Steven Schick Wins 2020 Ditson Conductor's Award

Steven Schick, distinguished percussionist, conductor and author, is the recipient of the 2020 Ditson Conductor’s Award for the advancement of American music, Columbia University has announced. Schick will receive $5,000 and a citation on behalf of Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger.

Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columba and Secretary of the Ditson Fund said, "Steven Schick rose to prominence as one of the world’s finest percussionists and subsequently became a master conductor. In both capacities, he has commissioned, performed, and championed a large number of contemporary compositions. His career as performer and conductor has been at the highest level of musicianship, and his contributions to contemporary music are of lasting value.”

The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University established the Conductor’s Award in 1945. It is the oldest continuing award honoring conductors for distinguished contributions to American music. Previous recipients include David Zinman, Alan Gilbert, George Manahan, Leonard Bernstein, Cliff Colnot, Marin Alsop, Oliver Knussen and, last year, Brad Lubman.

Schick, in addition to being the conductor of the La Jolla Symphony, was for a number of years the Artistic Director of the Institute of Percussion in Geneva, Switzerland, the director and conductor of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and the first Artist in Residence of the International Contemporary Ensemble.He is one of the world's greatest percussionists, an inspiration and model for generations of young percussionists and responsible in a major way for the increased role of percussion at the center of contemporary musical life. His membership in the Bang On A Can All Stars from 1992-2002 established his unique place in the world of contemporary music as a pathbreaking musician. 

Steven Schick is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California at San Diego and the author of important educational books, detailing every aspect of the art of a percussionist. These volumes are now required reading for all percussionists, students and professionals alike. He is responsible for over one hundred and fifty commissions and premiere performances of new works. Schick’s leadership of "red fish blue fish", a group of young percussionists has been an inspiration to aspiring percussionists the world over. In 2015, he served as the Artistic Director of the famed Ojai Festival.

See for a list of all previous winners of the Ditson Conductor’s Award.