Jacksonville EarShot New Music Readings 2018

Jacksonville Symphony New Music Readings
April 17-20, 2018 (Jacksonville, FL)
Concert: April 20, 2018

On Friday, April 20, 2018 at 8pm, EarShot (the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network) and the Jacksonville Symphony present the performance of new works by four emerging composers in Robert E. Jacoby Symphony Hall (300 Water St.) led by Jacksonville Symphony Music Director Courtney Lewis. This performance will be the culmination of a series of private readings, feedback sessions, and work with mentor composers Courtney Bryan, Marcos Balter, and Steven Mackey. The selected composers, chosen from an international candidate pool, are Nicholas Bentz (E.W. Korngold Goes to Kikkatsu), Will Healy (Kolmanskop), Ursula Kwong-Brown (Night & Day), and Meng Wang (Blooming in the Long Dark Winter’s Night).

The Readings include reading sessions with the orchestra and a recorded performance on a program including John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean. The performances are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for archival, study and portfolio purposes.

The Composers:

Nicholas Bentz (b. 1994) is forging a path of the composer-performer that hasn’t been explored in generations. His music often takes its inspiration from pieces of literature and poetry, film, and visual art. He has received commissions from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Robinson Jeffers Association, the College of Charleston Contemporary Music Ensemble, SONAR New Music Ensemble, Troika, Symphony Number One, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and has had his music played by the Peabody Modern Orchestra and the Peabody String Sinfonia. Nicholas was a winner of SONAR New Music Ensemble’s RADARLab Competition and was also a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards in 2014. Nicholas was the Composer in Residence for Symphony Number One’s 2016-17 season. Nicholas currently attends the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in violin under the tutelage of Herbert Greenberg. He is also studying composition privately with Felipe Lara. Nicholas received Bachelor’s degrees in both composition and violin at the Peabody Institute under Kevin Puts and Herbert Greenberg. His previous composition teachers include Yiorgos Vassilandonakis and George Tsontakis, and his previous violin teachers include Yuriy Bekker and Diana Cohen. For more information, visit www.nicholasbentz.net.

about the piece:
Of his piece Bentz says, “E.W. Korngold Goes to Nikkatsu was conceived from an experiment in combining the work of two of my favorite artists: composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold and filmmaker Seijun Suzuki. The main inspiration of my piece is in imagining a film of Suzuki’s scored by Korngold. Both of these artists worked in aesthetics of excess – Korngold with his hyperRomanticism, and Suzuki with his seemingly never-ending action sequences and hyper-masculine (to the point of parody) heroes.

photo by Dennis Christians

Will Healy (b. 1990) is a composer and pianist based in New York. Noted for his “lushly bluesy” sound and “adroitly blended… textures” (New York Times), he is the artistic director of ShoutHouse, an ensemble of 15 hip-hop, jazz, and classical musicians. Healy was the recipient of the Richard Rodgers Scholarship at The Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano. He has also studied with Samuel Adler, Steven Stucky, Kevin Puts, Harold Meltzer, and Richard Wilson. Recent awards include a 2017 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, the W.K. Rose Fellowship, a JFund commission from the American Composers Forum, and prizes in the Juilliard and Kaleidoscope Orchestra Composition Competitions. He was a composition fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2013. His commissions include Copland House, the Great Lakes Chamber Festival, Novus New Music, Kyo Shin-An Arts, Robert Fleitz and Carrie Frey, Nancy Allen, and others. For more information, visit www.willhealymusic.com.

about the piece:
Healy explains, “Kolmanskop is a ghost town, located in a desert near the coast of Namibia. A diamond mining settlement until its abandonment in the 1950’s, the surrounding sands have filled the homes. The first time I came across pictures of Kolmanskop, I was awestruck by the beauty and strangeness of the place. The photographs looked like surrealist art, with mountains of sand, sometimes to the tops of doorways and roofs, inundating ornate colonial houses. In 2014, I was awarded the W.K. Rose Fellowship to go to Kolmanskop and compose a piece based on that setting. I wanted to represent more than just the visual elements of Kolmanskop. I tried to depict the idea of decay as the sand fills the houses, the sense of loss and nostalgia as the structures fade away, and the passage of time.”

photo by Danny Erdberg

Ursula Kwong-Brown (b. 1987) is a composer and media artist from New York City. Described as “atmospheric and accomplished” by The New York Times, her work has been performed in diverse venues including Carnegie Hall, le Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre and the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center in New York, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Awards include a 2017- 2019 fellowship with the Berkeley Symphony, the 2016 George Ladd Prix de Paris Prize, the 2015 Composers, Inc. BAMM Prize, and the 2014 Bowdoin Festival Prize, as well as honors from ASCAP, the New York Composers’ Circle and the Chicago Ensemble. Plans for 2018 include new works for both the Berkeley Symphony and the UC Berkeley Symphony. Currently, Ursula is finishing a Ph.D. in New Media & Music at UC Berkeley with support from a Mellon-Berkeley fellowship. She received her B.A. from Columbia University in 2010, graduating with honors in music and biology. For information, visit www.ursulakwongbrown.com.

about the piece:
Kwong-Brown notes, “This work is divided into two sections: Night and Day. The piece starts in the Night with a roll on the tam-tam supporting the soft plucking of the harp and feather-beamed pizzicato in the strings, meant to evoke the rustling of sounds in the darkness. The atmosphere grows increasingly uneasy with trills in the woodwinds and the eerie sound of the celesta, and then we burst into Day. Once again, the strings play pizzicato but now the rhythms are purposeful, and soon the strings receive reinforcement from the winds and brass. Day is a mixture of energetic and cheerful that borders almost on frantic, but ultimately climaxes on a joyous note: a burst of brilliant sunshine.”

photo by Benrong Zhu

Meng Wang (b. 1989) is a Chinese composer currently based in New York City. Wang’s music has been performed throughout North America, China, and Europe, by esteemed ensembles such as The Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Thin Edge New Music Collective, LONGLEASH trio, MSM Composer’s Orchestra (George Manahan, conductor) and China Youth Symphony Orchestra. Her piece Beloved by Artemis won the 2012 Chinese National Chamber Music Composition Competition and was selected for the composition showcase by the Xi’an Conservatory of Music in China. Wang has been a fellow at Aspen Music Festival and School and was named The Deolus W. Husband Scholarship for Composition in 2015-2017. Upcoming projects include a chamber opera, Simulacrum, presented by Path New Music Theatre, which will be premiered in April 2018. Wang is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Dr. Reiko Fueting. She also studied with Andreia Pinto Correia and Kaija Saariaho. For more information, visit www.mengwangmusic.com.

Wang says, Blooming in the Long Dark Winter’s Night is inspired by a French symbolist poem, ‘Correspondences,’ from the volume of Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Pierre Baudelaire. The music draws its expression from the fragrance, coloration, brightness, and darkness of the poem. Its sensation constructs a utopian world of imagination.”

About Jacksonville Symphony:

The Jacksonville Symphony is North Florida’s leading music nonprofit offering live performances at Jacoby Hall in the TimesUnion Center for the Performing Arts and other venues throughout the area. In addition, the Symphony provides music instruction for youth and operates the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra. For more information about the Symphony, visit JaxSymphony.org

Jacksonville Symphony is a member of EarShot,  a program of American Composers Orchestra in partnership with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. Made possible with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. Additional funding provided by the League of American Orchestras with support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
Strategic Planning for Emerging Composer Programs is generously supported by the Altman Foundation.