April 1, 2024
5 min read

American Composers Orchestra and Perelman Performing Arts Center Join to Present the New York Premiere of An American Soldier

American Composers Orchestra and Perelman Performing Arts Center Join to Present the New York Premiere of An American Soldier, Composer Huang Ruo and Librettist David Henry Hwang’s Soaring New Opera Based on a Powerful True Story

Perelman Performing Arts Center | May 12–19, 2024

“...one of the world’s leading young composers” – The New Yorker
“...[Huang Ruo is] strikingly assured” – The Wall Street Journal

From Sunday, May 12, 2024 to Sunday, May 19, 2024, the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) and Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) offer the New York premiere of composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang’s An American Soldier.  An American Soldier is based on the true story of Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Afghanistan in 2011, and of the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers.

Directed by Obie Award winning director Chay Yew, the soaring new opera shares the story of a young soldier from New York’s Chinatown who sought to serve his country, only to find his biggest threat was the very people who swore to protect him. Premiered at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2018, this production of An American Soldier is co-presented by the ACO, Perelman Performing Arts Center, and Boston Lyric Opera.

Hailed as an “essential organization” (The New York Times) with “an expansive vision of orchestral composition” (Represent Classical), ACO has performed hundreds of world premieres by today’s top composers. The stellar cast of this opera includes tenor Brian Vu as Danny Chen, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen as his mother, soprano Hannah Cho as his school friend Josephine Young, and baritone Alex DeSocio as Sgt. Aaron Marcum, one of the soldiers charged in the investigation. Ensemble cast members include Ben Brady, Cierra Byrd, James C. Harris, Shelén Hughes, Joshua Sanders, and Christian Simmons.

Lauded as a composer for “having a distinctive style” (The New York Times), Huang Ruo’s vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, the Western avant-garde, experimental music, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz. In June 2024, Factory International presents the world premiere of Ruo’s immersive work, City of Floating Sounds, an interactive walk through Manchester, U.K. that invites audiences to connect with their surroundings and each other, aided by a bespoke mobile app and score performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at Aviva Studios. The following month, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts presents the North American premiere of City of Floating Sounds, bringing the shifting soundscape to Manhattan on July 23 and 24 as the season-opening performance of Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center, during the Summer for the City festival, led by Music Director Jonathon Heyward.

Best known for his plays, including M. Butterfly and Yellow Face, David Henry Hwang is also a prolific opera librettist, having written several operas with composers such as Philip Glass, Bright Sheng, and Unsuk Chin. An American Soldier is David Henry Hwang's first collaboration with Huang Ruo.

David Henry Hwang and Huang Ruo. Credit: Matthew Murphy.

Program Details

An American Soldier

Sunday, May 12, 2024 at 3:00pm

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 7:00pm

Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 7:00pm

Saturday, May 18, 2024 at 8:00pm

Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 3:00pm

Perelman Performing Arts Center | 251 Fulton Street | New York, NY

Tickets: $54–$134

Link: https://pacnyc.org/whats-on/an-american-soldier/

Composed by Huang Ruo

Libretto by David Henry Hwang

Conducted by Carolyn Kuan

Directed by Chay Yew

Co-Produced by Perelman Performing Arts Center, Boston Lyric Opera, American Composers Orchestra

About American Composers Orchestra
In 1977, a collective of fearless New York City musicians came together to form the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), an ensemble dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. Over more than 40 years committed to artistry, creativity, community, and equity, ACO has blossomed into a national institution that not only cultivates and develops the careers of living composers, but also provides composers a direct pipeline to partnerships with many of America’s major symphony orchestras.

In addition to its annual season, presented by Carnegie Hall since 1987, the ACO serves as a New York City hub where the most forward-thinking experimental American musicians come together to hone and realize new art by developing talent, established composers, and underrepresented voices, increasing the regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music.


ACO produces national educational programs for all ages, and composer advancement programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders – all dedicated to American composition. 

To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Recent and notable commissioned composers include John Luther Adams, Andy Akiho, Clarice Assad, Carlos Bandera, Courtney Bryan, Valerie Coleman, Dai Wei, Du Yun, inti figgis-vizueta, Marcus Gilmore, Vijay Iyer, Yvette Janine Jackson, Joan La Barbara, Steve Lehman, Tania León, Paula Matthusen, Trevor New, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Ellen Reid, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Carlos Simon, Henry Threadgill, and many more.

Now encompassing all of ACO’s composer advancement initiatives, EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for developing relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level. Through orchestral readings, CoLABoratory fellowships, consortium commissions, publishing, and professional development, EarShot ensures a vibrant musical future by investing in creativity today. Serving over 350 composers since inception, ACO Readings in NYC began in 1991, and since 2008, national Readings have been offered in partnership with orchestras across the country in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, and American Composers Forum. EarShot Readings composers have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Rome Prizes.

ACO has received numerous awards for its work, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra’s outstanding contribution to American music. 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.” ACO received the inaugural MetLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. Learn more at www.americancomposers.org

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.