ACO Announces 2017-2018 Season: Dreamscapes

American Composers Orchestra Announces
2017-2018 Season: Dreamscapes
Derek Bermel, Artistic Director & George Manahan, Music Director

40th Birthday Concert & Gala
November 7, 2017 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall
Music by ACO Co-Founder Francis Thorne, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington,
George Gershwin, Paola Prestini, and Elizabeth Ogonek

Two Performances at Carnegie Hall
December 8, 2017 and April 6, 2018 at Zankel Hall
Music by Philip Glass, Pauchi Sasaki, Bryce Dessner, Ethan Iverson, Clarice Assad,
Steve Lehman, TJ Anderson, and Hitomi Oba

Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears at the PROTOTYPE Festival
January 12-14, 2018 at Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
co-presented with PROTOTYPE Festival and John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The 27th Annual Underwood New Music Readings on June 21 & 22, 2018
ACO’s annual roundup of the country’s brightest young and emerging composers at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music

American Composers Orchestra (ACO)
announces its complete 2017-2018 season, Dreamscapes, under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Music Director George Manahan, and President Edward Yim, featuring ten world, U.S., and New York premieres by a diverse set of composers. ACO continues its concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall (December 8, 2017 and April 6, 2018) while expanding its presence in New York to include performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center (November 7, 2017) and as part of the 2018 PROTOTYPE Festival (January 12-14, 2018). ACO continues to take its commitment to fostering new work beyond the stage in its annual Underwood New Music Readings (June 21 and 22, 2018) for emerging composers, now in its 27th year, and through EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, which brings the Readings experience to orchestras across the country.

In 2017-2018, ACO celebrates 40 years as the only orchestra in the world wholly dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promotion of music by American composers. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. This season explores the overarching theme of dreams as an inspiration for both music itself and community created through music – celebrating ACO co-founder Francis Thorne’s dream of an orchestra to champion the American composer; iconic composer Philip Glass’ dream for the next generation; and the American dream of inclusiveness reflected in the infinite ways American orchestral music illustrates geographic, stylistic, gender, and racial diversity.

“I am particularly excited by the breadth and depth of American music that ACO will explore – classic American works by Gershwin, Ellington, and Bernstein, music by modern masters like Philip Glass and T.J. Anderson, and compositions by a wide range of young composers fluent in styles ranging from contemporary jazz to indy-rock to samba to performance art and opera,” said ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel. “Featuring four world and U.S. premieres and six New York premieres, as well as our annual readings of emerging compositional voices, ACO’s season offers a vital and eclectic mix that is quintessentially American.”

“In my first full season with ACO, the upcoming year fills me with excitement and hope for what this organization can contribute to the musical landscape,” said ACO President Edward Yim. “In addition to concerts with our wonderful and long-time collaborators at Carnegie Hall, we are particularly happy to work for the first time with the visionary team at the PROTOTYPE Festival and to celebrate our 40th anniversary with a tribute to American composers and those who support them at our fall gala.”

In addition to performances by the orchestra in New York, throughout the 2017-2018 season, ACO will partner with other orchestras in EarShot, a nationwide network that takes the ACO New Music Readings experience across the country, designed as an opportunity for emerging composers to develop their works with a professional orchestra. To date, over fifty composers have been selected for New Music Readings with orchestras. EarShot partnerships have included the New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA), New York Youth Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony. EarShot is a partnership among American Composers Orchestra, League of American Orchestras, American Composers Forum, and New Music USA.

The deadline for composers interested in applying to both the Underwood New Music Readings and the EarShot Readings is October 16, 2017. Application guidelines and information are available at

ACO also continues its thriving education program, Music Factory, which since 1999 has brought composers into New York City’s public schools, reaching over 3,000 students every year. Music Factory is a hands-on and minds-on creativity-based initiative, designed to maximize learning and develop a diversity of transferable skills among children from fourth grade through high school through in-school and after-school programs with partner schools and community organizations. During the 2017-2018 school year, Music Factory will partner with a dozen schools and community organizations throughout Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. ACO’s Compose Yourself program provides in-depth study, including group lessons and readings, for promising high school composers. Compose Yourself students compiled an impressive list of honors in national young composers’ competitions in 2017, and all the program’s graduates have gained seats in conservatory composition departments.

ACO launches its Commissioning Club with the 2017-2018 season, through which members invest in the lifespan of a commission: from the composer’s first kernel of artistic inspiration to the realization of the music as a printed score, the early rehearsals and through the premiere performance. Members of the Commissioning Club support all expenses in the commission process including fees paid to the composer, printing and engraving costs, as well as rehearsal and production costs related to the concert premiere. Throughout the season, members are invited to exclusive preview events with the composer to learn about the composer’s vision, hear excerpts of the work in-progress, and experience a full orchestral rehearsal of the piece before its premiere. In its inaugural season, ACO’s Commission Club will support Ethan Iverson as he creates a new piano concerto, which he will perform with ACO on April 6, 2018 at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. For more information about ACO’s Commissioning Club, contact Lyndsay Werking at, or 212.977.8495 x204.

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