James Conlon
Shuman Associates Inc.

From Shuman Associates Inc.

Conductor James Conlon has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Los Angeles for his lifelong activity and dedication to music and excellence in conducting in Italy, as well as all over the world. The award was presented by the Director of the Italian Institute of Culture, Francesca Valente, and by the Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles, Nicola Faganello on Monday, March 15 following Mr. Conlon’s lecture “Maria Callas and Richard Wagner: A Surprising Couple” at the Italian Institute of Culture as part of LA Opera’s Ring Festival and the Institute’s Maria Callas exhibit of costumes, jewelry, photos and memorabilia.

Since 2005, the Institute has awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to distinguished individuals who best represent Italian excellence in the arts, including Renato Bruson for his contribution to opera; Ennio Morricone for music; Claudia Cardinale, Mario Monicelli, Vittorio Storaro, Pupi Avati, Francis Ford Coppola and Dino De Laurentiis for cinema; Sergio Pininfarina, Lella and Massimo Vignelli and Enzo Mari for design; Claudio Magris and Dacia Maraini for literature; Andrea Zanzotto for poetry; Ferruccio Soleri for theater; Emilio Vedova, Frank Stella and Bill Viola for visual arts; Giuliano Gori for art collecting; Renato Dulbecco for medicine; Renzo Piano, Tobia Scarpa and Cini Boeri for architecture; and James Ackerman and Carlo Pedretti for art history.

Mr. Conlon will receive a sculpture entitled Il Tondo by Tuscan artist Mauro Staccioli who was commissioned to create this sculpture by the Contemporary Art Museum of San Diego. Mr. Staccioli’s works have been displayed at two Venice Biennale, a major contemporary art exhibition in Venice, are featured at major museums and are part of private collections.

James Conlon is Music Director of Los Angeles Opera, Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival where he celebrated his 30th anniversary in 2009. He has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire, and developed enduring relationships with the world's most prestigious symphony orchestras and opera houses, including La Scala where his recent performances of Rigoletto garnered critical acclaim from Paola Isotta of the Corrierie Della Sera. Mr. Isotta wrote: “A Rigoletto like this, thanks to the musical direction of James Conlon, is not to be forgotten…he knows and applies interpretive ‘traditions’ like the conductors of another generation…Conlon is one of the maestros who should have a regular place in every season and in the most diverse repertory.”

Mr. Conlon’s other awards and honors include two Grammy Awards, Best Classical Recording and Best Opera Album, for conducting LA Opera’s Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny released on DVD; the Dushkin Award from the Music Institute of Chicago in recognition of his artistry and passion as a performer, educator, and mentor; the Medal of the American Liszt Society for his distinctive performances of the composer’s works; and Italy’s Premio Galileo 2000 Award for his significant contribution to music, art and peace in Florence. He has been honored with a Doctor of Music degree by The Juilliard School, a Doctor of Arts honoris causa by Chapman University, and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University. Mr. Conlon was named an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 1996, and in September 2004 he was promoted to Commander—the highest honor awarded by the Ministry of Culture in France. In September 2002, he received France’s highest distinction from the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac—the Légion d’Honneur.

The Istituto Italiano di Culture (Italian Cultural Institute) of Los Angeles is one of five governmental cultural agencies established I the U.S. by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Founded in 1984, the Institute acts as a cultural bridge between Italy and the U.S., in a multifaceted perspective. The institute is a center for cultural and academic activities, a school of Italian language and culture, and a center for art exhibition, film screenings and videos. It promotes the translation of Italian authors by encouraging local publishers and makes the public aware of Italian artists as well as literary contests and awards.