21st Annual Underwood New Music Readings
June 1 & Sat., June 2
Featuring Six of the
Nation's Top Emerging Composers
Conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan
American Composers Orchestra’s
(ACO) 21st Annual Underwood New Music Readings will take place from Friday, June
1 to Saturday, June 2, 2012 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 W.
37th St., NYC). The Readings include two public events – a working rehearsal on
Friday at 10am, and a run-through on Saturday at 7:30pm. Both events are free
and open to the public, giving audiences a chance to look behind the scenes at
the process involved in bringing brand new, stylistically diverse orchestral
music to life.
The Light Fantastic
Listen to an excerpt of Light Fantastic
Ryan Chase has had music performed by ensembles such as Alaria, CIRCE, Contemporaneous, Indiana University’s New Music Ensemble, Mannes Orchestra, Chelsea Symphony, Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, SUNY Purchase Percussion Ensemble, and new music soprano soloist Ariadne Greif. Chase’s awards include the William Schuman Prize of the 2011 BMI Student Composer Awards, First Prize in the 2011 National Association of Composers USA Young Composers' Competition, and the 2008 Bohuslav Martinú Award. As a multimedia collaborator, Chase has worked with directors, dancers, and visual artists. He recently completed the score for director Maria Dirolf's short film The Harbinger. This season features the world premiere of a concert-length ballet, The Pattern of the Heavens, commissioned and produced by choreographer Lauren Weber Frederick. Chase is currently pursuing a Doctorate at Indiana University.
Claude Baker, one of Chase’s teachers, calls him, “quietly brilliant.” Baker says, “On the surface, Ryan is unprepossessing. Yet the music he writes belies this outward appearance, for it is often powerful, primal and viscerally charged. Each piece is carefully conceived, expertly crafted and wholly convincing.”
Of his work The Light Fantastic, Chase says, “The Light Fantastic is a virtuosic whirlwind for the orchestra, exploring the ensemble’s capacity for contrasts ranging from the visceral and bombastic to the intimate and ethereal. At the heart of this short ‘concertino for orchestra’ are two major motivic ideas: a short melody that is introduced by the piccolo at the very beginning and a repeated-note fanfare at the first major climax of the piece. These two motives are developed, tossed around the ensemble, hidden, found again, chopped up, hastily glued back together, pitted against each other, and finally brought together to drive the piece to its inevitable, thunderous conclusion.”
Listen to and excerpt of Impressions
Born and raised in Ireland, Peter Fahey studied composition with Eric Sweeney at the Waterford Institute of Technology, with David Horne and Anthony Gilbert at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and, informally, at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar, Germany. The judges call his music “very clear,” and “highly involved.” He has also attended the Darmstadt Festival; the TACTUS Young Composers' Forum, Belgium; the Weimarer Meisterkurse Kompositions-Workshop; and the Aspen Music Festival and School Advanced Masterclass Program. Fahey has studied with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and he is an exchange scholar at Columbia University. Current projects include new works for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and the Momenta Quartet. This is his first experience with a professional orchestra.
Fahey says, “I began writing Impressions with a handful of self-consciously simple ideas in mind. I was thinking about how so many of the composers I admire can take what is basically a very simple idea, an idea that can seem almost naïve to begin with, put it through their compositional mill, and end up with surprisingly complex results. This was a process I wanted to somehow try and replicate in my own music. I wanted to move towards complexity but not complicatedness, and, above all, I wanted results that were very musical.”
Listen to an excerpt of Concerto for Orchestra
Native Hawaiian Michael-Thomas Foumai is a violinist, violist, conductor and composer. His music is “exciting, energetic, full of vivid passages and picturesque moods” (Honolulu Advertiser) and has been praised for its “technical mastery and grace” (Los Angeles Times). Bright Sheng, one of Foumai’s composition teachers, says, “During the period we worked together, Michael-Thomas never stopped surprising me with good quality compositions.”
Foumai was recently awarded the 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was a participant in the 2011 EarShot New Music Readings, during which his piece The Light Bringer symphony (inspired by the biblical story of the fall of Lucifer) was read by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Foumai’s music has been performed by the New England Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Alarm Will Sound, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, June in Buffalo Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the Calarts Theatre (REDCAT) at Disney Hall (Los Angeles). Foumai is currently a doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. His composition teachers have been Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Syd Hodkinson, and Peter Askim. His music has been recognized grants and honors from BMI, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Concerto for Orchestra is based on the five entities of the human soul, according to the ancient Egyptions – the Ren (name), Ba (soul), Sheut (Shadow), Ib (Heart), and Ka (Spirit). Foumai explains, “I have tried to translate the five parts of the human soul into the basic elements that create a piece of music. From birth, these musical elements are introduced, developed, reintroduced and by the end or death, only the essence remains, the soul.”
Paul Kerekes: timber
Listen to an excerpt of timber
Paul Kerekes’ music is described as “striking…ecstatic…dramatic” (WQXR) and “highly eloquent” (New Haven Advocate), and has been performed by ensembles TwoSense, Second Instrumental Unit, Stonewall Chorale, Mannes Preparatory Division Choir, and Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble. After completing an undergraduate degree at Queens College, Kerekes was invited to accompany eighth blackbird as a composer and performer at the summer festival of Music10 in Blonay, Switzerland. Prior to this experience he attended such notable programs as Yale’s New Music Workshop, California Summer Music, the Young Artists Piano Program at Tanglewood and Stony Brook Summer Music Festival. Kerekes is currently completing a masters degree at Yale School of Music under the instruction of Martin Bresnick. This is Kerekes’ first performance with a professional orchestra. Composer Christopher Theofanidis praises Kerekes’ work, saying, “All of his music is very finely crafted and considered, and it shows an excellent ear and sense of pacing.”
Of his work timber, Kerekes says, “timber is a macabre and hallucinatory look into the forest. The piece begins with a mysterious and dark harmonic palette which represents dawn and awakening. The harmonies brighten, as more daylight is revealed, and lead into a new section marked by falling chords. The chords fall like trees, more intricately after the other leading into a slow build of string pizzicatos surging upward.”
Pin Hsin Lin: Symphony No. 3
Listen to an excerpt of Symphony No. 3
Pin Hsin Lin strives to tell stories through her music. She is currently a doctoral student in composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studies with Erik Lund, Zack Browning, Steven Taylor, Reynold Tharp, and Scott Wyatt. Browning comments, “Pin Hsin has attempted to incorporate her Taiwanese heritage using Western techniques to form an interesting approach to music composition.”
Lin’s awards include two Peabody Career Development Grants, two American Music Center’s Composer Assistance Grants, and scholarships from Bowdoin and St. Magnus. Lin hails from Kaohsiung and Taipei in Taiwan, and received her Master’s degree in Composition from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelor’s degree in Composition from Roosevelt University. Lin’s music is often collaborative in nature – she has worked with partners ranging from dancers to computer scientists. This is Lin’s first experience with a professional orchestra.
“Symphony No. 3 was written in memory of my father, who passed away two years ago,” says Lin. “It is a one-movement work that includes three primary melodic structural elements, which together symbolize my complex feelings about missing my father. The intensely dramatic middle sections depict the time that I and other family members flew back to Taiwan to be with him during his treatment. This process was a precious journey for my family, during which we encountered sadness and depression. In the middle sections, I also added new pitch material inspired by the Taiwanese folksong, Gao Shan Qing (or The Green, High Mountain). Finally, the music of the last section turns to a more peaceful mood, in which I depict my family's gratitude for the time we spent together.”
Benjamin Taylor: Leaving White
Benjamin Taylor writes music for a variety of chamber ensembles, jazz combos and big bands, wind bands, choirs, and experimental ensembles. A large part of Taylor's music includes electroacoustics. Donald Freund, one of Taylor’s teachers, remarks, “Benjamin understands how to create engaging ideas and develop them to their fullest potential. He has a firm command of orchestration, and a sure sense of instrumental color.”
Taylor’s music has been performed at the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States National Conference, Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts, Society of Composers National Conference, Noisefloor Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, New Music Hartford Four Seasons Concert Series, Gamma-UT New Music Festival and international jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Wigan, Marlborough and Birmingham. Taylor’s prizes and honors include a 2011 BMI Student Composers Award, a Barlow Endowment Commission, a 2011 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, First Place Winner of the 2008 SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Competition (Region VII), First Place Co-winner of the 2008 International Society of Bassist’s Composition Competition (media division), and First Place in the 2009 Vera Hinckley Mayhew Creative Arts Composition Contest. Taylor recently started doctoral studies at Indiana University at Bloomington.
Taylor says of Leaving White, “The title, Leaving White, refers instead to my own experience writing this piece. As a composer, I have found inspiration for my music in a variety of places: photography, life experiences, traffic signs, the periodic table of elements, and even internet search engines. But with this piece my compositional process was much different. I consciously tried to remove all extra-musical associations from my mind in order to leave my mind blank; thus leaving white."
Tickets & Info
DiMenna Center for Classical Music is located at 450 West 37th Street, NYC.
The readings are free and open to the public. No ticket is required but reservations are recommended.
Support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Paul Underwood, Fromm Music Foundation, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.