IWBC Awards   

9th International Women’s Brass Conference: Glassboro, New Jersey June 2017

IWBC Pioneer Awardees

Pioneer Award Winner Julia Studebaker began cornet lessons in public school at age 9, playing her mother’s cornet, and switched to the horn when she was 11. Growing up in Illinois, she started private lessons at age 13 with Nancy Fako, a former student of Philip Farkas, and later studied with Frank Brouk, Dale Clevenger and Ed Kleinhammer, all members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was a member of the Youth Orchestra of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She attended Northwestern University from 1969 to 1972, and in 1973, left to seek work in Germany. In March of 1973 she was appointed Solo Horn to the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, becoming the first woman Principal Horn in a major German orchestra, during a time when there were still all-male orchestras in Europe.  Her appointment caused major reverberations throughout the symphonic music community, especially in Germany.  In September 1974, Julia became Solo Horn of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. This position was again groundbreaking, as she became the first woman Principal Horn in a major European orchestra, as well as the youngest player, and the only woman playing in a principal chair in the entire orchestra. European orchestras have not been the same since, and her legend lives on today.  Her impact on others was best summed up by another woman brass player who said in a magazine interview, “Julia Studebaker paved the way for the rest of us.”  The San Francisco Chronicleobserved of her work, “Far and away, the star was the Principal Horn, a leading voice in the work (Mahler’s Seventh), Julia Studebaker.”  Her courage and perseverance in pursuit of her career were significant – a group of horn players in other orchestras even attempted to get the Dutch government to deny her a work permit.  Her career, performing with the Chicago Lyric Opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (as an extra with these groups), the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin (as Principal Horn), and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (as Principal Horn), spanned 30 years from 1972 to 2002. She has also performed with various orchestras and ensembles including the World Orchestra for Peace. Fellow brass soloist and IWBC Pioneer Carole Dawn Reinhardt recalls “Julia Studebaker was still in Berlin when I moved there, but left for Amsterdam in the next season.  It was a sensation for Europe at that time.”

    Pioneer Award Winner, Performance artist and Juilliard trained trombonist Abbie Conant is somewhat of a legend in the orchestral brass world. The story of her epic fight against egregious gender discrimination in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra where she won the position at a screened audition in 1993, inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the NY Times Bestseller, Blink where Abbie’s story is detailed in the last chapter.  The 11 year long court battle was documented by composer/musicologist/activist, William Osborne in an article entitled, “You Sound Like a Ladies Orchestra.” After winning her lengthy court case, Abbie won a full-tenured Professorship at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany and left the orchestra in 1993. As part of the severance agreement, the Munich Philhamonic had to allow her to attend the first International Women’s Brass Conference in St. Louis where she was a guest artist.  Abbie has performed instrumental music theater works with surround sound electronics in over 150 different cities around the world. She has given masterclasses in as many esteemed music institution such as The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, Indiana University, Royal Northern College of Music, Gotheberg, Sweden, DePaul, CalArts, McGill, Oberlin and many others. While attending National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan in 1970, she won a scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Academy. She received her B.M. cum laude at Temple University with Dee Stewart of the Philadelphia Orchestra then her M.M. at Juilliard with Metropolitan Orchestra Principal, Per Brevig. In addition, she holds an Artist Diploma from the Cologne University of Music with Branimir Slokar. At the suggestion of her teacher Dr. Karl Hinterbichler, she attend Tanglewood through the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (where she studied with bass trombonist of the BSO, Gordon Hallberg). She won the audition for the  Colorado Philhamonic (an intensive training orchestra), Yale Summer Chamber Music Institute at Norfolk where she studied with John Swallow, and New College Music Festival as Brass Trio in Residence). The Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi took her to Italy where she studied contemporary music with Vinko Globokar at the L’Accademia Chigiana in Siena. From there, she won her first position as principal trombone of the Royal Opera of Turin, Italy. Her next position was for principal trombone of the Munich Philharmonic for 13 years where she was awarded the official honorable title of Kammersolistin der Stadt Muenchen after 10 years of exemplary musical service to the city of Munich, Germany. She has had film roles in the feature film, The Devil’s Triangle, directed by Vadim Glowna and in the epic 13 film story of a German composer’s life and times, Die Zweite Heimat, (The Second Homeland) by dir. Edgar Reitz. Abbie has students in many different orchestras and teaching positions including, two former students in the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, the Stuttgart State Opera, the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, The Hamburg Symphony, the Regensburg Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to name a few.  Her critically acclaimed CD Trombone and Organ is on the Audite label and the DVD Music for the End of Time, an hour long tone poem for trombone, video and electronics inspired by six visions of the Revelation of St. John the Divine, and composed by William Osborne, is available through Polymnia Press. The co-composed solo works, Pond, and As it Were of a Trumpet Talking are available per download from http://www.osborne-conanr.org

      Pioneer Award Winner Sharon Moe is a renowned French horn virtuoso. Sharon started playing piano at age 5 and French horn at age 10.  She became entranced at the “amazing, beautiful sound of the instrument, “ and went on to St. Olaf College and Manhattan School of Music.  She has played Principal Horn with New York Chamber Soloists, Long Island Philharmonic, New Philharmonic of New Jersey, Colonial Symphony, The Bronx Arts Ensemble, New York City Opera, American Symphony, St. Cecelia’s Orchestra (Carnegie Hall), Teatro Grattacielo (Lincoln Center) and Mozart Orchestra of New York. She has performed in festivals and in major halls throughout the United States, in France, Spain, Puerto Rico, and South America. At the age of 17, she won the prestigious WAMSO Competition and made her solo debut with the Minnesota Orchestra.  She was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Olaf College and the Most Valuable Performer Award from NARAS (National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences). She was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to be Solo Horn for the World Premier and recording of his composition “Mass” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  She was critically acclaimed for her solo performance in the World Premier of Oliver Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Sharon Moe has been featured in many TV Specials for PBS, CBS, ABC, and Cable TV. She records for CDs, films, and television ranging from classical to jazz. She has recorded and worked with numerous stars, maestros, and artists to name a few: Leonard Bernstein, Julius Rudel James Levine, Jose Serebrier, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Philip Glass, Billy Joel, Elton John, Bernadette Peters, Frank Sinatra, Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra , Wynton Marsalis, Patti Labelle, Menahem Pressler, Murray Perahia, Beverly Sills, Danny Kaye, Kathy Lee Gifford,  Michael Tilson Thomas, Placido Domingo, Marin Alsop, Marvin Hamlich, Clark Terry, Stephen Schwartz, Ray Charles, Stephen Sondheim,,Gerard Schwartz, Barbara Cook, John Corligiano and Philipe Entremont.  She recorded for the Broadway Tony TV Awards and for Wonder Pets – the number one children’s TV show that won several Emmys for its outstanding music and musicians.  She has also recorded for New World Records, Koch, Nonesuch, CBS Records, Newport Classics, Musical Heritage and Deutsche Grammaphon.  She is an acclaimed composer and composes under the name of Sharon Moe Miranda. She has the distinction of being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for her composition Windows for orchestra World Premiered by the Long Island Philharmonic (Chris Keene, conductor).  She is currently working on a CD for French horn and piano, a commissioned chamber work for the NY Chamber Soloists, and a composition for the St. Olaf College Band. She is on the faculty at Long Island University, Post, New Jersey City University and Manhattan School of Music PreCollege where she teaches French horn and chamber music. The New Yorker wrote, “Sharon Moe played the prominent solos with unfaltering lip and lung.  She was really something.” She was married to the late, great French Hornist Anthony Miranda. They have a beautiful daughter, Antonia.  Sharon writes, “Many people want to know the difference between a good musician and a great one, I think it is devoting every day to practicing, studying and listening to music. It is a part of you. It is as important as breathing.  I believe that music chooses us.  It wraps around us and never lets us go… Being connected to the arts makes us different human beings. If we were all tuned in to our God given creativity, we would be able to accomplish incredible things in this world.”


        IWBC Beacon Awardees

        Beacon Award Winner and Bandmaster Peggy Thomas graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 1975 with a Bachelor’s of Music in trumpet performance and from Northwestern University School of Music in 1977 with a Master’s of Music in trumpet performance. In 1976, Peggy became the first woman in the world to gain membership in a Salvation Army staff band.  As a member of the Chicago Staff Band, she served as principal cornet for almost 40 years and is presently is the Deputy Bandmaster.  She has recorded extensively with the Chicago Staff Band, plus recording two solo albums, Songs in the Heart and Perspectives.  In 2015, Peggy won a solo competition at NABBA (North American Brass Band Association) for ‘high brass slow melody.’  Peggy has appeared as soloist, clinician and conductor throughout the United States, Canada, Korea, Netherlands, England, New Zealand and Australia.  She has performed with the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra as well as occasionally subbed with the Chicago Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the St. Louis Symphony.  Peggy is a former student of Susan Slaughter, Vincent Cichowicz and William Scarlett.  She joined the Territorial Music & Gospel Arts Department of The Salvation Army in 1979.  The Salvation Army is a church; therefore the purpose of this department is to create opportunities and resources that enhance worship in the Army by utilizing the arts as a tool to bring people into a relationship with Christ.  She has also taught at numerous music camps sponsored by The Salvation Army over the past 45 years. Presently Peggy serves as the bandmaster of the Norridge Citadel Band of The Salvation Army, one of the outstanding brass bands in the Midwest.  The band participates in all worship services and has traveled extensively in the United States and Canada.  In 1988, the band was invited to march in the 100thanniversary of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA.  In 1999, the band traveled to England for a ten day tour.  Since becoming bandmaster in 1983, she has produced over 50 CDs with this band.  Peggy and her husband Scott have two married sons and three beautiful grandchildren.

          Beacon Award Winner Mildred Kemp is a trombonist, educator and conductor who received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Louisville School of Music, having studied trombone with Ernest E. Lyon, Ernest Glover and Emory Remington. Mildred began her professional career performing with the Louisville Orchestra from 1957 to 1962, leaving then for New York City where she was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under conductor Leopold Stokowski. Mildred performed with several other orchestras and was active as a freelance musician, playing in Broadway shows and with the Goldman Band from 1972-1976.  Her time in New York was also spent as a role model for young students teaching at the Henry Street Settlement, an arts and service organization founded in 1893 and a leader in community development.  In the early 1970s Mildred spent time in Wisconsin where she performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, continued her teaching at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater (then Wisconsin State University) and mentored students in various public school settings after earning her teacher certification.  Moving back to the east coast, Mildred taught at Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey, for twenty-two years where she was Piano and Choral Director.  Ms. Kemp returned to Louisville in 1995 and continued teaching as well as playing as auxiliary trombonist for the Louisville Orchestra. She currently is a member of the Louisville Bach Society and Commonwealth Brass Band, maintains a private teaching studio, and is Adjunct Instructor of Trombone, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN. Mildred’s career as a mentor, teacher and brass performer spans forty-three years and she is one of the earliest female low brass performers active in the East Coast performance scene.


            IWBC Lifetime Service Award

            Lifetime Service Award Winner SGM Virginia (Ginger) Turner is about to retire after playing trumpet for 27 years in The United States Army Field Band.  She began her military career in 1990 and has performed many featured solos with the Concert Band. In addition to her responsibilities with the band, Ginger has given many brass quintet performances, clinics, and master classes around the country in support of our Armed Forces.   As her career progressed she has held many leadership positions within The United States Army Field Band, culminating as the Element Leader of the Concert Band.  As an avid member of The International Women’s Brass Conference, Ginger has produced thirteen annual “Holiday Brass” fundraising concerts. These sold out events have become the ‘kick-off” of the holiday season in Baltimore Maryland. Ginger holds a Masters Degree in Trumpet Performance from Arizona State University where she studied with David Hickman. In retirement, Ginger will be working as a Conn-Selmer Educational artist and playing with her grandkids!!


              IWBC President’s Award

              Philip Biggs was born into a brass band family and started to play the cornet at the age of five. The following 30 years saw him play with bands in the South of England before retiring as a player in the late 1980s. From this point Philip pursued a career in promotion and marketing, taking this up full time in 1996. Philip’s first notable foray in this new direction was in 1989 when he teamed up with Richard Franklin to be the founders of the All England Masters Contest in Cambridge. Since then “the Masters” has grown in stature and has become an permanent international fixture in the brass band calendar.

              In 1996, Philip was appointed by the London Symphony Orchestra as Event Manager for the 1997 European Brass Band Championships held at The Barbican Centre in the City of London. In the same year he was appointed Administrator for The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and has been instrumental in ensuring the very best tutors are used on their courses to teach and inspire the next generation of brass players. He expanded his role and was appointed administrator of the National Children’s Brass Band – highlighting his commitment to the future brass bands. Philip was appointed Contest Controller of The British Open Brass Band Championship in 1991 by the late Harry Mortimer C.B.E. In August of 1998 Philip was appointed Administrator of The Brass Band Summer School, succeeding Gordon Higginbottom.

              Philip has since become the administrator for such prestigious events as the Spring British Open Festival in Manchester, the Brass Arts Festival at Regent Hall, London, the 2002 International Trumpet Guild Conference at the Royal Northern College of Music and the RNCM Festival of Brass.  As well as his work within the Brass Band field, Philip takes pride in presenting brass playing in all its forms. His company, Philip Biggs Brass Festivals (PBBF) has engaged world class acts such as Canadian Brass, Boston Brass, The Wallace Collection, Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, Hallé Brass, London Brass and The Don Lusher Big Band in addition to renowned conductors and soloists including Bramwell Tovey, Elgar Howarth, Maurice Murphy, Allen Vizzuti, John Wallace, Vince DiMartino, James Watson, Nicholas Childs, Jens Lindemann, Robert Childs, Roger Webster, Rex Richardson, David Daws, David Childs, Phillip McCann, James Shepherd, Sheona White and Steve Sykes. In recent times Philip has also very much enjoyed working with London Symphony Orchestra Brass.

              In August 2003 Philip launched The Brass Herald, a five times a year, 92 page all-colour magazine covering all aspects of brass playing, from Salvation Army Bands to Big Bands, Conservatoire Brass to Brass Bands. The all-encompassing nature of the magazine is helping to create a better understanding across the boundaries of brass playing – to the benefit of all.

              Philip was made a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London in April 2003, and in June of the same year the Freedom of the City of London was also afforded to him. In 2004 he was appointed a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London. Philip launched the Great Northern Brass Arts Festival at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester in September 1998 and such has been the success of this annual festival, it is now generally recognised as the foremost non-competitive festival in the brass world today. Building on its success, Philip launched the Great Northern Spring Brass Arts Festival at The Bridgewater Hall in May 2010.

              Since the publishing of his biography here, Philip Bigg's passed away on September 11, 2019.


                Susan Slaughter Award for Leadership

                Marin Alsop’s outstanding success as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007 has been recognized by two extensions in her tenure, now confirmed until 2021. As part of her artistic leadership in Baltimore, Marin Alsop has created bold initiatives that have contributed to the wider community and reached new audiences. In 2008 she launched ‘OrchKids’, which provides music education, instruments, meals and mentor ship of the city’s neediest young people. Engaging the local community, the BSO Academy and Rusty Musicians schemes also allow adult amateur musicians the chance to play alongside members of the orchestra under Alsop’s baton. 2016 saw Alsop and the orchestra celebrated the BSO’s centenary with Joshua Bell, and host the League of American Orchestras annual conference.

                Alsop took up the post of Principal Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) in 2012 and became Music Director in July 2013, with her contract now extended to the end of 2019. She continues to steer the orchestra in its artistic and creative programming, recording ventures and its education and outreach activities, as well as their annual Campos do Jordão International Winter Festival. Alsop led the orchestra on European tours in 2012 and 2013, with acclaimed performances at the BBC Proms in London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and further concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Salzburg and Vienna. In 2016 the orchestra returned to Europe once again for concerts at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International and Lucerne festivals.

                Marin Alsop now conducts the world’s major orchestras, with recent and forthcoming highlights including the Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala Philharmonic, Budapest Festival and Danish National symphony orchestras, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. She has a close relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), appearing with both most seasons. She is also Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London. In September 2013, Marin Alsop made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London which she returned to conduct in 2015.

                She returned to the Proms in 2015 and 2016 to conduct the OAE in an all-Brahms programme and Verdi Messa da Requiem on period instruments. 2015/16 highlights included a historic return for an American musician to Cuba, conducting Lang Lang and the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. In March 2016, Alsop celebrated Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary conducting Bernstein West Side Story in the Knockdown Center, a restored factory in Queens, and she will form a significant role in the world’s centenary celebration of Leonard Bernstein. In 2016/17 Alsop returns to London for performances with the BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras and brings the Britten-Pears Orchestra to Southbank Centre before returning to a residency in Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings.

                July 2016 marked Marin Alsop’s 25th and final year as Music Director of California’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, where she has built a devoted audience for new music. Building an orchestra is one of Alsop’s great gifts, and she retains strong links with all of her previous orchestras including the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Principal Conductor 2002-8; now Conductor Emeritus) and Colorado Symphony Orchestra (Music Director 1993-2005; now Music Director Laureate).

                Marin Alsop is the recipient of numerous awards and is the only conductor to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to US residents in recognition of exceptional creative work. She was only classical musician to be included in the Guardian’s “Top 100 women”, celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day in 2011. Alsop is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Royal Philharmonic Society and was recently appointed Director of Graduate Conducting Program at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute.

                Alsop’s Prokofiev cycle on Naxos with OSESP continues, following an extensive Naxos discography including a notable set of Brahms symphonies with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra and a highly-praised Dvořák series with the BSO. Other award-winning recordings include Bernstein’s Mass (Editor’s Choice, Gramophone Awards 2010) and Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto (Grammy Award 2010). Alsop has also recorded for Decca Classics, Harmonia Mundi and Sony Classical.

                Born in New York City, Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her Master’s Degree from The Julliard School. Her career was launched when, in 1989, she was a prize-winner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition and in the same year was the first woman to be awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein.



                About IWBC Awards

                PIONEER AWARD

                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.

                BEACON AWARD

                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.

                PRESIDENT’S AWARD

                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]