Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute New Music Readings

JCOI New Music Readings
Monday and Tuesday, June 3-4
Miller Theatre, Columbia University

2012 Underwood New Music Readings

The JCOI New Music Readings will take place at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, with mentor composers George Lewis (Columbia University), Anne LeBaron (California Institute of the Arts), and Paul Chihara (UCLA), guest conducted by Delta David Gier and Oliver Hagen. ACO’s featured participating composers are Jennifer BellorJosé BeviáCourtney BryanIngrid Laubrock, Andy MilneRichard Sussman, and Sumi Tonooka. The Readings will include an open rehearsal on Monday, June 3 at 10am, and a run-through of the composers’ pieces on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30pm. Both events are free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested.

In addition, there will be a  Professional Development Workshop on June 4th from 1-5
that will be open to the public for a fee of $10 which will include lunch and seminars on career topics in the field of orchestral music.

The composer participants:

Jennifer Bellor: Crystal Skies

Jennifer Bellor

Jennifer Bellor is currently a Ph.D student in music composition at the Eastman School of Music. She received a Master of Music at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts at Cornell University. Her principal teachers were David Liptak, Robert Morris, Andrew Waggoner, Sally Lamb, and Steven Stucky. She also studied with visiting composers in residence at Eastman such as Shulamit Ran and Yehudi Wyner, and with Sydney Hodkinson at the Aspen Music Festival as a Susan and Ford Schumann composition fellow. Recent composition prizes include Howard Hanson Orchestra prize in 2012, the Belle S. Gitelman Award in 2011 and the Bernard Rogers Memorial Prize in 2008 and 2009. She is currently on the faculty at Nazareth College teaching composition, orchestration, and undergraduate music theory. In addition to teaching, she enjoys coordinating and producing concerts. Her most recent concerts include the Composers’ Sinfonietta concerts at Eastman 2010-2011, and her showcase On Tap: Original Music with Dance that was presented on the Rochester Fringe Festival 2012. She also acts as concert office Programs Coordinator at Eastman.

Jennifer writes: Crystal Skies was inspired by my experience skydiving for the first time in upstate New York. It was a chilly November day, and as the airplane ascended into the air, it became even more freezing thousands of feet above the ground. When the door of the plane opened and I stepped out onto the ledge, I couldn’t wait to fall backwards and sink into the clouds. The freefall lasted approximately one minute, and then I felt like was just floating in the air. In my piece, I wanted to capture that feeling of being suspended in the chilly sky, as if I was flying. The string textures reflect the icy sky, portrayed by the artificial harmonics and ornamented lines that weave in and out of each other. The woodwinds represent birds gliding in the sky, and for a moment, I felt like a bird as I was slowly descending down to the ground.

Jose BeviaNoit-Alimissa

Jose Bevia

José Beviá graduated from the Valencia Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music, and Florida State University where he earned a Doctor of Music Degree in Music Theory and Composition. Mr. Beviá has studied composition with Ladislav Kubík and Mark Wingate, and jazz piano with Marcus Roberts and Bill Peterson. He has also participated in composition seminars with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ellen Zwilich, jazz composer Bill Holman, and has been a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Mr. Beviá has seen his classical, jazz compositions, and arrangements performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The BMI/ New York Jazz Orchestra, The Millennium Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Marcus Roberts trio, and the Count Basie Orchestra. His works have been commissioned by The Commission Project, The BMI Foundation Charlie Parker Composition Prize, Harpist Arielle, Ferdiko Piano Duo, and Israeli Harpsichordist Jochewed Schwartz.

Noit-Alimissa (Assimilation) is an effort to combine the influences of Post Second World War Contemporary Classical Music with Contemporary Jazz, to create an organic musical entity. The melodic, harmonic and rhythmic materials are announced in the introduction and developed through the composition following the the formal scheme: Introduction, A, B, C, A, Coda

Courtney Bryan: Shedding Skin

Courtney Bryan (photo, Elizabeth Leitzell)Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, La, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her compositions range from solo works to large ensembles in the jazz and new music idioms, film scores, and collaborations of dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors. She performs around the New York area, and is the organist and director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Courtney has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory ’04 (BM), Rutgers University ’07 (MM), and Columbia University ’09 (MA). Recently, Courtney was a Visiting Instructor at Oberlin Conservatory. Currently, she is pursuing a DMA in music composition at Columbia University of New York. She has two self-released recordings, “Quest for Freedom” (2007) and “This Little Light of Mine” (2010).

Shedding Skin is inspired by the poem of the same name by Harryette Mullen from her book Tree Tall Woman (1981), as well as by conversations from the JCOI-ACO Institute in 2012. Shedding Skin deals with the question: what does it mean to notate improvisation? How does one who is at home in a jazz improvisatory context translate certain values and concepts into notation for performers in a classical orchestral context? How does one actualize the same vision and feeling in the written score as one would improvising, whether alone or with other improvisers? Also, how could I use the orchestra to represent what this poem means to me on a personal level?

Ingrid Laubrock: Vogelfrei

Ingrid LaubrockOriginally from Germany, Ingrid Laubrock lived  in the UK from 1989 – 2009 and is since then residing in Brooklyn. She studied Jazz at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London), saxophone with Jean Toussaint and David Liebman and composition with pianist/composer Myra Melford. Ingrid has
performed and recorded with:  Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler, Jason Moran,Tim Berne, Mark Helias, Michael Formanek, Mary Halvorson, Tyshawn Sorey, Evan Parker, Steve Beresford, John Edwards,Veryan Weston, Luc Ex,Django Bates’ Human Chain, The Continuum Ensemble and others.

“The original inspiration for my piece, Vogelfrei, were photos I took of the various shapes and patterns formed by overground train electrical wires. In 2012 I spent several months in Moers, Germany as an artist in residence. Moers is a town on the edge of the Ruhr valley, an old industrial and coal mining region which has an extensive rail network. I love the seemingly endless combinations of the electrical wires and connectors suspended in the air which are interrupted by pylons and masts and I tried to capture this texture in my composition. I grew up in Germany and my piece also tries to mirror the feelings of both unrest and yet deep familiarity I was experiencing while being in Germany again after not having lived there for 23 years.”

Andy Milne: Element of Surprise

Andy MilneAndy Milne is considered one of the most respected voices in jazz today. He composes for multiple projects, including his group Dapp Theory, which lives at the meeting-point of lyrical jazz piano, funkified polyrhythmic exploration, and spoken word poeticism. Milne has toured and recorded with Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Alessi, Carlos Ward and Carla Cook and was at the core of saxophonist Steve Coleman’s groups during the 1990s. He has also collaborated with Sekou Sundiata, Avery Brooks, Bruce Cockburn, Geri Allen, Archie Shepp, Joe Lovano, Greg Osby and Cassandra Wilson. In 2012 he was commissioned by The Japan Foundation and New Music USA to create the multi-disciplinary work Strings and Serpents. Recipient of the prestigious Civitella Rainieri fellowship, and the recipient of numerous commissions and awards, Milne also composes film scores for William Shatner.

Milne says, “For the past few years, I have been refining my vision for creating a large ensemble suite, using concepts from classical homeopathic healing as a framework for establishing a relationship between improvisation and composed elements. Although my piece doesn’t include any solo improvisations, I have explored textures from the perspective of what will provide a complimentary accompaniment for improvised solos.”

Richard Sussman: Convergence

Richard SussmanRichard Sussman is a pianist, composer, music technologist, and professor of jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music in New York City. His varied career has included performances and/or recordings with Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Steve Slagle, Randy Brecker, Lee Konitz, Blood Sweat & Tears, David Sanborn, Houston Person, and Donna Summer, among many others. His jazz discography includes four albums of original music as a leader. Writing credits include a commission by the Manhattan School of Music and 2 NEA grants in composition for large-scale works for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra as well as arrangements for Lionel Hampton, Blood Sweat & Tears, Mel Lewis, Randy Brecker, the West Chester Jazz Orchestra, the Metropole Orchestra (Amsterdam), the WDR Jazz Big Band (Cologne, Germany), and others.

The underlying impetus behind Convergence comes from the incredible diversity of sounds and musical styles with which we are surrounded in the 21st century. The “convergence” of these diverse musical genres results in the breaking down of seemingly artificial stylistic barriers that tend to inhibit interdisciplinary compositional experimentation. Through this coalescence of disparate elements, “Convergence” seeks to bring a sense of the spontaneity, energy, and rhythmic drive of jazz improvisation and urban pop music to the orchestra.

Sumi Tonooka: Full Circle

Sumi TonookaSumi Tonooka has been called a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (New York Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid). Working in trio or quartet Tonooka’s recordings characteristically blend her own compositions with highly personal readings of jazz standards. Her recent quartet recording, Initiation garnered an “Honorable Mention” the 2010 Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll.

Sumi says of Full Circle: was inspired by a dream I had after attending the Intensive, about orchestrating the curve in the yin and yang sign. After laughing it off at first I started to wonder what would that sound like? Thinking about this led me to exploring the ideas in Full Circle. I want to create a six to eight minute work exploring circles. I want them to intersect, break, return and join together. The melodic material is circular in construct. The rhythm will have a feeling of unpredictibility, surprise and flow as in jazz improvisation. Regarding form, rather then planning out the exact way the piece will unfold, I want to allow my skills as an jazz musician/improvisior to guide me, using intuition, curiosity, ignition and openess to help steer the piece to its conclusion. In creating this piece, I want to deal musically with opposing and circular life dynamics, the sweet and the sour, the yin and the yang. It is my goal to create new music for the orchestral community that would reflect, fuse and explore my experience as a jazz pianist and composer in new ways.”


Support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Paul Underwood, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation and the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. The project also receives public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.