A.J. McCaffrey Awarded $15,000 American Composers Orchestra Commission
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is pleased to announce that composer A.J. McCaffrey has been named the winner of ACO's 2013 Underwood Commission, bringing him a $15,000 purse for a work to be premiered by ACO in the 2014-2015 season. Chosen from six finalists during ACO's 22nd Underwood New Music Readings on April 8 and 9, 2013, in one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States, A.J. won the top prize with his work Thank You for Waiting.
In addition, for the fourth year, audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings had a chance to make their voices heard through the Audience Choice Award. The winner this year was composer Nina Young, for her piece Remnants. As the winner, Nina was commissioned to compose an original mobile phone ringtone which is available to everyone who voted, free of charge.
"A.J.'s orchestral writing impresses at every level - the clarity of his sonic concept, the deft handling of often viscerally dense counterpoint, and above all, the energy that he gets from the ensemble through his orchestrational approach," said Underwood New Music Readings mentor composer Christopher Theofanidis.Joan Tower, also a mentor composer this year, added, "A.J. McCaffrey is a composer with extraordinary chops. I am hoping his newly commissioned work will push the envelope further by taking musical risks that could create a formidable piece for orchestra." Mentor composer and ACO Artistic Advisor Laureate Robert Beaser praised A.J. as well, saying, "A.J. is a composer who combines prodigious craft with a quirky sensibility. He produces works in a variety of styles - always surprising and arresting."
Upon winning the Underwood commission, A.J. McCaffrey said, "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with ACO. I witnessed first-hand how well they tackle new music during the Readings this past spring, and I cannot wait to begin composing for them. It is overwhelming to be chosen - ACO had a fabulous group of pieces and composers to choose from and I am humbled to have been selected."
A.J. McCaffrey is a songwriter and composer of instrumental, vocal and electronic music. With backgrounds and interests in theater, fine arts and literature, and an upbringing that fostered a love for a wide variety of musical styles, A.J. writes music that strives to tell a story. His works are theatrical in nature, employing harmonically rich and lyrically striking sound worlds to create moving, dramatic narratives. A.J.'s music has been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In addition to ACO, his works have been performed by the New Fromm Players, Radius Ensemble, Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, and members of the Chiara Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Alarm Will Sound, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival and School, A.J. has been a featured composer on BMOP's The Next Next series, Tanglewood's Festival of Contemporary Music, and the New Gallery Concert Series.
A.J. McCaffrey holds degrees in music composition from Rice University, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the University of Southern California, and has studied with Richard Lavenda, James MacMillan, Donald Crockett, and Stephen Hartke. A passionate educator, he is an instructor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Composer Fellowship Program and the Longy School of Music at Bard College's Masters of Arts in Teaching Music.
The 22nd Underwood New Music Readings were under the direction of ACO's Artistic Director, composer Robert Beaser, and were led by ACO Music DirectorGeorge Manahan, with mentor composers Christopher Theofanidis and Joan Tower. The conductor, mentor composers, and principal players from ACO provided critical feedback to each of the participants during and after the sessions. In addition to the Readings, the composer participants took part in workshops and one-on-one sessions with industry professionals. This year's New Music Readings attracted over 130 submissions from emerging composers around the country. In addition to McCaffrey, the participants were:
Composer Jonathan Blumhofer (b. 1979) in Brooklyn, NY. His first musical activities involved studying violin and piano, and he later took up the viola. Jonathan's compositions have received numerous awards and honors, including recognition from ASCAP, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Longfellow International Composers Competition, Boston University, and Boston Conservatory, among others. His compositions have been performed and recorded by a number of ensembles in the United States and Europe, including the Xanthos Ensemble, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and Camerata Chicago. Jonathan has taught at Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, MA, and at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. He earned his doctorate from Boston University, his master's degree from Boston Conservatory, and his bachelor's degree from Wheaton College.
Louis Chiappetta (b.1989) is a New York-based composer. His recent projects have included Fracture, a series of clarinet miniatures written in collaboration with choreographer Thomas Peacock and the London Contemporary Dance School, and Echoes of Embers for baritone and small ensemble. In March 2012 Louis participated in Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute professional training workshop with Kaija Saariaho and Anssi Karttunen, which included the premiere of his trioLoops, Clocks, and Shadows at Zankel Hall. Louis began his formal composition studies at Mannes College of Music's Preparatory Division at the age of thirteen. He later went on to study with Keith Fitch at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he received his bachelor's degree in 2011.