Release (2007/05/08)

American Composers Orchestra
Selects Nation’s Top Emerging Composers
for 16th Annual New Music Readings

Nine Premieres to be Presented
May 8 & 9, 2007 in NYC

American Composers Orchestra announces the winners of its sixteenth annual Underwood New Music Readings, one of this country’s most coveted opportunities for emerging composers. The Readings will be held Tuesday, May 8th and Wednesday, May 9th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Nine of the nation’s most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers have been selected from over one hundred fifty submissions received from around the country. This year’s winners are Philippe Bodin, Roshanne Etezady, Chia-yu Hsu, Amy KirstenXinyan Li, Clint Needham, Norbert Palej, Joseph Pereira, and Ryan Streber.

Mentor Composers Jay Reise and Jennifer Higdon at a rececent New Music Reading SessionThe Readings are under the direction of ACO Artistic Director Robert Beaser. Guest conductors are Paul Lustig Dunkel and David Alan Miller;mentor composers are Derek Bermel, Tania León, Yehudi Wyner and Christopher Theofanides. The conductors, mentor composers and principal players from ACO serve as liaisons and provide critical feedback to each of the participants during and after the reading sessions. Following the Readings, one of the young composers will receive a $15,000 commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO.

Last year’s winner, Mandy Fang, won the top prize with her work Black and White. The 2005 winner, Michael Gatonska, heard his Underwood-commissioned work, After the Wings of Migratory Birds, premiered by ACO at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on October 15, 2007.

Participants at ACO's recent Philadelphia New Music Readings with conductor Jeffrey Milarsky

Since 1991, the New Music Readings have provided invaluable career-development opportunities for emerging composers, and served as a vital resource to the music field, by identifying a new generation of American composers. To date, over 100 composers have participated in the Readings, including such award-winning composers as Melinda Wagner, Pierre Jalbert, Augusta Read Thomas, Randall Woolf, Jennifer Higdon, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and ACO’s Music Alive Composer in Residence, Derek Bermel. Since participating in ACO’s readings, these composers have held important residencies and had scores of works commissioned, premiered, and performed by many of the country’s prominent symphony orchestras. The New Music Readings continue ACO’s emphasis on helping to launch composers careers, a tradition that includes many of today’s top composers, such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwantner, both of whom received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; and Robert Beaser, Ingram Marshall, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Rouse, Sebastian Currier, and Tobias Picker, whom the orchestra championed when they were beginning their careers.

Composers Selected & Works to be Performed

Philippe Bodin: Fling

Philippe BodinPhilippe Bodin was born in Calais, France, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. His work, recognized with awards from the Lutoslawski International Competition, Homage to Mozart Competition, and Mario Bernardo Angelo Comneno Competition, among others, has been performed by such ensembles as the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Eroica Trio, the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, Xtet, the New Zealand Trio, and Brave New Works; at L.A.’s Monday Evening Concerts, St. Luke’s Second Helpings, the Sonic Boom, Las Vegas, and Asia Pacific festivals. He has received commissions from the Barlow Endowment, the Argosy Foundation, the Utah Arts Festival, the Chamber Ensemble Left Coast, the Eroica, Mannes, Mojave and Kungsbacka trios, and the Orkest de Volharding, as well as residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. A Doctor in Musical Arts from Yale University where he studied with Martin Bresnick, Jacob Druckman and Nicholas Maw, Philippe has taught composition at Illinois Wesleyan and Lawrence universities. Prior to his incarnation as a composer, he studied mathematics, piano, organ, and architecture in his native France. He also had a career as an operatic baritone (he holds a Bachelor’s in voice performance from Oberlin College) under the batons of Myung-Whun Chung, Philippe Herreweghe and Marc Minkovski and was music director of two small opera companies in Paris. Mr. Bodin’s music has been noted for its “vitality and lyricism in healthy doses.”

Roshanne Etezady: Cereus

Roshanne EtezadyHailed by the Detroit Free Press as “a promising and confident composer”, Roshanne Etezady is emerging as one of the most dynamic musical voices of her generation. Her works have been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, eighth blackbird, Music at the Anthology, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. She has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Performers and ensembles including Rêlache, Amadinda Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble De Ereprijs, and the Dogs of Desire have performed Etezady’s music throughout the United States and Europe. Roshanne Etezady’s music has earned recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Korean Society of 21st Century Music, the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP. As one of the founding members of the Minimum Security Composers Collective, Etezady has helped expand the audience for new music. Etezady holds academic degrees from Northwestern University and Yale University, and she has worked intensively with numerous composers, including William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Ned Rorem. She completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan, and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.

Chia-yu Hsu: Fantasy on Wang Bao Chuan

Chia-yu Hsu was born in Panchiao, Taipei Taiwan. She won the 2007 International Harp Competition Composer Contest, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Awards, the William Klenz Prize, the Prism Quartet student commissioning Award, the Maxfield Parish composition contest, and the Renée B. Fisher Foundation Composer Awards. Prior to entering Duke University to study with Stephen Jaffe, Scott Lindroth and Anthony Kelley, she studied with Ezra Laderman, Martin Bresnick and Roberto Sierra at Yale University School of Music, David Loeb and Jennifer Higdon at Curtis Institute of Music, and Pan-Yen Chan at the National Taiwan Academy of Arts. Ms. Hsu’s works have been praised as “showing the indelible ink of a real composer.”

Amy Kirsten: Strange Angel

Amy KirstenHailed for “original, unusual textures” and “very colorful, detailed orchestration,” Amy Beth Kirsten’sStrange Angel has earned her attention as a promising young composer. Her works have premiered in Chicago by the New Music Ensemble at Roosevelt University and by the College of DuPage Chamber Singers; in New York at the International Fringe Festival; in Baltimore by the Peabody Opera Workshop and at the Walters Art Museum accompanying the snowscape paintings of Gustave Courbet from October 2006 through January 2007. Winner of the 2006-7 Volti Choral Arts Lab Commissioning and Residency competition, her In the Black premiered in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Sacramento in March 2007 as part of Volti’s concert season. Ms. Kirsten’s 2006 honors include the Theodore Presser Award and the Randolph S. Rothschild Award for excellence in composition. Born in East Saint Louis and raised in the Chicago area, Ms. Kirsten received her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Jazz Studies from Illinois’ Benedictine University, and her Master’s Degree in Composition from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Currently, she is a post-graduate student at Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.

Xinyan Li: Mountain Sacrifice No. 2

Xinyan LiXinyan Li is currently a doctoral student studying at University of Missouri-Kansas City under composers Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Zhou Long, and Paul Rudy. Miss Li earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1999 and 2002, where she studied under composers Jin Xiang and Yang Tong Ba. Xinyan Li attended Aspen Music Festival and School in 2005 and 2006 as a Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Fellow where she studied with George Tsontakis. In 2007, she attended Nevada Encounters of New Music, Midwest Graduate Music Consortium’s 11th Annual Conference, and SCI Region VI Conference. Awards include the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award, an honorable mention from the Tsang-Houei Hsu International Music Composition Competition and the Libby Larsen Prize from International Alliance of Women in Music. Xinyan Li’s music has been performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Bergen Woodwind Quintet, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Principal Woodwind Quintet, the Chengdu International Contemporary Festival and Composer’s Forum, the East Coast Composers Ensemble, the Chicago New Music Ensemble, and the UMKC Music Nova Ensemble. Xinyan Li’s music is “fresh, musical and dramatic; it’s from her heart.”

Clint Needham: Earth and Green

Clint NeedhamOriginally from Texas, Clint Needham received a BM in composition from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and an MM from Indiana University. He is currently a Jacobs School of Music Doctoral Fellow in Composition at Indiana University and has studied with David Dzubay, Per Mårtensson, P.Q. Phan, Sven-David Sandström, Richard Wernick, and Loris Chobanian. Clint has also studied with Robert Beaser, Christopher Rouse, and George Tsontakis at the Aspen Music Festival as a Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Fellow. Recent honors include awards from the Washington International Competition for Composers, National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, Brass Chamber Music Forum, International Trumpet Guild, and an honorable mention in the 2006 ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Clint’s music has been performed by the American Brass Quintet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Cascadian Chorale, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and the Oberon Trio. His music has also been performed at various venues including the Aspen Music Festival, Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival, International Trumpet Guild Convention, Meadowlark Music Festival, Midwest Composers Symposium, Music Educators National Conference, and the University of Nebraska New Music Festival. Clint Needham writes “complex and compelling music where every detail is carefully considered.”

Norbert Palej: Movimento Sinfonico

Norbert PalejRecognized for his “first-rate and genuinely original” work, Norbert Palej is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Cornell University studying with Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. He received his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. Previously he studied at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland and at Central Washington University. He also majored in psychology and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Norbert has been a participant of the Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions and Composer Institute. He has received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the Toru Takemitsu Award from the Japan Society in Boston, the Benjamin Britten Memorial Fellowship for the Tanglewood 2000 season and the Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship for the 2001 master class at the Aspen Festival of Music. He has also participated in the Academy for New Music and Audio-Art in Tyrol, Austria, in the International Workshops for Contemporary Music Krakow/Stuttgart and in the Treffen Junger Komponisten in Weikersheim, Germany.

Joseph Pereira: Mask

Joseph PereiraPercussionist and composer Joseph Pereira, has been the Assistant Principal Timpanist/Section Percussionist of the New York Philharmonic since January 1998. He received his master’s degree in percussion from The Juilliard School and a double bachelor’s degree in performance and composition/theory from Boston University. He currently teaches timpani and percussion at the Juilliard School. Mr. Pereira conducted the premiere of his Quintet for Winds in 2005 as part of the New York Philharmonic Ensembles series at Merkin Concert Hall. The New York Times said, “it is a restless yet lucidly textured work with an astringent harmonic language.” His music has been performed at Darmstadt, Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully Hall, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Harvard, and Princeton University. Mr. Pereira has performed with the New York Percussion Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, Alea III, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as principal timpanist. He can also be heard on Telarc, Teldec, and Deutsche Grammophon recordings. He is an alumnus of both the Tanglewood and Pacific (Sapporo, Japan) music festivals.

Ryan Streber: Arcuare

Ryan Streber works have been performed in the United States and abroad by artists and ensembles such as The Lucerne Percussion Group, The Juilliard Orchestra. The New Juilliard Ensemble, Line C3 Percussion Quartet, Flexible Music, ACME, Gemini Youth Orchestra, Fountain Chamber Ensemble, percussionist Samuel Solomon, Violist Nadia Sirota, and many others. Recent projects include a new work for percussion ensemble, commissioned by the Lucerne Festival Academy and premiered under the direction of Michel Cerutti in the 2006 Lucerne Festival. Besides concert music, Ryan has composed two short film scores which have been heard at various festivals in the US, South America, and Europe, as well as an original score of continuous incidental music for a staging of Euripides’ Bacchae in Ancient Greek that was produced by the Columbia University/Barnard College Classics departments in April 2006. Ryan received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition from The Juilliard School in New York, studying with Milton Babbitt and Christopher Rouse. He is the recipient of an ASCAP Morton Gould award and Juilliard’s Palmer-Dixon Prize. He currently lives in Manhattan and works as the coordinator for the composition department at Juilliard. Streber’s Arcuare has already been praised for being “engaging, detailed, fluid, intriguing” and possessed of a “clear, strong sense of orchestration.”

Paul Lustig Dunkel, conductor

Paul Lustig DunkelPaul Lustig Dunkel, Music Director and Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic since its founding in 1983, enjoys a multi-faceted career as conductor, flutist, arranger and writer. His work with the Westchester Philharmonic has been recognized by the American Symphony Orchestra League, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and the Westchester Arts Council. He also is the recipient of the American Symphony Orchestra’s Leopold Stokowski Conducting Award, a Grammy nomination, awards from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, Harriet Ditson Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Silver Jubilee Award for outstanding alumni from Queens College and many regional and local awards for his work in the community. His achievements as a creator and founder of musical institutions and as an advocate for American composers was noted by ASCAP in 2002 in ceremonies at Lincoln Center honoring him and his co-founders for their contributions to American music in establishing and building American Composers Orchestra. Mr. Dunkel also serves as co-founder of Music from Copland House, a chamber music ensemble dedicated to the advocacy of American music. He has been Music Director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the Vermont Mozart Festival, and has appeared as guest conductor with the Denver, Baltimore, Buffalo, New Jersey, Oakland, Syracuse, Richmond, and American Symphonies, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Washington Opera, New York city Ballet Orchestra, at the Kremlin and in Taiwan. His recordings for Bridge, Nonesuch, Summit, CRI and New World Records have received wide critical acclaim, and his recording ofThe Early Music of Elliott Carter was selected as one of the Top 10 recordings of the year by Time and Newsweek. Mr. Dunkel grew up in New York City and attended the High School of Music and Art. He began his conducting career as a fellow with the National Orchestral Association under Leon Barzin, and with Erich Leinsdorf and Kresimir Sipusch at the Aspen Music Festival.

David Alan Miller, conductor

David Alan MillerDavid Alan Miller has been Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra since 1992. Frequently in demand as a guest conductor, he has worked with most of America’s major orchestras, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore and Indianapolis, as well as the New World Symphony and the New York City Ballet. He has developed especially close relationships with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. Internationally, Mr. Miller has also conducted major European orchestras in Turin, Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Dresden, Hanover, Halle and Mainz. He has appeared with the Adelaide Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Singapore Symphony; and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Mr. Miller is highly regarded as a champion and interpreter of American music, new and old. His extensive discography includes recordings of the works of Todd Levin with the London Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, as well as music by Michael Daugherty, Kamran Ince, and Michael Torke for London/Decca. His recordings with the Albany Symphony include discs of music by John Harbison, Roy Harris, Morton Gould, Don Gillis, George Lloyd and Peter Mennin, all on the Albany records label: for which he recently received Columbia University’s 2003 Ditson Conductor’s Award. His most recent disc on Albany Records features two major never-before-recorded symphonies, Roy Harris’ Second and Morton Gould’s Third. He also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in its recording of Mel Powell’s music, including Duplicates: Concerto for Two Pianos, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Music. A native of Los Angeles, David Alan Miller holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School.

Reservations and Info

The Underwood New Music Reading Sessions are presented by New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing arts, and take place on Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9, 2007 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM. The Skirball Center is located at 566 LaGuardia Place (Washington Square South) in Manhattan. The Readings are open to the public at no charge; no ticket is required. For further information, please call (212) 977-8495, or email

Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. Paul Underwood, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund and the Fromm Music Foundation. ACO’s emerging composers program is supported by The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, The Greenwall Foundation, The Henfield Foundation, Jerome Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and ACO’s Inner Circle.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by ACO Inner Circle, American Symphony Orchestra League, Amphion Foundation, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, ASCAP Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundations, BMI, BMI Foundation, NY City Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, The New York State Music Fund established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Rodgers Family Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, The Sonata and Watchdog Charitable Trusts, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The residency of Derek Bermel is made possible through Music Alive, a program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their presentation of new music to the public and build support for new music within their institutions. Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music.