In January, the Atlanta Symphony received a $1.8 million gift to the orchestra’s endowment — announced here — that also included a special musician’s award, named the Mabel Dorn Reeder Honorary Chair.
Principal trumpet Thomas Hooten, 34, has been named its first recipient.
The Reeder Chair is a merit-based award for an ASO player who, according to the gift, “demonstrates excellence in musical artistry, leadership, collegiality and community engagement. The chair may be granted to any tenured orchestra member, including those who already occupy a named chair. Recipients will be awarded a one-time $10,000 stipend at the start of their five-year term as the honoree, to be utilized for professional development. The award will be celebrated every five years.”
The musicians don’t apply for it; a five-member committee — ASO Music Director Robert Spano, President Stanley Romanstein, board Chairman Ben Johnson, General Manager John Sparrow and an orchestra volunteer — makes the choice.
Asked what he’ll do with the money, Hooton replied: “I’ll have to think about it. There are so many people in this orchestra who deserve this — with chamber music ensembles or education groups. I don’t have an answer right now.”
Hooten is one of the young stars of the ASO, playing at a top national level. He has released a self-produced CD titled “Trumpet Call.” Since he has no project in mind, he was asked if the award amounted to just a salary bonus.
“No, this money is specifically for growth,” he replied, “so I can be the best I can be as principal trumpet. I’d like to live up to my potential in artistic excellence and leadership. I really look up to the ASO leadership, especially Robert Spano, Stanley Romanstein and Ben Johnson. They’re incredible leaders in every way. The intent of the gift, as I see it, is to help sustain this great orchestra from the inside.”