SONiC Double Live – Premiere Recordings from ACO’s Inaugural Festival of 21st Century Music

Just Released! Premiere Recordings from ACO’s Inaugural Festival of 21st Century Music

Listen now at SoundCloud or InstantEncore 

ACO announces SONiC Double Live, a collection of orchestral premieres drawn from American Composers Orchestra’s ground-breaking festival of 21st century music written by composers age 40 and under. SONiC—Sounds of a New Century launched in October 2011, with concerts around New York City, presenting startling array of what young composers are up to a decade and more into this new millennium of ours. In all, over 100 composers from six continents came together for SONiC. This album features 10 of them, with eight world premieres, all recorded live in two concerts by ACO.


21st Firsts features five works from an all-world premiere performance by ACO at Carnegie Hall that opened the SONiC festival. Christopher Stark’s …and start west evokes American landscapes from the dazzling New York City skyline to the majestic Rocky Mountains. The piece is an ACO commission, the happy result of Chris’s participation in ACO’s annual Underwood New Music Readings for emerging composers. Portuguese-born composer Andreia Pinto-Correia’s Elegia a Al-Mu’tamid pays homage to one of the Iberian peninsula’s greatest poets. Andreia makes her way to SONiC through her participation in the new music readings in Memphis, TN—part of ACO’s EarShot national network devoted to identifying talented new orchestral composers.
Kenji Bunch and George ManahanFascinated by the possibilities afforded by the interaction of sound processing with acoustic music, Alex Temple delves into the haunting intensity of the romantic popular song in her surreal and electronically stylized Liebeslied, featuring the versatile soprano Mellissa Hughes. Wang Lu, a composer and pianist originally from Xi’an, China, now residing in New York, is the recipient of the ACO/Jerome Foundation commission. Her Flowing Water Study II draws inspiration from an ancient Chinese folk tale, complementing her contemporary orchestral techniques with traditional Qin musical notation. Rounding out 21st Firsts, Kenji Bunch is featured soloist in his own new viola concerto, The Devil’s Box, which explores the rich history of the fiddle—incorporating everything from a Stephen Foster hymn to Cajun bowing styles, as well as a healthy dose of blues, rock, gospel, and funk.


The second album in the collection is American Pie, from the festival’s closing concert at the Winter Garden in lower Manhattan, presented as part of WNYC’s New Sounds Live series, with five more full symphonic works, including three world premieres.

Paul Yeon Lee is another alumnus of ACO’s Emerging Composer Readings, here represented by the debut of his haunting Echoes of a Dream. Ruby Fulton, alumna of ACO’s Underwood Readings class of 2008, brings her keen sense of observation and alt-kitsch outlook to Road Bryce and Aaron DessnerRanger Cowboy, based on a passing glimpse of the title character at a highway rest stop. Next up is Ryan Gallagher, whose Grindhouse celebrates Hollywood’s gritty B-Movie tradition, exaggerating the orchestra’s gestures with visceral energy. Ryan is another EarShot alumnus, having come through Readings with the Nashville Symphony. Suzanne Farrin, takes a decidedly more contemplative approach in Infinite Here, a piece that provides enough time and open musical “space” to allow colorful clusters and textures to envelop the listener. The album’s finale is the world premiere St. Carolyn by the Sea by composer/guitarist Bryce Dessner. Well known for his work with rock groups such as Clogs and The National, here Bryce is joined by his guitarist twin brother Aaron in a piece inspired by Jack Kerouac’s surreal hallucinations.

As with the SONiC festival itself, this double album doesn’t attempt to define this moment in music but rather represents a snapshot of the vitality and diversity of the Sounds of a New Century. We hope you enjoy exploring the SONiC possibilities.

To listen to SONiC Double Live, visit SoundCloud or InstantEncore

Read SONiC Double Live’s program notes…