Principal Cellist Rebecca Patterson Receives National Community Service Award

Wednesday • May 29, 2019

Rebecca Patterson, New Haven Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist, One of Only Five Orchestra Musicians in the Country to Receive Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service from League of American Orchestras

Patterson to Share Award-Winning Work at the League’s 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5

New Haven Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Rebecca Patterson is one of just five orchestra musicians from across the U.S. who will receive Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras at the League’s 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5, 2019. The awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

Patterson is a founding member of the NHSO’s pilot Harmony Fellowship Quartet. The Harmony Fellowship is a two-year post-graduate training program for professional musicians from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who are pursuing an orchestral career. Harmony Fellows rehearse and perform with the New Haven Symphony, and receive mentoring and audition preparation, as well as Community Engagement training.

Patterson was the first musician on the NHSO roster to ask to become a fellowship mentor and she was matched with two Fellows and one other NHSO musician to form the first of the NHSO’s Harmony Quartets. The Quartet has done significant educational and outreach work in New Haven this year, including a song-writing project at Wilbur Cross High School, where students with no prior composition experience worked with the quartet in writing and recording deeply expressive original music.

“These musicians’ artistry and commitment drives compelling work that touches the lives of so many in their communities,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “Ford Motor Company Fund’s ongoing support has helped us share the inspiring stories of these trailblazing mentors and leaders with the entire orchestra field and beyond.”

“We’re proud to recognize these five musicians, whose contributions to their communities will create a lasting positive impact,” said Yisel Cabrera, Manager, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Music and the arts have the ability to transcend boundaries and bring people together, which is why the generous service these musicians are providing is so important.”

The musicians will receive their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ June 4 Conference Luncheon, and discuss their work at “Musicians Transforming Communities,” an elective session for Conference delegates. Videos of the musicians in action will be posted on the League’s website after the Conference.

This year’s awardees work with children of all ages in a variety of initiatives: introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement. The other four award recipients are Violinist Victoria Griswold of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Principal Percussionist Jeff Handley of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Principal Trombonist Donna Parkes of the Louisville Orchestra, and Associate Principal Violist Rebecca Young of the New York Philharmonic.

Now in its fourth year, the League’s Ford Musician Awards program, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund, honors and celebrates professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

The musicians were selected by a panel of peer professionals through a competitive nomination process to receive the awards, which include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians.

About Rebecca Patterson
Cellist Rebecca Patterson is dedicated to the performance of orchestral music, chamber music, contemporary music, and teaching. Serving as Principal Cellist for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra since 2012, her appointment has enabled her to also be actively involved with numerous educational programs, ranging from working with young composers, to being a mentor in the Harmony Fellowship Program, to showcasing high school string quartets in a pre-NHSO concert community service performance, to performing in family concerts and area libraries for kids, to her favorite – the NHSO Fellowship Quartet / Recording Composition Class at Wilbur Cross High School. She is a dedicated private teacher and chamber coach of all ages, and serves on the faculty of the Neighborhood Music School, the Elm City ChamberFest, the Westport School of Music, Southern Connecticut State University, and previously at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

She is a co-founder of the award-winning chamber ensemble Antares, which has won top prizes in the Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, Coleman, Yellow Springs, and Carmel Chamber Music Competitions. Ms. Patterson received her Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music and her Master of Music from the Yale School of Music.  While at Eastman she was the winner of the Gibbs Chamber Orchestra Concerto competition, as well as the recipient of the full-merit Lois Smith Rogers Scholarship.  At Yale she was a recipient of the Ender Scholarship, which goes to a cellist with excellent promise.

About the New Haven Symphony Orchestra
Now celebrating its 125th anniversary season, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra continues to fulfill its mission of increasing the impact and value of orchestral music for its audiences through high quality, affordable performances and educational programming. The NHSO presents more than 40 concerts annually throughout the region and reaches more than 18,000 students through its award-winning educational and community programming. For more information, visit

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. As the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund’s mission is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better. Working with dealers and nonprofit partners in 63 countries, Ford Fund provides access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential. Since 1949, Ford Fund has invested more than $2 billion in programs that support education, promote safe driving, enrich community life and encourage employee volunteering. For more information, visit or follow @FordFund on Facebook and Twitter.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit