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L.A. Phil wins national award for innovative programming

June 10, 2011 |  4:00 pm

This year’s Lakers couldn’t manage a three-peat as champions, but the Los Angeles Philharmonic  just did.

For the third consecutive year, the home team has copped the Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming by an orchestra. The $3,000 prize is awarded annually by the songwriters’ and composers’ performing rights organization, ASCAP, as part of its Awards for Adventurous Programming. The awards, conferred since 1947, recognize orchestras “that challenge the audience, build the repertoire and increase interest in the music of our time.”

The Phil has won under two different coaches, so to speak –- with Esa-Pekka Salonen in charge as music director for the 2009 Gould honors, followed by two under Gustavo Dudamel.

The prizes, announced Thursday, are given in five categories, topped by the Gould award, the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming (won this year by the Minnesota Orchestra) and the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music (won by the Alabama Symphony).

Awards are also given for the best contemporary music programming in eight different brackets of orchestra size or type, and for championing the work of American composers during foreign tours -– a category in which the judges declined to give an award this year. The Los Angeles Philharmonic won the 2006 and 2007 award for best contemporary music programming by a large orchestra, giving it first-place finishes in five of the last six years. The New York Philharmonic won this year's large-orchestra award (expenses more than $15.9 million).

Judging the entries were George Manahan, music director of New York City Opera, composer Christopher Theofanidis and Edward Yim, a classical music executive and consultant.

Other California orchestras recognized in the contemporary music programming category were the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, which gets a plaque for finishing third in the second-highest budget division behind the New World Symphony and the second-place Buffalo Philharmonic. LACO won the division in 2007. The Berkeley Symphony receives $500 for a second-place finish in the smallest orchestra division (annual expenses less than $550,000), and the Cabrillo Festival of American Music in Santa Cruz won $600 for finishing first once more in the festival category it has won for at least six years running under music director Marin Alsop.

To provide some historical context, Culture Monster used Google to find the award news releases going back to 2006; the Cabrillo Festival’s streak may be even longer, and the L.A. Phil's domination in the Salonen-Dudamel era may extend back further. We found a Times clip noting that the Phil's 1995 ASCAP award was the 15th it had won, meaning it's now up to at least 20.

The League of American Orchestras, which administers the awards, said Friday that no historical winners’ list is available. We’re pretty sure the NBA doesn’t make that kind of omission when it comes to remembering its champs.


DudamelLawrenceKHo Salonen, L.A. Phil honored for 'adventurous programming'

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Top photo: Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times