Penny Anderson Brill

Michael & Carol Bleier Chair

Penny Brill, a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s viola section since 1980, is perhaps best known for her innovative work with the use of music in health care. In addition to helping to implement and support the Pittsburgh Symphony Music and Wellness program, she advises and provides resources for orchestras and orchestral musicians throughout the country who wish to play in medical settings or work with special needs children, veterans or refugees. She has given a number of workshop presentations at national conferences on how to design and implement programs in cities with extremely varied demographics, needs and music preferences. She will be making many of those design ideas and resources available on her soon-to-be-launched website, Musacor (“Musicians as a Community Resource”).

In 1985, she won the Pittsburgh YWCA Tribute to Women Award in part for her work on redesigning the hiring process at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In May 2002, she won the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Vince Calloway Customer Service Excellence Award for her work with Music and Wellness. In 2003, she won the National American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) Advocacy Award. In 2006, she won AdagioHealth’s Tempo Award in recognition of “generous and significant contributions to improve the health and wellbeing of women and families in western Pennsylvania.” In 2010, she won the AMTA Mid-Atlantic Region’s Advocacy Award. In 2013, she won the Paul J. Ross Award for excellence in education and community engagement.

She was part of the A.W. Mellon Orchestra Forum, as well as the Mellon Task Force, which were looking at the future direction of orchestras. She is the former treasurer of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) and is one of only two women to have chaired the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Committee. She was a founding member of Blues on First, a jazz string group.

Her work with Music and Wellness receives a great deal of local and national medial attention. In addition to numerous articles in local publications, she appeared in Health magazine, BBC Music magazine, the British Medical Association Newsletter, Symphony magazine, the Strad (online), Harmony Magazine and the International Musician, among others.

She is currently on the board of United National-affiliated Music as a Global Resource, as well as the International Association of Music and Medicine (IAMM).

Brill is originally from Seattle and Portland, Oregon. She began her music studies on viola and piano. She competed internationally in middle distance track events (when women were allowed to run in them), including the finals of the first national women’s 1500 meters in Denver, Colorado (1968). She is a graduate of Smith College and the Juilliard School. She taught at the Oberlin Conservatory for two years, played for the Buffalo Philharmonic and one year later joined the Pittsburgh Symphony.