June 3 & Sat., June 4
Come hear the rising stars of the composition world as they show their stuff and compete for a $15,000 commission.
ACO is pleased to announce the six winners of its 20th annual Underwood New Music Readings. The Readings are one of the country’s most coveted honors for up-and-coming artists. This year, the Readings will be held on Friday, June 3 at 10am and Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway, NYC) and, as always, are free and open to the public. Six of the nation’s most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers have been selected from more than 100 submissions received from around the country. This year’s winners are Janet Jieru Chen, Michael Djupstrom, Jordan Kuspa, Kohei Muklai, Narong Prangcharoen, Kate Soper, representing a broad range of sound worlds and life experiences.
The Readings are under the direction of ACO Artistic Director Robert Beaser. Music Director George Manahan will conduct; mentor composers are Derek Bermel, ACO’s Creative Advisor, Robert Beaser, ACO's Artistic Director, Augusta Read Thomas, and Paul Chihara. The conductors, mentor composers, and principal players from ACO serve as liaisons and provide critical feedback to each of the participants during and after the Reading sessions. Following the Readings, one of the young composers will receive a $15,000 commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO.
The audience will play a role as as well with the Audience Choice Award. Audience members will be invited to vote for their favorite work of the evening, awarding the winner a commission to compose an original ringtone. This ringtone will be available for free to everyone who voiced their opinion. In addition, composers, conductors, and orchestra members will be blogging about their Readings experience on NewMusicBox and SoundAdvice, and Jeremy Robins, filmmaker, will be on hand to record a video diary of the Readings.
In conjunction with the readings ACO is offering a Professional Development Workshop to composers in the community. The session takes place on June 4 from 10am-2:30pm and will cover topics ranging from copyright and contract negotiations to fundraising and score engraving. Space is limited to 20 people and requires a 15 dollar registration fee. Click here to register for the seminar.
Jieru Chen (b. 1980) A native of Taiwan, Janet Jieru Chen holds degrees from Taipei National University of the Arts, and has received scholarships to such music festivals as the International Music Courses in Darmstadt, the Composers Conference at Wellesley, and the Banff Summer Arts Festival. Her works have been performed by the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, the Orchestre National de Lorraine and the Banff Chamber Ensemble. Chen has also won awards from the National Council for Cultural Affairs of Taiwan. Composer Krzysztof Penderecki described her music as “original, no copying and truly Asian.” Currently the administrative director of the Canada-Taiwan Music and Arts Exchange and artistic director of the Asian Young Musicians’ Connection, Janet is also a doctoral student at Duke University where she’s a pupil of Stephen Jaffe.
Djupstrom (b. 1980) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and began music studies at the age of eight. He studied composition at the University of Michigan, where he received undergraduate and graduate degrees. Other training included fellowships at the Tanglewood and Brevard Music Centers, the Aspen Music Festival, as well as studies in Paris with composer Betsy Jolas. In 2009 Djupstrom entered the Curtis institute of Music as a composition student of Jennifer Higdon and Richard Danielpour. In 2007, he was a participant in the ACO/Penn Presents New Music Readings and Lab completion. Djupstrom has also been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Composers Forum and ASCAP and BMI foundations. Michael currently lives in Philadelphia where he teaches piano at Settlement Music School and courses in music theory and orchestration for Boston University’s online music programs.
Jordan Kuspa (b. 1985) has been praised in the New York Times for his music that’s “animated and melodically opulent” and “consistently alive and inspired.” Jordan was the winner of the 2010 ISCM–League of Composers Competition and the 2007 Robert Avalon Young Composers Competition. He was also co-founder and Artistic Director of the Sonus Chamber Music Society, an organization that presented an interactive concert series in the Houston museum district. Educational and community outreach, in schools, churches, and hospitals, was a central component of each of these programs. Kuspa has continued his community engagement work in schools across Connecticut, with programs that have included musical collaborations with students in writing, drama, and filmmaking. Jordan is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Yale School of Music, where he has studied with Martin Bresnick, Ezra Laderman, Ingram Marshall, and Christopher Theofanidis.
Mukai Kôhei: Mugen
perf. Peabody Camerata
Mukai Kôhei(b. 1966) has studied composition at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he studied composition with Nicholas Maw. He received his doctoral degree in Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he studied composition with Chen Yi, James Mobberley and Paul Rudy. Kôhei’s works have been performed at the Mannes Contemporary Music Festival and he was a featured composer on the Chicago Symphony’s 2003 “Music Now” series. He is a winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Composition Competition, and the Exhibition of Japanese Composition, ASCAP Raymond Hubbel, Peabody Camerata, and Japan Society Contemporary Music prizes. Mukai is currently researching advanced tonal systems and traditional Japanese music. The genre of Japanese Noh drama that deals with dreams, illusions and phantasms is called Mugen.
Mukai’s Megun is an orchestral depiction of the surreal world where dreams and nightmares dwell and where the boundaries of reality and unreality are not clearly defined. His orchestration references the timbres of the Japanese shakuhachi and gongs, but rather than attempting to recreate the sounds of these instruments, Mukai explores a surreal world of sound.
Narong Prangcharoen: Pubbanimitta
perf. Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic cond. Andeas Baumgartner
(b. 1973) studied with Chen Yi and received his doctoral degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City. Prangcharoen’s music has been called “absolutely captivating” by the Chicago Sun Times and has been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S. His works have been heard at the Beijing Modern Music, MoMA Music and Grant Park Festivals, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at the Library of Congress. Narong is the winner of the Alexander Zemlinsky International Composition Competition and Pacific Symphony’s American Composers Competition Prizes, and the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award. He is currently teaching at the Community Music and Dance Academy of the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri in Kansas City. Narong is the founder of the Thailand Composition Festival in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2007, the Thai government named Prangcharoen a Contemporary National Artist and awarded him the Silapathorn Award.
Kate Soper: Entre Les Calanques
perf. Kate Soper and Erin Lesser
Kate Soper (b. 1981) is a New York City-based composer and performer with a diverse background and interests. Her music has been described as “exquisitely quirky” by the
New York Times and has been widely performed. Kate received her Bachelors of Music from Rice University and is currently a DMA candidate at Columbia University, where her teachers have included Fred Lerdahl, Mario Davidovksy, Tristan Murail, and Fabien Lévy. She has received awards and commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Fromm Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Tanglewood Music Center and others. Soper’s
current compositional interests include the integration of drama and rhetoric
into musical structure, the transformation of visceral gestures in and out of
time, and the potential of the human voice to communicate abstractly (or not).
Kate is Managing Director and vocalist for Wet Ink, a new music ensemble
dedicated to uncompromising performances of adventurous music across aesthetic
George Manahan, Conductor
George Manahan,currently the Music Director of New York City Opera, has had an unusually wide-ranging career, embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. His most recent appearance with ACO was in February 2009 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. Mr. Manahan led a concert of world premieres, which included the much-praised multimedia works BREAKDOWN! by Margaret Brouwer and Kasumi, Rand Steiger’s Cryosphere, and Fang Man’s Resurrection. In 2006, he workshopped and led performances of music by emerging composers Anna Clyne, Fang Man, Robert Gates, and Paul Richards during ACO’s Underwood New Music Readings. In addition to his work with ACO, in fall 2010, he furthers his commitment to working with young musicians by joining the Manhattan School of Music faculty as Director of Orchestral Studies.
At New York City Opera, Mr. Manahan helped envision the organization’s groundbreaking VOX program, a series of workshops and readings that have provided unique opportunities for numerous composers to hear their new concepts realized, and introduced audiences to exciting new compositional voices. Manahan’s passion for the music of our time was ignited in 1980 when he was chosen as the Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony. He made his mark on the opera world in his debut with the Santa Fe Opera, conducting the American premiere of Arnold Schoenberg’s Von Heute Auf Morgen. His wide-ranging recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Tehillim for ECM; recordings of Edward Thomas’s Desire Under the Elms, which was nominated for a Grammy; Joe Jackson’s Will Power; and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. His enthusiasm for contemporary music continues today; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang’s Modern Painters, and the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. In 2009, Mr. Manahan conducted the sold-out world premiere of Ask Your Mama! at Carnegie Hall.
Manahan has conducted the symphonies of Atlanta, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Columbus, and New Jersey, as well as the National Symphony Orchestra, The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music symphonies, the Warsaw Philharmonic, and at Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival. He appears regularly with the opera companies of Santa Fe and Portland, and Glimmerglass Opera. He has led the opera companies of Seattle, Chicago, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera National du Paris, Teatro de Communale de Bologna, the Bergen Festival (Norway), the Casals Festival (Puerto Rico), and Minnesota Opera, where he served as principal conductor. As music director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for twelve years, where he also appeared as piano soloist, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th century music. motivic/melodic material, undergoing various transformations and extensions.”
Tickets & Info
Miller Theatre is located at 116th Street and Broadway.
The readings are free and open to the public. No ticket is required.
Support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. Paul Underwood, Fromm Music Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.