James Conlon has been named “Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana” by Italy’s president.
The honor is one of the highest granted directly by the President through the Order of Merit, established in 1951, and the highest Order of the Italian Republic. The title was granted to acknowledge “merits achieved for the nation in the fields of literature, arts, economics, and in the fulfillment of public duties.”
Conlon said in a press statement, “My deep bond with Italy extends not only to its great culture, beauty, and musical tradition. Being descended, in part, from Italian immigrants, this recognition of my work is particularly meaningful to me.”
Conlon is the third American-born conductor to have received the honor. Previously Leonard Bernstein (1989) and Thomas Schippers (1975) were granted the honor.
Conlon currently serves as the Principal Conductor of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Torino and was the first American to hold this position. He performs regularly in Italy and most recently conducted a critically acclaimed production of Britten’s “Billy Budd” at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.