20 years, 11 fellows: The Solti Foundation U.S. Announces The 2020 Recipient Of The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award

Evanston, IL – The Solti Foundation U.S. today announced the awarding of its major grant, The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award. The largest grant currently given to American conductors in the formative years of their careers, the prestigious $30,000 grant is given annually to a single promising American conductor 38 years of age or younger.

Making the announcement remotely from their respective homes, Foundation Board Chair Penny Van Horn, and Elizabeth Buccheri, Artistic and Awards Committee Chair, also remarked on the Foundation’s accomplishments since its founding twenty years ago.

“It is with pride that The Solti Foundation U.S. announces Aram Demirjian as the eleventh recipient of The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award,” stated Ms. Van Horn.

“During this time of social distancing, it is uplifting to be able to share positive news. We have observed Aram’s growth as a conductor over the past several years, first awarding him a Career Assistance Award in 2017, and are pleased to now award him with The Solti Fellow. He has grown steadily in his craft and is innovative in his approach to classical
music. Congratulations, Aram! We look forward to seeing what your future holds.”

A recipient of The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award may use the financial portion of the grant in various ways to specifically advance his/her career, whether it be further studies, language study, purchases of scores, or travel. The Foundation’s Board of Directors comprises experts from all areas of the classical music industry, and therefore the Award also brings door-opening introductions within the industry and valuable access to professional mentors.

Ms. Buccheri added, “Since its founding in 2000, the Foundation has provided a professional boost that has helped to advance the careers of over 50 young musicians. We are excited to mark our 20th anniversary this autumn, celebrating two decades of proudly assisting talented young American conductors in furthering their skills and developing their conducting careers.”

“I had the honor of working with the late Sir Georg for many years in Chicago; he was of the opinion that hard work and diligence went a long way in forming a successful career. It is a pleasure to see the results of the effort that Aram puts forth in his career. Congratulations Aram!”

American born and of Armenian descent, conductor Aram Demirjian is Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO). A dynamic presence on the podium, he is sought after for his “graceful, energetic direction” (Sarasota Herald Tribune), bold programming, and distinctive abilities as a communicator. During his three-year tenure with Knoxville, the orchestra has attained new artistic heights, sustained significant ticket revenue increases and received national recognition. In 2020, the KSO a was selected as one of four orchestras to be featured at SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras, presented by the
Kennedy Center and Washington Performing Arts. In 2020 and 2021, Demirjian can be heard with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and in debuts with the North Carolina, San Diego, and Santa Rosa symphonies. Recent guest conducting highlights include engagements with the Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New England Conservatory, Omaha, Portland, San Antonio, and Tucson symphonies, the Philadelphia, Sarasota and Breckenridge Music Festival orchestras, and the Louisiana and Orlando Philharmonics. Of note is his conducting of the nationally acclaimed, 17-performance run of Bernstein’s Candide with the KSO and Clarence Brown

Theatre in 2018, hailed as “superbly conducted” by Chicago Tonight. Internationally, Demirjian has conducted the Orquesta Sinfónico de Minería, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and Orchéstre Métropolitain de Montréal. In addition to the 2020 Solti Fellow, Aram Demirjian is the recipient of 2017 and 2019 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards, a 2018 Solti Foundation U.S. Opera Residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago (for Massenet’s Cendrillon, assisting Sir Andrew Davis), and the 2011 Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, where he was a three-time Conducting Fellow in the Aspen Conducting Academy. Prior to his tenure with Knoxville, Demirjian served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony (2012-16). He holds a joint Bachelor of Arts in Music and Government from Harvard University and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from New England Conservatory.

About The Solti Foundation U.S.

Entering its twentieth year of assisting outstanding young U.S. conductors to further develop their talent and careers, The Solti Foundation U.S. is the foremost organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to helping young conductors.

Established in 2000 to honor the memory of the legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti by lending significant support to career-ready young American musicians, in 2004, the Foundation concentrated the focus of its award program to solely assist talented young American conductors early in their professional careers (its original mission was of a more general arts nature). Since then, it has awarded over $900,000 through grants and residencies to American conductors.

The Foundation endeavors to seek out those musicians who have chosen to follow a path similar to that followed by Sir Georg himself. In keeping with the spirit of Sir Georg’s active approach to his career, young conductors must apply to be considered for the awards.

While dedicated to identifying and assisting young conductors early on, the Foundation is also concerned with the long-term development of its award recipients, continuing to offer support and maintaining a constant interest in their growth and achievements.

The Foundation currently awards the following grants annually:

  • The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award. The largest grant currently given to American conductors in the formative years of their careers, the prestigious $30,000 grant is given annually to a single promising American conductor 38 years of age or younger. The Award, also known as
  • The Solti Fellow, includes door-opening introductions, ongoing professional mentoring, and introductions to two of Chicago’s most prestigious performing organizations: Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Past recipients include Yaniv Dinur, Roderick Cox, Christopher Allen, Karina Canellakis, Vladimir Kulenovic, Cristian Macelaru, James Feddeck, Case Scaglione, Eric Nielsen, and Anthony Barrese.
  • The Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award. The amount of the Career Assistance Awards varies.
  • The Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency. Introduced in the 2014-15 season, the program places former award recipients with a distinguished opera house for one-on-one mentoring and coaching of an opera during the company’s professional season. Recipients have worked with numerous stellar opera companies renowned for their artistic excellence across the country, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florentine Opera Company in Milwaukee, North Carolina Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Michigan Opera Theatre. Conductors cannot apply but are instead selected by the Artistic and Awards Committee.

The Foundation is currently the only American Foundation to grant these kinds of awards each year to young American conductors. Citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are career-ready artists in the field of conducting are eligible to apply.

Applicants for all Solti Foundation U.S. awards must be able to demonstrate that he/she is developing a career as a symphonic/operatic conductor. All applications from The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award are considered for a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award. Applications are reviewed by an awards committee comprised of a panel of professionals with broad musical and conducting experience. The Foundation reserves the right to withhold a grant in any given year if the Awards Committee does not find suitable applicants in one or more of the various award categories.

The 2020 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards will be announced in the near