Clarinetist ANTHONY McGILL receives
of $100,000
New York, N.Y. - On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, it was announced that clarinetist Anthony McGill has been awarded the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize. This prestigious award is given in recognition of musicians who represent the highest level of musical excellence and whose vision and leadership have expanded the reach of classical music. 
The unanimous decision to award Anthony McGill the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize was made in December 2019 by the Program’s Executive Committee (Chair Deborah Borda recused herself). The official announcement was to have been made in April with a celebration to follow in June. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, both the announcement and celebration had to be postponed. 
In place of the traditional celebration held on the Lincoln Center campus, a virtual 2020 Avery Fisher Prize award ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 15, at 6:00 PM EDT and will be publicly streamed online at
As the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize recipient, Mr. McGill receives a monetary award of $100,000. On a commemorative plaque in the renovated lobby of David Geffen Hall, formerly Avery Fisher Hall, his name will join twenty-four previous Prize recipients. As a one-time-only gift, the Avery Fisher Artist Program is making an additional $30,000 available to McGill to be donated in full to a charitable organization of his choice that further supports the Avery Fisher Artist Program’s mission. Mr. McGill has designated the Music Advancement Program (MAP) of The Juilliard School as the beneficiary of this donation, and the funds will be earmarked for summer program scholarships, going directly to students and their families. These funds are being donated in lieu of being used to underwrite a traditional celebration event. The contribution is in response to the unprecedented need for support due to the impact of Covid-19 on the performing arts and in support of the struggle for justice and decency in our society.
Anthony McGill is the third clarinetist ever to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize. Previously the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2000, he now joins the Avery Fisher Artist Program’s Recommendation Board. In response to receiving this award, Anthony McGill said, “Thank you to the Avery Fisher Artist Program for this incredible honor. I never imagined as a young music student that one day I would be where I am today. None of it would have been possible without people truly believing in me. I’m grateful for this recognition of my life’s work as I continue to advocate for the next generation of young musicians.”
In 1974, the late Avery Fisher’s devotion to music and performers was immortalized with a gift to Lincoln Center, establishing the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Forty-six years later, this program continues to provide recognition to outstanding U.S. instrumentalists and, since 2004, chamber ensembles, in two categories: the Prize and Career Grants. The complete list of past Prize recipients is available here: Avery Fisher Prize recipients. Prize and Career Grant recipients are chosen by the Executive Committee of the Program: Emanuel Ax, pianist; Deborah Borda, Chair, Avery Fisher Artist Program and President and CEO, New York Philharmonic; Mary Lou Falcone, M.L. Falcone, Public Relations; David Finckel and Wu Han, Artistic Directors, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Henry Fogel, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of the Arts, Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University; Anthony Fogg, Bernell Artistic Administrator and Director of Tanglewood, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Pamela Frank, violinist; Jeremy Geffen, Executive and Artistic Director, Cal Performances, UC Berkeley; Ara Guzelimian, Artistic and Executive Director, Ojai Music Festival, and Interim Dean and Director, Music Division, The Juilliard School; Yo-Yo Ma, cellist; Chad Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Matías Tarnopolsky, President and CEO, Philadelphia Orchestra; and Henry Timms, President and CEO, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Charles Avery Fisher, Nancy Fisher and Philip Avery Kirschner are advisors to the Executive Committee. The Avery Fisher Artist Program is grateful to Lincoln Center, Inc., for its continued support. 
Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero. In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, McGill launched a powerful musical protest video urging people to #TakeTwoKnees in demonstration against the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice. His video went viral, and hundreds of artists and citizens amplified and responded to the protest with their own videos using the hashtag #TakeTwoKnees.
McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras around North America including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony. As a chamber musician, McGill is a favorite collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takács, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has led tours with Musicians from Marlboro and regularly performs for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Festival appearances include Tanglewood, Marlboro, Mainly Mozart, Skaneateles, and the Music@Menlo, Santa Fe, and Seattle Chamber Music Festivals.
In January 2015, McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto together with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. He also recorded an album together with his brother Demarre McGill, Principal Flute of the Seattle Symphony, and pianist Michael McHale, and another album featuring the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets with the Pacifica Quartet, both released by Cedille Records.

A dedicated champion of new music, in 2014, McGill premiered a new piece written for him by Richard Danielpour entitled “From the Mountaintop,” commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Orchestra 2001. McGill served as the 2015–16 Artist-in-Residence for WQXR and has appeared on Performance Today, MPR’s Saint Paul Sunday Morning, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. In 2013, McGill appeared on NBC Nightly News and on MSNBC in stories highlighting the McGill brothers’ inspirational story.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, McGill previously served as the Principal Clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera and Associate Principal Clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In demand as a teacher, he serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, and Bard College Conservatory of Music. In fall of 2020, he was named Artist-in-Residence at the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. He also serves as the Artistic Director for the Music Advancement Program at The Juilliard School, on the Board of Directors for both the League of American Orchestras and the Harmony Program, and on the advisory councils for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York and Time In Children's Arts Initiative. 
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Photo Credit: Chris Lee/New York Philharmonic