Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: December 8, 1997

Release #722-97

Contact: Colleen Roche/Curt Ritter 212-788-2958


Founder Of New York Pops Receives City's Highest Cultural Award

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani presented the Handel Medallion, the City's highest official cultural honor, to Skitch Henderson at a reception at Gracie Mansion this evening. He received the accolade for his work as a world renowned performer for over 50 years and as founder and musical director of The New York Pops. The Mayor also issued an official City Proclamation naming today "Skitch Henderson Day" in New York City.

"This is officially an award given by the City of New York, but, since we are the Capital of the World, I think we should consider it an award given by the people of the world to show their appreciation for what Skitch Henderson has done throughout his rich and creative life," said Mayor Giuliani. "As the founder and musical director of the New York Pops, Skitch is a national treasure whose legacy of music has brought joy to generations of listeners around the world."

Mr. Henderson is the founder and musical director of the New York Pops, the largest independent symphonic pops orchestra in the nation, and maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor with numerous orchestras in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The 1997-98 season marks two important milestones for Mr. Henderson: the New York Pops celebrates its 15th year and Mr. Henderson will celebrate his 80th birthday on January 27, 1998 . A birthday gala will be held in his honor on January 29, 1998 at Carnegie Hall.

The Handel Medallion is presented to artists and others who have made extraordinary contributions to the cultural life of New York City. It was named for the German-born English composer George Friedrich Handel and established in 1959 on the 200th Anniversary of his death.

Over the years, the Medallion has been awarded to artists including Leopold Stokowski, Benny Goodman, Richard Rodgers, George Abbott, Marian Anderson, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Jerome Robbins and Kitty Carlisle Hart.

Entertainment at the reception was provided by world renowned pianist George Shearing.

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