Six Composers Selected for 29th Annual Underwood New Music Readings

March 12-14, 2020 American Composers Orchestra (New York, NY)

Marian Anderson Theater
Aaron Davis Hall at The City College of New York
129 Convent Avenue at West 135th Street
New York, NY 10031

Open Reading Sessions:
March 12, 2020 – 9:30am – 12:30pm | Free; Registration Required>>
March 13, 2020 – 7:30pm – 10:00pm | $10 Tickets>>

Professional Development Panels:
March 13, 2020 – 10:00am – 3:00pm | $10 Tickets>>

Featuring composers:
Dai Wei, Samsaric Dance
Anthony R. Green, Peace Til We Meet Again
Paul Novak, as the light begins to drift
Christian Quiñones, Trigueño o moreno
Gity Razaz, And the brightest rivers glide…
Keane Southard, Symphony No. 2 – Movement I


American Composers Orchestra seeks to identify and celebrate emerging American composers through its Underwood New Music Readings program.

The Readings include two sessions with American Composers Orchestra, a working-rehearsal and a run-through performance. The performances are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for archival, study and portfolio purposes. Composers also participate in a series of professional development workshops covering such topics as promotion, score preparation, publishing, copyright agreements, and other career essentials.

The Underwood New Music Readings participant composers will work closely with mentor composers Melinda Wagner, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and ACO Artistic Director, Derek Bermel, as well as conductor George Manahan

Six composers participate and at the conclusion of the program, one participating composer will receive a $15,000 commission and future performance by ACO. Female participant composers are also eligible to apply for the Women Composers Commission Program, which, in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, provides three women with a $15,000 commission and world premiere with a professional orchestra.


Dai Wei (Guangdong, China)

Headshot of Dai Wei

Dai Wei (she/her) is originally from China. Her musical journey navigates in the spaces between east and west, classical and pop, electronic and acoustic, innovation and tradition. She often draws from eastern philosophy and aesthetics to create works with contemporary resonance, and reflect an introspection on how these multidimensional conflict and tension can create and inhabit worlds of their own. Her artistry is nourished by the Asian and Chinese Ethnic culture in many different ways. Being an experi-mental vocalist, she performs herself as a Khoomei throat singer in her recent compositions, through which are filtered by different experiences and background as a calling that transcends genres, races, and labels. She recently served as Young Artist Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire and Composer Fellow at Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong. She has received commissions and collaborations with Utah Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Bang on a Can, Curtis 20/21 Ensem-ble, Merz Trio, and the Rock School of Ballet in Philadelphia.

Her compositions were broadcast by WHYY, Performance Today, Radio Television Hong Kong, and Qinghai Television. Wei is currently pursuing a doctorate in composition at Princeton University as a Naumburg Doctoral Fellow. She is working on a piece called Partial Men for string quartet, live electronics, and voice where she will perform with Aizuri String Quartet. The piece is dedicating to two deceased men who donated their kidneys to her mother, and to many other deceased organ donors who extended other people’s life. Photo Credit: Cristina Cutt

About Samsaric Dance

The piece was inspired by a book I was reading called The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which is written by Sogyal Rinpoche. He says: 

The successive existences in a series of rebirths are not like the pearls in a pearl necklace, held together by a string, the “soul,” which passes through all the pearls; rather they are like dice piled one on top of the other. Each die is separate, but it supports the one above it, with which it is functionally connected. Between the dice there is no identity, but conditionality. 

The title came from the Sanskrit word Samsara, which is often defined as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In this piece, you will hear three different characters that represent three different lifetimes. They are being reincarnated and intersected by each other and more. It’s like a musical hotpot filled with diverse ingredients, and diversity is something we have since day one in our history. At the end of the piece, the orchestra evolves into only one pitch which represents the oneness of everything. As if we can finally rest. And yet, another journey is just about to start.


Anthony R. Green (Providence, RI)

Headshot of Anthony R. Green

The creative output of composer, performer, and social justice worker Anthony R. Green (he/him) includes musical and visual creations, interpretations of original, contemporary, and repertoire works, collaborations, educational outreach, and more. Behind all his artistic endeavors are the ideals of equality and freedom. His work has been presented in 20+ countries by Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Eunmi Ko, the McCormick Percussion Group, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, counter)induction, Tenth Intervention, NOISE-BRIDGE, Access Contemporary Music, the Playground Ensemble, Ossia New Music Ensemble, and Alarm Will Sound, to name a few. His work has been presented at the ACA festival, the Grachten Festival (Amsterdam), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht), Fulcrum Point New Music Discoveries (Chicago), and Ft. Worth Opera Frontiers (Texas), amongst others. A McKnight Visiting Composer, he has received support from numerous foundations and residencies in the US and Europe, including Kimmel Harding Nelson, VCCA, VICC (Sweden), Space/Time (Scotland), atelier:performance (Germany), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.

As a performer, he has appeared at venues across the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, presenting piano and chamber music recitals, interdisciplinary and experimental performances, and lecture-recitals that fuse performance with research. Green’s most important social justice work has been with Castle of our Skins, celebrating Black artistry through music. Photo Credit: Colin Conces

About Peace Till We Meet Again

Peace Till We Meet Again is at once a dedication to Black people who were killed by cops. However, during the composition process of this work, the story of Black people in the United States throughout history was in my head, heart, and soul. This incredible journey from surviving the transatlantic journey in chains all the way to the present uncomfortable mix of success and failures is a history with which I sit every day of my life. When taking that into consideration, Peace Till We Meet Again can then extend its dedication to every Black person who has died because of racism, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, and other reasons beyond their control. This piece originally is the third movement of a large chamber work entitled Oh, Freedom! for flute, viola, and cello, which was commissioned by the Boston-based concert and education series Castle of our Skins. With this work, I wish to express the following: to all Black victims of legal brutalization and otherism, past, present, and future, I extend peace … till we meet again.


Paul Novak (Reno, NV)

Headshot of Paul Novak

Paul Novak (he/him) writes music that is lyrical but fragmented, exploring the subtleties of instrumental color and drawing influence from literature, art, and poetry. He has received numerous national awards, most recently from the ASCAP/SCI Commission, Tribeca New Music, Webster University, and YoungArts Foundation, and has participated in festivals across the country, including the first-ever National Youth Orchestra of the United States Composer Apprenticeship. Novak has collaborated with ensembles including the Austin Symphony, Orlando Symphony, Reno Philharmonic, NYO-USA, the Amaranth and Rosco Quartets, Sō Percussion, Texas New Music Ensemble, NODUS Ensemble, MotoContrario Ensemble, Ensemble Ibis, Blackbox Collective, Face the Music, and Worcester Chamber Music Society; he has worked on interdisciplinary projects with Rice Dance Theatre, poets Ming Li Wu and Erica Cheung, and the Bowdoin Museum. Originally from Reno, NV, Novak is an undergraduate student at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he has studied with Kurt Stallman, Pierre Jalbert, Anthony Brandt, and Karim Al-Zand. Upcoming projects in Spring 2020 include a commission from the Texas New Music Ensemble, a soprano/contrabass duo for LIGAMENT, and work for viola and ensemble for violist Sebastian Stefanovic.

About as the light begins to drift

As a student at Rice, I’ve become familiar with the unusual and beautiful cloud formations that appear in East Texas skies. as the light begins to drift was inspired by their subtle interplay of light and shadow and their flowing, hazy geometries. The work opens with a burst of swirling texture, with spiraling runs and swells entangling in a chaotic sound world. The brass interjects with jagged, syncopated hits as different instruments emerge from and then vanish into the ensemble. After a spiraling downward run, a plaintive English horn melody is accompanied by a canopy of string harmonics and trills. In the second section, crystalline percussion instruments merge with subtle orchestral textures. A clarinet solo leads into a pulsing triplet ostinato, which is passed throughout the ensemble, growing in intensity until it reaches a furious climax. The work closes gently with the return of the English horn, fading to nothing in a halo of shimmering sounds.


Christian Quiñones (Camuy, Puerto Rico)

Headshot of Christian Quiñones

Christian Quiñones (he/him) is a Puerto Rican composer whose music explores concepts like cultural identity and minorities within society, literature, and poetry. He was the 1st prize winner of the 2019 Boston New Music Initiative Young Composer Competition and the Pro Arte 2015 Composition Competition. His music has been performed by the Trio Sanromá, Victory Players, Cuban virtuoso René Izquierdo, Boston New Music Initiative, Orquesta del Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, Young Artist Concert Orchestra (YACO), emerging talents such as Daniela Santos Colón.  Christian has also been commissioned by The Association of professional dancers (APRODANZA), Young Artist Concert Series, and The Zodiac Festival in France where he was awarded the Distinguished Composer award. From 2018 to 2019 he was the composer in residence for the Mt. Holyoke MIFA Festival where he was commissioned by the Victory Players and worked on outreach programs bringing new music talks and performances to public schools in Massachusetts. Apart from his work as a composer, Christian has done research on the commissions of “Ballets de San Juan” to Puerto Rican composers, and an analysis of the sustainability of independent music in Puerto Rico during an economic crisis published by Musiké.

He obtained his BM in Music Composition at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, studying composition and orchestration with Alfonso Fuentes and in 2019 Christian was a recipient of the Graduate College Master’s Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is studying with composer Carlos Carrillo.

About Trigueño o moreno

The title of the piece is not an idea that can be translated easily from Spanish to other languages. It comes from a study from 1992 where they would ask second-generation Puerto Ricans that were living in the United States if they identify as either black, white, or other. Most of them did not respond in a binary form of black and white but identify themselves as either trigueño or moreno. In Spanish, depending on the cultural context, when you describe a person as trigueño or moreno it means that this person as color skin is not “black enough” to be considered black (the person do not have strong African factions), but also not “white enough” to be considered white. So for the majority of these second generation of Puerto Ricans, there is an identity crisis because of the rich mix of heritage in Puerto Rico. In a way, this piece is a comment on that confusion of who we are, and how as a Puerto Rican I can’t describe myself in a binary form. And also, how the same identity crisis happens in music. In a certain way this piece it’s representing the amazing, but at the same time conflicting, heritage that Puerto Ricans are.


Gity Razaz (Tehran, Iran)

Headshot of Gity Razaz

Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Gity Razaz’s (she/her) music ranges from concert solo pieces to opera and large symphonic works. With intense melodies and inventive harmonic languages, Ms. Razaz’s compositions are often dramatically charged. Her music has been commissioned and performed by Washington National Opera, National Sawdust, National Ballet School of Canada, Chautauqua Opera Company, Ballet Moscow, Seattle Symphony, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, American Composers Orchestra, New York Choreographic Institute, and Amsterdam Cello Biennale, among many others. Her compositions have earned numerous national and international awards, Her compositions have earned numerous national and international awards, such as the 2019 American Academy of Arts and Letters Andrew Imbrie Award, the Jerome Foundation award, the Libby Larsen Prize in 28th International Search for New Music Competition, three ASCAP awards, ASCAP Plus Award, to name a few. Ms. Razaz is a composition teacher and mentor for the Kaufman Music Center’s Luna Composition Lab since 2017 Ms. Razaz attended The Juilliard School on full scholarship, and received her Bachelor and Master of Music in Composition under the tutelage of John Corigliano, Samuel Adler, and Robert Beaser.

About And the brightest rivers glide…

And the brightest rivers glide… is my third composition for large orchestra; its title refers to a fragment from a poem by the Persian poet Rumi. I have always been fascinated by the Sufism of Persian poets, and how their evocative depictions of earthly pleasures are actually metaphors for the intensity and purity of their spiritual devotion. In this way, this piece is an attempt to conjure a dramatic, voluptuous surface that surrounds the deeper spiritual essence, as depicted by a pure and simple lyrical line. The structure of the piece is a hybrid idea inspired by palindromes and the Golden Ratio, or the divine proportion. Musical ideas and textures re-appear in exact reverse order of the opening episodes, their length upon return considerably shortened in order to maintain and an organic and proportional dramatic arc.


Keane Southard (Southborough, MA)

Headshot of Keane Southard

Described as “a hugely prolific musician with a wide variety of skill sets” ( Southard (he/him) is a composer and pianist who believes deeply in the power of music to change how people think, feel, and act, and that it can be a catalyst for positive change in the world.  His music has been described as “a terrific discovery” (Bandworld Magazine) and “highly-professional and well-orchestrated” (Portland Press Herald) and his works reflect his many diverse musical tastes, from medieval chant to 70’s rock, Bach to the Blues, and 19th century romanticism to Latin dance forms.  He has been a recipient of many awards, most recently winning the Yale Glee Club’s Emerging Composers Competition and Capital Hearings Young Composers Competition, and has been a fellow at the Intimacy of Creativity (Hong Kong) and the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.  Keane earned his M.M. at the University of Colorado-Boulder in composition and is currently a Ph.D. student in composition at the Eastman School of Music.  His composition teachers include Kenneth Girard, Loris Chobanian, Daniel Kellogg, Jeffrey Nytch, Carter Pann, Richard Toensing, Allen Shawn, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and David Liptak.  Keane spent 2013 in Brazil as a Fulbright scholar studying music education.

About Symphony No. 2, Movement 1

Symphony No. 2 for Large Orchestra first began life as my Piano Sonata No. 2. The sonata was begun in 2006 and completed in 2008. This was my first large-scale work (over 15 minutes) that I had ever written, and I premiered the sonata myself in 2008. After playing the first movement in a masterclass with a well-known American composer, she suggested that I orchestrate it, that the instruments and colors were right there begging to be realized in orchestral form. This thought stayed in the back of my mind for several years until I decided to give it a shot. After completing the first movement, I decided that the other movements would work well in an orchestral form as well and decided to turn the sonata into a symphony. (I am still working on orchestrating the other three movements). While I have written a lot of joyful and happy music in recent years, this work of mine represents a different side of my music, one that is loud, dissonant, “in your face,” and intense. I haven’t written in this mode very often, but I still connect deeply with it and feel it is an important part of my creative identity and what I want to express in my music.


Sesiones de lecturas de obras contemporáneas para orquesta

Marzo 12-14, 2020  Orquesta de Compositores Americanos (Nueva York, NY)

City College
Aaron Davis Hall
Marian Anderson Theater
160 Convent Ave
New York, NY 10031

Sesiones abiertas:
Marzo 12, 2020 – 9:30am – 12:30pm
Marzo 13, 2020 – 7:30pm – 9:30pm 

Paneles de desarrollo profesional:
Marzo 13, 2020 – 10am – 3pm

Con compositores:
Dai Wei, Samsaric Dance
Anthony R. Green, Peace Til We Meet Again
Paul Novak, as the light begins to drift
Christian Quiñones, Trigueño o moreno
Gity Razaz, And the brightest rivers glide…
Keane Southard, Symphony No. 2 – Movement I


American Composers Orchestra busca identificar y celebrar a los compositores estadounidenses emergentes a través de su programa Underwood New Music Readings.

Las lecturas incluyen dos sesiones con la American Composers Orchestra, un ensayo de trabajo y una presentación continua. Las actuaciones se graban profesionalmente, y cada compositor recibe una grabación de audio de alta calidad para usar con fines de archivo, estudio y portafolio. Los compositores también participan en una serie de talleres de desarrollo profesional que cubren temas tales como promoción, preparación de puntajes, publicación, acuerdos de derechos de autor y otros elementos esenciales de la carrera.

Este año, los compositores participantes en la residencia con la Orquesta de Compositores Americanos trabajarán de cerca con los compositores mentores Derek Bermel, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and Melinda Wagner, así como con el director de musica de la Orquesta, George Manahan

Participan seis compositores y al finalizar el programa, un compositor participante recibirá una comisión de $15,000 USD y el rendimiento futuro de ACO. Las compositoras participantes también son elegibles para solicitar el Programa de la Comisión de Mujeres Compositoras, que, en asociación con la Liga de Orquestas Estadounidenses, ofrece a tres mujeres una comisión de $15,000 y un estreno mundial con una orquesta profesional.