Nov. 13, 2019 at 7:30p New England Echoes at Carnegie Hall

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC


A celebration of composers with roots in New England, ACO’s season opener includes the world premieres of Hilary Purrington’s Harp of Nerves featuring guitarist JIJI and orchestrations of Selected Songs by Charles Ives, arranged by Purrington, Hannah Lash, and Jonathan Bailey Hollandfeaturing mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. The New York City premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Evidence completes the program.


Tickets & information:

From $43 to $51

American Composers Orchestra
George Manahan, music director and conductor
Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano
JIJI, guitar


EVIDENCE (2016; New York City Premiere)
An adventurous orchestral journey by Matthew Aucoin


“The basic difference between music and religion is music’s fondness for evidence. Music-making — at least as I understand it — is a religious practice, but music doesn’t have much time for faith. You wouldn’t trust a composer or performer who says, “I know my music doesn’t sound that great, but…take my word for it.” Good music both enacts and embodies. It’s both an act of praise and evidence of some other order, a consciousness, a presence. It speaks to us of some “elsewhere” by manifesting burnt traces of that elsewhere. 

I find the word “evidence” inexplicably beautiful. Even the Merriam-Webster definition — awkwardly worded, at first glance — feels resonant: “something which shows that something else exists or is true.” When a piece of music is convincing on its own terms — when it earns its affirmations, or when it seduces us into some landscape that we would have thought uninhabitable — hasn’t it manifested the presence of some other, self-sufficient world? Sure, it’s a world that the composer dreamed up, literally an “imaginary” one — but to me that’s even more exciting: it means she or he has revealed some hidden powers lurking within the materials of this world. 

The image that kept returning to me as I worked on Evidence was that of a journey from shore to shore in some challenging element — maybe a sea journey, or a journey through space. Whatever the element is, I wanted to see if I could get from one shore to the other. I hope you enjoy the ride.
— Matthew Aucoin

SELECTIONS FROM 114 SONGS (1888-1921; World Premiere or orchestrations commissioned by ACO)
Newly commissioned orchestrations of five Ives songs for mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton

  1. Memories: (a) Very Pleasant (b) Rather Sad (Orch. by Hilary Purrington)
  2. The Cage (Orch. by Jonathan Bailey Holland)
  3. Immortality (Orch. by Hannah Lash)
  4. The Housatonic at Stockbridge (Orch. by Jonathan Bailey Holland)
  5. Autumn (Orch. by Hannah Lash)


ACO is always on the lookout for star performers who embrace American composers, and in the January 2017 issue of Opera News, ACO President Ed Yim read this: “Many of Jamie Barton’s  stories about lieder revolve around Charles Ives, the composer who ‘made my mind absolutely spark.’ Before her Ives group at Glimmerglass, she told the audience that the music was ‘an important and special group for me,’ and she was taking a set of six Ives songs on her U.K. tour. Indeed, much of a two-hour conversation with Barton defined her as a particularly American artist.” 

Yim immediately contacted Barton to propose that ACO ask a group of living American composers to orchestrate some of her favorite songs for chamber orchestra.  “Charles Ives’ songs embody the maverick and creative spirit of American music. Jamie is a phenomenal artist, and after reading that interview, I thought our interests could intersect,” said Yim.  “With enthusiasm and to our delight, she immediately said ‘yes!’ and provided a list of songs that she loves.”  

The composers whom Barton and ACO chose together to orchestrate these songs reflect both her interest in making sure that women composers were represented and a group who have had meaningful associations with ACO.  Purrington, whose world premiere appears on the same program, is originally from New England and won ACO’s Underwood Commission in 2017; Hannah Lash, who teaches at the Yale School of Music (Yale was Ives’ alma mater) participated in ACO’s reading programs and was commissioned by the Toulmin Women’s Composers Readings and Commissions Program; and Jonathan Bailey Holland, who teaches at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, has been a mentor composer for ACO programs and recently joined ACO’s board of directors.

HARP OF NERVES (World Premiere; ACO Underwood Commission)
A new guitar concerto written for JIJI by Hilary Purrington, the 2017 Underwood Commission Winner


In the summer of 2017, American Composers Orchestra awarded me an Underwood Commission, generously funded by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Underwood. This presented an extraordinary opportunity to pursue a challenging, ambitious project that would demand artistic risks and stretch me as an artist. I immediately thought of a collaboration with JIJI, a brilliant guitarist and one of my best friends (and a former housemate—while studying at Yale, we both lived in a wacky pink Victorian house with seven other friends). Both ACO and JIJI inspired Harp of Nerves, and it wouldn’t exist without their enthusiasm, encouragement, and confidence in my artistic voice and abilities.

I composed Harp of Nerves over the course of eighteen months. Before writing a single note, I carefully considered the relationship between the solo guitar and the larger ensemble, knowing that this decision would determine much of the work’s musical and dramatic content. Throughout the concerto’s three movements, the orchestra serves as an extension of the guitar. Sometimes the connection between the soloist and ensemble is immediately obvious; other times, it’s less so. This relationship also inspired the title—the entire ensemble becomes a kind of nervous system with the soloist acting as its control center, tethered to all members of the orchestra. Imagining the ensemble in this manner determined many of my artistic choices and helped shape the larger character of the work. 

I’m forever grateful to American Composers Orchestra and JIJI for encouraging me to pursue this project. I’d also like to thank Christopher Theofanidis and Derek Bermel for their mentorship; Neil Beckmann and Oren Fader for guitar-related instruction and advice; and my wonderful family and friends for their incredible, steadfast support.
–Hilary Purrington



Headshot of Jamie BartonCritically acclaimed by virtually every major outlet covering classical music, American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is increasingly recognized for how she uses her powerful instrument offstage – lifting up women, queer people, and other marginalized communities. Her lively social media presence on Instagram and Twitter (@jbartonmezzo) serves as a hub for conversations about body positivity, diet culture, social justice issues, and LGBTQ+ rights. She is proud to volunteer with Turn The Spotlight, an organization working to identify, nurture, and empower leaders among women and people of color – and in turn, to illuminate the path to a more equitable future in the arts. Jamie is the winner of the Beverly Sills Artist Award and Richard Tucker Award, both Main and Song Prizes at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Her debut solo album, All Who Wander, featuring songs by Mahler, Dvorak, and Sibelius, was shortlisted by the International Classical Music Awards and Gramophone Classical Music Awards, and earned the 2018 BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award.  This season, Jamie is the featured performer on Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, bringing the 2019 BBC Proms festival to a close. She appears as Léonorin La favorite at Houston Grand Opera, Eboli in Don Carlo at Dallas Opera, Fricka in Die Walküre at Reykjavík Arts Festival, and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Santa Fe Opera. Jamie brings her feminist recital with pianist Kathleen Kelly to Wigmore Hall in London, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. She returns to the Metropolitan Opera for role debuts as the titular Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and as Elisabetta in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, with a Met Live in HD performance of the latter simulcast to cinemas in over seventy countries.


Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “…talented, sensitive…brilliant,” JIJI is an adventurous artist on both acoustic and electric guitar, playing an extensive range of music from traditional and contemporary classical music to free improvisation.  Her impeccable musicianship combined with compelling stage presence and fascinating repertoire earned the Korean guitarist First Prize at the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. The Kansas City Star described JIJI as “A graceful and nuanced player,” adding that “…she presented an intimate, captivating performance.” Career highlights include a wide array of venues, including Carnegie Hall, 92ndStreet Y, Festival Napa Valley, Krannert Center, Purdue Convocations, Virginia Arts Festival, National Sawdust, Miller Theater, Mass MOCA, Subculture NYC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Her recent tours of Hong Kong consisted of performances collaborating with a performance Artist, a traditional Chinese instrument ensemble, and an Erhu player in art galleries, clubs, and even on a moving trolley. A passionate advocate of new music, JIJI has premiered a duo piece Talking Guitars by renowned composer, Paul Lansky, released on Bridge Records.  She has premiered works by numerous emerging composers, including Nina C. Young, Gabriella Smith, Riho Maimets, Krists Auznieks, Gulli Björnsson, Andrew McIntosh, and Farnood HaghaniPour.  She also performs her own compositions, incorporating electronic media and acoustic music.  Her music is influenced by her regular activities as a DJ, where she highlights the electronic dance styles of happy hardcore and Berlin experimental electronica. As a chamber musician, she performed with members of Eighth Blackbird, Bang on a Can All-Stars, wild Up, and the Aizuri Quartet.  Currently sponsored by D’Addario Strings. Jiji’s performances have been featured on PBS, NPR’s From the Top, WHYY-TV, FOX 4-TV, Munchies, The Not So Late Show, and Hong Kong broadcast station RTHK’s The Works. Jiji is currently based in Tempe, Arizona where she holds the post of Assistant Professor of Guitar at Arizona State University.


Matthew Aucoin (b. 1990) is an American composer and conductor. He is both Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Opera and co-artistic director of the American Modern Opera Company. Aucoin is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow.  Aucoin’s new opera, Eurydice, has been co-commissioned by Los Angeles Opera, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Aucoin’s orchestral and chamber music has been commissioned and performed by such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, Salzburg’s Mozarteum Orchestra, the Brentano Quartet, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Chanticleer. His two previous operas, Crossing and Second Nature, have been performed all over North America, including productions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Canadian Opera Company. At LA Opera, Aucoin has conducted productions including Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and his own opera Crossing.

Aucoin has also appeared as a guest conductor with the Santa Fe Opera (last summer’s new production of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic), the San Diego Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Rome Opera Orchestra, among others. He trained as a conducting apprentice with Riccardo Muti at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and served as an Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Aucoin is a 2012 graduate of Harvard College (summa cum laude) and a 2014 recipient of Juilliard’s Graduate Diploma in Composition.


Hailed by The New York Times as “striking and resourceful…handsomely brooding,” Hannah Lash’s music has been performed at such major venues as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, the Times Center in Manhattan, the Chicago Art Institute, Tanglewood Music Center, The Aspen Music Festival & School, among others. In 2016, Lash was honored with a Composer Portrait Concert at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, which included commissioned works for pianist Lisa Moore (Six Etudes and a Dream) and loadbang (Music for Eight Lungs). In the 2017-2018 season, Lash’s Piano Concerto No. 1 “In Pursuit of Flying” was given its premiere performances by Jeremy Denk and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; the Atlantic Classical Orchestra debuted Facets of Motion for orchestra; and Music for Nine, Ringing was performed at the Music Academy of the West School and Festival. Last season, Paul Appleby and Natalia Katyukova gave the world premiere of Songs of Imagined Love, a song cycle commissioned by Carnegie Hall. Hannah Lash is currently developing a new chamber opera, Desire, and a concerto for two harps and orchestra, both of which are scheduled for premiere this season. 


A native of Flint, MI, composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s works have been commissioned and performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles across America. He served as the first ever Composer-In-Residence with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the 2018-19 season. His 2019-20 season includes a commission from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum inspired by John Singer Sargent’s dance-inspired painting, “El Jaleo.” His Third Quartet, for string quartet and percussion duo was featured on the Walton Arts Artosphere Festival, and the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. Boston Opera Collaborative will delve into an evening of Holland’s chamber operas; the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival performed His House is Not of This Land as part of the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music; and his music will appear on the Juventas New Music Ensemble season.

Notable highlights from recent seasons include the premieres of his work Ode, a companion work to Beethoven’s 9th, by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; the release of Synchrony, a powerful statement on Black Lives Matter on the Radius Ensemble’s Fresh Paint CD; the premiere of Equality by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra featuring the poetry of Maya Angelou featuring narration by actor Regina Taylor and rapper/actor Common, and more.  Holland hold degrees from Curtis Institute of Music and Harvard University. He is Chair of Composition, Contemporary Music, and Core Studies at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


Hilary Purrington is a New York City-based composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her work has received recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the International Alliance for Women in Music, and the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), among others. Purrington’s music has been performed by many distinguished ensembles, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Modern Ensemble, the Albany Symphony, and the Yale Philharmonia. Recent commissions include new works for the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Yale Glee Club, and the New York Youth Symphony. Upcoming projects include commissions from River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Originally from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Purrington currently lives New York, NY and works at Barnard College. She holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. 

The commission and world premiere performance of Hilary Purrington’s Harp of Nerves is made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Underwood, with additional support provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. 

The orchestration of Ives songs for mezzo soprano and chamber orchestra was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra with the generous support of the Howard and Sarah D. Solomon Foundation.