The 1995 Ditson Conductor's Award for the advancement of American music will be awarded by Columbia to Gustav Meier, music director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and the Greater Lansing Symphony, the University has announced.
Meier, who heads the Conductors Seminar at Tanglewood Music Center, will receive the award Saturday, Oct. 21, at an 8:30 P.M. concert opening the Greater Bridgeport Symphony's 50th season at Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Conn. Symphony member Stewart Schuele has composed a special "Fanfare" to mark the occasion.
The Ditson Conductor's Award was established 50 years ago in 1945 by the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia and is the oldest award honoring conductors for their support of American music. Previous recipients have included Christopher Keene, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leopold Stowkowski, Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy.
Columbia Professor of Music George Edwards, the secretary of the Ditson Fund Advisory Committee, will present the 51st annual award and $l,000 to Meier. He will read a citation from President Rupp praising Maestro Meier as a "revered teacher of conducting" whose "extraordinary skill and uncanny ability to intuit the composer's intentions lead to performances notable for their rhythmic life, clarity and sense of the whole."
Noted for a special devotion to American music, Meier, 66, has conducted hundreds of performances of nearly 200 compositions by American composers, including more than 50 first performances of works by such composers as Robert Carl, Elliott Carter, Kurt Weill, Hugo Weisgall, James Drew and Thomas Fay.
Acclaimed as an outstanding conductor and gifted teacher, Meier since 1980 has spent summers overseeing the prestigious Conductors Seminar at Tanglewood Music Center, whose guests have included Andre Previn, Kurt Mazur and Colin Davis. His association with Tanglewood dates to 1957 and 1958, when he himself won a conducting fellowship and was a member of a remarkable class that included Claudio Abbado, Zubin Mehta and David Zinman.
Head of the orchestra conducting program at the University of Michigan, director of orchestras and a full professor from 1976 until this year, he has been music director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony since 1972 and music director of the Michigan's Greater Lansing Symphony since 1979.