ICO Awards

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.

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


2020 Awards Brochure: This brochure contains information regarding the application process and the requirements for applying for an award. 

Awards Application: Applications are due February 1, 2020

Apply Now

Past Award Winners - updated October 2019

ICO Awards Press Release 2019 - updated March 2019

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


February 1, 2020 Deadline

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

Awards will be based on achievements of the past season, 2018-2019.

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 2020, 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

Illinois Council of Orchestras Announces Annual Awards

The Illinois Council of Orchestras is pleased to announce the 2019 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 2019 ICO Awards:

Professional Orchestra of the Year Lake Forest Symphony
Vladimir Kulenovic, Music Director
Community Orchestra of the Year Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra
Russell Vinick, Music Director and Conductor
Youth Orchestra of the Year  Midwest Young Artists Conservatory
Allan Dennis, Founder and Director
Conductor of the Year 
(professional orchestra category)
Vladimir Kulenovic, Music Director
Lake Forest Symphony
Conductor of the Year 
(youth orchestra category)
Allen Tinkham, Music Director
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Board President of the Year Ann Tucker, President
Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Programming of the Year Chicago Chicago Philharmonic
Scott Speck, Artistic Director
Community Relations of the Year Chicago Philharmonic
Scott Speck, Artistic Director
Volunteer of the Year Cheryl Flinn
The Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest


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 during March through July 2019 at local concerts and other events of the winning orchestras.

History of ICO Awards 2019
ICO Awards Press Release 2019