Clarinetist Anthony McGill, a fall 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Montclair State University’s John J. Cali School of Music, has been awarded the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize, a prestigious award 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.”
“It is an absolute honor to receive this award,” says McGill. “I’m also thrilled that I’ll get to spend time working with the students, staff and faculty of the fantastic Montclair State University as their Artist-In-Residence this year.”
“I’m so proud of Anthony’s accomplishments as a musician, an advocate for social change, and an artistic citizen,” says Anthony Mazzocchi, director of the John J. Cali School of Music. “This is why he is a perfect fit for the Cali School at the perfect time. He has so much to share with our school, and it’s no surprise to me that he is being recognized for his exemplary contributions to our world. I’m eager to continue to work with Anthony and be witness to the transformative effect that serving as our Artist-in-Residence will have this year on our University community.”
The unanimous decision to award McGill the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize was made in December 2019 by the Program’s Executive Committee, but the official announcement, originally scheduled with a celebration in April at Lincoln Center, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A virtual 2020 Avery Fisher Prize award ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 15 at 6 p.m. EDT and will be publicly streamed online at LincolnCenter.org/2020AveryFisherPrize.
As part of the prize, McGill receives $100,000 plus an additional $30,000 to be donated to the charitable organization of his choice, the Music Advancement Program (MAP) of The Juilliard School, where the funds will be earmarked for summer program scholarships, going directly to students and their families.
Anthony McGill is the third clarinetist ever to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize. Past winners have included legendary musicians such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianists Emanuel Ax and Andre Watts, violinists Midori and Joshua Bell, and the Kronos Quartet.
“Thank you to the Avery Fisher Artist Program for this incredible honor,” says McGill. “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.”
The Executive Committee that chose McGill includes Wu Han, Artistic Director, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Wu Han is a previous Cali School Artist-in-Residence.
McGill serves as the Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic – that orchestra’s first African-American principal player – and maintains an 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 advocate for music education for underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music.
Notably, McGill took part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He also launched a protest in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd urging artists and citizens to #TakeTwoKnees, a video that went viral.
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 addition to being the Cali School Artist-in-Residence, McGill also serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, and Bard College Conservatory of Music. He is 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.