Six Composers Selected for the 26th Underwood New Music Readings

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) continues its 40th anniversary season and its commitment to serving as a catalyst for the creation and development of new orchestral music with the 26th Annual Underwood New Music Readings on Thursday, June 22 and Friday, June 23, 2017 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 W. 37th St., NYC).

The proceedings are open to the public free of charge, giving audiences a chance to look behind the scenes at the process involved in bringing brand new, stylistically diverse orchestral music to life. The first day of Readings, a working rehearsal, will be presented from 10 AM to 1 PM on Thursday, June 22; the second day of Readings will take place on Friday evening, June 23, at 7:30 PM, during which all selected pieces will be polished and performed in their entirety. ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel directs the Readings; ACO Music Director George Manahan conducts. Mentor composers are Libby Larsen, David Rakowski, and Trevor Weston. Events are free and open to the public, but reservations are strongly recommended.

  • Register here for the free open rehearsal on June 22, 2017 (10 AM – 1 PM)
  • The free run-through performance on June 23, 2017 (7:30 – 10:30 PM ) is SOLD OUT

This year, six of the nation’s most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers have been selected from over 250 submissions received from around the country. The selected composers – James Diaz, Nick DiBerardino, Martin Kennedy, Hilary Purrington, Alexander Timofeev, and Yucong (Zoe) Wang (click links for bios and program notes) – represent a broad spectrum of musical backgrounds and sound worlds. They will receive a reading of a new work and one composer will be selected to receive a $15,000 commission for a new piece to be performed by ACO during an upcoming season.

The world premiere of 2016 Underwood Commission winner Carlos Simon’s new work for ACO, Portrait of a Queen, will be featured on ACO’s May 23, 2017 concert at Symphony Space. Each composer participating in the Underwood New Music Readings receives rehearsals, a reading, and a digital recording of his or her work. Review and feedback sessions with ACO principal players, mentor composers, ACO’s artistic and music directors, and industry representatives provide crucial artistic, technical, and conceptual assistance.

In addition, the Readings offer composers, students, or anyone interested in learning more about the business of being a composer Career Development Seminar on Friday, June 23 from 10 AM-4 PM at Cary Hall, DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Workshops include talks on Intellectual Property, Copyright Law and Commissioning Agreements; a panel discussion on career strategy with some of the most successful young composers working today; and a panel discussion on programming with major music presenters. The cost for the seminar is $25 (includes box lunch). Reservations coming soon.

For over a generation, ACO’s Underwood New Music Readings have been providing all-important career development and public exposure to the country’s most promising emerging composers, with over 150 composers participating. Readings alumni have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Orchestras around the globe have commissioned ACO Readings alumni.

The New Music Readings have served as a launch pad for composers’ careers, a tradition that includes many of today’s top composers, such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwantner, both of whom received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; and ACO’s own Artistic Director Derek Bermel, as well as composers Lisa Bielawa, Anthony Cheung, Anna Clyne, Cindy Cox, Sebastian Currier, Jennifer Higdon, Pierre Jalbert, Aaron Jay Kernis, Hannah Lash, Ingram Marshall, Carter Pann, P.Q. Phan, Tobias Picker, Narong Prangcharoen, Paola Prestini, David Rakowski, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Christopher Rouse, Huang Ruo, Eric Samuelson, Carlos Sanchez-Guiterrez, Kate Soper, Gregory Spears, Joan Tower, Ken Ueno, Dan Visconti, Melinda Wagner, Wang Jie, Dalit Warshaw, Randall Woolf, Nina Young, and Roger Zare.

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