Nov. 2nd at 7:30pm Phenomenal Women: Carnegie Hall

Phenomenal Women
Celebrating the spirit, strength, and determination of female pioneers

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC

ACO’s season opener features the world premieres of Valerie Coleman’s Phenomenal Women performed by the Imani Winds with ACO, and Alex Temple’s Three Principles of Noir with singer Meaghan Burke, director Amber Treadway, and costumes by Storm Garner. Grammy and Grawemeyer Award-winning composer Joan Tower’s Chamber Dance from 2006, which treats the orchestra as a chamber ensemble, completes the program.
       $43 to $51

       CarnegieCharge 212.247.7800
       or the Carnegie Hall Box Office

George Manahan, music director and conductor
Imani Winds
·· Toyin Spellman-Diaz, Oboe
·· Mark Dover, Clarinet
·· Jeff Scott, French Horn
·· Monica Ellis, Bassoon
·· Brandon Patrick George, Flute
Meaghan Burke, vocalist
Amber Treadway, director
Storm Garner, costume designer


Weaves together solos, duos, and other combinations of instrumentalists, creating, as Tower puts it, “an ensemble that has to ‘dance’ well together.”
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Joan 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.”

PHENOMENAL WOMEN (World Premiere, co-commissioned by ACO and Carnegie Hall)
A concerto for wind quintet and orchestra, is inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem and book, Phenomenal Woman.
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Each member of Imani Winds will be featured in a solo interlude influenced by different phenomenal women – Olympic boxer Claressa Shields (clarinet), athlete Serena Williams (bassoon), former First Lady Michelle Obama (French horn), NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (oboe), and immigrant mothers (flute).

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 are extracted from Angelou’s sensuous and peppery verses. Each movement carries 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.”

THREE PRINCIPLES OF NOIR (World Premiere, commissioned by ACO)
A piece with a time traveling science fiction narrative centered around a Chicago historian who goes back in time to the 1893 World’s Fair.
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The piece, which features singer Meaghan Burke, with director Amber Treadway and costume design by Storm Garner, 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. The Double Indemnity principle: It doesn’t matter how well you plan it. You won’t get away with it. / 2. The Detour principle: It doesn’t matter whether you did it or not. You still won’t get away with it. / 3. The In a Lonely Place principle: It doesn’t matter whether you did it or not, because you’re a bad person anyway.”

This is ACO’s second commission from Alex Temple, a composer who integrates love for pop culture and the Western classical tradition. The orchestra premiered her Liebeslied in 2011 during the opening concert of its SONiC festival that year.


Valerie Coleman

Described as one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” by critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Valerie Coleman (B. 1970) is among the world’s most played composers living today. Whether it be live or via radio, her compositions are easily recognizable for their inspired style and can be heard throughout venues, institutions and competitions globally. 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 observes her compositions as “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 have been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music.
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A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Valerie began her music studies at the age of eleven and by the age of fourteen, had written three symphonies and won several local and state performance competitions. Today, she is the founder, composer and flutist of the Grammy® nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. Through her creations and performances, Valerie has carved a unique path for her artistry, while much of her music is considered to be standard repertoire. 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.”

Valerie is regularly featured as a performer and composer within many of the world’s great concert venues, series and conservatories: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Hall, Wigmore Hall, Montreal Jazz Festival, The Juilliard School, and countless more. As a flutist, she has recorded with Wayne Shorter, Paquito D’Rivera, Jason Moran, Chick Corea and more. Coleman has received commissions from the Collegiate Band Directors National Association, The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the Interlochen Arts Academy to name a few.

With over two decades of conducting masterclasses, lectures and clinics across the country, Valerie is a highly sought-after clinician and recitalist. With her ensemble, she was recently an artist-in-residence at Mannes College of Music, served on the faculty of Banff Chamber Music Intensive and is currently a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago. She is known among educators to be a strong advocate for diversity in the arts and continues to be a mentoring source of inspiration to emerging artists. In 2011, she created a summer mentorship program in New York City for highly advanced collegiate and post-graduate musicians, called Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival. Now in it’s seventh season, the festival has welcomed musicians from over 100 institutions both national and abroad. Her works are published by Theodore Presser, International Opus, and her own company, V Coleman Music. Her music can be heard on labels: Cedille Records, BMG France, Sony Classics, Eone (formerly Koch International Classics) and Naxos.


Joan Tower 

Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty 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, Paul Neubauer, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Nashville, Albany NY, and Washington DC among others.
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Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra). The album collected three 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. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-2011). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-85. She has received honorary doctorates from Smith College, the New England Conservatory, and Illinois State University.


Alex Temple

A sound can evoke a time, a place, a cultural moment, or a worldview.  As someone who loves both the Western classical tradition and the world of pop culture, Alex Temple (b. 1983) 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 aren’t supposed to belong together, distorting and combining iconic sounds to create new meanings — often in service of surreal, cryptic, or fantastical stories.  She’s particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of (“cheesy”) sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories.
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Alex’s work has been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles, including Mellissa Hughes, Timothy Andres, Mark Dancigers, the American Composers Orchestra, the Chicago Composers Orchestra, Spektral Quartet, Fifth House Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, and Ensemble de Sade.  She has also performed her own works for voice and electronics in venues such as Roulette, Exapno, the Tank, Monkeytown, Galapagos Art Space, Gallery Cabaret, and Constellation. As the keyboardist for the chamber-rock group The Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles, she’s performed at the South by Southwest Festival and at Chicago’s Green Mill Cocktail Lounge; and with a·pe·ri·od·ic, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of indeterminate music in the tradition of John Cage, she’s made sounds using her voice, synthesizers and various household objects.

Alex got her BA 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 microlabel that she ran out of her dorm room.  In 2007 she completed her MA 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.  After she left Ann Arbor, she spent two years in New York, working as the program manager for the New York Youth Symphony’s Making Score program for young composers. She recently completed a DMA at Northwestern University, where she studied with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim, and taught aural skills, theory, composition for non-majors, and private composition lessons. She’s currently working on a vocal chamber piece about queer love in the Middle Ages.



Imani Winds

Since 1997, Grammy-nominated wind quintet Imani Winds has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, adventurous collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs. With a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while meaningfully bridging American, European, African, and Latin traditions. From Mendelssohn to Piazzolla, Wayne Shorter to Stravinsky, Imani Winds seeks to engage new music and new voices into the modern classical idiom.
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Imani Winds’ touring schedule has taken the quintet around the globe. At home, the group has performed in the nation’s major concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and Walt Disney Concert Hall, to name a few. In recent seasons, the group has traveled internationally, with tours in China, Singapore, Brazil, Australia, and Europe.

Imani Winds continues its Legacy Commissioning Project, in which the ensemble commissions and premieres new works for wind quintet written by a variety of composers of diverse musical backgrounds. Recently, a concert-length new work by Imani Windsmember Jeff Scott was written for the ensemble, jazz trio, and string quartet entitled The Passion, which musically explores the idea of a fictitious meeting between J. S. Bach and John Coltrane.

Through 2018, Imani Winds is the University of Chicago’s Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in- Residence, which includes in-depth collaborations with wind students, members of the chamber music department, composition majors, and the Hyde Park community.

In the summer of 2010, the ensemble launched its annual Chamber Music Festival. The program, set on the campus of Mannes School of Music, brings together young instrumentalists and composers from across North America and beyond for an intense exploration and performance of traditional and new chamber music compositions. The participants have gone on to successes around the world, ranging from winning positions in orchestras, expanding entrepreneurial endeavors, founding their own music educational programs, and forming their own chamber music ensembles.


Meaghan Burke

Praised for her “alarming tour-de-force intensity” (The Examiner) and “impossibly beautiful but in no way forgiving” songs (The Deli), Meaghan Burke is a cellist, vocalist, and composer working in the space between contemporary music, improvised music, and songwriting. She is a founding member of The Rhythm Method, a contemporary, feminist string quartet of composer-performers hailed for its “stunning displays of fearsome extended technique and fearless programming.” (New York Music Daily) She’s also the lead singer and cellist of avant-grunge band Forever House, which will release its debut album, Eaves, on Infrequent Seams in November 2018. Her collaboratively composing trio, Dead Language, explores the use of objects and toys as well as classical instruments in order to deconstruct ideas of “serious music” and “entrepreneurship.” Meaghan has released two solo albums of her songs for cello, voice, and other things: the lush chamber folk of “Creature Comforts” in 2017, and her stripped-down debut “Other People’s Ghosts” in 2010. She is also a member of the Vienna-based songwriter collective Loose Lips Sink Ships, whose debut self-titled album was released on Konkord Records in 2017.<<keep reading>>

As a cellist, Meaghan has worked closely with composers such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Lewis Nielsen, John Zorn, and Butch Morris, and plays regularly with many of NYC’s new music ensembles. As a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, she has performed under the batons of Sir Simon Rattle, Matthias Pintscher, and Pierre Boulez. Meaghan holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Music and Arts University of Vienna (MUK), and Yale. Also an avid writer and translator, Meaghan’s English translation of Peter Ablinger’s Collected Writings will be published by Kehrer Verlag next year.

Amber Treadway is OperaRox Productions’ Resident Stage Director for the 2018-19 season. Recently: Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens (Fresh Squeezed Opera). For OperaRox Productions: Griffin Candey’s Sweets by Kate and the spring 2018 Opera Rave Masquerade gala (both at Stonewall Inn), as well as their inaugural production of Nozze di Figaro in 2015.  Other directing credits include Mud, Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen, and Frogs (Remix), her original adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Frogs (Columbia College Chicago.)  Originally from Bois D’Arc, MO, she now lives in New York.

Storm Garner, born in Washington DC in 1983, raised mostly in Paris, France, cultivated a tomboyish, serious-young-violinist-appropriate disdain for playing dress-up until age 13, when she suddenly realized that clever costumery could save her from bullying at school. Since then, costuming has remained a favorite variable in her everyday social experiments on strangers and friends alike.
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Since her arrival in New York in 2006 to work as actor and composer at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Storm has worked across disciplines on New York’s more adventurous stages and indie film productions, all the while slowly earning a belated BA in Creative Writing at Columbia, where she is now earning her MA in Oral History. Though her formal training in design is minimal, production design and costuming gigs that allow her to play outrageously with visual storytelling have an uncanny way of just *finding* her, and Storm loves a challenge. Recent fun design adventures include: making an 11 foot lit-from-within puppet and a dozen or so symbolic-fantastical paper mâché mask-centered costumes for Evening Crane Theatre’s stagings of various Lord Byron political tragedies; recreating a real Catskills bedroom in a Brooklyn film studio in a harrowing five hours as production designer for indie feature film SOUTH MOUNTAIN directed by Hilary Brougher; single-handedly costuming a cast of 20 in, collectively, every color of the rainbow (plus some) for a heightened-senses meta satire of the direst of Off-Off-Off Broadway failures aka short film “Rhubarb” by her longtime cinematographer Kacey Stamats…

Storm met Alex Temple through mutual new music friends in NYC around 2008 and has been a fan of her music ever since. Next up: Storm’s feature-length queer-art-film-baby prominently featuring Alex Temple’s music! Until then: costuming Three Principles of Noir is an honor and delightful challenge—time travel!

Artwork credit: Storm Garner

The commission and world premiere performance of Valerie Coleman’s Phenomenal Women is made possible with lead funding from Linda and Stuart Nelson, with additional support 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.