Awards 2024

The International Trombone Association has several awards it bestows each year. The individual awards are the ITA Award, presented every year to an individual who has greatly influenced the field of trombone, the Neill Humfeld Award, which recognizes outstanding trombone teaching in our profession while honoring the teaching excellence of the late Neill Humfeld, the Legacy Circle Award, for unparalleled accomplishments in the trombone community, the Lifetime Achievement Award, for contributions to the trombone profession over a long career.

The ITA has great pleasure in announcing winners for these awards for 2024:

ITA Award: John Fedchock

Photo: Stephanie McKendrick
Photo: Stephanie McKendrick

John Fedchock’s illustrious career in jazz has spanned over four decades. Since his emergence on the scene in 1980, Fedchock has established himself as a world-class trombone soloist, a heralded bandleader, and a Grammy-nominated arranger. An in-demand performer and writer in New York City, his multifaceted talents have led him to become one of NYC’s premier jazz artists. His critically acclaimed John Fedchock New York Big Band has become a marquee group, showcasing Fedchock’s trombone and arranging as well as the band’s all-star soloists. The JFNYBB’s five CDs on the MAMA and Reservoir Music labels have all received high praise from critics and extraordinary success on national jazz radio charts. The early success of the band resulted in Fedchock’s name appearing in DOWNBEAT’s Readers Poll under the categories of Trombone, Arranger and Big Band, simultaneously for several consecutive years. In recognition of his formidable arranging skills, Fedchock is a two-time GRAMMY Award nominee for “Best Instrumental Arrangement”. The JFNYBB’s recordings have appeared in jazz radio’s Top Ten, and the New York Times has applauded the band’s “Cheerful Syncopation, Served With Spit-and-Polish Precision.” Small group projects with his quartet and NY Sextet showcase A-list sidemen along with Fedchock’s impressive playing. As a solo artist, he appears throughout the United States and abroad and has been labeled by Hot House NYC magazine as, “one of the living masters of his instrument”.

Fedchock began his career as a jazz trombonist when he joined the legendary Woody Herman Orchestra in 1980. He toured with Woody’s “Thundering Herd” for seven years, during which time he was musical director and a featured soloist. He served as musical coordinator and chief arranger in the production of Herman’s last two Grammy Award nominated albums “50th Anniversary Tour” and “Woody’s Gold Star”, and received accolades from jazz journalists worldwide. Famed jazz critic Leonard Feather called him the “unsung hero” of Woody’s “50th Anniversary Tour” album and Woody said of Fedchock, “He’s my right hand man. Everything I ask of John he accomplishes, and I ask a lot. He’s a major talent.” DOWNBEAT magazine stated that, “it was the young blood of musicians like Fedchock that helped keep Woody Herman’s last years musically healthy and growing”.

Fedchock has toured with T.S. Monk, Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, Louie Bellson Big Band, Bob Belden Ensemble, Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and has performed at jazz festivals and concert halls around the world. As a soloist, he appears throughout the United States and abroad performing as trombonist/composer/conductor. To add to his already diverse list of multiple talents, Fedchock is also a producer of note, and has lent his studio expertise to many recent recording projects.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Fedchock is a graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in Music Education and Jazz Studies. He also holds a master’s degree in Jazz Studies And Contemporary Media from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He is a sought-after clinician, and has conducted seminars and workshops at countless colleges and universities across the country. His compositions and arrangements are published by Jazzlines Publications, Kendor Music Inc, Excelcia Music and Walrus Music Publishing. John Fedchock is a trombone artist for XO Professional Brass and plays XO trombones exclusively. His collaboration with the prominent instrument company to create the XO1632 and XO1634 trombones has proven to be an overwhelming success in both innovative design and industry popularity.

The Neill Humfeld Award: Abbie Conant

Abbie Conant

Award-winning Performance artist and Juilliard trained trombonist Abbie Conant is somewhat of a legend in the international orchestral brass world. The story of her epic fight and ultimate victory against egregious gender discrimination in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra where she won the position for principal trombone at a screened audition in1980, inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the NY Times Bestseller, Blink, where Ms. Conant’s story is detailed in the last chapter. The 11-year-long court battle was documented by William Osborne in an article entitled, You Sound Like a Ladies Orchestra. The document is supported by actual court records and experiences in the orchestra with 89 footnotes. This source document has generated countless newspaper and magazine article (Der Spiegel, [the German analog to Time Magazine], The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, etc.) as well as a documentary film, (Abbie Conant, Alone Among Men by Brenda Parkerson), a play produced at the Landestheater Linz, Austria by Award-winning British playwright, Tamssin Oglesby called, Der (eingebildeter) Frauenfeind, (The [Concieted] Misogynist) and a screen play for a feature film in the works by Canadian writer/producer Dale Wolf. (See the listing of articles below.)

After winning her lengthy court case, Ms. Conant won a full-tenured Professorship at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany and left the orchestra in 1993. Abbie Conant has performed instrumental music theater works with surround sound electronics in over 200 cities around the world. She has given masterclasses in as many esteemed music institution such as The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, Indiana University, Royal Northern College of Music, the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden, DePaul, CalArts, McGill, Oberlin, The Royal College of London, Guldhall, and many others. In collaboration with composer/husband William Osborne, the pair has created a new genre of chamber music theater. They have produced five evening-length chamber operas for singing/acting trombonist.

While attending National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan in 1970, she won a scholarship to the famed Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied with David Sporny. She received her B.M. cum laude at Temple University with Dee Stewart of the Philadelphia Orchestra, then her M.M. at Juilliard with Metropolitan Orchestra Principal, Per Brevig. In addition, she holds an Artist Diploma from the Cologne University of Music where she studied with Branimir Slokar. After he freshman year at University of New Mexico, her teache, Dr. Karl Hinterbichler, she attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in 1974 where she studied with bass trombonist of the BSO, Gordon Hallberg). In 1977 she won the audition for the Colorado Philharmonic (an intensive training orchestra), Yale Summer Chamber Music Institute at Norfolk where she studied with John Swallow, and New College Music Festival as Brass Trio in Residence. The Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi took her to Italy where she studied contemporary music with Vinko Globokar at the L’Accademia Chigiana in Siena. From there, she won her first position as principal trombone of the Royal Opera of Turin, Italy. Her next position was for principal trombone of the Munich Philharmonic for 13 years where she was awarded the official honorable title of Kammersolistin der Stadt Muenchen after 10 years of exemplary musical service to the city of Munich, Germany.

Ms. Conant has been the subject of several featured cover articles in various brass publications: International Trombone Association Journal, British Trombone Socoety Journal, The Brass Herald and others. She has been a guest on NPR’s Performance Today as well as on the West German Radio, SW German Radio, Canadian Broadcast Company, and New York City’s classical station, WQXR.

She has played all types and genres of music, including improvisation, in duo with guitar, shakuhachi, or harp, early music, contemporary music and film music. Ms.Conant was a founding member of ground-breaking Prisma, the first all-women professional trombone quartet. She has had film roles in the feature film, The Devil’s Triangle, directed by Vadim Glowna and in the epic 13 film story of a German composer’s life and times, Die Zweite Heimat, (The Second Homeland) by director Edgar Reitz. She was the brass teacher at the inaugural 1.Exploratory in Venice in 2023 for creative instrumentalists, singers, and composers.

Ms. Conant has students in many different orchestras and teaching positions including, two former students in the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, the Stuttgart State Opera, the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, The Hamburg Symphony, the Regensburg Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Lucern Festival Contemporary Orchestra to name a few.

Ms.Conant had the honor to serve on several international solo competition juries such as the ARD Munich Competition in 2022, the Rimsky-Korsakoff Brass Competition 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory Competition 2019 in Moscow, Lieksa, Finland 2008. the Geneva Competition 1999 and the “Citta di Porcia” solo trombone competition in Italy.

In 2017 she was awarded the Pioneer Award from the International
Women’s Brass Conference for her activism for women brass players.

Ms. Conant is also a published poet and librettist. She has also co-written libretti for William Osborne’s music theater works (one-woman shows) Miriam, Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano, Cybeline, and Aletheia.
Her critically acclaimed CD, Trombone and Organ, is on the Audite label.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Douglas Yeo

Born in Monterey, California, Douglas Yeo grew up in Queens and Valley Stream New York. After graduation from Wheaton College, Illinois (1976), where he studied bass trombone with Edward Kleinhammer (bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 1940–1985), Douglas Yeo and his wife moved to New York City where he worked as a secretary, earned his master’s degree at New York University, freelanced (playing for Broadway shows, big bands, and symphony orchestras), played in the Goldman Band (1977–1980), and then was a high school band director in Edison, New Jersey (1979–1981). After four years as bass trombonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Douglas Yeo was bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1985–2012 where he also taught at New England Conservatory of Music. Following his retirement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he has devoted himself to research, writing, and teaching, and has served as trombone professor at Arizona State University (2012–2016), Wheaton College (2019–2023), and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2022–2024).

The author of five books including Mastering the Trombone (with Edward Kleinhammer, Ensemble Publications, 1997), The One Hundred: Essential Works for the Symphonic Bass Trombonist (Encore Music Publishers, 2017/2024), An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player (Roman & Littlefield, 2021), and Homer Rodeheaver and the Rise of the Gospel Music Industry (with Kevin Mungons, University of Illinois Press, 2021), Douglas Yeo received the International Tuba Euphonium Association’s Clifford Bevan Award for Meritorious Work in Low Brass Research in 2010, and in 2014, the International Trombone Association’s highest honor, the ITA Award, given to him “in recognition of his distinguished career and in acknowledgment of his impact on the world of trombone performance.” He joined the ITA in 1972 at his founding—when he was a senior in high school—and he has had dozens of articles published in the International Trombone Association Journal, the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal, the Historic Brass Society Journal, and the Galpin Society Journal.

As a teacher, Douglas Yeo has given trombone masterclasses and recitals on five continents and has held residencies around the world including the Banff Center (Canada), the Hamamatsu International Wind Instrument Academy and Festival (Japan), the International Trombone and Tuba Festival (China), the International Trombone Festival, and the International Tuba Euphonium Conference. He has been soloist with many orchestras including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra in works of John Williams, Christopher Brubeck, and Alan Hovhaness, among others. Douglas Yeo has also championed historical low brass instruments including sackbut, serpent, and ophicleide as a performer, scholar, and author. His website,, was the first website on the internet devoted to the trombone, and it continues to be one of the most influential websites of its kind, with hundreds of thousands of visitors since it was launched in 1996. His blog, The Last Trombone: Occasional Thoughts on Life, Faith, and the Trombone ( was launched in 2016. Douglas Yeo is a YAMAHA performing artist.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Benny Sluchin

Benny Sluchin studied at the Tel-Aviv Conservatory and Jerusalem Music Academy, parallel to pursuing a math and philosophy degree at the University of Tel-Aviv. He joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was engaged as co-soloist for the Jerusalem Radio Symphony Orchestra. He subsequently went to work with Vinko Globokar at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, where he graduated with honors. A member of the Ensemble intercontemporain since 1976, he has premiered numerous works (by Elliott Carter, Pascal Dusapin, Luca Francesconi, Vinko Globokar, Gérard Grisey, Marco Stroppa, James Wood…) and recorded Keren by Iannis Xenakis, the Sequenza V by Luciano Berio in addition to 19th and 20th century works for trombone.
A Doctor of Mathematics, Benny Sluchin is involved in acoustic research at Ircam and teaches computer-assisted music notation at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. Passionate about teaching, he edited Brass Urtext, a series of original texts on teaching brass instruments. In 2001, he published Le trombone à travers les âges (Buchet-Chastel) with Raymond Lapie. Two of his books have been awarded the Sacem Prize for pedagogic publications: Contemporary Trombone Excerpts and Jeu et chant simultanés sur les cuivres (Éditions Musicales Européennes). His written publication on brass mutes is a benchmark and his research on Computer Assisted Interpretation has been the object of several presentations and scientific publications.
As an application to his research, Benny has released a number of recordings of John Cage’s music. His recent film Iannis Xenakis, Le dépassement de soi, has been produced by Mode Records in 2015.

Legacy Circle Award: John Swallow

John Swallow was born, the youngest of five children, in Oneida, New York. Growing up on a dairy farm during the Great Depression was hard, and music became first his savior and later his passion. He used to tell a story about seeing a picture of a clarinet in a magazine, and asked the school music teacher if he could play one. Somewhere in the conversation, the music teacher thought he said cornet, and answered that he didn’t have one of those, but handed John a euphonium, which he excelled on. While in high school, his band director suggested he switch to trombone as there was more of a future on that instrument. During WWII, he served in the United States Army Band in Washington, DC, where he performed for the funeral of Franklyn D. Roosevelt, and the return home of Dwight Eisenhower. John went on to study at the Juilliard School in New York City. From there he launched a tremendously successful performance career in which he enjoyed associations with the Utah Symphony, The Chicago Symphony, Gunther Schuller’s Twentieth Century Innovations, Arthur Weissberg’s Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a 40-year tenure as Principal Trombone with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, and perhaps most importantly, 25 years with the internationally renowned New York Brass Quintet. John was a proponent of contemporary music and was responsible for several commissions, such as “Eine Kleine Posaunenmusik” by Gunther Schuller, “Elegy” by Joan Tower, and “Sonata for Trombone” by Alec Wilder.

John met his wife, Wendy Winn, when she was on a U.S. tour with England’s Royal Ballet. They were married and had three children, Eric, Geoffrey, and Heather; and 11 grandchildren. After Wendy passed, he married Myra Sparks who remained with him until the end of his life.

John’s musical legacy lives in the countless students he nurtured at the Yale School of Music, New England Conservatory, and Manhattan School of Music. Yale’s Dean Robert Blocker wrote of him, “John was both an artist and teacher in the most exemplary fashion. His ready smile and collegial manner endeared him to students, faculty, and staff alike. In another tribute, Norman Bolter wrote, “He was very friendly and warm, with a certain spark in his eye. I knew we would get along! He taught very differently than my former teachers and opened up new areas of technique and sound. He was not fixed on ‘standard’ orchestral excerpts and I loved the opportunity to broaden my musical pallet. Even though most people thought of him as a great chamber musician, teacher, and soloist, he was, by the way, a terrific orchestral musician.”

John Swallow has left a never-ending contribution to the world of music.

Orchestral Recognition Award: Fort Worth Symphony