2022 Award Winners

The Illinois Council of Orchestras is pleased to announce the 2022 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.

The 2022 ICO Awards:


Professional Orchestra of the Year Quad City Symphony Orchestra
Mark Russell Smith, Music Director
Community Orchestra of the Year Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra
Stephen Alltop, Music Director
Youth Orchestra of the Year Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra
Allen Tinkham, Artistic Director
Conductor of the Year, Professional Orchestra Stephen Alltop, Music Director
Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra
Conductor of the Year, Community Orchestra Matthew Sheppard, Artistic Director
Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra
Executive Director/General Manager of the Year Christina Salerno Executive Director
Illinois Philharmonic
Programming of the Year  Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Sheppard, Artistic Director
Guild of the Year Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra
Stephen Alltop, Music Director


The Illinois Council of Orchestras was founded in 1974 with a mission:

  • to encourage, promote, and assist orchestras throughout the State of Illinois
  • to promote an exchange of information among members, including providing consultants and speakers
  • to hold educational conferences for member organizations, including musicians, staff, boards, volunteers, and audiences.

Presentation of the ICO Awards will take place at local concerts and other events of the winning orchestras, or virtually. 


ICO Awards Press Release 2022

History of ICO Awards 2022

Illinois Council of Orchestras Announces Annual Awards

2023 Awards will be announced in October of 2022. 

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.

Especially this year, 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.


2022 Awards Brochure: This brochure contains information regarding the application process and the requirements for applying for an award. 

Awards Application: Applications for the 2023 Awards will open in October 2023

Apply Now
For more information about awards, contact Awards Chairman, Gregory Clemons gclemons@harpercollege.edu


February 1, 2022 Deadline

All applicants must be current members of the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

Awards will be based on achievements of the past season, 2020-2021

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. 

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.

If requested, one on-site presentation will be made at a performance by winning orchestras between March and July 2022, by a member of the Board of the ICO.

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


  • Cultural Leadership Award
  • 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