Illinois Council of Orchestras Annual Awards

Stay tuned for 2024 Award announcement in Spring 2024

Each year the ICO conducts an awards program to recognize orchestras, conductors, and volunteers that have demonstrated exceptional achievement. These highly sought-after awards provide local and statewide recognition to both individuals and their organizations. An independent panel of judges reviews materials in March, and awards are announced in late March. Members of the ICO Board of Directors will make a formal presentation during the spring, upon request, to each of the award-winning orchestras at a concert or other special occasion.

ICO will be taking into account all of the virtual achievements that were made by our members, in addition to any in person events that were able to take place. 

Only current ICO member orchestras are eligible for these prestigious annual awards.

Awards Application: The deadline to apply for the a 2024 Awards is Monday, February 12, 2024.

2024 Awards Brochure
This brochure contains information regarding the application process and the requirements for applying for an award. 

 Requirements for Applying for an Award

  • Deadline for applications February 12, 2024
  • All applicants must be current members of the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
  • Awards will be based on achievements of the past season, 2022-2023
  • An organization may apply for awards in more than one category in the same year. If applying for an award in more than one category, you will need to upload the appropriate documents for each category.
  • After having received an award, an organization will not be considered for an award in the same category for a period of five years. The organization may apply in other categories. 
  • The Illinois Council of Orchestras reserves the right not to name a winner in every category.
  • Ensemble definitions:
    • A community orchestra is one in which at least 60% of the musicians are either volunteers or are paid less than union scale.
    • A college/university orchestra is one in which at least 75% of the musicians are registered students.

Award Recipients: If requested, one on-site presentation will be made at a performance by winning orchestras between March and July 2024, by a member of the Board of the ICO.

Award Categories

The Illinois Council of Orchestras reserves the right not to name a winner in every category.

  • Orchestra of the Year*
  • Conductor of the Year, professional orchestra
  • Conductor of the Year, community/small orchestra
  • Conductor of the Year, college/university orchestra
  • Board President of the Year
  • Executive Director or General Manager of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Programming of the Year
  • Community Relations of the Year
  • Guild of the Year

 *Four separate awards will be presented in this category: professional orchestras, community orchestras, youth orchestras, and chamber ensembles.

The 2023 ICO Award Winners:

The Illinois Council of Orchestras is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of its annual awards for excellence in the field of music performance and for support of musical organizations. An awards panel that included judges from the Illinois Council of Orchestras Board of Directors and from independent arts organizations reviewed nominations representing orchestras, youth orchestras, and chamber ensembles from throughout Illinois. 

Professional Orchestra of the Year Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
Orbert Davis, Co-Founder & Artistic Director
Community Orchestra of the Year Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
Russell Vinick, Music Director
Conductor of the Year, Professional Orchestra Orbert Davis, Co-Founder & Artistic Director
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
Board President/Chair of the Year Thomas O. Kuhns
Chairman of the Board Music of the Baroque
Volunteer of the Year Kathy Huff
The Hyde Park Youth Symphony 
Programming of the Year  Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Allen Tinkham, Music Director
Community Relations of the Year Quad City Symphony Orchestra
Mark Russell Smith, Music Director
Cultural Leadership Award Presented in Memory of:
Terrance Malone Gray Associate Conductor
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras


ICO Awards Press Release 2023

History of ICO Awards 2023