After 40 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, legendary principal harpist, Ann Hobson Pilot, retired at the end of the Tanglewood 2009 season.
Ann Hobson Pilot is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music under Alice Chalifoux.
She became principal harp of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1980, having joined the BSO in 1969 as assistant principal harp and principal with the Boston Pops. Before that she was substitute second harp with the Pittsburgh Symphony and principal harp of the Washington National Symphony.
Ms. Pilot has had an extensive solo career. She has performed with many American orchestras as soloist, as well as with orchestras in Europe, Haiti, New Zealand, and South Africa. She has several CDs available on the Boston Records label, as well as on the Koch International and Denouement labels. In September 1999 she traveled to London to record, with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Harp Concerto by the young American composer Kevin Kaska, a work that she commissioned
In May of 2010, Ms. Pilot was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Tufts University. She has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1993 and again in 2010 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boston Musicians Association in 2010. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bridgewater State College in 1988.
In 1997 she traveled to South Africa to record a video documentary, “A Musical Journey”, sponsored by the Museum of Afro-American History and WGBH. The film aired nationwide on PBS for three years. While there she performed with the National Symphony of Johannesburg and visited the San people of Namibia.
Ms. Pilot is on the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She has performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Marlboro Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival and the Ritz Chamber Players.
After the 2009 Tanglewood concerts and her official retirement, Pilot returned to the stage as soloist with the BSO opening the Boston Symphony season and the Carnegie Hall season with the premiere of a concerto written for her by John Williams, “On Willows and Birches” a concerto for harp and orchestra. On October 3, the orchestra paid tribute to her dedicating the entire concert in her honor and featuring her in two other works for solo harp in addition to the Williams.
Producer Susan Dangel has recently completed a new half-hour documentary that will tell the story of her life in music, “A Harpist’s Legacy, Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change”.
This season brings solo performances with the Shippensburg Festival Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Albany Symphony and the World Harp Congress in Vancouver.
She and her husband, Prentice Pilot, are currently residents of Osprey, Florida.