Yearly Archives: 2016

Alan Pierson

Alan Pierson has been praised as “a dynamic conductor and musical visionary” by The New York Times, “a young conductor of monstrous skill” by Newsday, “gifted and electrifying” by the Boston Globe, and “one of the most exciting figures in new music today” by Fanfare. He is the Artistic Director and conductor of the acclaimed ensemble Alarm Will Sound which has been called “the future of classical music” by The New York Times and “a sensational force” with “powerful ideas about how to renovate the concert experience” by The New Yorker.

Pierson served for three years as the Artistic Director and conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The New York Times called Pierson’s leadership at the Philharmonic “truly inspiring,” and The New Yorker’s Alex Ross described it as “remarkably innovative, perhaps even revolutionary.” Pierson has also appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the London Sinfonietta, the Steve Reich Ensemble, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and The Silk Road Project, among other ensembles. He is Principal Conductor of the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, co-director of the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. He regularly collaborates with major composers and performers, including Yo Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Donnacha Dennehy, La Monte Young, Iarla Ó Lionáird, and choreographers Mark Morris, John Heginbotham, Akram Khan and Elliot Feld.

Mr. Pierson received bachelor degrees in physics and music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in conducting from the Eastman School of Music. He has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, Sony Classical, and Sweetspot DVD.

For more info, visit www.alanpierson.com.

Mami Kosemura

Mami Kosemura is a contemporary artist whose early photographs and animations reference traditional subjects taken from classical European motifs and Japanese painting by exploring the confluence between painting and filmmaking. Her current work pursues a new approach that incorporates various elements of painting, composition, and perspective through her painting-like photographs that have a strong sense of physical presence. By broadening her production method, the new work subverts viewers’ expectations of static imagery by introducing physical movement and illustrating the passing of time.

Kosemura says, “My work leads viewers to question several aspects of the piece itself: is it a painting or a photograph, static or changing, fiction or reality? When we start to lose our fixed perspective, we can connect these questions to far more important questions about where or what we are, our self-understanding, and our relationship to the external world.”

Mami Kosemura is based in Tokyo. Her piece, ‘Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons,’ is currently on view at the Asia Society’s anniversary exhibition, “In and Out of Context: Asia Society Celebrates the Collections at 60,” and her solo exhibition was at Dillon + Lee through January 13, 2017.

Education: 2005 PhD. in Painting, Tokyo University of the Arts; 2001 M.A. in Mural, Tokyo University of the Arts

Re:Sound – October 2016

Tcontempo-scary-ad-for-i-care-if-you-listenell us what you think about the music you heard…

What surprised you most about the music you heard tonight?

Pick a moment you found particularly “scary” in the music. What made it sound that way to you?

Let your voice be heard. Just click the link below to get started…

Survey for:
October 28, 2016 at Zankel Hall
Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music

Click here to take the survey

Complete your survey by November 4, 2016 to be entered into a drawing to win a selection of CDs from this evening’s composers.

Judith Shatin

Check out this Composer Spotlight/Q&A with Judith Shatin on our SoundAdvice blog

Credit: Mary Noble Ours

Credit: Mary Noble Ours

The music of Judith Shatin has been honored with four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, as well as awards from the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the New Jersey State Arts Council and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Commissions include those from the Barlow Endowment, Fromm Foundation and the Library of Congress as well as ensembles such as the National and Richmond Symphonies, Cassatt and Kronos Quartets, Ensemble Berlin PianoPercussion, the Dutch Hexagon Ensemble, and many others. Her music has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay and West Cork.

Sounds of the natural and built environments play an important role in her music, as in her path-breaking Singing the Blue Ridge, scored for mezzo, baritone, orchestra and electronics created from the calls of wild animals. And, as in COAL, an epic, evening-length folk oratorio, in which she combines sounds she recorded in a coal mine with music for Appalachian band, chorus and synthesizer. The two-year project was supported by the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program. Educated at Douglass College (AB), The Juilliard School (MM) and Princeton University (PhD).

Shatin is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia, where she founded the Virginia Center for Computer Music. Please visit her website, www.judithshatin.com, where you can subscribe to her Hearing Things newsletter, learn about upcoming events, and find links to scores and recordings.

In the Composer’s Own Words:
When there is a second new moon in a month, it is called a black moon. This happens only once every two-and-a-half years, with the next coming this month. Some religious sects believe that the Black Moon augurs well for rituals and other ventures. In Black Moon, we embark on a journey that explores different faces of this mysterious event: its darkness and its light. You will hear contrasting characters: some shimmering, some rhythmic; some violent, some serene. To achieve these results, I enhance the orchestra with finely-tuned electronic sounds that allow new and surprising aesthetic experiences.

I wanted to make the relationship between the orchestra and the electronics flexible and rich. My colleague, composer Paul Turowski, programmed a Kinect controller (used in video games) to allow the conductor to treat the electronics as he would a performer. So, for example, sometimes you will notice that the conductor uses his left hand to move the sound in space. Meanwhile, he has the freedom to trigger the start of electronic sounds with the tap of his foot, cueing them at just the right moment.

Sometimes I am asked why I often combine acoustic and digital media. The answer is that together they offer a vastly expanded sound world. In Black Moon, I transformed recordings I had made of acoustic instruments, intimately melding these two beautiful realms of sound.

Paul Moravec

paul-moravec-lo-resPaul Moravec, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is the composer of numerous orchestral, chamber, choral, operatic, and lyric pieces. His music has earned many distinctions, including the Rome Prize Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University, he has taught at Columbia, Dartmouth, Mannes, and Hunter College and is currently University Professor at Adelphi University. He was the 2013 Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome, and recently served as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

Frequently commissioned by notable ensembles and major music institutions, Mr. Moravec is currently at work on an oratorio about the Underground Railroad, to be premiered by the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall in 2018. His choral-orchestral work Light Shall Lift Us (to a text by Mark Campbell) premiered recently as part of the One Voice Orlando benefit concert in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting. His most recent opera,  The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel, premiered at Minnesota Opera in May, 2016. Other recent premieres include The King’s Man, with Kentucky Opera, and Amorisms, with the Nashville Ballet. Recent seasons have included the New York premiere of The Blizzard Voices, with the Oratorio Society of NY at Carnegie Hall, as well as the premieres of Violin Concerto, with Maria Bachmann and Symphony in C, and Shakuhachi Concerto, with James Schlefer and the Orchestra of the Swan (U.K.). Other recent premieres include Danse Russe, an opera for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts; Brandenburg Gate, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Denk and the Lark Quartet; and Wind Symphony, with a consortium of American concert bands.

Mr. Moravec’s discography includes Northern Lights Electric, an album of his orchestral music with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project released in 2012 on the BMOP Sound label. He has five albums of chamber music on Naxos American Classics: Tempest Fantasy, performed by Trio Solisti with clarinetist David Krakauer; The Time Gallery, performed by eighth blackbird; Cool Fire, with the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival; Useful Knowledge, with soprano Amy Burton, baritone Randall Scarlata, Trio Solisti, and la Fenice Quintet; and Violin Concerto, with Maria Bachmann and Rossen Milanov’s Symphony in C.  Among his many other recorded works are: Double Action, Evermore, and Ariel Fantasy, performed by the Bachmann/Klibonoff Duo (Endeavour Classics); Sonata for Violin and Piano performed by the Bachmann/Klibonoff Duo (BMG/RCA Red Seal); Atmosfera a Villa Aurelia and Vince & Jan, performed by the Lark Quartet (Endeavour Classics); Morph, performed by the String Orchestra of New York (Albany); Anniversary Dances, with the Ying Quartet (Dorian Records); Cornopean Airs, with American Brass Quintet and organist Colin Fowler; and Andy Warhol Sez, with bassoonist Peter Kolkay and pianist Alexandra Nguyen. Other releases include Blue Fiddle, with Hilary Hahn on Deutsche Grammophon, and Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Denk and the Lark Quartet, on Bridge Records.

In the composer’s own words:

The Overlook Hotel Suite is an orchestral fantasy using musical material from my opera The Shining, to a libretto by Mark Campbell based on the novel by Stephen King, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in May. Though the winter caretaker Jack Torrance makes an appearance, this suite focuses on the realm of the hotel’s ghosts, such as Delbert Grady and his two daughters, Lloyd the bartender, and Mrs. Massey (the dead lady in room 217).  The piece moves through various ghost stories and areas of the hotel, returning repeatedly to a never-ending phantom masked gala in the grand ballroom.

Bernard Herrmann

Check out this remembrance of Bernard Herrmann, written by David Raskin, on our SoundAdvice blog

bernard-herrmann-lo-res

Though known primarily as a Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann was born in New York, studying composition at Juilliard and earning a reputation as a conductor as well as a composer here. In 1931 he founded the New Chamber Orchestra of New York, which he conducted until he was appointed staff conductor of the Columbia Broadcasting System three years later. He became conductor-in-chief of the CBS Symphony Orchestra in 1940, a post he held for 15 years, and appeared regularly with many American orchestras. His compositions of the 1930s and 1940s earned him something of a reputation for being an enfant terrible of American music. Although best known for his associations with Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells, he also wrote a number of important concert, operatic and chamber works, some of which only became widely known after his death. Wuthering Heights (1950), an opera in four acts, was first performed in 1982 by Portland Opera, and the choral cantata for male voices Moby Dick (1938) received its premiere with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. A Portrait of Hitch (1968), a short orchestral piece dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock, is based on music written for the film The Trouble with Harry.

About Psycho Suite
Countless movie-goers who have never heard of Bernard Herrmann immediately recognize his most famous motion picture score— the score for the 1960 Paramount film Psycho. Director Alfred Hitchcock’s budget for Psycho was not very large, and Herrmann was forced to restrict himself to a relatively small instrumental ensemble. The result is a score composed entirely for string instruments that perfectly suits the stark black and white cinematography of the film. The Psycho score has been, and likely will remain, his most widely admired and often-imitated film score.

Melody as we normally think of it is altogether absent in Psycho; even theme, in the proper sense of the word, only occasionally sneaks onto the scene. Instead, the music is built around strings of fragmentary motives, stacked around one another, often in dissonant ways, and raised up into a musical whole that manages to create a state of near-perpetual suspense, unresolved, unremitting, and yet, never tired or worn thin.

Some of Psycho’s music is active and physical. For example, the famous opening credits music, which is reused as the character of Marion Crane flees with stolen money, her face dispassionate but her mind frenzied and burning, and, of course, the infamous shower scene music, with its shrieking jabs in the uppermost register of the violins. Some of the music, on the other hand, simmers quietly to itself, tension and insanity woven by layers of agonized counterpoints (e.g. a cue called “The Madhouse,” in which Norman Bates first begins to seem to us a man off his rocker). And then there is music like “Temptation” (which underscores Marion’s growing desire to steal the money from her boss at the start of the film) and “The Peephole” (which underscores Norman spying on Marion), in which a kind of steady, pulsating music seems to go nowhere and yet boils inside. Even in the last bars of the score there is no resolution of the psychological or harmonic dissonance: inhuman strands of counterpoint in the high violins and violas, muted, dissolve and are replaced by a dense final sonority as Marion’s car is dragged out of the swamp behind the Bates Motel.
– Blair Johnston

David Del Tredici

credit: Susan Johann

credit: Susan Johann

With the appearance in 1976 of Final Alice – David Del Tredici’s hour–long setting of Lewis Carroll for high soprano and large orchestra – a new movement in music, Neo–Romanticism, was born. Not only did Del Tredici forge for himself a fresh compositional path, but at the same time gave hope to a generation of young composers seeking a new way of composing.

Del Tredici’s early works, in a more dissonant idiom, also focused obsessively on a single author – this time, James Joyce. The fruits of their union were many (1960–1966): Six Songs on Texts of James JoyceI Hear an ArmyNight Conjure–Verse and the tour de force for soprano and 16 instruments, Syzygy.

In Del Tredici’s Post–Alice world, he has taken a startlingly different tack –– to create a body of music that celebrates his own gay sexuality. Among these is Gay Life (poetry of Ginsberg, Monette and Gunn; commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony), Love Addiction (a baritone/piano song cycle to poetry of John Kelly commissioned in honor of the composers 70th birthday), and Wondrous the Merge (a melodrama for baritone and string quartet to the poetry of James Broughton). The recentBullycide for piano and string sextet, a composition dealing with gay teen suicide as a result of bullying, has garnered Mr. Del Tredici considerable media attention. OUT Magazine has twice named the composer one of its People of the Year.

Del Tredici has also been active in the intimate world of chamber music. His recent works include two string quartets (commissioned by the Da Ponte and Orion string quartets), Magyar Madness (a clarinet quintet for David Krakauer and the Orion string quartet), and Grand Trio (for the Kalichstein–Laredo–Robinson Trio). Quite suddenly, too, there has been a profusion of works for solo piano reflecting Del Tredici’s own musical beginnings as a piano prodigy. These include MandangoGotham GloryThree Gymnopedies, and S/M Ballade. Boosey & Hawkes has published two volumes of works for solo piano solo.

Ever extravagant, Del Tredici remains a forceful presence on the musical scene. While Composer–In–Residence with the New York Philharmonic in the 90’s, Leonard Bernstein recorded his orchestral piece Tattoo, and Zubin Mehta recorded both Haddocks’ Eyes, and Steps, a work written during his tenure at the Philharmonic. Paul Revere’s Ride for soprano, chorus, and orchestra was commissioned by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony, nominated for the 49th annual Grammy Awards as the Best New Classical Composition and issued on a Teldec CD. Rip Van Winkle, commissioned by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra, is an adaptation of the iconic Longfellow story for narrator and orchestra, and was premiered by Broadway superstar Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Among the upcoming CD’s is a disc for E–1 with the world premiere recordings of A Field Manual, and i. Other recent discs include two All–Del Tredici CD’s –– one from Deutsche Grammophon featuring Oliver Knussen and the Netherlands’ ASKO Ensemble –– the other, by pianist Marc Peloquin, is the first of four discs recording Del Tredici’s complete piano works on Naxos Records.

Del Tredici has been, for more than 25 years, Distinguished Professor of Music at The City College of New York. He lives in Manhattan’s West Village.

In the Composer’s Own Words

Dracula is a 20-minute setting of Alfred Corn’s poem, “My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count” It is written for a soprano-narrator and thirteen players: flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet (doubling on bass-clarinet), trumpet, horn, percussion (two players), theremin, piano (doubling on celesta) and a quintet of strings.

The text retells the famous gothic tale from the point of view of a woman living next-door to “the distinguished count” In five scenes, the poem chronicles her initial disinterest, gradual seduction, then degradation, rejection and, finally, “vampiristic” transformation.

The piece makes enormous demands upon the soprano soloist, who must speak even more than she sings and, when singing, must negotiate over three octaves — from the D below middle-C (when conjuring up the voice of the count) to the E-flat above high-C (when depicting the woman in extremis).

The instrumental ensemble is perhaps most notable for the inclusion of the theremin — the exotic, other-worldly-sounding electronic instrument that evoked “horror” and “mystery” in early Hollywood films. Most of the poem is written in the past tense ” the woman is telling us what happened. When the narrative reaches the present and Dracula himself comes to her “for the last time,” the theremin ” with its whooshes and wails ” announces itself, personifying the (excitingly) depraved count.

Singing, in Dracula, is reserved for special occasions, such as when the count himself speaks or when the woman is most overwrought. As well, at key moments throughout the setting, I repeat, like an incantation, certain texts of the menacing count (“I come to you, dearest, because you think / Of me. An irresistible summons”) and of the ecstatic woman (How often I long to stay profoundly asleep / And never be conscious again.”).

Midway through the musical discourse, there is a fugue (the count’s “troop of haggard followers … congregate”) and a final aria of transformation wherein the soprano’s high-flying voice and the wail of the theremin merge as one….

The piece touches many emotional levels. With the use of the theremin, copious amounts of wind-machine and roiling bass drum, “scary” is a primary reaction —; as is “funny.” Nervous giggles and startled gasps would not be unwelcome here. Deeper down, the listener confronts the more ominous world of addiction, betrayal and obsession. And inevitably, there comes the ultimate degradation ” a faustian bargain with a devilish price: devolution into the living dead.

Watch this 2014 performance of David Del Tredici’s Dracula by American Modern Ensemble; David Alan Miller, conductor, and Nancy Allen Lundy, soprano and narrator:

Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music

ORCHESTRA UNDERGROUND: Contempo-Scary Music

Zankel Hall @ Carnegie Hall
Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:30 PM

George Manahan, music director & conductor
Nancy Allen Lundy, narrator and soprano
Maxwell Tfirn, electronics engineer

BERNARD HERRMANN: Psycho Suite

JUDITH SHATIN: Black Moon for Orchestra and Conductor Controlled Electronics
(World Premiere – ACO/Carnegie Hall Commission)

-intermission-

PAUL MORAVECThe Overlook Hotel Suite from “The Shining”
(World Premiere – ACO commission)

DAVID DEL TREDICI: Dracula
with soprano-narrator Nancy Allen Lundy

nancylundydraculawebThis concert opens ACO’s 40th Anniversary Season and celebrates Halloween with music inspired by all things sinister and suspenseful, including the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s Overlook Hotel Suite, an orchestral suite which takes musical material from The Shining, Moravec’s opera based on the Stephen King novel; Bernard Hermann’s Psycho Suite from the film score to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller; the world premiere of Judith Shatin’s Black Moon (the most auspicious phase of the moon for casting spells) for orchestra and conductor-controlled electronics, which was developed through ACO’s coLABoratory “R&D” program; and David del Tredici’s Dracula, a setting of the vampire tale as told in Alfred Corn’s poem “My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count,” featuring soprano-narrator Nancy Allen Lundy.

Read Schmopera’s interview with Nancy Allen Lundy
Read a Q&A with Nancy on our SoundAdvice blog

“Paul Moravec’s music sets the tone from the first moments. It’s a rich, multi-layered soundscape that breathes life into the Overlook Hotel, which is both the setting and the villain of the piece.”   ~Minnesota Public Radio

Media Coverage

10/26/16: Opera in New York Gets Spooky: Halloween offers a (super)natural opportunity for companies to engage new audiences, The Wall Street Journal  [article]
10/25/16:  Dracula’s Neighbour: An Interview with Nancy Allen Lundy, Schmopera blog [article]
October 2016: Goings On About Town: American Composers Orchestra “Contempo-Scary,” The New Yorker  [listing]

Photo Gallery

(click on images for full slideshow)
Photo Credit:  Fadi Kheir

Flickr Album Gallery Pro Powered By: Weblizar

A little sketch of what’s in store:
Those of us of a certain age remember when audiences often viewed any new music as a scary prospect—and composers, for their part, relished their reputations as “mad scientists” creating unforgivingly cerebral works. That began to change in the 1970s, in large part due to the music of David Del Tredici, who helped reintroduce expressive lyricism and emotion, ushering in what we now call Neo-Romanticism. David, also famously loves a good story (as his long fascination with Alice in Wonderland attests). So tonight we draw from that delicious vein in Dracula, with the remarkable Nancy Allen Lundy as our soloist.  (watch video)

With a bestselling book and hit movie, Stephen King’s The Shining is among the most well-known of contemporary tales of horror. To these, thanks to composer Paul Moravec, we can now add a new critically-acclaimed opera that premiered in a sold-out run by Minnesota Opera this past May. For tonight’s program, we asked Paul to create an orchestral suite drawn from his opera. He took the challenge up, creating a piece that uses the instruments of the orchestra to provide a musical depiction of the Overlook—the infamous hotel at the center of the story’s gory plot.   (watch videoread Composer Portrait)

The Black Moon—the second new moon of the month—is a rare event filled with mystical power and ripe for spells and rituals. Judith Shatin explores this in our other world premiere this evening. Judith specializes in the integration of electronics and acoustics—creating powerful and otherworldly sonic landscapes. For this piece, she introduces conductor-controlled electronics (utilizing the Kinect sensor “borrowed” from the Xbox video gaming system), that allow the conductor to shape the electronics in real-time to follow his gestures and merge with the ensemble. Black Moon was developed through ACO’s coLABoratory program, which provided the opportunity to workshop the piece with the orchestra last season.  (watch videoread Composer Portrait)

And opening our program is Bernard Herrmann’s brilliant suite from Hitchcock’s Psycho. An utterly perfect—and utterly disturbing—piece of Hollywood and musical history.

With so much new music being written for the orchestra by so many composers of divergent  backgrounds these days, we like to think that every ACO concert has the spirit of “trick or treat” in it.

40th Anniversary press release can be found here

Watch this 2014 performance of David Del Tredici’s Dracula by American Modern Ensemble; David Alan Miller, conductor, and Nancy Allen Lundy, soprano and narrator:

Excerpts from ACO’s coLABoratory workshop in March 2016 featuring Judith Shatin’s Red Moon (a preview to Black Moon):

2016 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition
September 23, 2016 – Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts

EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composers Competition is designed as an opportunity for emerging composers to develop their works with a professional orchestra. The selected composers for these readings are chosen from a national candidate pool. Each is represented by a new orchestral work to be work-shopped and read by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in a free, public concert on September 23, 2016 at 7pm.

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, led by Music Director Matthew Kraemer, will rehearse and read each composers’ works, allowing the composers the chance to hear their concepts realized, while audiences will have a window into the creative process. The composers will receive feedback and mentoring from principal ICO musicians, and mentor composers Melinda Wagner, Michael Schelle, and ACO’s Artistic Director Laureate Robert Beaser. ICO’s Composer in Residence, James Aikman will also be in attendance to offer feedback and lead one of the workshops. Following the competition proceedings, one winning composer and work will be selected to be performed by the ICO as part of the Indiana State University’s 50th Anniversary Contemporary Music Festival on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Terre Haute, IN.

The participants and their works:

Karena Ingram – Animals of the Soltice; Calm of the Equinox
David A. Jones – Aspen
Reinaldo Moya – Passacaglia for Orchestra
Jessica Rudman – Still I Rise
Aaron Severini – Sleet

From the SoundAdvice blog:


The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra is a member of EarShot, the national orchestral composition discovery network, a partnership with the League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, and American Composers Forum, made possible with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support of women composers provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Aaron Severini

credit: Godofredo Astudillo

credit: Godofredo Astudillo

Aaron Severini (b. 1981) is a versatile composer whose music includes works for concert, dance, film, television, and new media. Aaron earned his Bachelor of Music degree at The Juilliard School, studying composition with Christopher Rouse. After a successful career dancing professionally with New York City Ballet, he is now pursuing his Master of Music degree in composition at Juilliard where he is studying with John Corigliano. Aaron’s unique background and talents have drawn special attention – most recently Hilary Hahn and Cory Smythe premiered Aaron’s Catch as an encore during their recital at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA. The San Francisco Examiner called it, “a lively bundle of manic energy that could not have made for a better encore.” Previous awards and honors include the 2015 Juilliard Orchestra Competition for Sleet, the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award, and multiple ASCAP Plus awards. A native of Greenfield, Massachusetts, Aaron lives in New York City.

Aaron writes:

The tone and structure of Sleet is influenced by my previous experiences as a dancer with New York City Ballet as well as my time studying composition at Juilliard. There is an extraordinary energy at both institutions that I wanted to capture within the piece. Sleet incorporates a selection of characters or moods that enter and exit consecutively and are at times intertwined. For me, these moods depict elements of power, nerve, excitement, anticipation, fear, femininity, masculinity, and childlike exuberance. I drew my inspiration from the bubbly personalities and incredibly talented musicians at Juilliard and the buzz and adrenaline felt backstage before performances at NYCB and the extraordinary artists that I worked with there.”

listen to an excerpt of Aaron’s Sleet:

Jessica Rudman

credit: Jeffrey Paternostro

credit: Jeffrey Paternostro

Jessica Rudman (b. 1982) is a Connecticut-based composer whose music unifies extended techniques with clear melodic development and narrative structures to create a unique and personal emotional expression. Her works have been performed across the U.S. and abroad by groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, the Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra, and the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. She has received awards from Boston Metro Opera, SCI/ASCAP, the College Music Society, the International Alliance for Women in Music, and others. Her recent commissions include works for the Riot Ensemble, the Blue Box Ensemble, bassist Gahlord Dewald, and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. Jessica has taught at The Hartt School, Central Connecticut State University, and Baruch College. She is currently the Director of the Young Composers Project and the Chair of the Creative Studies Department at The Hartt School Community Division. Jessica is also an active music theorist and arts advocate, serving on the board of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford. She holds degrees from the CUNY Graduate Center, The Hartt School, and the University of Virginia.

Jessica writes:

Still I Rise! is named after Maya Angelou’s eponymous poem. Her words express a profound sentiment of perseverance: they reflect not only surviving hardships, but coming out of them with one’s spirit intact. The narrator’s sassiness, quirky humor, and energy are manifested in the music’s grooves, flirty lines, and vibrant colors. The theme of endurance is expressed as the main motive or ‘protagonist’ travels through periods of confidence, adversity, manic excitement, questioning, and catharsis. Even when the identity of the main motive is almost obliterated by the heavy, static chords of the climax, it emerges to close the piece with a wink and a flourish – always rising again.”

listen to an excerpt of Jessica’s Iseult Speaks:

 

Reinaldo Moya

credit: Arthur Moella

credit: Arthur Moella

Reinaldo Moya’s (b. 1984) music has been performed in Germany, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Venezuela and throughout the U.S. by performers such as the New Jersey Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Attacca Quartet, Zeitgeist, The St. Olaf Orchestra, as well as musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Alarm Will Sound, among others. He is the recipient of the 2015 McKnight Composers Fellowship, the Van Lier Fellowship from Meet the Composer, and the Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House.

Reinaldo has been commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to write a new opera as part of Minnesota Opera’s initiative Project Opera. An adaptation of Will Weaver’s book Memory Boy, the opera has a libretto by Mark Campbell and was premiered in the spring of 2016. Excerpts from his opera Generalissimo have been performed at Symphony Space, and Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. He graduated from The Juilliard School with both Master’s and Doctorate degrees, under the tutelage of Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. Reinaldo is Assistant Professor of Composition at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and has served on the faculty at St. Olaf, and Macalester colleges in Minnesota.

Reinaldo writes:

I wrote Passacaglia for Orchestra at the request of my good friend William Harvey, the founder and director of Cultures in Harmony, an American cultural diplomacy organization that I am involved with. A passacaglia is a form in which the bass line remains constant, uniting many different variations that arise from it. In a world increasingly driven by misunderstanding, music can remind us of what we share: the fundamental desire to lead our lives in peace and with mutual respect. For its tenth anniversary in 2015, Cultures in Harmony traveled to some of the countries where we have worked in the past ten years to demonstrate these connections in a project inspired by the musical form of the passacaglia. Just as the variations of a passacaglia change while the bass line, also called the ‘ground’ remains the same, people from all over the world embody a variety of differences yet share common values and aspirations”

listen to an excerpt of Reinaldo’s Breathe:

David A. Jones

credit: Alexis Gillmore Photography

credit: Alexis Gillmore Photography

David A. Jones (b. 1990) is a composer and horn player from Olympia, Washington. His rhythmic and motive-driven style is inspired in large part by the music of Stravinsky, Debussy, Hindemith, Holst, and many others. David’s works include music for orchestra, wind band, string quartet, brass quintet, percussion ensemble, choir, and a variety of other ensembles.

David is a recent recipient of the 2015 Barlow Student Composition Award at BYU, won second prize in the 2016 Vera Hinckley Mayhew Composition Contest, and was one of fifteen winners selected in Vox Novus’s “Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Nautilus Brass Quintet” call for scores in 2014. He has had works premiered by the BYU Chamber Orchestra, the Nautilus Brass Quintet, the BYU-Idaho Symphony Band, and the RixStix Percussion Ensemble. He is currently studying for his Master’s in composition at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he lives with his wife and child. David graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Composition at Brigham Young University – Idaho in July 2015, where he studied with Darrell Brown.

David writes:

Aspen was commissioned by the Brigham Young University Chamber Orchestra through the Barlow Student Composition Award, and was premiered on March 31, 2016, at the De Jong Concert Hall in Provo, Utah. Of Aspen, David says, “Aspen seeks to capture, in a sense, this unique quality of aspen trees. The piece doesn’t follow any specific program; rather, I began with a few simple ideas that seemed reminiscent of the nature of aspen trees, and allowed those ideas to spread and develop. Aspens typically grow not as individual trees, but in clone colonies. These colonies spread by sending out root suckers. Each of the trees in a colony is interconnected by a single, intricate root system; even the largest grove of aspens is made up not of many trees, but of one single, living organism.”

listen to an excerpt of David’s Aspen:

 

 

Karena Ingram

photo credit: Kerry Ingram

photo credit: Kerry Ingram

Karena Ingram (b. 1994) is an emerging contemporary composer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Karena composes for contemporary chamber ensembles, large symphonic works, video games, and interactive media. Her chamber ensemble works have been performed regularly throughout the Baltimore area, most notably as a part of the Livewire New Music Festival. Karena’s music is known for its imaginative use of color and textural exploration. Beginning her musical career at the age of nine, with self-teaching in violin and music theory, she is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in music composition.

Karena writes:

Animals of the Solstice; Calm of the Equinox creates a narrative of a lively and bombastic progression animals from the summer solstice to the calm and tranquil autumn equinox. Inspired by the animal constellations that appear in the sky during summer nights, like the lion and the crab, the piece begins with an aggressive and bold character. As themes develop, the music eventually calms these creatures, encompassing the balanced and steady characteristics of the autumnal equinox.”

listen to Karena’s Helium:

Underwood New Music Readings & Commission 2017

Underwood New Music Readings & Commission
June 21-23
, 2017 – DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY
Submission Deadline: December 12, 2016

DEADLINE HAS PASSED. APPLICATIONS ARE NO LONGER BEING ACCEPTED. THIS PAGE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

American Composers Orchestra announces its 26th Annual Underwood New Music Reading Sessions to be held in New York City at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, June 21-23, 2017.

Up to seven composers in the early stages of their careers will be selected to participate. One will be awarded a $15,000 commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO.

The Readings are led by ACO Artistic Director, Derek Bermel and conducted by ACO Music Director, George Manahan. Mentor composers Libby LarsenDavid Rakowski and Trevor Weston will be on hand throughout the readings.

Writing for the symphony orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges for the aspiring composer. The subtleties of instrumental balance, timbre, effective part preparation, and communication with conductor and musicians are critical skills. But openings for composers to gain hands-on experience working with a professional orchestra are few. ACO’s New Music Reading Sessions are designed to give emerging composers the opportunity to work with an orchestra singular in its commitment to the development of the American composer and to hear their work performed by some of the country’s most outstanding contemporary music instrumentalists.

The Underwood Readings are the core of ACO’s ongoing professional training programs for emerging American composers. At the Readings, composers will meet with ACO artistic staff, orchestra members — including the conductor and mentor composers. Members of ACO’s composer advisory panel and guest composers participate in preliminary reviews of scores, provide critical commentary and feedback, post-Reading evaluations and selection of the composer to receive the commission award.

The Readings include two sessions with the orchestra, a working-rehearsal and a run-through performance. The performances are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for archival, study and portfolio purposes. Composers also participate in a series of professional development workshops covering such topics as promotion, score preparation and publishing, copyright and commissioning agreements, and other career essentials. Transportation and meals are provided for all participants.

Applicants may submit one work, up to 15 minutes duration for consideration. Applicants must submit an electronic submission form, the orchestral score, a resume, works list, and letter of recommendation. The submission deadline is December 12, 2016. Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will not be considered. Complete submission guidelines can be found here.


Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. and Mrs. Paul Underwood.
Support of Readings also comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Fromm Music Foundation. Additional funding provided by the League of American Orchestras with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.