23rd Annual Underwood
New Music Readings & Commission

June 6-8, 2014, DiMenna Center , NYC
Submission Deadline: Dec. 2, 2013 at 5:00PM (EST)

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American Composers Orchestra announces its 23rd Annual Underwood New Music Reading Sessions to be held in New York City at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music June 6-8, 2014.

Up to six composers in the early stages of their careers will be selected to participate. One will be awarded a $15,000 commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO.

Underwood New Music ReadingsWriting for the symphony orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges for the aspiring composer. The subtleties of instrumental balance, timbre, effective part preparation, and communication with conductor and musicians are critical skills. But openings for composers to gain hands-on experience working with a professional orchestra are few. ACO’s New Music Reading Sessions are designed to give emerging composers the opportunity to work with an orchestra singular in its commitment to the development of the American composer and to hear their work performed by some of the country’s most outstanding contemporary music instrumentalists.

The Readings are led by ACO Artistic Director, Derek Bermel and Artistic Director Laureate, Robert Beaser; and conducted by ACO Music Director, George Manahan. Additional mentor-composers are Julia Wolfe and Olly Wilson. The Underwood Readings are the core of ACO’s ongoing professional training programs for emerging American composers. At the Readings, composers will meet with ACO artistic staff, orchestra members — including the conductor and mentor composers. Members of ACO’s composer advisory panel and guest composers participate in preliminary reviews of scores, provide critical commentary and feedback, post-Reading evaluations and selection of the composer to receive the commission award.

The Readings are professionally recorded, and each composer is given a high-quality audio recording to be used for study purposes. Composers also participate in a series of professional development workshops covering such topics as promotion, score preparation and publishing, copyright and commissioning agreements, and other career essentials. Transportation and meals are provided for all participants.

‘One of the best orchestration lessons
I have ever had.’

Jason Freeman, past participant

The Underwood New Music Readings are part of EarShot, the national orchestral composition discovery network. EarShot activities include new music readings and other composer development programs with orchestras around the country. EarShot is coordinated by ACO in collaboration with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA (formerly American Music Center and Meet The Composer). Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. Paul Underwood, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University along with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

‘The Readings serve up invaluable insight
into the art of orchestral writing.’

Carter Pann, past participant

Eligibility & Guidelines

  • Applicant must be either a U.S. citizen or non-citizen lawfully and permanently residing, or studying full-time, in the United States.
  • There are no age restrictions; however, applicants should be composers at the early stages of their professional careers.
  • Each composer may submit only one composition for consideration. Works that have been previously submitted to ACO for consideration may not be resubmitted.
  • Composers selected to participate in prior ACO Underwood/Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions are ineligible.
  • Only works that will not have been performed or read by a professional orchestra nor received a public performance in the New York metropolitan area prior to the reading date are eligible.
  • Your submission may be considered for other eligible EarShot activities during the 2013-14 season if you check the appropriate box on the application form.
  • Do not submit recordings.
  • Only works completed after January 1, 2009, will be considered.
  • Compositions must be less than 15 minutes in length. A portion or movement from a longer work may also be considered.
  • Instrumentation should not exceed ACO’s standard symphonic complement: winds at 3,3,3,3; brass at 4,3,3,1; harp, keyboard, timpani plus 3 percussion, and strings (10, 8, 6, 6, 4). Works with instrumentation which exceed the above will be considered only with advance approval.
  • Works employing electronics, MIDI, digital technology, and/or sound reinforcement in combination with the above instrumental forces will be considered. (See special requirements below.)
  • Works requiring soloists will not be considered.
  • If selected, composers must provide professional, legible orchestral parts and scores prepared according to guidelines established by the Major Orchestral Librarians Association. Materials must be delivered to ACO offices no later than 5 PM, March 1, 2014.
  • The quality of the score submitted is the primary evaluation criteria. It is therefore in the applicant’s best interest that the score be clear, accurate, and the best representation of the composer’s work. The additional background and educational information is for eligibility and documentation purposes, these materials are not considered in the general review of scores.
  • Incomplete, illegible, or late applications will not be considered.

How to Apply

Before submitting an application, carefully review the eligibility & submission guidelines above. The submission receipt (not postmark) deadline is December 2, 2013, at 5PM (EST).

A complete submission must include the following:

  • A completed submission form.
    You may print and mail your submission: (PDF)
    Or, you may complete your submission online
  • One bound copy of the score, clearly labeled with the composer’s name and title of the work on the cover page. If you apply online, your score may be uploaded as a PDF file.
  • A current resume for the composer including educational background, major teachers, awards, professional affiliations. (May be uploaded as a PDF.)
  • A list of works, including title, year composed, instrumentation, duration, and performance history. (May be uploaded as a PDF.)
  • One letter of recommendation from an established composer or other music professional, attesting to the applicant’s accomplishments and potential as an orchestral composer. The recommendation may be sent under separate cover or uploaded as a PDF.
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope suitable for the return of materials. All supporting materials remain the property of American Composers Orchestra. ACO is not responsible for lost scores.
  • For works with electronics, MIDI, and/or digital technologies: include a one-page statement describing the rationale for its use, as well as any pertinent production requirements and technical specifications. (May be uploaded as a PDF.)
  • Send to:

    Underwood New Music Readings 2014
    American Composers Orchestra
    244 West 54th Street, Suite 805
    New York, NY 10019-5515

  • For questions or further information:
    call: 212-977-8495 ext. 202
    email: readings@americancomposers.org

‘The Readings give young composers
a unique opportunity to explore
the modern orchestra hands-on.’

Roger Zare, past participant

Past Participants

Since its the New Music Readings have helped to identify a new generation of composers, in many cases offering these emerging artists their first hearing of a new work. In 2013, composer A.J. McCaffrey was awarded the Underwood Commission.Past participants include:

Mark Applebaum
Anthony Barrese
Jeremy Beck
Derek Bermel*
Lisa Bielawa*
Andrew Bleckner
Jonathan Blumhofer

Philippe Bodin
Daniel Bradshaw
Clifton Callendar
Ryan Chase+
Anthony Cheung
Janet Jieru Chen
Louis Chiappetta
Anna Clyne+
Dan Coleman*
Cindy Cox
Juan Cuellar
Nathan Currier
Sebastian Currier*
Michael Djupstrom
Roshanne Etezady
Peter Fahey*
Fang Man*
Michael Fiday
Keith Fitch
Jennifer Fitzgerald
Michael Thomas Foumai
Ivor Francis
Jason Freeman*
Kenneth Froelich
Matthew Fuerst
Ruby Fulton
Lee Gannon
Stacy Garrop
Robert Gates
Michael Gatonska*
Ralf Gawlick
Chambliss Giobbi
Joshua Groffman
Robert Gross
Saad Haddad
Matthew Halper
Amanda Harberg
Rafael Hernandez
Jennifer Higdon*
Chia-yu Hsu
Lance Hulme
Deniz Ince
Takuma Itoh
Pierre Jalbert*
Jesse Jones
Chris Kaufman
Daniel Kellogg
Martin Kennedy
Paul Kerekes
John Kline
Matti Kovler
Amy Beth Kirsten*
Mukai Kohei
Jordan Kuspa
Kristin Kuster*
Sally Lamb
Spencer Lambright
Hannah Lash
Andrew McKenna Lee
Paul Yeon Lee*
Arthur Levering
Leonard Lewis
Xinyan Li
Matthew Lima
Eric Lindsay
Robert Manthey
James Matheson
Scott McAllister
A.J. McCaffrey*
Lansing D. McLoskey
Tamar Muskal
Jeff Myers
Eric Nathan
Clint Needham*
Jeffrey Nevin
Jonathan Newman
Thomas Osborne
Norbert Palej
Carter Pann
Milica Paranosic*
Robert Paterson
Joshua Penman
Joseph Pereira
P.Q. Phan*
Narong Prangcharoen*
Paola Prestini
Leanna Primiani
Robert Przytulski
David Rakowski
Andrea Reinkemeyer
Paul Richards
Carlos Rivera
Brian Robison*
John Fitz Rogers
Rodney Rogers
Ricardo Romaneiro+
Manly Romero*
Daniel Bernard Roumain*
Paul Rudy
C. Bryan Rulon
Huang Ruo
Eric Samuelson
Carlos Sanchez-Guiterrez
Felicia Sandler
Sophia Serghi
Joseph Sheehan
Hsueh-Yung Shen*
Arlene Sierra
Reynold Simpson
Brian Smith
Peter Spande
Kate Soper
Gregory Spears*
Christopher Stark*
Ryan Streber
David Stovall
Benjamin Taylor
Stephen Taylor*
Zhou Tian
Matthew Tommasini
Christopher Trapani
Thomas Tumulty
Ken Ueno
Daniel Visconti*
Melinda Wagner*
Wang Jie*
Dalit Warshaw
Anna Weesner*
Jude Weirmeir
Stefan Weisman
Conrad Winslow
Gregg Wramage
Randall Woolf*
Daniel Worley
Xi Wang
Reiko Yamada
Nina Young+
Roger Zare*
Qinru Zhou

* Programmed/commissioned by ACO
+Recipient of Audience Choice Award

Lead support for the Underwood New Music Readings comes from Mr. Paul Underwood, Fromm Music Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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