solo CD is entitled “Shamanic Journey” and features the music of women composers.  “Table for Three” is a CD featuring music for low brass trio, recorded with ASU brass colleagues John Ericson and Douglas Yeo. It is available at Summit Records. “Fanfare and Flourish” is a tuba euphonium quartet recording featuring the music of women composers. It is published by Potenza Music and available at CD Baby.