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The ACSO Awards program recognizes remarkable individuals and organizations for their meaningful contributions to the orchestra field. ACSO oversees five awards in its portfolio:

1) Social Impact Award

2) Young Musician Leadership Award
3) Executive Leadership Award
4) Emerging Professional Award
5) MVP Volunteer Award

Keep scrolling to learn more and find the application for each of the five awards.

Award winners are chosen based on strength of the application in demonstrating, in alignment with the criteria, the nominees' extraordinary leadership and professional accomplishments. THE 2024 AWARDS NOMINATION PERIOD IS NOW CLOSED.

ACSO promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion values and principles. As such, we encourage nominators to consider submitting candidates for the individual awards who meet the award criteria and represent a diversity of ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. 

For questions about ACSO's Awards Program, contact us at [email protected] or call 800-495-2276 x3.

NOTE: Once you have begun an application in the application portal, you cannot save and return your progress - applications must be completed in one sitting.

Click the links below to preview and draft the application questions before submitting a nomination.

2024 Social
Impact Award

2024 Young Musician
Leadership Award

2024 Executive
Leadership Award

2024 Emerging
Professional Award

2024 MVP
Volunteer Award


Social Impact Award

The Social Impact Award will be granted to an organizational member of ACSO that has demonstrated measurable success in the area of social impact within the past three to five seasons. ACSO defines social impact as conscious or deliberate efforts towards positive change that address or improve social injustices or challenges. ACSO believes that an orchestra’s value extends beyond the music that they offer to their communities - they can also serve as agents to influence social change and make their communities stronger and more connected. We seek to award the work that orchestras are doing to serve, strengthen, and improve their communities both inside and outside the concert hall.

Click here to learn more about the Social Impact Award and submit an application.

2023 Social Impact Award Recipient: Long Beach Symphony

Young Musician Leadership Award

This award will be given to a young musician in middle-school through college, who is part of a performing ensemble and has shown remarkable potential to become a future leader in the performing arts field. This is NOT an award for musical ability – it is to highlight the leadership potential of those who have gone above and beyond in service to their orchestra, school, peer group, or community. 

ACSO seeks to promote a more intentional pathway into the field of arts administration by recognizing students who currently show strong leadership potential. ACSO’s Young Musician Leadership Award comes with an optional mentorship opportunity between the awardee and an arts leader in ACSO’s membership network to support them and give them experience in their field of expertise. In doing so, we feel this award will help cultivate the future arts leaders of tomorrow.

The Young Musician Leadership Award comes with a $250 honorarium, underwritten by ACSO Board Members Dean McVay and Jonathan Rios.

Click here to learn more about the Young Musician Leadership Award and submit a nomination. 

2023 Young Musician Leadership Award Recipient: Zen Glick, Pasadena High School & Pasadena Youth Symphony

Executive Leadership Award

The Executive Leadership Award recognizes the chief executive officer, executive director, or managing director of an ACSO member organization for extraordinary leadership in the classical music field over the past three to five years. This is demonstrated in their efforts to advance the mission of their organization, create a vision that inspires others, create strategies to overcome challenges, and unite a team to meet the demands of the changing world of classical music performance.

This leader has built an organizational culture and strategy that causes the institution to be an indispensable member of its community and has led their organization to evolve as its audience diversifies, changes, and grows. Throughout their leadership experience, this individual has encouraged innovation and creative independence among employees, enabling them to do their best work, and has demonstrated a special ability to identify and foster future leaders for the sector. This person effectively aligns artistic and administrative goals and uses their position to ensure that the organization is a reflection of and is in service to its unique, diverse, and evolving community and that their organization is welcoming, accessible, and inclusive.

Click here to learn more about the Executive Leadership Award and submit a nomination.

2023 Executive Leadership Award Recipient: Natalia Staneva, Executive Director, New West Symphony
2022 Executive Leadership Award Recipient: Jenny Darlington-Person, Executive Director, Music in the Mountains
2021 Executive Leadership Award Recipient: Julia Copeland, Former Executive Director, Youth Orchestras of Fresno

Emerging Professional Award

ACSO recognizes the need for the classical music industry to invest in diverse future leaders who will ensure the vitality of the art form. Therefore, the Emerging Professional Award recognizes the current contributions and the future potential of an individual who has been in the orchestra/classical music field for less than five years but who has already made significant contributions to their organization, irrespective of available resources or budget, and has demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing professional growth. This individual has experienced early career success in the field, has helped elevate the mission of their organization, and thus is actively making an impact in the community.

This person demonstrates a thirst and curiosity for learning and self-development. This person is an asset to their organization by bringing new ideas, providing support to colleagues, challenging the status quo, championing equity and diversity, and demonstrating leadership. This individual brings positive energy to and invigorates organizational culture, while working to shore up its weaknesses and advance its strengths.

The Emerging Professional Award comes with a $500 honorarium, underwritten by ACSO Board Members Dean McVay and Jonathan Rios.

Click here to learn more about the Emerging Professional Award and submit a nomination.

2023 Emerging Professional Award Recipient: Raphaela Correa de Lacerda Campos, Assistant Conductor, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra
2022 Emerging Professional Award RecipientTiffany Fajardo, Patron Services Manager, Berkeley Symphony
2021 Emerging Professional Award Recipient: Virginia Evans, Operations Manager, Reno Philharmonic

MVP Volunteer Awards

Since 1996 the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Volunteer Awards have recognized exemplary volunteers, volunteer projects, and volunteer organizations working for symphony orchestras in the ACSO network.

From board members, to education providers, to marketing and outreach support, to fundraisers, and many other capacities, these individuals willingly give their time and talents to make sure music organizations thrive. 
The MVP Volunteer Award is not a competition but an opportunity for your extraordinary volunteers to be recognized publicly.  

Nominations may be made now through Friday, May 17, 2024, for an individual volunteer, a volunteer committee, or a volunteer organization (such as a league or guild). ACSO will publicly announce the award winners in June 2024 and winners will be recognized during the 2024 Annual Conference (July 25 - 27) in San Francisco. 

Click here to learn more about the MVP Volunteer Award and submit a nomination.

2023 MVPs:
Linda Dunn, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California
John Evans, Pacific Symphony
Paul Finkel, New West Symphony
Dr. Ayesha K. Randall, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA)
John Rogers, San Bernardino Symphony
California Symphony Alliance Event Committee

2022 MVPs:
Mikki Andina, Santa Barbara Symphony
Mary Jane Cooper, Santa Barbara Symphony
Mary Eichbauer, Vallejo Symphony
Lloyd Garrison, San Bernardino Symphony
Janet Garufis, Santa Barbara Symphony
Nancy Israel, New West Symphony
Nancy McAleer Golden, Santa Barbara Symphony
Renee Rymer, Marin Symphony
Marilyn Solter, Redlands Symphony

2021 MVPs:
Terry Brown, Founder and Board Chair, Music in the Mountains
Linda Burroughs, Board President, Santa Cruz Symphony
Dr. Dee Lacy, Board President, Youth Orchestras of Fresno
Leslie Lassiter, Board Chair, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
George Lucas, Chair of the Performing Arts Docent Tours, San Francisco Symphony
Charles Schimmel, Treasurer and CFO, Monterey Symphony
Paradise Symphony Society Board of Directors
San Bernardino Symphony Music in the Schools Committee

2020 MVPs:
Dr. Jay Fiene, Board Member, San Bernardino Symphony
Mary Ann Orr, Board & League Member, Santa Cruz Symphony 

2019 MVPs:
Grace Baldwin, Board Member, San Bernardino Symphony
Linda Burroughs, Board President, Santa Cruz Symphony
Business and Professionals Committee, Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates
Lee Rosen, Board President, Monterey Symphony
Anne-Marie Spataru, Board Member, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Sharon Stewart, Volunteer, Pacific Symphony
Autumn van den Berg, Board Chair, Tucson Symphony Orchestra

2018 MVPs:
Elizabeth Dinsel, Mill Valley Philharmonic
Earleen Ferguson Dudley, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra
Lee Duffus, Santa Cruz Symphony
Julie Han, Youth Orchestra of Fresno/FOOSA Festival
Carol McCormack, Sacramento Master Singers
Laurie Nelson, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera
Joon Shin, Berkeley Symphony
Fred Smith, California Symphony