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Wang Jie Wins ACO's 2009 Underwood Commission

Composer Wang JieComposer Wang Jie has been named the winner of American Composers Orchestra's 2009 Underwood Emerging Composers Commission, bringing her a $15,000 commission for a work to be premiered by ACO's Orchestra Underground. Chosen from five finalists in one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in America, Wang won the top prize at ACO's annual Underwood New Music Readings with her work Symphony No. 1, (Awakening). Commenting on the selection of Ms. Wang, ACO's Artistic Director Robert Beaser said, "Wang Jie composes music of elegance and elemental clarity. She knows how to craft works which communicate largely with economical means. We are pleased and excited that she will be writing a new work for us to premiere on our Orchestra Underground Series at Zankel Hall."

Wang Jie was born and raised in Shanghai during the economic expansion that followed the Cultural Revolution. In 2000, she moved to the United States to begin composition studies at the Manhattan School of Music, where she received her Master of Music in composition, graduating with honors in May 2007. She recently received a Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Danielpour.

Her music has been performed at the Museum of Modern Art's Summergarden, VOX by New York City Opera, the opening ceremony of Beijing Modern Music Festival, and a chamber opera produced by Music-Theatre Group. She has held fellowships and residencies from the Aspen Music Festival, the Curtis Institute of Music, The Banff Centre, The Hermitage, and most recently became the first composer awarded the Milton Rock Fellowship. She has received honors and generous support from organizations such as ASCAP (Morton Gould Young Composer Award), BMI Foundation, American Music Center, Opera America, Music-Theatre Group, Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Northridge Composition Prize.

Margaret Brouwer, John Corigliano, and José SerebrierWang describes Symphony No. 1, (Awakening), as her most personal work, a journey from yearning and tempest to peace. John Corigliano, one of the mentor composers for the 2009 Underwood New Music Readings, remarked about the work, "Wang Jie's piece is gorgeously written. She knows how to take a few notes and spin them into a large form-a rare trait in today's composers. I can't wait to hear what she does next."

José Serebrier, who conducted Symphony No. 1 for the Readings, commented, "It was a pleasure to conduct Wang Jie's work because everything in it was logical, and it worked beautifully, even complicated rhythmic changes. Besides the technical accomplishment, her symphony had a strong emotional content, revealing a very promising talent." Margaret Brouwer, another of the 2009 mentor composers, noted that "the overall structure is skillfully conceived, with motivic continuity throughout and a convincing progression of mood, texture, and events. Her excellent use of the orchestra creates beautiful sounds and warm or exciting voicings as needed. This is an elegant and beautifully written piece."

When told that she was awarded the 2009 Commission, Wang Jie said, "I was most gratified to be selected as a participant in ACO's Underwood New Music Readings. The rare opportunity and high honor of collaborating with ACO and conductor Josť Serebrier and of receiving constructive feedback from the mentor composers is dream come true for a young composer. I am thrilled to be writing a new piece for ACO."

About the New Music Readings

The 18th annual Underwood New Music Readings were held at Miller Theatre, Columbia University, in New York on May 7 and 8, 2009, under the direction of ACO's artistic director, composer Robert Beaser. Mentor composers included Margaret Brouwer and John Corigliano, as well as Derek Bermel, ACO's Music Alive Composer-in-Residence. Guest conductors were Delta David Gier and Josť Serebrier. This year's New Music Readings attracted 150 submissions from emerging composers around the country. In addition to Wang Jie, the finalists were:

  • Ivor Francis, who received his bachelor of music degree in composition from California State University, Northridge, and pursued further studies at San Francisco State University. He is currently in the D.M.A. program in music composition at USC.

  • Jesse Jones, who received his M.M. at the University of Oregon his B.M. at Eastern Oregon University under John McKinnon and Leandro Espinosa. He is pursuing his D.M.A. at Cornell University.
  • Eric Nathan, who received his M.M. at Indiana University, B.A. at Yale College, and a diploma from the Juilliard School Pre-College Division. He is a doctoral student in composition at Cornell University.
  • Reiko Yamada, a native of Hiroshima, who holds a Bachelor's degree in jazz composition from the Berklee College of Music and a Master of Music in composition from Boston University.

2009 Underwood New Music Readings Participants, Conductors, Mentor Composers, with Paul Underwood

Since 1991, ACO's 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, more than 100 composers have participated in the New Music Readings, hearing 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, Daniel Bernard Roumain, 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, both of whom received Pulitzer Prizes for their ACO commissions. Robert Beaser, Ingram Marshall, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Rouse, and Tobias Picker were also championed by the orchestra when they were beginning their careers.

Last year's winner, Roger Zare, won the top prize with his work Green Flash. His ACO/Underwood commissioned work will be premiered by ACO on January 29, 2010, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Anne Manson. The 2007 winner, Clint Needham, had his Chamber Symphony premiered by ACO at Zankel Hall this past November. The New York Times described the piece as a "frenetic, wildly entertaining piece."

The 19th Annual Underwood New Music Readings will be held May 20 & 21, 2010. Complete submission guidelines and application will be available in print and online in August at, via email at, or via telephone at 212-977-8495.

Wang Jie's commission is made possible by Paul Underwood.

Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. Paul Underwood, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Fromm Music Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University along with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by The Achelis Foundation, Amphion Foundation, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, ASCAP Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, BMI, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, GAP Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation, Meet The Composer, NY City Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Virgil Thomson Foundation, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Derek Bermel is the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with American Composers Orchestra. Music Alive is a national program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet The Composer.

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