Henry Panion. Download image.
The Governor’s Arts Award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts in Alabama. The Alabama State Council on the Arts promotes Alabama’s diverse and rich artistic resources while highlighting excellence and educational experiences.
Panion, a professor in the UAB Department of Music, is one of eight outstanding Alabamians who will be honored at the council’s 2011 “Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony Tuesday, May 17 in Montgomery. Specially tailored performances will salute each honoree’s career and body of work, similar to the Kennedy Center Honors.
The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are limited and must be reserved. For tickets, contact the ASF Box Office at 334-271-5353, or The Arts Council at 334-242-4076. More information is online at www.arts.alabama.gov.
Panion is well known for his work as conductor and arranger for superstar Stevie Wonder. The two-CD set “Natural Wonder” features Panion conducting his arrangements of many of Wonder’s award-winning, chart-topping songs with Wonder and the Tokyo Philharmonic. Other artists for whom Panion has had the opportunity to conduct and/or arrange include The Winans, Chet Atkins, Eugenia Zuckerman, Aretha Franklin, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Chaka Khan, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and “American Idol” winners Carrie Underwood and Ruben Studdard. Panion has led many of the world’s most notable orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, the Orchestra of Paris, the Melbourne (Australia) Symphony, the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic, the Ra’anana Philharmonic, the Nice Symphony, the Gothenburg Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
As a producer, composer, arranger, and orchestrator, Panion’s work has earned two Grammy awards, two Dove awards and a host of other national music awards and nominations. He was the creative force behind “Gospel Goes Classical” featuring Juanita Bynum, Jonathan Butler and the GGC Symphony Orchestra and Choir; Panion made history topping the Billboard charts on both the gospel and classical crossover charts simultaneously.
One of his most recent projects, and one he feels is among his most important, is the “Are You Listening: A Love Song for Haiti” recording. Written by gospel music superstar Kirk Franklin, and featuring a venerable who’s who of the gospel industry, Panion was tapped by Franklin and Sony Music’s Gospel Division Head Jazzy Jordon to arrange and conduct on this project. Panion’s own Audiostate 55 Recording Studios served to record and mix the orchestra, comprising members of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Panion’s projects include “A Gospel Symphony Celebration,” a special being prepared for national TV and film theatrical release.