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KSO music director Aram Demirjian one of just nine U.S. conductors to receive Solti Career Assistance Award

June 2, 2017

Aram Demirjian, Music Director for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, recently received the 2017 Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., the foremost organization in the United States dedicated to assisting outstanding young conductors to further develop their talent and careers. Demirjian was one of just nine recipients.

Penny Van Horn, Board Chair of The Solti Foundation U.S., announced the nine recipients of the 2017 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Awards on June 1, bringing the total number of such grants given by the Foundation to 55. This year’s recipients hold positions throughout the United States, Canada and Brazil with posts in California, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, Hamilton, Ontario, and Rio de Janiero.

Aram Demirjian

Aram Demirjian

“We at the Solti Foundation U.S. are pleased to be able to support and encourage young American conductors as they begin their careers,” said Peggy Van Horn, Solti Foundation Board Chair. “Through the generosity of the Solti family and numerous others, the Foundation has awarded a half million dollars to deserving artists since 2004, and looks forward to continuing to support the conductors of tomorrow. There is a growing number of truly talented young artists in the orchestral and operatic podiums today. We are proud of your efforts and dedication, and look forward to following your careers.”

Established in 2000 to honor the memory of Sir Georg Solti by lending significant support to career-ready young American musicians, the Foundation concentrated the focus of its award program in 2004 to exclusively assist talented young American conductors early in their professional careers.

About Aram Demirjian, KSO Music Director

Currently serving as Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Aram Demirjian previously served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony. Recent and upcoming engagements include the Philadelphia, Minnesota and Sarasota orchestras; St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Omaha, Memphis and Illinois symphonies; Louisiana, Boise and Fresno philharmonics; and international debuts with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Orquesta Sinfónico de Minería. Demirjian also is frequently engaged as cover conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra with which he has assisted Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Andris Nelsons, Stéphane Denève, Christoph von Dohnányi, Manfred Honeck, and others. In 2014, he was featured as a guest artist in the Tanglewood Music Center’s Festival of Contemporary Music, conducting performances of Jacob Druckman’s Bo, and Kate Soper’s Helen Enfettered. Demirjian recently was the only American among seven conductors selected by Maestro Bernard Haitink as an active participant in the 2016 Haitink Masterclass at the Lucerne Easter Festival. A three-time Conducting Fellow in the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, in 2011 he was awarded the Aspen Music Festival’s Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize. That same year, he won Third Prize in the Memphis Symphony International Conducting Competition. Demirjian’s goal is to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, background, or circumstance, has access to great symphonic music.

2017 Solti Career Assistance Award Recipients:

1.    Conner Gray Covington, Assistant Conductor, Utah Symphony Orchestra

2.    Roderick Cox, Assistant Conductor, The Minnesota Symphony Orchestra

3.    Aram Demirjian, Music Director, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (TN)

4.    Yaniv Dinur, Music Director, The New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (MA) and Assistant Conductor, The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (WI)

5.    Roger Kalia, Co-Founder and Music Director, Lake George Music Festival (NY), and
Assistant Conductor, Pacific Symphony and Music Director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (CA)

6.    Stilian Kirov, Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic, the Bakersfield Symphony (CA), and Symphony in C (Philadelphia, NJ)

7.    Lee Mills, Resident Conductor, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira (Rio de Janiero, Brazil)

8.    Gemma New, Resident Conductor, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (MO), and Music Director for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (Canada)

9.    Sameer Patel, Associate Conductor, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Conductor, Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

About the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Established in 1935, and now under the leadership of Music Director Aram Demirjian, the KSO has contributed to the cultural life in East Tennessee continuously for 80 years, providing excellence in musical and educational programs. The Orchestra consists of 80 professional musicians and performs more than 300 programs throughout the region each season, reaching audiences of more than 200,000 people. The KSO performs in traditional venues such as the Tennessee Theatre, Bijou Theatre and the Civic Auditorium as well as non-traditional places like hospitals, schools, city parks and churches.  For more information regarding the KSO, please visit or call 865-291-3310.

About the Solti Foundation U.S.

Established in 2000 to honor the memory of Sir Georg Solti by lending significant support to career-ready young American musicians, the Foundation concentrated the focus of its award program in 2004 to exclusively 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 $500,000 in grants 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.

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.