January 24, 2024
5 min read

Carnegie Hall Presents the American Composers Orchestra in America in Weimar: On the Margins at Zankel Hall 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 7:30pm 

Featuring New Works by John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke,  Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, and Tonia Ko

“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

On Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 7:30pm, Carnegie Hall presents the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in America in Weimar: On the Margins at Zankel Hall. Conducted by Rei Hotoda in her Carnegie Hall debut, the program explores the United States’ influence on the pre-World War II Weimar period – and elements of that society that are echoed in our culture today. The evening has been curated as part of Carnegie Hall’s Weimar Festival, running through May 2024: an exploration of this time period that brought about both cultural flourishing and ultimately devastating instability.

Conductor Vimbayi Kaziboni leads ACO at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2023. Credit: Alfred Kan.

Praised for its “expansive vision of orchestral composition” (Represent Classical), ACO has performed hundreds of world premieres by today’s top composers, and this program is no exception: America in Weimar brings the world premiere of Tonia Ko’s Her Land, Expanded as well as John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke’s Right Now, developed via ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory program with collaborators and featured soloists Chrystal E. Williams and Felipe Hostins. In addition, Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichcha̱achaaha' Tate personally serves as narrator for the New York premiere of his work Clans, a major movement from his longer composition Lowak Shoppala'.

Commenting on the works selected for America in Weimar, ACO Artistic Director Curtis Stewart highlighted the program’s varied reflections on “the substantial contribution of American art to Weimar's legacy.” Stewart elaborated: “These historic/musical reference points are joined by new works reflecting on parallels and redirections of the past. Jerod Impichcha̱achaaha' Tate's Clans looks back at Chickasaw identity and the sustained adaptation of that tradition in times of great pain and turmoil. Tonia Ko's Her Land, Expanded responds directly to the unprecedented economic and socio-political drama of Weill’s historical period, with stark parallels that can be found almost exactly a century later. John Glover and Kelley Rourke's Right Now is a hopeful vision of a communal identity conceived through the influence of Weill's ‘Pirate Jenny’ – illuminating the enduring ethics that today's American artists share with that of the Weimar era. At different times throughout the program, mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams, master forró musician and multi-instrumentalist Felipe Hostins, and narrator Tate interact with the ‘fourth wall,’ treating the participants as collaborators, bringing a very specific cultural fluency and lens to the stage while engaging with a sense of ‘cabaret.’”

Collaborators for Her Land, Expanded filmmaker Alexandra Cuesta and composer Tonia Ko. Photo credit: Kaupo Kikkas

The program’s featured composers also spoke on the elements of their work that connect today’s listeners with the enduring impact of the Weimar period. As Ko explains, Her Land, Expanded is a “collaboration with filmmaker Alexandra Cuesta, and will feature close-up imagery of various surfaces tensing and stretching to the breaking point. This new piece will be informed by the concepts of inflation, burst, and deflation. These ideas underpin my decade-long exploration of bubble wrap as a musical instrument.”

Collaborators for Right Now, composer John Glover, librettist Kelley Rourke, mezzo-soprano Chrystal Williams, accordion Felipe Hostins. Photo credits: FroPhoto, Brittany Lesavoy, Osky.

Discussing their work Right Now, supported by a 2024 commissioning grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Glover and Rourke described intersecting influences that brought them to the finished product: “For us, creating new collaborative spaces is as exciting as the art that comes out of those spaces,” they shared. “This commission challenged us to be ‘in conversation’ with many streams of thought, beginning with the Weimar Republic, that abundant flowering of art and ideas that shone for a brief moment before being obliterated by a dark new reality. We are in conversation with Chrystal and Felipe’s Forrópera, a project that exists to foster dialogue through music, as well as with Felipe and Chrystal’s offstage passions, which include an ongoing exchange with the landscape they call their home. The confluence of these streams of thought led us to a meditation on time that considers overlapping cycles of social history, the natural world, and individual lives. Right Now is a meditation on time that puts discrete moments in the lives of individuals in conversation with larger time cycles.”

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate. Photo credit: Shevaun Williams

In Clans, and his complete work Lowak Shoppala', Tate takes inspiration from Chickasaw author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Linda Hogan’s Poem “Fire and Light,” the English translation of the title. Portraying a suite of legends from Chickasaw lore, the eight-part movement Clans depicts a gathering of the historic clans within the Chickasaw nation, most of them represented by non-human animals. Through a collaboration with Chickasaw artist Margaret Wheeler, Lowak Shoppala' is staged as a multimedia theater production pairing Tate’s composition with poetry and narration, along with dance, visual imagery, and solo vocal performance.

Rei Hotoda. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg.

America in Weimar comprises several other works spanning the century from the 1920s through the present day. George Antheil’s Jazz Symphony, one of the first significant classical pieces to blend jazz influences with the symphonic tradition, features Hotoda as she performs and conducts from the piano. Duke Ellington’s short works “Sophisticated Lady” and “Solitude” exude the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance, the veritable explosion of Black creativity felt across all artistic fields. Felipe Hostin’s arrangement of “Pirate Jenny” from Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, recounts the memorable musical tale of a long-suffering hotel maid who turns the tables on those who once thought little of her. The piece leads directly into Williams’ and Hostins’ piece Right Now, which takes inspiration from Weill’s work with the added element of engaging audience interactions.

Stewart concluded: “This program is an invitation to contemplate the American influence on the Weimar period and conversely trace Weimar's enduring values in American art and music. This century-long musical journey looks back to look forward – a moment for reflection – discovering possibilities of communal and individual determination in tumultuous times.”

Program Details

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 7:30pm 

America in Weimar: On the Margins, American Composers Orchestra

Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall | New York, NY

Tickets: Tickets start at $40. Available at CarnegieCharge (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or at the Box Office on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Link: www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2024/03/12/American-Composers-Orchestra-0730PM


George Antheil – Jazz Symphony [7’]

Jerod Impichaachaaha' Tate – Lowak Shoppala' Clans (NY Premiere) [10-15’]

John Glover/Kelley Rourke – Right Now for Mezzo-Soprano, Accordion, and Orchestra (World Premiere) [15’]

Duke Ellington – “Solitude” and “Sophisticated Lady” (arr. Morton Gould) [8’]

Tonia Ko –  Her Land, Expanded (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall) [15’]

Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht  –  “Pirate Jenny” from The Threepenny Opera (arr. Felipe Hostins) [5’]

American Composers Orchestra

Rei Hotoda, Conductor

Chrystal E. Williams, Mezzo-Soprano

Jerod Impichaachaaha' Tate, Narrator and Vocals

Felipe Hostins, Accordion

Alexandra Cuesta, Video Design

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

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