Delta Music Director David Gier Wins 2022 Ditson Conductor Award
Delta Distinguished Conductor David Gier is the recipient of the 2022 Ditson Conductor’s Award for the Advancement of American Music, Columbia University announced. Gier will receive $5,000 and a citation on behalf of Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. Previous recipients include Gustav MeierDavid Zinman, Alain Gilbert, Georges Manahan, Leonard Bernstein, Marin AlsopOlivier Knussen and John Adams.
Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor Emeritus of Music Composition at Columbia and Secretary of the Alice M. Ditson Fund, said, “Delta David Gier is a highly acclaimed conductor who is distinguished by his dedication to contemporary American music. As a longtime conductor of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, he has shown an unwavering commitment to programming American orchestral works, many of which are premieres. He developed the Bridging Cultures program, which is dedicated to promoting music from Indigenous and diverse communities. He is a model of a committed conductor. The Ditson Fund is pleased to honor this exemplary musician with its 2022 Conductor Award.”
In 1940, the Alice M. Ditson Fund was established by Columbia University to provide grants “for scholarship, public hearings, and publication” of the work of talented musicians whom the Fund deems worthy of assistance. To encourage public performance of the music of talented American composers, the Ditson Conductor’s Award was established in 1945. With the 2022 award, Columbia University proudly adds Delta David Gier to the list of distinguished conductors so honored. .
Delta David Gier has been called a dynamic voice on the American music scene, widely recognized for his penetrating interpretations of standard symphonic repertoire, his passionate commitment to new music, and his community involvement.
Orchestras Mr. Gier has conducted include the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. In Europe, his past engagements include the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway), the Polish National Symphony Orchestra (with which he has several recordings) and the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as many other orchestras in Italy, Hungary , Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey. . In the Americas he has had a long relationship with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and has conducted several orchestras in Mexico and Brazil. In Asia, Mr. Gier continues to have a long-standing relationship with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and has conducted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Qingdao and Hebei Orchestras in China.
Since 2004, Mr. Gier has served as Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO). Under his direction, the orchestra has won acclaim for its programming (including seven ASCAP awards). His Pulitzer Prize-based series has been called an “unprecedented programming innovation” by The Wall Street Journal and has included residencies with composers Jennifer Higdon, Steven Stucky, Zhou Long, John Luther Adams and Paul Moravec. Meanwhile, the SDSO has expanded its offering with a cycle of Mahler symphonies and semi-stage operas.
The Lakota Music Project (LMP) was developed under Mr. Gier’s direction to resolve racial tensions between Native Americans and non-Natives in the area served by the SDSO. Now in its eleventh year, the LMP is a side-by-side program with SDSO and Lakota/Dakota musicians that explores the role music plays in their respective cultures, seeking to engender understanding and healing between distant peoples. This program traveled to Washington, D.C. in October 2019 for performances at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and the National Cathedral. Since 2019, the LMP has expanded into Bridging Cultures, a broader program including projects with communities such as Arabic (with oud artist Simon Shaheen, composer Malek Jandali), Persian (with composer Behzad Ranjbaran), Chinese (with composers Chen Yi and Zhou Long), South Asians (with composer Reena Esmail) and Sudanese/Somali refugees (with Ensemble Bernard Woma).
For 15 seasons, Delta David Gier served as Deputy Conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied at the University of Michigan under the famous professor of orchestral conducting Gustav Meier, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Eastern Europe from 1988 to 1990. As a sought-after educator, Mr. Gier has been a visiting professor at the Curtis Institute, Yale School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory and SUNY Stony Brook . He chaired the Pulitzer Prize Music Jury and is a frequent panelist for the League of American Orchestras.