2018-2019 Concerts at Carnegie Hall

American Composers Orchestra’s 2018-2019 Concerts at Carnegie Hall
featuring major premieres by

2017 Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun

Imani Winds’ Valerie Coleman

Exploring the Syrian Refugee Crisis and Iconic 21st Century Women

Friday, November 2, 2018, at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC
Tickets & Information: www.carnegiehall.org
Subscriptions now available. Single tickets available August 20, 2018.

George Manahan, music director and conductor
Imani Winds (Valerie Coleman, flute; Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe; Mark Dover, clarinet; Jeff Scott, horn; Monica Ellis, bassoon)
Meaghan Burke, voice
Amber Treadway, director
Storm Garner, costume designer

VALERIE COLEMAN: Phenomenal Women Concerto for Wind Quintet and Orchestra (World Premiere, co-commissioned by ACO and Carnegie Hall)
JOAN TOWER: Chamber Dance (2006)
ALEX TEMPLEThree Principles of Noir (World Premiere, commissioned by ACO)

ACO’s concert at Zankel Hall on November 2, 2018, features the world premiere of Valerie Coleman‘s Phenomenal Women, inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem and book, Phenomenal Woman. The concerto for wind quintet and orchestra will be performed by the Imani Winds with ACO, with each member featured in a solo interlude influenced by a different phenomenal woman – activist Malala Yousefai (oboe serenade), Brazilian Olympic Gold medalist Rafaela Silva (clarinet in choro style), athlete Serena Williams (bassoon virtuoso cadenza), Michelle Obama (flute with urban/jazz elements) and Hillary Clinton (horn fanfare). The concert also features the world premiere of Alex Temple‘s Three Principles of Noir, a piece with a time-traveling science fiction narrative centered around a Chicago historian who travels back in time to the 1893 World’s Fair. Joan Tower‘s Chamber Dance, written in 2006 for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, completes the program.

Thursday, April 11, 2019, at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC
Tickets & Information: www.carnegiehall.org
Subscriptions now available. Single tickets available August 20, 2018.

George Manahan, music director and conductor
Helga Davis, vocalist
Ali Sethi, vocalist
Shayna Dunkelman, percussion
Khaled Jarrar, videographer

MORTON FELDMAN: Turfan Fragments (1980)
GLORIA COATES: Symphony No. 1, “Music on Open Strings” (1973)
DU YUN: Where We Lost Our Shadows (N.Y. Premiere, co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances)

On April 11, 2019, at Zankel Hall, ACO will give the N.Y. premiere of Du Yun‘s Where We Lost Our Shadows, a new multidisciplinary work for orchestra, film, and vocalists, co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances. Du Yun is composing Where We Lost Our Shadows in response to film captured by Ramallah-based Palestinian visual artist Khaled Jarrar, which documents the refugee crisis in Europe. The piece will be performed by ACO with singer Helga Davis, Pakistani Qawwali singer Ali Sethi, and percussionist Shayna Dunkelman, with visuals by Jarrar. The concert also includes Gloria CoatesSymphony No. 1, “Music on Open Strings,” from 1973, and Morton Feldman‘s 1980 work Turfan Fragments, inspired by a series of fragments of knotted carpets from the third and sixth centuries which were discovered in the Silk Road region.


About Valerie Coleman
Described as one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” by critic Anne Midgette of The Washington Post, Valerie Coleman is among the world’s most played composers living today. The Boston Globe describes Coleman as a having a “talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations,” and The New York Times has praised her “skillfully wrought, buoyant music.” With works that range from flute sonatas that recount the stories of trafficked humans during Middle Passage and orchestral and chamber works based on nomadic Roma tribes, to scherzos about moonshine in the Mississippi Delta region and motifs based from Morse Code, her body of works has been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music. Coleman is the founder, composer, and flutist of the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. She is perhaps best known for UMOJA, a composition that is widely recognized and was listed by Chamber Music America one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works.” Coleman is regularly featured as a performer and composer at many of the world’s great concert venues, series and conservatories: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Hall, DaCamera Houston, Boston Celebrity Series, Krannert Center, Wigmore Hall, Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Paris Jazz Festival, The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, Curtis, Peabody, Mannes, The Colburn School, and more. She has received awards and/or honors from the National Flute Association, The Herb Alpert Awards, MAPFUND, ASCAP Concert Music Awards, NARAS, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, Artists International, Wombwell Kentucky Award, and Michelle E. Sahm Memorial Award, to name a few. Her works are published by Theodore Presser, International Opus, and her own company, V Coleman Music, and can be heard on Cedille Records, BMG France, Sony Classics, eOne (formerly Koch International Classics), and Naxos.

Valerie Coleman’s piece for ACO, Phenomenal Women, is a concerto for wind quintet and chamber orchestra, to be premiered by ACO with the Imani Winds, and is inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem and book Phenomenal Woman. The multi-movement work travels through varied sound worlds including atonality, urban, classical, Brazilian choro, bebop, swing and Afro-Cuban jazz. Coleman says of the new work, “Musical motifs will be extracted from Angelou’s sensuous and peppery verses. Each movement will carry emboldened harmonies and improvisational-stylized riffs from the soloists, evolving into virtuoso exchanges between forces. Phenomenal Women is about celebrating women’s efforts to overcome adversity, no matter where you are.”

Listen to Valerie Coleman’s Work.


About Joan Tower
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than 50 years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., among others. In 1990, Tower became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders. She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded that work, Made in America, with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra, for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville’s latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Tower’s tremendously popular five Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by over 500 different ensembles. She is currently Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972. Joan Tower’s music is published by Associated Music Publishers.

Tower describers her Chamber Dance, written for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as chamber music. She writes in her note for the work, “It is chamber music in the sense that I always thought of Orpheus as a large chamber group, interacting and ‘dancing’ with one another the way smaller chamber groups do. Like dancers, the members of this large group have to be very much in touch with what everyone else is doing, and allow for changing leadership to guide the smaller and bigger ensembles.”

Listen to Joan Tower’s work.


About Alex Temple
As someone who loves both the Western classical tradition and the world of pop culture, Alex Temple has always felt uncomfortable with stylistic hierarchies and the idea of a pure musical language. She prefers to look for points of connection between things that are not supposed to belong together, distorting and combining iconic sounds to create new meanings – often in service of surreal, cryptic, or fantastical stories. She is particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of (“cheesy”) sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories. Temple’s work has been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles, including Mellissa Hughes, Timo Andres, Mark Dancigers, American Composers Orchestra, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Spektral Quartet, Fifth House Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, and Ensemble de Sade.

Temple received her B.A. from Yale University in 2005, where she studied with Kathryn Alexander, John Halle and Matthew Suttor, and released two albums of electronic music on a micro-label that she ran out of her dorm room. In 2007, she completed her M.A. at University of Michigan, where she studied with Erik Santos and visiting professors Michael Colgrass, Tania León and Betsy Jolas, as well as collaborating with a troupe of dancers and playing in an indie bossa-nova band. She recently completed a DMA at Northwestern University, where she studied with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim.

Alex Temple’s new work for ACO, Three Principles of Noir, explores a narrative that tells the story of a time-traveling Chicago historian. The piece delves into the universal themes of morality, motivation, and the consequences of one’s intentions – whether or not action is taken. Temple outlines the “three principles of noir” in her note for the new work: “1. It doesn’t matter how well you plan it. You won’t get away with it. / 2. It doesn’t matter whether you did it or not. You won’t get away with it. / 3. It doesn’t matter whether you did it or not. You’re a bad person anyway.”

Listen to Alex Temple’s work.


About Morton Feldman
Morton Feldman was born in New York in 1926 and died there in 1987. Just like Cage, a close friend, he was an American composer – an American artist – an American in the true sense of the word. Feldman identified himself by differentiating his views on composition from those of his colleagues in Europe. He was proud to be an American because he was convinced that it enabled him the freedom, unparalleled in Europe, to work unfettered by tradition. And, he was an American also in what may have been a slight inferiority complex in the face of cultural traditions in Europe, something he proudly rejected and secretly admired. Like any true artist, Feldman was endowed with a sensitivity for impressions of a wide variety of sources, literature and painting in particular. His affinity to Samuel Beckett has enriched music literature by a unique music theatre piece, Neither, and two ensemble works. His friendship with abstract impressionist painters gave birth to a range of masterpieces, Rothko Chapel in particular.

But even the knotting of oriental rugs gave Feldman musical ideas, exemplified in the work ACO will perform, Turfan Fragments. A series of archaeological expeditions to East Turkestan, conducted by Sir Aurel Stein in the early part of the 20th century, unearthed several fragments of knotted carpets dating from the third and sixth centuries. Feldman writes, “Though these fragments were too small to indicate either its design or provenance, they did convey a long tradition of carpet weaving. This is to a large degree the extended metaphor of my composition: not the suggestion of an actual completed work of ‘art,’ but the history in Western music of putting sounds and instruments together.”

Listen to Morton Feldman’s work.


About Gloria Coates
An American composer who has made her career for the most part in Germany, Gloria Coates was born in Wisconsin in 1938. From rural Wisconsin, she headed to New York City to attend Columbia University for undergraduate studies in music; she then earned a master’s degree from the University of Louisiana in 1965. She returned to Columbia for post-graduate work, studying under American composer icons Jack Beeson and Otto Luening, and then moved to Salzburg to take lessons from Alexander Tcherepnin at the Mozarteum there. She established a second residency in Munich in 1969. Coates has been instrumental in bringing American concert music to Germany; the reverse has been far more common over the centuries and Coates is among those who feel it is time to return the favor. She organized and developed the German-American Contemporary Music Series concerts in Munich in the early 1970s and, as an influential member of the International League of Women Composers, has helped bring American women composers in particular to a wider European audience.

Coates has written sixteen full-scale symphonies, eleven string quartets, several orchestral works, and a number of song cycles. The 1978 premiere in Warsaw of her Symphony No. 1, “Music for Open Strings” brought her acclaim; the work was among the finalists for the 1986 International Koussevitsky Award. Symphony No. 1 “Music for Open Strings,” was written in 1973 and is scored for a string orchestra playing entirely on retuned open strings. The work opens with the strings tuned to a minor pentatonic scale (B flat, C, D flat, F, G flat), which are returned to their normal tuning movement by movement.

Listen to Gloria Coates’s work.


About Du Yun
Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China, currently based in New York, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, and curator, working at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, pop music, oral tradition, visual arts, electronics and noise. Hailed by The New York Times as a leading figure in China’s new generation of composers and often cited as a key activist in New York’s “new movement in new music,” she was selected by the National Public Radio as one of the 100 composers under 40. Known as chameleonic in her protean artistic outputs, her music is championed by some of today’s finest performing artists, ensembles, orchestras and organizations. In addition, Du Yun has also made works in the art world, including the 4th Guangzhou Art Triennial, Sharjah Biennial (UAE), Auckland Triennial, and Istanbul Biennial. Du Yun is on the composition faculty at SUNY-Purchase. She was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and currently she serves as the Artistic Director of MATA, a pioneering organization dedicated to commissioning and championing young composers from around the world. In 2017, Du Yun was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera Angel’s Bone.

In the 2018-19 season, ACO will work with Du Yun as she creates a new orchestral work titled Where We Lost Our Shadows, in response to film captured by Khaled Jarrar, which documents the refugee crisis in Europe. The work is being co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances. Du Yun writes, “At the heart of this project lies the footage that Khaled documented following a Syrian family migrating across the Aegean sea (the mother of the family was a Palestinian refugee, who first sought refuge in Syria when she was an eight-year-old girl herself). The concerto-orchestral work, while showing only some of the footage, will mostly focus on the perpetual movement of human procession and migration, and the question of Exodus. The musical language is to take the Qawwali of Raga Aiman Kalyan (a type of devotional music) and explore its provenance (13th century Muslim India, according to legend); its subsequent migration through space and time (Central Asia, Bengal, the global South Asian diaspora); and its migration through genres, forms, techniques. The text for the work is from the poem Vehicles In The Dark, by the Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan. The work, to some degree, explores both cold hard reality and transcending unifying moments. As the piece progresses, the narrative, music and video will shift away from depicting reality as it is, to exploring symbolic, poetic, and allegorical depictions of the central themes of migration and exodus.”

Listen to Du Yun’s work.


Special project support for Valerie Coleman’s Phenomenal Women is provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Special project support for Alex Temple’s Three Principles of Noir is provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and the MAP Fund supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Special project support for Du Yun’s Where We Lost Our Shadows is provided by Morgan Stanley and the Howard and Sarah D. Solomon Foundation.

Photo: ACO at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, December 2017. Photo credit: Jennifer Taylor