New York Philharmonic Announces Lineup of Emerging Composers as Part of NY Phil Biennial
The New York Philharmonic and American Composers Orchestra (ACO), in collaboration with ACO's EarShot: the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, announce the selection of three works by emerging composers to receive premieres this week by the New York Philharmonic as part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL. Julia Adolphe's Dark Sand, Sifting Light will receive its World Premiere June 5, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert; Andrew McManus's Strobe will receive its World Premiere June 6, conducted by Matthias Pintscher; and Max Grafe's Bismuth: Variations for Orchestra will receive its World Premiere June 7, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert. EarShot gives composers in the early stages of their careers the rare opportunity to work with professional orchestras to realize their work.
The selection process, which began with an open call for scores in November 2013, culminated in a private reading session June 3 with Alan Gilbert, Matthias Pintscher, and the Orchestra, in which the three works were chosen from among six finalists to receive New York Philharmonic premieres at concerts later this week. Alan Gilbert is meeting with the participating composers, taking part in feedback meetings along with Philharmonic musicians and mentor composers and working individually with the composers whose works are selected. The mentor composers for the New York Philharmonic EarShot Readings are Christopher Rouse, Steve Mackey, Derek Bermel, Robert Beaser, and Matthias Pintscher. Rouse, Pintscher, and Mackey all have works performed as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. The six works were selected from an international pool of more than 400 applicants from eight countries and 37 states ranging in age from 9 to 84, in response to a call for scores gathered through EarShot, the national orchestral composition discovery network, a program that is administered by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) with partner organizations American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. The NY PHIL BIENNIAL will feature an additional EarShot event: on June 6 and 7, American Composers Orchestra will hold its 23rd annual Underwood New Music Readings conducted by Music Director George Manahan at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.
"The New York Philharmonic's presentation of works discovered through the EarShot composition discovery program is a particularly important and gratifying element of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL," Alan Gilbert said. "Our goal for this project is to share with our audience the freshest music from new voices today. When we
announced the call for scores we had no idea what it would yield. We were overwhelmed by the more than 400 submissions we received, and it was quite a challenge to hone them down to six for the Orchestra to read. Supporting new compositions and composers is imperative in keeping orchestras and classical music vital, and on a personal level, it fills me with great joy to be able to work with emerging composers to give them a platform for discovery."
Michael Geller, president of ACO, adds: "American Composers Orchestra is excited to extend our role as a catalyst for emerging American composers by collaborating with the New York Philharmonic, whose NY PHIL BIENNIAL has a mission kindred to our own. For 23 years, through our Underwood New Music Readings, we have given emerging composers a hands-on opportunity to work directly with a professional orchestra, many of them for the first time. We are also delighted to partner with the Philharmonic in its own readings program under the auspices of EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network. The New York Philharmonic is joining a growing roster of orchestras across the country in working with EarShot to connect to the next generation of great new composers and bring their music to their musicians and audiences."
The composers selected to have their works premiered by the New York Philharmonic are:
Julia Adolphe: Dark Sand, Sifting Light (to be performed June 5, led by Alan Gilbert)
About the work on this program Julia Adolphe wrote: "Dark Sand, Sifting Light imagines a piano playing in the distance, overheard through an open apartment window. As the listener poised beneath the window begins to daydream, the piano sounds take on larger orchestral colors. Her mind wanders and the music transforms."
Max Grafe: Bismuth: Variations for Orchestra (to be performed June 7, led by Alan Gilbert)
Max Grafe wrote: "Bismuth: Variations for Orchestra is the product of a desire to compose a piece with a high degree of abstraction, many of my recent works having been heavily informed by extra-musical sources. Loath to entirely abandon my affinity for intertextuality, however, I titled the work Bismuth in order to highlight the kinship between its own colorful, angular style and the kaleidoscopic patina and geometric edges of a pure bismuth crystal. Musically, the work is laid out in a large arch form with an opening theme and seven continuous variations. Each successive variation is in fact a variation upon its predecessor rather than directly upon the theme, and thus it is the distinctive characters of each variation, rather than the musical materials being treated, that are primarily responsible for articulating the work's form. After the first three variations - a bombastic and martial Interlude, a grimly humorous Scherzetto, and a lyrical Arioso respectively - the theme is restated verbatim amidst a tumultuous and dramatic accompaniment in the central fourth variation. Subsequently, the characters of the first three variations are revisited in reverse order for the final three variations, and the work concludes with a brief and choked-off recapitulation of its opening bars."
Andrew McManus: Strobe (to be performed June 6, led by Matthias Pintscher)
About the work performed on this concert, Andrew McManus wrote: "The word "strobe" conjures up quite a few images and concepts for me. These include jarring pulses of bright light, the stop-motion we might observe when watching someone or something move under a strobe light, and electronic dance music (or "EDM"). But while Strobe references all of these things - with sharp, pointed, scattershot rhythmic textures, erratic shrieks of brilliance, and the occasional thumping kick drum - it also explores some fleeting images that don't necessarily go together, like photographs that disappear before we can fully grasp them. The piece's central section features soaring but wistful oboe and horn melodies, followed by a swing-jazz-like interjection with muted trumpets, snare drum, and piano. But this suddenly vanishes into a darkly sonorous string chorale. While the acute brilliance of the early part of the piece eventually returns, this shadowy tinge persists in the background, especially at the end, when a shattering major chord in the winds and brass leaves behind wispy, glowing sonic artifacts that quickly vanish."
The New York Philharmonic Readings are organized in partnership with EarShot, a program of the American Composers Orchestra in collaboration with the American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. EarShot helps orchestras around the country to identify and support promising composers in the early stages of their careers. EarShot advises organizations on the programs that would best suit their new-composer needs - from new-music readings to composer residencies and competitions - and assists with planning, identifying composers through its extensive nationwide calls, and program design and execution. For more information, visit www.earshotnetwork.org.
Now in its 37th season, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today's brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent; as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras; and as an advocate for American composers and their music. Some of ACO's recent initiatives include the 2011 New York City-wide SONiC Festival with new works by 120 composers age 40 and under, the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, and coLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, a research and development lab for new orchestral music. ACO has performed music by more than 700 American composers, including 300 world premieres and newly commissioned works. More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at www.americancomposers.org.
Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and one of the oldest in the world; on May 5, 2010, it performed its 15,000th concert - a milestone unmatched by any other symphony orchestra in the world. The Orchestra has always played a leading role in American musical life, championing the music of its time, and is renowned around the globe, having appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries - including its October 2009 debut in Vietnam and its February 2008 historic visit to Pyongyang, DPRK, earning the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy. The Philharmonic's concerts are broadcast on the weekly syndicated radio program The New York Philharmonic This Week, streamed on nyphil.org, and have been telecast annually on Live From Lincoln Center on U.S. public television since the series' premiere in 1976. The Philharmonic has made almost 2,000 recordings since 1917, with more than 500 currently available. The first major American orchestra to offer downloadable concerts, recorded live, the Philharmonic released the first-ever classical iTunes Pass in 2009-10; the self-produced recordings continue with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic: 2013-14 Season. The Orchestra has built on its long- running Young People's Concerts to develop a wide range of education programs, including Very Young People's Concerts, for pre-schoolers; School Day Concerts, with supporting curriculum for grades 3-12; the School Partnership Program, enriching music education in New York City; Very Young Composers, enabling students to express themselves through original works; Learning Overtures, fostering international exchange among educators; and online resources used in homes and classrooms around the world. Alan Gilbert became Music Director in September 2009, succeeding a series of 20th-century musical giants that goes back to Gustav Mahler and Arturo Toscanini. Credit Suisse is the New York Philharmonic's exclusive Global Sponsor.