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Composer Lisa Bielawa
Wins 2002 Whitaker Commission

New Music Reading Sessions set for April 7, 2003

Composer Lisa Bielawa has been named winner of the 2002 Whitaker Commission, an honor that includes a $15,000 prize and a 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. Bielawa won the top prize at ACO's annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions with her work, Roam, inspired by a passage in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. Ms. Bielawa's work impressed ACO's judges with its "high sense of drama and contrast." Her work was called "gripping, evocative...highly effective," and praised for its "wonderful shape from beginning to end."

Last year's Whitaker winner, Paul Yeon Lee, is currently working on a new composition for ACO, scheduled for performance at Carnegie Hall in the 2003-04 season. Previous Whitaker-commissioned composers Brian Robison, Hsueh-Yung Shen and Dan Coleman will have their works performed at Carnegie Hall on March 2, 2003.

A native of San Francisco, Lisa Bielawa is known as a composer of concert music, music for theater, and opera. A recent recipient of the Aaron Copland Award for emerging composers, her string quartet was premiered by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in April 2001. Recent residencies and performances include American Music Week in Sofia, Bulgaria; the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan; the INFANT Festival in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia; the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute; the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne in Quebec; and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. In 1999 she collaborated with director JoAnne Akalaitis on a music-theater version of Euripides' The Trojan Women at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. She has appeared as vocalist in her own works at the Bang On A Can Festival and in the Hildegurls Electric Ordo Virtutum at the Lincoln Center Festival. Ms. Bielawa has received grants, fellowships and awards from The Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals, NYSCA, New York Foundation for the Arts, ASCAP, the Omaha Symphony, the American Composers Forum, and the Fondation Royaumont in France. With Eleanor Sandresky she is Co-Artistic Director of Music at the Anthology (MATA), a festival dedicated to commissioning and promoting works by young composers. Ms. Bielawa is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the World Orchestra of Queens (WOQ), an orchestra of accomplished amateur musicians from different countries and traditions, which debuts in 2003.

Held in New York this past April under the direction of ACO's Music Director Dennis Russell Davies and Artistic Director/composer Robert Beaser, the eleventh annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions attracted more than 200 submissions from emerging composers around the country. Also participating were mentor-composers Yehudi Wyner and James Mobberley, and guest conductors Dante Anzolini and Paul Hostetter. This year's finalists included Mark Applebaum, currently assistant professor of composition at Stanford University; Anthony Barrese, who received his masters in composition from New England Conservatory in 1999; Stacy Garrop, assistant professor in composition at Roosevelt University in Chicago; Huang Ruo, who studies at the Juilliard School with Christopher Rouse; Robert Manthey, who received his masters from Yale in 2001, where he studied with Joseph Schwantner and Ezra Laderman; Milica Paranosic, who earned a masters in composition from Juilliard, where she studied with Robert Beaser; and Anna Weesner, assistant professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania. The Readings provide an invaluable opportunity for developing composers to experience a full orchestral rendering of their work, receive the reactions of conductors, composers and performers, and obtain a professional quality recording to assist in their advancement. Over the years, more than 50 composers have received crucial career-development through ACO's Whitaker Readings, including such award-winning composers as Melinda Wagner, Derek Bermel, Pierre Jalbert, Randall Woolf, and Jennifer Higdon.

To date, the Whitaker Reading Sessions have offered a vital resource to the industry by providing essential career development opportunities to over 50 composers. 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 next Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions will be held on April 7, 2003 in New York City; the application deadline is 5pm on November 15, 2002. Visit, telephone 212-977-8495 x201, or email for submission guidelines and application.

The Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions and Whitaker Commission are supported by a generous grant from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO's Emerging Composer Programs are also supported by The Greenwall Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, and The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, with 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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