Music from the World Games press page

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About Dr. Henry Panion, Creative Director

Henry Panion, III, PhD, a college professor, holds degrees in music education and music theory from Alabama A&M University and Ohio State University, respectively, and is director of the music technology program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is best known for his work as bandleader and arranger for pop icon Stevie Wonder and has held that position for 28 years. Other artists for whom Dr. Panion has had the opportunity to conduct and/or arrange include Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Clark Sisters, India Arie, The Winans, Yolanda Adams, Lady Tramaine Hawkins, Kirk Franklin, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Kelly Price, Robin Thicke, LeAnn Rimes and American Idol winners Carrie Underwood and Ruben Studdard.

As a conductor, composer and arranger, Dr. Panion has worked with more than 50 orchestras around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic (England), the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra (Russia), the Orchester de Paris (France), the Melbourne Symphony (Australia), the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic Orchestra (Brazil), the Ra’anana Philharmonic Orchestra (Israel), the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (Sweden) and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Tokyo (Japan), and in this country such eminent orchestras as those of Nashville, Cleveland, Atlanta, Honolulu, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, DC, and in his home state of Alabama. The 2020 PBS Documentary-Concert Dreams of Hope: Birmingham’s Historic 16and Street Baptist Church hosts the Violins of Hope, produced by Dr. Panion, has been streamed over 600 times since its release; received 2 EMMY awards for original composition and audio post-production; received an unprecedented 13 Telly Awards for Education, Music, Directing, Cinematography and Social Impact; and has screened at prestigious overseas film festivals in major cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Sydney. Over the 50and Selma’s Bloody Sunday anniversary in 2015, Dr Panion was artistic producer and conductor for the BET/Centric TV special and 2019 led the City of Birmingham’s three-year commemoration of the bicentenary of the State of Alabama.

As a producer, composer, arranger and orchestrator, Dr. Panion’s work has produced three Grammy Awards and a host of other national music awards and nominations. From 1994 to 2000, Dr. Panion served as chair of the music department at UAB. Other honors include a 1995 Distinguished Alumni Award from Alabama A&M University, a similar award from Ohio State University in 1996, the Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Award for Scholarly Distinction 1996, the Congressional Black Caucus’ Civic and Cultural Advancement Award 2009 and was named a Cultural Ambassador for the City of Birmingham in 2009. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Alabama Arts Hall of Fame in 2019. Dr. Panion is currently appointed by the Governor as Chairman of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and was recently appointed to the Board of Governors of the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (The Emmy’s). The city of Birmingham will host the World Games in 2022, and Dr Panion has been appointed Artistic Director and Composer for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

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