Carlos Simon Wins $15,000 Underwood Emerging Composer Commission

ACO has awarded composer Carlos Simon its 2016 Underwood Commission, bringing him a $15,000 purse for a work to be premiered by ACO on May 23, 2017, at Symphony Space in New York City. Chosen from seven finalists during ACO’s 25th Underwood New Music Readings on June 13 and 14, 2016, in one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States, Carlos won the top prize with his work Plagues of Egypt.

Carlos says, “I am extremely grateful to be chosen for this prestigious opportunity. As a composer, there is no greater honor than to express my gifts through such amazingly talented musicians. I cannot wait to work with Maestro Manahan and ACO.”

Read the ’15 Questions’ interview with Carlos

Listen to an excerpt of Plagues of Egypt by ACO from the Underwood Reading on June 14, 2016:


Carlos gets feedback on the reading of his music

Carlos gets feedback on the reading of his music

Carlos is a versatile composer, arranger and musician, combines the influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism in his music. He was named the winner of the 2015 Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, he has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony. Carlos is currently earning his Doctorate at the University of Michigan, where he has studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He received his master’s degree from Georgia State University and his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College. He taught music theory at Morehouse. For the 2015-2016 season, Carlos served as the young composer-in-residence for the Detroit Chamber Strings and Winds.

The other 2016 Underwood Readings participants were:

  • Katherine Balch, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Yale School of Music, studying with David Lang.
  • Lembit Beecher, a graduate of Harvard, Rice University and Univ. of Michigan, whose recent awards include a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a residency at the Penn Museum, and a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
  • Paul Frucht, a 2015 recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Paul is currently a D.M.A. candidate at Juilliard.
    Read the ’15 Questions’ interview with Paul
  • Sarah Gibson, a Los Angeles-based composer won the Victor Herbert ASCAP award, and received her Doctorate from University of Southern California.
  • Joel Rust, a Doctorate candidate at New York University, with a master’s degree from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • Michael Small, who received his bachelor’s degree from the Royal Northern College of Music, before moving the United States to study with Steven Stucky at Cornell University.
UNMR 2016 Composers and Mentors at Columbia

2016 Composers and Mentors at Columbia University

Audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings also made their voices heard through the Audience Choice Award. The winner this year was composer Paul Frucht (first on left in above pic), for his piece Dawn, written for his middle school assistant principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. As the winner, Paul will compose an original mobile phone ringtone that will be available, free of charge, to everyone who voted.

Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. and Mrs. Paul Underwood. Support of Readings also comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Fromm Music Foundation. Additional funding provided by the League of American Orchestras with support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.