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, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boston Musicians Association in 2010, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Talent Development League of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January of 2014. 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 recently retired from the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University. She will now be affiliated with the State College of Florida, Fl. in addition to the 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”. It has aired on PBS stations nationwide.
The 2013 season brought the release of her new CD - music of the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, for harp, violin and bandoneon, with Lucia Lin, violinist with the Boston Symphony and the Muir String Quartet, and bandoneonist, JP Jofre.
The end of the 2016 season brought several important concerts including a performance on Sept. 24 at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. In October she performed the Ginastera Concerto with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic at the historic Teatro Colon to a sold-out audience, then in November she performed the Ginastera in Boston with the Boston Civic Symphony at Jordan Hall. Pilot once again ended the season in her role as artistic advisor and harpist for the classicalpops festival in Barbado's www.classicalpops.com.
Her most recent performances were in January of 2019 with Maestro Thomas Wil-kins and the Omaha Symphony and her debut with the International Chamber Music Festival “La Musica” in Sarasota, FL as well as a performance of the Ginas-tera Concerto with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra on July 27, 2019 at Seiji Ozawa Hall in Lenox, MA.
She and her husband, Prentice Pilot, are currently residents of Osprey, Florida.