Release (2002/04/14)

Sunday, April 14, 2002 at 3 pm
ACO 25th Anniversary Concert, Part II
Carnegie Hall


 Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
 Margaret Leng Tan, piano

KEVIN PUTS: Falling Dream (World Premiere, BMI Foundation/Carlos Surinach Fund Commission)
FRANCIS THORNE: Concerto for Orchestra (World Premiere, ACO Commission)
JOHN CAGE: Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra
ELLIOTT CARTER: Variations for Orchestra

Tickets are $47, $36, and $17. Call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800;
or buy online at

The concert is preceded by a discussion, free to ticket-holders, at 1:45pm.

American Composers Orchestra
Celebrates 25th Anniversary
April 14, 2002 concert at Carnegie Hall marks
Dennis Russell Davies’ final performance as Music Director;
World premieres by Francis Thorne and Kevin Puts

American Composers Orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary and concludes its season Sunday, April 14 at 3:00 pm at Carnegie Hall. The program pays tribute to ACO’s two principal founders: Dennis Russell Davies, who closes out his 25-year tenure as ACO’s music director and principal conductor; and composer and ACO president Francis Thorne, whose Concerto for Orchestra receives its world premiere. Also on the program is the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Falling Dream, commissioned by ACO and BMI Foundation’s Carlos Surinach Fund, Elliott Carter’s imposing “Variations for Orchestra”, and John Cage’s “Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra” with soloist Margaret Leng Tan.

“For this concert I really wanted a program that summed-up what ACO was all about,” says Music Director Davies. “For 25 years this orchestra has risen to the challenge of what is new, of juxtaposing myriad American styles, of introducing emerging talent, and collaborating with so many American composers to bring their music to life. I wanted to throw the spotlight on the players in this terrific orchestra, many of whom have been with us since our first season. The Carter ‘Variations’ will do that beautifully, and that’s why I asked Franny (Francis Thorne) to write a concerto for them,” Davies adds.

Davies and Thorne, along with composer Nicolas Roussakis and conductor Paul Lustig Dunkel, founded American Composers Orchestra in 1977 to address the lack of opportunity for American composers writing orchestra music. In its 25 years, ACO has performed over 500 works by American composers, including more than 100 world premieres and commissions—and ACO remains the only orchestra in the world exclusively devoted to the performance, commissioning and dissemination of music by American composers. Last season, ACO appointed its next generation of artistic leadership, naming the young American conductor Steven Sloane Music Director Designate, and composer Robert Beaser Artistic Director. Though the April 14 concert marks his last as Music Director, Davies is not saying farewell to ACO; he will assume the post of Conductor Laureate next season when Sloane becomes Music Director. “They’ll never get rid of me,” Davies jokes.

American Icons: Elliott Carter & John Cage

The cornerstones of the April 14 program, and illustrative of the diversity of American music are two substantial works by American icons Elliott Carter and John Cage. Carter’s Variations for Orchestra is a seminal work. Commissioned and premiered by the Louisville Orchestra in 1956, the Variations were written while the composer was in residence at the American Academy in Rome. The work’s notorious difficulty, intricate melodic and textural material became the hallmarks of Carter’s music—hallmarks that helped established Carter as the reigning “Dean of living American composers.”

With the performance of John Cage’s “Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra,” Davies and soloist Margaret Leng Tan bring to the stage an enigmatic and wonderful work that they had recorded with ACO on the ECM label. That recording has received universal critical praise. Both Tan and Davies have a real affinity toward Cage, having worked closely with the composer toward the end of his life. The Concerto was composed in 1950-51. “The piano in this piece has 53 prepared notes which span the available registers, utilizing the usual bolts, screws and rubber stripping, plus for the first time a ‘plastic bridge’ which produces microtonal pitch deviations,” according to Cage biographer David Revill. Cage wrote about the piece, “I made the Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra into a drama—between the piano, which remains romantic and expressive, and the orchestra, which itself follows the principles of oriental philosophy. And the third movement signifies the coming together of things which were opposed to one another in the first movement.”

About Margaret Leng Tan

The first woman to graduate with a Doctorate in Music from Juilliard, Margaret Leng Tan has since developed a radically individual performance style, fusing sound, choreography and drama. Hailed as “the world’s premiere string piano virtuoso” and “the diva of avant-garde pianism” (The New York Times), she is known for her performances of Asian and American music that defy the conventional boundaries of the instrument. The New Republic called her “the leading exponent of Cage’s music today.” She has performed John Cage’s music throughout the world and has recorded it for audio and film releases. Margaret Leng Tan’s recordings have received critical acclaim. She has appeared at major festivals around the world including Ravinia, Spoleto USA, New Music America, Bang on a Can, MANCA (France), Inventionen (Berlin) and Lincoln Center Out-of Doors Serious Fun. Born in Singapore, Ms. Tan made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1991.

Francis Thorne & Kevin Puts Premieres

The two world premieres on the program are by a senior composer—Francis Thorne, who turns 80 this year—and one of the most promising of a new generation of American composers—Kevin Puts. Thorne‘s Concerto for Orchestra, was written at the request of Dennis Russell Davies, as a way for Thorne to acknowledge and celebrate the many players who have been on the ACO roster for its 25 years, and with whom Thorne and Davies have close personal friendships. Thorne completed the work this summer. The work was commissioned by Paul Underwood.

Kevin Puts’s Falling Dream, which was commissioned for ACO’s anniversary by the BMI Foundation, through its Carlos Surinach Fund. At the age of 29, Mr. Puts has established himself as one of the busiest and most polished young composers today.

About Francis Thorne

Thorne was born in Bay Shore, New York in 1922. His maternal grandfather was Gustav Kobbé, author of Kobbé’s Opera Book. He studied with Paul Hindemith at Yale, Alexi Haieff, and later David Diamond in Florence. Thorne’s composing career was launched in 1964 when Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered his Elegy for Orchestra. His music has been premiered by the orchestras of Seattle, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Albany, Denver, Oklahoma, St. Paul, Brooklyn and Westchester Philharmonic, as well as festivals of Cabrillo, California and New Hampshire. His music is recorded on New World, CRI and Albany.

Since 1965, Francis has divided his time between composition and music administration. He has been Executive Director of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, The Music-Theater Group, American Composers Alliance and, since 1976, President and CEO of the American Composers Orchestra, which he co-founded with Dennis Russell Davies. In 1988, Francis was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he currently serves as board member and treasurer. He has received awards from BMI, the American Music Center and Harvard University, as well as two recording awards from the Ford Foundation and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Thorne lives in New York City with his wife Ann. They have three daughters and four grandsons.

About Kevin Puts

Mr. Puts is currently studying at the American Academy in Rome and has had works commissioned and performed by the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Symphony, Utah Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, and the Spoleto Festival. In addition to the prestigious Rome Prize, he has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Barlow Prize for Composition. The Pacific Symphony premiered his work John Brown’s Body on July 4, 2001. Puts was Young Concert Artists’ Composer-in-Residence and wrote two well-received compositions for members of the Young Concert Artists roster during his tenure. Mr. Puts has received commissions from the Ying Quartet, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players and the New York Youth Symphony, which premiered his Concerto for Everyone through its First Music program. As the composer-in-residence for the California Symphony Orchestra, three of Mr. Puts’s works were premiered by that orchestra.

The first undergraduate to be awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Mr. Puts also won BMI’s 1998 William Schuman Prize, three grants from ASCAP, and was the recipient of the 1996 BMI Young Musicians’ Foundation Orchestral Premiere. A native of Alma, Michigan, Mr. Puts studied with Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwanter at the Eastman School of Music, and at Yale with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, and David Lang. He also studied at Tanglewood with Bernard Rands and William Bolcom. In 1999, Mr. Puts completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music, studying composition with Christopher Rouse. Puts currently serves as assistant professor of composition at the University of Texas at Austin.

About ACO

Founded in 1977, the American Composers Orchestra is the world’s only orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing symphonic works by American composers. Through its concerts at Carnegie Hall, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, Whitaker New Music Reading sessions, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions this country’s prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases international awareness of the infinite varieties—stylistic, geographic, and ethnic—of American orchestral music. Since 1977, the Orchestra has programmed nearly 500 works by more than 400 American composers, including over 100 world premieres and commissions, generating more new American Symphonic works than any other orchestra. Recordings by the ACO are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, and New World Records.

Tickets & Information

Tickets for the April 14, 2002 concert at Carnegie Hall are $47, $36, and $17. Tickets may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall’s website at, or at the Carnegie Hall box office on 57th Street at 7th Ave. The concert is preceded by a discussion with Francis Thorne, Kevin Puts and Artistic Director of ACO, Robert Beaser at 1:45 pm on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

For further information about American Composers Orchestra events, call 212-977-8495.

Major support of the American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management L.P., Americans for the Arts, Arthur M. Blank Foundation, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, Mr. Thomas Buckner, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, Estate of Frank Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, Meet The Composer, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Times Co. Foundation, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.