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Composer Kristin Kuster
Wins 2004 Underwood Commission

Composer Kristin Kuster has been named winner of American Composers Orchestra's 2004 Underwood Emerging Composers Commission, an honor that includes a $15,000 prize and world premiere performance by American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Chosen from among eight finalists in one of this country's most coveted opportunities for emerging composers, Ms. Kuster won the top prize at ACO's annual Whitaker New Music Readings with her work, The Narrows. Ms. Kuster has been praised as a "wonderfully gifted composer reaching deep for meaning and expressive breadth." Carl St. Clair, guest conductor for the Readings stated, "All the composers participating were extremely gifted, but Kristin's musical voice was distinguished."

Last year's winning composer, Manly Romero, is currently working on Symphony: roja claro azul, which will be premiered by ACO at Carnegie Hall on February 23, 2005. Another Whitaker Readings-commissioned work, Ballade No. 1 by Paul Yeon Lee, is scheduled for premiere during ACO's 2005-2006 season.

Kristin Kuster is a 30-year-old composer who has studied at the University of San Diego, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her principal composition teachers have included William Albright, William Bolcom, Evan Chambers, and Michael Daugherty. In addition to ACO's Underwood Commission, Ms. Kuster is a recipient of a 2004 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently an Adjunct Lecturer of Composition, Theory, and Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Ms. Kuster's works often feature collaboration with instrumentalists, vocalists, poets, and visual artists. Her work is often focused on the connections between architecture and music, exploring the architectural relationships between public and private spaces. Her piece Ando: light against shade, for mixed chamber ensemble, examines the architecture of Tadao Ando. Premiered in 2003 at the Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center at Wellesley College, the work explores Ando's concept of the "changing of man's confrontation with nature through architecture," and expressivity within his minimalist designs. Ms. Kuster also works within the medium of electronic music, as in her works The Journey, which combines electronic music and audio editing with dance, and close listening: sound, art, science and the imagination, the audio editing of three sound installations containing interviews with scientists and the sounds of their research, featured in collaboration with an art exhibition at the Jean Paul Slusser Gallery in Ann Arbor.

Ms. Kuster is the composer-in-residence for the Vox Early Music Ensemble, and has recently received commissions from the Prism Saxophone Quartet and the Colby College Chorale. In addition to The Narrows, she recently completed Rorate caeli for mixed chorus and is currently working on Crows' Nests, for orchestra, a work being created through the examination of the architecture of I.M. Pei.

Kristin Kuster and guest conductor Carl St. ClairHeld in New York this past May under the direction of ACO's artistic director, composer Robert Beaser, the 13th annual Whitaker New Music Readings attracted more than 250 submissions from emerging composers around the country. Also participating were mentor-composers Michael Daugherty and Stephen Hartke, and conductors Carl St. Clair and Jeffrey Milarsky. Finalists this year include Anthony Cheung, who completed composition studies with Bernard Rands at Harvard in 2004 and will continue his studies at Columbia in the fall; Daniel Bradshaw, currently pursuing a doctoral degree in composition at Indiana University; Jonathan Newman, who was recently commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony with a premiere in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; Christopher Trapani, who is currently in residence at Paris's Citi Internationale des Arts; Thomas Osborne, currently pursuing a DMA degree in composition at the University of Southern California; Ralf Gawlick, who earned a DMA from the New England Conservatory of Music and who's work will represent the U.S. at the 2005 ISCM World Music Days in Zagreb; and Robert Paterson, who has earned a DMA degree from Cornell University.

For thirteen years the Whitaker New Music Readings have provided invaluable career-development opportunities for emerging composers, and served as a vital resource to the music field by identifying a new generation of important American composers. To date, some 75 composers have participated in the Reading Sessions, experiencing a full orchestral rendering of their work, receiving critical professional feedback and mentoring from conductors, composers and performers, and obtaining a professional quality recording to assist in their advancement. Past participants have included such award-winning composers as Melinda Wagner, Derek Bermel, Pierre Jalbert, Randall Woolf, and Jennifer Higdon. Since its inception in 1977, ACO has helped launch the careers of many of today's top composers, including Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwantner, who both received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; Robert Beaser, Ingram Marshall, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Rouse, and Tobias Picker were all championed by the orchestra when they were beginning their careers.

The 14th annual New Music Readings are scheduled for May 5 & 6, 2005 at Columbia University in New York City. The submission deadline for composers interested in applying is Wednesday, November 10, 2004. Complete submission guidelines and application will be available in print and online this August by contacting, or telephone 212-977-8495.

Lead support for the Whitaker New Music Readings comes from The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Jerome Foundation, and Mr. Paul Underwood. Additional public funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


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