April 19, 2024
5 min read

Announcing 2 Upcoming EarShot Readings with ROCO in Houston and with ACO in NYC

ACO Announces Two Upcoming EarShot Readings

Now encompassing all of the American Composers Orchestra's composer advancement initiatives, EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for developing relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level. Through EarShot Readings, CoLABoratory Residencies, commissions, and professional development, EarShot ensures a vibrant musical future by investing in creativity today.

"For a young composer of orchestral music, the greatest challenge is getting one's worksplayed and heard. Addressing that challenge is… American Composers Orchestra."

The Dallas Morning News

"In an ideal musical world there would be no need for an orchestra dedicated to performing new and recent works by American composers. That mission would be crucial to every American orchestra. But we don't live in an ideal musical world."

The New York Times

American Composers Orchestra and ROCO Partner for EarShot Readings, June 4-7, 2024

Taking Place During the League of American Orchestras National Conference, Emerging Female Composers Receive Mentorship from Jennifer Higdon, Valerie Coleman, and Nina Shekhar

ROCO EarShot Composers: Autumn Maria Reed, Naama Perel-Tzadok, Stella G. Gitelman Willoughby, and Patricia Leonard

Houston, TX (April 18, 2024) – Hailed as an “essential organization” (The New York Times), the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) collaborates with dynamic Houston-based orchestra ROCO for EarShot Readings held from Tuesday, June 4 to Friday, June 7, 2024, in conjunction with the annual League of American Orchestras National Conference, with a live streamed performance on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 11am CT.

A national composer development program in partnership with the American Composers Forum, New Music USA, and the League of American Orchestras, EarShot serves as the nation’s first systemic program for building relationships between composers and orchestras nationwide, promoting diverse talent and cultivating the careers of composer ASCAP has awarded ACO its annual prize for adventurous programming 35 times, singling out ACO as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States.”

Following a call for submissions by women composers, four were selected to have their music workshopped by ROCO with mentorship by esteemed mentor composers Valerie Coleman, Jennifer Higdon (an EarShot alumnus), and Nina Shekhar, as well as conductor Mei-Ann Chen, Artistic Partner to ROCO.

The Readings take place between Tuesday, June 4 and Thursday, June 6 at Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, with ROCO workshopping. The featured composers whose pieces will be workshopped include Autumn Maria Reed (Mental Health Suite: The Persistent Past & The Fearful Future), Naama Perel-Tzadok(Agricultural Pictures), Patricia Leonard (John Adams Theme – Overture from My Dearest Friend), and Stella G. Gitelman Willoughby (Stories of Sorrow and Strength: A Suite in Two Movements). One of the works will be chosen by the orchestra to be performed as part of a public concert given by ROCO for the League’s National Conference on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 11:00am CT, and live-streamed for free at ROCO.org, YouTube, and Facebook.

Autumn Maria Reed is a Wisconsin-based composer of orchestral and musical theater works. She plays the double bass with Dayvin Hallmon's The Black String Triage Ensemble and Black Diaspora Symphony Orchestra, which performs string music for trauma and violence victims. Reed advocates for ending the stigma of mental illness and values spending time with her family. Her Mental Health Suite: The Persistent Past & The Fearful Future will be workshopped as part of the ACO/ROCO

ach movement reflects different diagnoses of acquired mental illnesses. “The Persistent Past” represents the inevitable depression while “The Fearful Future” represents the frenetic energy of anxiety. She says, “I spent my early adulthood struggling, but I have found light, and I hope that others struggling will find their light.”

Naama Perel-Tzadok is a multi-stylistic composer and creator whose works are performed around the world. She is Ph.D. student in composition at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ISEF Doctoral Fellow with a masters degree in composition from the University of Haifa. As the daughter of Yemenite and Tunisian immigrants, Naama grew up on Yemenite, Arabic, and Jewish music and draws inspiration from many sources – nature, current events, plastic art, and the diverse worlds of music she grew up in. Her Agricultural Pictures is inspired by the spectacular drone photos of the photographer Guy Sherry, which document the work process of the farmers in the Bet-She'an Valley in northern Israel. The musical work consists of several musical images, part of one larger musical picture depicting the view of the valley where the composer lived for 10 years and the long process that the agricultural crops go through. The actions of the farmers and agricultural machinery influence the different tones, rhythms, and characters of each musical image.

Patricia Leonard is a composer of opera and musical theater whose works have been performed in major cities in the US and Europe, interpreted by celebrated musicians from the New York Philharmonic, Zurich Opera, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Boston Symphony/Pops/Ballet. Patricia was honored to be one of the “Founding Ladies of Music” as part of the “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” Quilt Concert for the Women’s Suffrage anniversary, alongside acclaimed women composers such as Joan Tower and Thea Musgrave. She is a producer of a Special Benefit Concert for Ukraine at Lincoln Center, featuring artists from the Met opera, Broadway, and beyond. She is the Managing Director of New York New Music Ensemble, and composer member of MAESTRA, New York Women Composers, and a founding member of NYCC, celebrating its 20th anniversary season. Her work John Adams Theme – Overture from My Dearest Friend honors America’s “original power couple,” John and Abigail Adams, and their detailed accounts of events through more than 1,100 letters.

Stella G. Gitelman Willoughby is an eight-time ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award winner and finalist and a national and international award-winning composer from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She writes for solo instruments, voice, chamber ensembles, and symphony orchestra. Valuing the distinctive qualities of each instrument and performer, Stella strives to create works that highlight their unique sound and embraces opportunities for her music to be performed in, and heard by, the public. She is a senior at Berklee College of Music majoring in composition with a self-designed minor in music archives. Gitelman Willoughby’s Stories of Sorrow and Strength: A Suite in Two Movements addresses two defining moments in the history of the Byzantine Empire: the Fourth Crusade, and the siege and fall of Constantinople. She says, “While it is easy to consider these events as tales of antiquity, similar struggles, conflicts, and tensions are still prevalent today. The feelings of fear, suffering, pain, and grief are universal. The ability to find strength and to persevere in the face of hardship gives us hope.”

Program Information

June 4-6, 2024

EarShot Readings: ROCO

Denney Theatre, Kinder High School for the Visual and Performing Arts | Houston, TX

Link: www.americancomposers.org/performances-events/earshot-readings-roco

More Information: https://leagueconference.org/full-schedule/2024/6/6/earshot-readings-with-roco


‍Autumn Maria Reed – Mental Health Suite: The Persistent Past & The Fearful Future‍

‍Naama Perel-Tzadok – Agricultural Pictures

‍Patricia Leonard – John Adams Theme – Overture from My Dearest Friend‍

‍Stella G. Gitelman Willoughby – Stories of Sorrow and Strength: A Suite in Two Movements

Friday, June 7, 2024 at 11:00am CT
ROCO In Concert: Magnetic

Denney Theatre, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts | Houston, TX

Tickets: https://roco.org/performances/in-concert-magnetic/


Reena Esmail – Teen Murti (Past ROCO World Premiere Commission)

Gabriela Lena Frank – Elegia Andina

Jennifer Higdon – Dance Card: V. Machina Rockus (Past ROCO World Premiere Commission)

Leanna Primiani – Neither men nor money validate my worth (Past ROCO World Premiere Commission)

Heather Schmidt – Solitaire (Past ROCO World Premiere Commission)

Errolyn Wallen – Photography: I. Vivace

TBC – Premiere*

*ROCO will perform the premiere of one work chosen from ROCO’s Earshot Readings.

American Composers Orchestra Announces June 2024 EarShot Readings

Taking Place Thursday, June 13, 2024 and Friday, June 14, 2024 at Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music, 6 Composers Receive Mentorship from Composers Marcos Balter, Curtis Stewart, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh

ACO EarShot Composers: Malachi Brown, Madeline Merwin, Eunsung Kim, Anuj Bhutani, Sofía Scheps, and Samuel Torres

Following 2024 readings with Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and ROCO (Houston), ACO presents and performs its own EarShot Readings on June 13 and 14, 2024 at the Neidorff-Karpati Hall in Manhattan School of Music, featuring workshops with composers Malachi Brown (Statements: a journal entry), Samuel Torres (Frailejón), Sofía Scheps (demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: %), Anuj Bhutani (After the Freeze), Madeline Merwin (Dirty Ice), and Eunsung Kim (Kaleidoscope for Orchestra). The selected composers, chosen from a competitive nationwide call for scores highlighting and celebrating the unique musical and cultural contributions of the Americas to global musical ecosystems, will receive mentorship from Marcos Balter, Curtis Stewart, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh as well as musicians of the ACO and conductor Delta David Gier.

On Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:30am, audiences are welcome to experience the workshopping via open rehearsals, and on Friday, June 14, 2024 at 7:30pm, the ACO will perform the works in concert.

Malachi Brown is a cellist and composer born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. He has studied music composition and cello performance at Old Dominion University and Ithaca College. Malachi has composed for the concert stage, animation, and film thus far in his career. He incorporates many combinations of styles in his music but it is always rooted in a neo-romantic sound. His Statements: a journal entry is crafted as a chronology of the composer’s thoughts, experiences, and vision for the country over a period of time, using these reflections as jumping-off points for finding peace in the midst of chaos. In his program notes, he shares, “Statements is a series of pieces that serve as my own personal journal recapping a year or a moment in time I just lived. What I struggle to do with words, I do with my music. Statements: a journal entry is no exception to this, as it describes both a crucial moment in my life and the world, just as much as it illustrates a concept. This piece exists within the realm of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.”

‍Samuel Torres is a celebrated Latin Grammy Award-winning percussionist and composer. Originally from Bogotá (Colombia) and based in Brooklyn, NY, Samuel thrives at the intersection of Afro-Latin rhythms, Latin jazz, and contemporary classical music. In 2023, he earned his master’s degree in classical composition from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, where he was honored with the Nicolas Flagello Award for his outstanding achievements as a composer. His work Frailejón takes its distinctive character from its use of the cowbell, in both its tones and underlying spirit. The instrument is woven throughout this orchestral tapestry of a work, sometimes as a subtle background, providing an energetic foundation. At other times, it bursts forth with the full power of the orchestra, driving the music forward with exhilarating force. The piece takes its name from the Frailejón genus of plant life in South America – comparing its vital yet often overlooked role in the Andean ecosystem to the role of the cowbell in Salsa music. Torres shares, “This orchestral piece is a tribute to both the Frailejón and the cowbell, a celebration of the vital yet under-recognized elements that contribute to the beauty and vibrancy of our world. May it inspire us to listen more closely, not just to music, but to the delicate balance of our planet. It's a reminder that true magic often lies in the seemingly simple, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated in new ways.”

Sofía Scheps is a Uruguayan composer and graduate from the School of Music of the University of the Republic (Uruguay), where she is currently an assistant professor to the chairs of Composition and Orchestration, at the Theory and Composition Department. In 2023 she was selected by Music at the Anthology Festival (MATA Festival, NY) as Composer in Residence, with a piece commissioned by Found Sound Nation. In addition to working in the frontiers of experimentalism, electroacoustic music, mixed media, chamber music, and sound art, Sofía also devotes part of her time to sound design and composition of original music for cinema, television series, and theatre plays. Her piece demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: % proposes to audibly reveal the percentage and instrumental distribution of the women who are part of the orchestra that performs it. On several occasions, the piece calls for the literal repetition of a passage, with the condition that the repetition must be performed exclusively by women. In this way, that proportion becomes audible. In the case of the strings, the piece specifically resorts to differentiated parts for women: at times, all the strings read the same part; at other times they are divided, with the women performing different lines. Scheps shares, “The number of women present and their distribution in the string section will determine the balance and preponderance in that instrumental ensemble. In this way, the aim is to make the presence of women in the orchestral group audible. How many are there? What instruments do they play? What role do they have within the section? (soloist, second chair, etc). The music will seem to fall apart at times, shedding light upon the human composition of the orchestra: the presences and absences.”

Anuj Bhutani is a quickly emerging composer/performer whose music often features visceral grooves; ethereal, meditative spaces; a combination of acoustic instruments and electronics; and a strong sense of narrative in a genre-fluid space. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree at USC with Andrew Norman and completed his bachelor’s degree in composition at University of North Texas. His work After the Freeze was inspired by the historic Winter Uri freeze that hit the southern U.S. in February of 2021. As the country entered yet another level of isolation amidst freezing temperatures and rolling blackouts during the pre-vaccine era of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhutani aimed to create a backing track to the experience with synthesizers and electronic percussion. On his composition process, he shares, “I invited eight colleagues to freely improvise without hearing what any other musician was contributing. I curated their responses, added electronics and edited the videos of each ‘ensemble’ member performing into what was essentially an installation. The second version, for string orchestra, tabla, sitar, drum set, electric bass, and Carnatic singer, was commissioned by Ryan Ross and the Allen Philharmonic. In the second version, I was able to more directly bridge the orchestra with the worlds of funk, pop, and rock music (with a hint of jazz) that I grew up listening to. In this new version for orchestra, these connections between genres (and my musical identities) are fully crystallized.”

Madeline Merwin is an American composer and professor specializing in contemporary classical music composition and multimedia music projects. She enjoys working with dance, film, and theater as well as in traditional classical concert settings, and strives to blend classical music with pop/rock groove influences. Currently completing a residency fellowship at the University of Michigan to compose a full-length ballet with Eisenhower Dance Detroit, Madeline is also an adjunct professor of music theory and aural skills at Henry Ford College. Madeline's Dirty Ice is an exploration of the line between pop/funk and classical music. By integrating traditional funk band instruments such as the electric guitar, drum set, and saxophone into the classical orchestra, a new fusion of sounds becomes possible. While these genres exist in very separate socio-political spheres, this piece sets out to link them sonically and prove they aren’t as different as they may appear. Merwin explains, “The title Dirty Ice is derived from the process of baking cakes; to ‘dirty ice’ a cake is to slap on a coat of icing to get a foundation to work with before one goes in to clean it up. I applied this term to the piece during the early stages of my writing process, and it ended up echoing the playful and edgy pseudo-funk character of the music.”

Eunsung Kim is a German-based Korean composer. Kim earned his Bachelor’s degree in composition at Seoul National University under Tae Bong Chung. He went on to earn his Master and Konzertexamen’s degree from Music University of Franz Liszt Weimar, where he studied under Michael Obst und Ulrich Kreppein. His works had been performed by Academy Ensemble Musikfabrik, Ensemble recherche, International Ensemble Modern Academy, Loh-Sondershausen Orchester, KBS Orchestra, Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha, Ensemble of Staatskapelle Weimar, Aris Quartett, and Quartet Tokyo-Berlin. Within Kim’s Kaleidoscope for Orchestra, gradually accumulating, initially disparate elements come together over time to create a unified sound – a melding of different ranges and instruments to generate a sound that’s entirely new. Using unique criteria to categorize and combine musical elements, Kim shapes this compositon’s many pieces into a cohesive musical narrative. Kim’s participation in the EarShot Readings is made possible by the exchange of ACO’s EarShot and the Korean National Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ Atelier program.

Program Information

American Composers Orchestra: EarShot Open Rehearsals

Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:30am

Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music | New York, NY

Link: www.americancomposers.org/performances-events/earshot-readings-american-composers-orchestra

American Composers Orchestra: EarShot Public Reading

Friday, June 14, 2024 at 7:30pm

Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music | New York, NY

Link: www.americancomposers.org/performances-events/earshot-readings-american-composers-orchestra-public-reading

Featured Artists and Works:

Malachi Brown – Statements: a journal entry

Samuel Torres – Frailejón

Sofía Scheps  – demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: %

Anuj Bhutani  – After the Freeze

Madeline Merwin – Dirty Ice

Eunsung Kim – Kaleidoscope for Orchestra

American Composers Orchestra

   Delta David Gier, conductor

ROCO Concert sponsored by the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. This session has generously been sponsored by BMI.

EarShot is a program of American Composers Orchestra completed in partnership with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. The program is made possible with lead support from Altman Foundation, Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting, Mellon Foundation, Sphinx Venture Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Ford Good Neighbor Committee, and The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowships; additional support is provided by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the League of American Orchestras with support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Public funds are provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

American Composers Orchestra is grateful to the many organizations that make its programs possible including Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Herb Alpert Foundation, Altman Foundation, American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, Amphion Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, AmazonSmile Foundation, ASCAP Foundation, BMI Foundation, BMI, Inc., Cheswatyr Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Francis B. Goelet Charitable Trust, Fromm Music Foundation, Steven R. Gerber Trust, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jephson Educational Trusts, The Lotos Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, New Music USA’s Organization Fund, Pacific Harmony Foundation, Rexford Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Sphinx Venture Fund,  TD Charitable Foundation, Turrell Fund, Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Corporate gifts to match employee contributions are made by Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Triton Container International Incorporated of North America, and Neiman Marcus.

Public funds are provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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