Donna Parkes wins Ford Musician Award

We are so proud of Donna Parkes who won one of 5 Ford Musician Awards from the League of American Orchestras.


The Louisville Orchestra’s principal trombonist Donna Parkes is one of just five orchestra musicians from across the U.S. who received Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras at the League’s 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5, 2019. The awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

This year’s awardees work with children of all ages in a variety of initiatives, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement; teaching hearing and speech-impaired children new skills; providing music education and engagement to students from underserved communities; connecting with children and families in outlying communities through creative programming; and facilitating the creation of new compositions by high school students.

Donna Parkes at the Heuser Hearing Institute

“Donna is an amazing musician and leader,” states Louisville Orchestra CEO Robert Massey. “In addition to serving as Principal Trombone, she is a member of the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Committee, holds a seat on the Board of Directors, and has extensively been at the forefront of the Orchestra’s community programs. She has been instrumental in the Louisville Orchestra’s Heuser Hearing and Learning Academy Residency program for more than a decade. Introducing the wonder of sound and music to deaf and hearing-impaired children, Donna collaborates with the teachers and therapists at Heuser and coordinates the participation of her fellow LO musicians to bring this program to the Academy classrooms every month. We are pleased that Donna is being recognized by the League for her work in this program.”

“These musicians’ artistry and commitment drives compelling work that touches the lives of so many in their communities,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “Ford Motor Company Fund’s ongoing support has helped us share the inspiring stories of these trailblazing mentors and leaders with the entire orchestra field and beyond.”

“We’re proud to recognize these five musicians, whose contributions to their communities will create a lasting positive impact,” said Yisel Cabrera, Manager, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Music and the arts have the ability to transcend boundaries and bring people together, which is why the generous service these musicians are providing is so important.”

The musicians received their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference Luncheon, June 4, and discussed their work at Musicians Transforming Communities, a session for Conference delegates on June 4.

About Donna Parkes

Australian trombonist Donna Parkes has been Principal Trombone of the Louisville Orchestra since 2008 and has been Principal Trombone of the Colorado Music Festival since 2009. She has played with the Utah Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, and the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. She has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Oregon Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Parkes has performed at the Arizona Musicfest, the Marlboro Festival, and the Grand Tetons Festival and in 2016 toured with the Australian World Orchestra. Solo competition successes include winning the Australian National Trombone Competition, the Brisbane International Brass Competition, and finalist in the Jeju Brass Competition in Korea. She has appeared as a soloist or clinician at the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Trombone Festival and the Melbourne International Festival of Brass. Parkes received her Masters Degree studying under Charles Vernon at DePaul University and other primary teachers include Michael Mulcahy and Ron Prussing.

The five award recipients and their orchestras are:

Victoria Griswold, Violin
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Teddy Bear Series, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement

Jeff Handley, Principal Percussion
Chicago Sinfonietta
Audience Matters and SEED, in-school residency programs for students from underserved communities

Rebecca Patterson, Principal Cello
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
NHSO Harmony Fellowship Quartet / Recording Composition Class, for students from underrepresented communities

Donna Parkes, Principal Trombone
Louisville Orchestra
Teaching communication skills through music to children with hearing and speech impairments in a partnership with the Heuser Hearing Institute.

Rebecca Young, Associate Principal Viola
New York Philharmonic
Very Young People’s Concerts

About the Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service:

Now in its fourth year, the League’s Ford Musician Awards program, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund, honors and celebrates professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

The musicians were selected by a panel of peer professionals through a competitive nomination process to receive the awards, which include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians.

Previous Award Recipients:

2018 award recipients included Jeffrey Barker, associate principal flute, Seattle Symphony; John R. Beck, principal percussionist, Winston Salem Symphony; Jody Chaffee, Community Engagement Director, Flute, Firelands Symphony Orchestra; Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Juan R. Ramírez Hernández, Violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Videos of the 2018 awardees can be found here.

2017 award recipients included Mark Dix, viola, Phoenix Symphony; Michael Gordon, principal flute, Kansas City Symphony; Diane McElfish Helle, violin, Grand Rapids Symphony; Eunsoon Lee-Coroliss, assistant principal violist, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; and Peter Zlotnick, education manager/principal timpani, Greensboro Symphony.
Videos of the 2017 awardees can be found here.

2016 award recipients included Penny Anderson Brill, viola, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Shannon Orme, bass clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Jeffrey Paul, Principal Oboe, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra; Brian Prechtl, percussion, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and Beth Vandervennet, cello, Oakland Symphony.

This is the League’s second partnership project with Ford Motor Company Fund, which was the title sponsor of Ford Made in America, the largest commissioning consortium in the country’s history.