The National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network

mentor composers

"EarShot allows audiences to see their orchestras in a new light as they witness the birth of new works in the moment of creation."
-Robert Beaser, Mentor Composer

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Mentor Composers

EarShot connects your orchestra and audiences with the top composers in the field. 

Robert BeaserRobert Beaser
Colorado and Nashville Readings
Since 1982, when the New York Times wrote that he possessed a "lyrical gift comparable to that of the late Samuel Barber," his music has won international acclaim for its balance between dramatic sweep and architectural clarity. He earned his Master of Music, M.M.A. and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Yale School of Music.
He assumed the role of Artistic Director of the American Composers Orchestra in 2001. Since 1993, he has been Professor and Chairman of the Composition Department at the Juilliard School in New York. Beaser has received major commissions from the New York Philharmonic (150th Anniversary Commission), the Chicago Symphony (Centennial Commission), the Saint Louis Symphony, The American Composers Orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony and Dawn Upshaw, The Minnesota Orchestra, Chanticleer, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass, and WNET/Great Performances among others.
more about Robert Beaser

Derek BermelDerek Bermel
Colorado and
Pioneer Valley Readings

Described by the Toronto Star as an "eclectic with wide open ears", composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel has been widely hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. Bermel is the Creative Advisor for the American Composers Orchestra and composer-in-residence for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
He has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, and Saint Louis Symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri String Quartet, De Ereprijs (Netherlands), Jazz Xchange (U.K.), Figura (Denmark), violinist Midori, electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans, cellist Fred Sherry, and pianists Christopher Taylor and Andy Russo, among others. His many awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center, the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Lili Boulanger Award. Voices, A recently released disc of his orchestral music on the BMOPsound label, was hailed as "magnificent" by the San Francisco Chronicle. Bermel's music is published by Peermusic (Americas & Asia) and Faber Music (Europe/Australia).
more about Derek Bermel

David FelderDavid Felder
Buffalo Readings
David Felder has received numerous grants and commissions including many awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Guggenheim, Koussevitzky, two Fromm Foundation Fellowships, Meet the Composer “New Residencies” (1993-1996) with the Buffalo Philharmonic, two commissions from the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and many more. In May. 2010, he has received the Music Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a career recognition award. Recent commissioned works include: a second quartet, stuck-stuecke, for the Arditti Quartet, Chashmal for bass voice, with electronics, and video by Elliot Caplan, and Sa'arah, commissioned by the Argosy Fund. Felder serves as Birge-Cary Chair in Composition at SUNY, Buffalo, and has been Artistic Director of the “June in Buffalo” Festival from 1985 to the present. Since 2006, he has been Director of the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music at the University. From 1992 to 1996 he was Meet the Composer "New Residencies", Composer-in-Residence to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and WBFO-FM. In 1996, he formed the professional chamber orchestra, the Slee Sinfonietta, and has been Artistic Director since that time. In 2008, he was named SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest rank in the SUNY system.
more about David Felder

Michael GandolfiMichael Gandolfi
Memphis Readings
Michael Gandolfi received his formal education at the New England Conservatory of Music. He recently completed a Meet the Composer/Music Alive residency with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In the spring of 2007, the ASO commissioned and premiered his new work The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, inspired by Charles Jencks’ spectacular private garden in Dumfries, Scotland. A new recording of other orchestral and large ensemble works, Y2K Compliant, was also released in early 2008 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.  Orpheus led a consortium, also including the Saint Paul and Los Angeles chamber orchestras, to commission Gandolfi’s Points of Departure, a piece that has since been performed quite frequently. He has also received commissions from the Atlanta Symphony, the Fromm Foundation, Boston Musica Viva, Speculum Musicae, and the Koussevitzky Foundation, among many others. While fulfilling commissions, Mr. Gandolfi serves as chairman of the composition department at the New England Conservatory of Music, and is presently on faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center.
more about Michael Gandolfi

Jennfier Higdon

Jennifer Higdon
Nashville Readings
GRAMMY winner Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) makes her living from commissions and her music is known for its technical skill and audience appeal. Hailed by the Washington Post as "a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit," the League of American Orchestras reports that she is one of America's most frequently performed composers. Higdon's list of commissioners is extensive and include The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The National Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Indianapolis Symphony, The Dallas Symphony, and The Oregon Symphony. Most recently, Higdon wrote a violin concerto for Hilary Hahn which was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Curtis Institute Symphony Orchestra.
She has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-06 season), the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra (2006-07 season), and the Philadelphia Orchestra (2007-08). Higdon enjoys more than two hundred performances a year of her works. Higdon received a 2010 GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Percussion Concerto. She currently holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
more about Jennifer Higdon

Edgar MeyerEdgar Meyer
Nashville Readings
A master instrumentalist and chameleon of styles, Edgar Meyer has established himself as a vibrant performer and an innovative composer in a variety of arenas from classical to bluegrass. His virtuosity and musicianship inspired one critic to call him, "quite simply, the best bassist alive;" his concert repertoire includes commissions from a wide array of distinguished organizations. He has composed pieces for violinist Hilary Hahn, the Emerson String Quartet, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, among others. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O'Connor on the widely acclaimed Sony Classical disc Appalachia Waltz was immensely popular, soaring to the top of the charts for 16 weeks when it was released. More recently, he played and recorded with violinist Joshua Bell and legendary bluegrass musicians Sam Bush and Mike Marshall. Their album Short Trip Home, released in Fall 1999, was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Classical Crossover album and the group was subsequently invited to perform live at the 42nd annual Grammy Awards. He is the winner of numerous competitions. In 1994 he became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2000 became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize. His most prestigious honor to date came in 2002, when he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation 'Genius' fellowship.
more about Edgar Meyer

Roberto SierraRoberto Sierra
Colorado Readings
For more than a decade the works of American composer Roberto Sierra have been part of the repertoire of many of the leading orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the USA and Europe. At the inaugural concert of the 2002 world renowned Proms in London, his Fandangos was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert that was broadcast by both the BBC Radio and Television throughout the UK and Europe. Sierra's numerous commissions include works for many of the major American and European orchestras. International ensembles that have performed his works include the orchestras of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New Mexico, Houston, Minnesota, Dallas, Detroit, San Antonio and Phoenix, as well as by the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, the Spanish orchestras of Madrid, Galicia, Castilla y León and Barcelona, among others.
more about Roberto Sierra

Steven StuckySteven Stucky
Buffalo Readings
Widely recognized as one of the leading composers today, Steven Stucky was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra. Mr. Stucky’s compositions have been performed in recent years by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New World Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and others. As an active teacher and mentor to young composers, Steven Stucky has sat on the Warsaw jury of the Witold Lutoslawski Competition for Composers. He is a world-renowned expert on the late composer’s music and the recipient of the Lutoslawski Society’s medal. He has participated in residencies at the American Academy in Rome, Princeton University’s Composition Colloquium, James Madison University, and Grinnell College. Mr. Stucky has taught at Cornell University since 1980, where he serves as Given Foundation Professor of Composition. He has also been associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for more than 20 years, and is currently Consulting Composer for New Music.
more about Steven Stucky

Lewis SpratlanLewis Spratlin
Pioneer Valley Readings
Lewis Spratlan, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in music for his opera LIFE IS A DREAM (Act II, concert version), is a widely performed and much honored composer. Often praised for his music’s high dramatic impact and brilliant scoring, Spratlan is the recipient of grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among many. A native of Miami, he studied with Mel Powell and Gunther Schuller at Yale, and has taught and conducted at Tanglewood, The Yale Summer School of Music and Art, and Amherst College, where he was on the faculty from 1970 until his retirement in 2006.
His music has been performed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Miami, London, Brussels, Milan, Moscow, Montreal, Toronto, and, perhaps most frequently, Boston, where he has received commissions and premieres from the Boston Musica Viva, Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, soprano Karol Bennett, and pianist John McDonald. Other New England-based ensembles, including the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the Lydian String Quartet, the Windsor Quartet, and Ancora have performed his works as well.
more about Lewis Spratlan

Melinda WagnerMelinda Wagner
Memphis Readings
In the composer’s own words: “I want the audience experience to be nuanced and multi-layered, so that when a work is heard again, something different, more subtle perhaps, will be revealed.” To achieve this, she is aware of the three essential elements in a performance: the composer, the musician, and the listener. “I become very connected to the musicians who perform my music; there is always electricity in the relationship between us. I want the audience to be a part of that — to complete the circuit.”
Her colorful Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion, commissioned by Paul Lustig Dunkel and the Westchester Philharmonic, was awarded the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in Music (the only flute concerto to date to win the coveted award). Since then, she has written Concerto for Trombone, for Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic, and a piano concerto, Extremity of Sky, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony for Emanuel Ax, who has also performed it with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Staatskapelle Berlin. In addition to Extremity of Sky (2002), the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has commissioned two other major works: Falling Angels (1992), and a forthcoming work for the 2011-12 season.
more about Melinda Wagner