The Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service

A Program of the League of American Orchestras
Made Possible by

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Congratulations to 2018 awardees Jeffrey Barker, John Beck, Jody Chaffee, Erin Hannigan, and Juan R. Ramírez Hernández

Recognizing the transformative power of music, the League's Ford Musician Awards honor professional orchestra musicians who employ music for the benefit of the greater community. Now in its third year, the Awards, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund, shine a spotlight on the work of these musicians with people of low incomes, the homebound elderly, immigrants, veterans, prisoners, students, and all those who may not otherwise have access to—or who are not traditionally served by—orchestras.

Read the press announcement.

Watch videos of the awardees in action.

Click here for information about past awardees.

The five musicians will receive their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference Luncheon in Chicago, June 14 at 12:30 p.m., and discuss their work at Social Impact Beyond the Concert Hall: A Musicians’ Panel, an elective session for Conference delegates on June 14 at 8:45 a.m. Register here.

Meet the Musicians

The awardees’ impact has been deep and life-changing; in partnership with their orchestras and organizations, the musicians have used music to engage, inspire, and heal multiple populations: Latino children and teens, rural communities with limited access to quality music education, cancer patients and their families, the homeless and housing insecure, and visual and performing artists united in support of sheltered animals.


Jeffrey Barker
Associate Principal Flute
Seattle Symphony

Lullaby Project, Sensory Friendly Concerts, Simple Gifts Initiative, among others

Jeffrey has collaborated on developing Sensory-Friendly Concerts, coached sectionals for side-by-side performances with local high schools, and actively supported the Seattle Symphony’s Lullaby Project and Simple Gifts initiatives, which empower individuals experiencing homelessness to connect with their creativity. Jeffrey has immersed himself in addressing homelessness in Seattle. In addition to his work with the Seattle Symphony, he also advocates on issues of homelessness by speaking publicly and helping partner organization Mary’s Place raise money for shelters.


John R. Beck
Principal Percussionist
Winston-Salem Symphony

HealthRHYTHMS drumming with cancer and pediatric behavioral health patients; collaborative research study with physicians on the benefits of interactive group drumming

John’s work has had a broad reach, covering hospitals, schools, and senior centers, serving both children and adults. His current efforts are focused on adult stem cell transplant recipients: both the patients and their families experience the therapeutic benefits of drumming as an aid in healing and to mitigate stress, anxiety, and pain. His work has a clinical component: collaborating with an oncologist who is a symphony board member to study the psychological and physiological impact of participation in group drumming. With the support of the orchestra, a concert series was devoted to cancer awareness featuring commissioned music dedicated to and performed by people living with cancer.

chaffeeJody Chaffee
Community Engagement Director, Flute
Firelands Symphony Orchestra

Providing in-school access to quality music programs for students in rural communities

“Miss Jody,” as she’s known to her students, is a licensed music education instructor who has been working with students in “music deprived” communities in the Firelands area since 2012. Personally providing over 5,000 children in mainly rural communities access to music in this year alone, she has created engaging educational programs for pre-k through third grade students, introductory year band and orchestra students, and band students in grades 5-12. These programs are designed to instill a desire for life-long learning of music and the arts, and to create a new generation of music lovers.


Erin Hannigan
Principal Oboe
Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Concerts for Kindness, DSO’s Young Strings program, DSO Teen Council

For six years, Erin’s annual Concert for Kindness events have demonstrated the interaction of the arts, education, and civic causes. Supported by the DSO’s Principal Grant Program, Concert for Kindness recognizes the value and talent of high school and college-aged visual artists and musicians, who develop and produce this annual benefit concert raising funds for Operation Kindness, the oldest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas. The event features live music, visual art, and photography, with participation by young musicians and rescue animals. Students from the DSO’s Young Strings program and Teen Council are also involved, providing pre-concert musical entertainment and serving as ushers and volunteers.

ramirezJuan R. Ramírez Hernández

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Musicians in Schools, Musicians in Communities, and Talent Development Program, among others

Over a 45-year time period, Juan has created a series of music programs and organizations with the aim of connecting with Latino young people and adults. A committed performer, composer, teacher, mentor, and community leader, he has brought music into the lives of students who might not have access to instruments and training, and has engaged many constituencies on stage, in high schools and libraries, and at community events, both local and international. He has a long history of working with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s education and community engagement programs, and has also formed his own performing arts organizations, teaching, conducting, leading workshops, and performing.

Questions? Contact James Barry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is the League's second partnership project with Ford Motor Company Fund, which was the title sponsor of Ford Made in America, the largest commissioning consortium in the country's history.

Photo credits: Jeffrey Barker (Brad Kevelin); John Beck (Laurie Beck Photography); Jody Chaffee (ML Photography); Erin Hannigan (Teresa Berg Photography); Juan Ramírez (Teresa Penley-Sheppard)