The American Composers Orchestra Announces 2014-2015 Season - ORCHESTRA UNDERGROUND, BLUES SYMPHONY & BEYOND and More

The American Composers Orchestra Announces 2014-2015 Season - ORCHESTRA UNDERGROUND, BLUES SYMPHONY & BEYOND and More

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel and Music Director George Manahan, American Composers Orchestra's (ACO) 2014-2015 season strengthens the orchestra's commitment to serve as a catalyst for the creation of new orchestral music, providing unprecedented opportunities for American composers to create new work and for audiences to discover it. Now in its 11th year at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Orchestra Underground continues as ACO's subversive and entrepreneurial redefinition of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble, and this year features the rarely performed orchestral music of pioneering composer and performer Meredith Monk, holder of the 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall (Monk's Sphere, November 21). Orchestra Underground brings cabaret, pop, and jazz traditions into the concert hall in a program featuring Kurt Weill's cabaret cult classic The Seven Deadly Sins sung by Shara Worden (Sin & Songs, February 27). For the first time in several seasons, ACO returns to performing with full symphonic forces outside of Carnegie Hall - the orchestra's April concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center will showcase the New York premiere ofWynton Marsalis' Blues Symphony.

ACO's 2014-2015 season includes seven world, US, and New York premieres by a diverse group of composers includingWynton Marsalis, Ian Williams, Theo Bleckmann, A.J. McCaffrey, Carman Moore, Daniel Schnyder, and Loren Loaicano, plus performances by Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Ian Williams (Battles), Theo Bleckmann, and the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble. In addition to Meredith Monk's Night and Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins, ACO will also perform music by Worden's pop alter-ego My Brightest Diamond and selections from Sarah Kirkland Snider's haunting pastoralUnremembered. In April 2015, ACO gives the New York premiere of Wynton Marsalis' Blues Symphony at Jazz at Lincoln Center; the concert will also feature the world premiere of a new work commissioned from a past participant in ACO's Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute.

ACO also marks the 24th annual Underwood New Music Readings, one of the country's most sought-after programs for emerging composers, at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music on May 7 and 8, 2015. In what has become a rite of passage for aspiring orchestral composers, up to eight composers from throughout the United States will be selected to receive a reading of a new work, and one composer will be selected to receive a $15,000 commission for a work to be performed by ACO during an upcoming season. Each participating composer receives rehearsal, reading, and a digital recording of his or her work.

In addition, ACO continues its groundbreaking research and development lab for composers in spring 2015, coLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe. ACO's Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI), which extends the orchestra's exploration of the intersection of jazz and improvised music and the symphony orchestra, also continues in 2015. ACO's EarShot, a national network of new music readings with other orchestras across the country, builds on its current season of growth in the 2014-2015 season.

Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra remains the only orchestra in the world dedicated exclusively to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. To date, ACO has performed music by more than 700 American composers, including nearly 300 world premieres and newly commissioned works.

ACO's 2014-2015 Concert Highlights

Friday, November 21, 2014 at 7:30pm.
Orchestra Underground: Monk's Sphere. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

American Composers Orchestra, led by Music Director George Manahan, opens its 38th season with Orchestra Underground: Monk's Sphere at Zankel Hall featuring a rare performance of the orchestral music of pioneering composer and performerMeredith Monk, holder of the 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall, with the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble. Monk protégé Theo Bleckmann, a longtime member of the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble, contributes a new work commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the occasion. The concert also features the world premiere of the first orchestral piece by experimental-rock guitarist Ian Williams (Battles), a world premiere by rising-star composer and ACO's 2013 Underwood Commission winner A.J. McCaffrey, and the New York premiere of Loren Loiacono's Stalks, Hounds.

About the Composers & Music

Ian Williams is a guitarist from a rock background. His status as a rock musician has always existed in the realm of hyphenated distinctions (experimental-rock, electro-rock, post-rock, math-rock, etc.), although none quite fit. His music has always balanced somewhere between complexity and accessibility, falling more to one side or the other each time. In 2002, he started the band Battles, in which he plays guitar, keyboard and electronics. Battles has released two full albums and a series of EPs with Warp Records. In the past Williams was a key member of the group Don Caballero which was based in Pittsburgh from 1992-2000. He played guitar and released five albums with them over that time. He also spent a number of years in Chicago where he had an experimental band called Storm and Stress, which existed from 1995 until 2000 and released two albums. In 2000, he moved to Brooklyn, NY where he currently resides. His new work Clear Image for orchestra and electronics, commissioned by ACO, explores the realm between live performance and material that has been electronically enhanced. This is his first work for orchestra.

A.J. McCaffrey is a songwriter and composer of instrumental, vocal and electronic music. His orchestral work Thank You for Waiting was chosen for ACO's Underwood New Music Readings, and he was subsequently awarded the 2013 Underwood Emerging Composers Commission. His works are theatrical in nature, employing harmonically rich and lyrically striking sound worlds to create dramatic narratives. His enthusiasm for other art forms has led to stimulating collaborations with filmmakers, theater companies, writers and visual artists, including Shakespeare & Company, Northern Light Productions, Ilana Halperin, and E. Tracy Grinnell. McCaffrey's music has been performed by the New Fromm Players, the Radius Ensemble, the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Alarm Will Sound, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, among others. A fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival and School, McCaffrey has been a featured composer on Tanglewood's Festival of Contemporary Music and the New Gallery Concert Series. In addition to his concert music projects, McCaffrey is a songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist with the alt-rock band Planes Intersect. He holds degrees in music from the University of Southern California, Rice University, and The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has studied composition with Richard Lavenda, James MacMillan, Donald Crockett, and Stephen Hartke. McCaffrey's new work for ACO, Scrabbling Upwards and Slithering Back, is inspired by his experiences as a new father. He says, "The piece as a whole moves through the shifting instrumental colors and moods, from delirium to sleepiness, that one might encounter in a typical day of parenting."

Loren Loiacono is currently pursuing her Doctorate in composition at Cornell University, where she studies with Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, and Kevin Ernste. She received her MM and BA from Yale University, where her teachers included Martin Bresnick, David Lang, Ezra Laderman, Christopher Theofanidis, Kathryn Alexander, and Michael Klingbeil. Her works have been performed by such ensembles as the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony Orchestra, 5th House Ensemble, and the Argento Ensemble, and her music has been featured on NPR. Loiacono has received awards from ASCAP, Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, and an honorable mention from the American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings. In 2013, she was selected for a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, culminating in the premiere of a new work at Carnegie Hall in spring 2014. She has been a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Copland House's CULTIVATE, the Chamber Music Conference of the East, and she received the 2010 Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship from the Aspen Music Festival. Loiacono's work Stalks, Hounds explores how a musical gesture, when taken out of context, can be transformed from meaningful to alien.

The New York Times has lauded composer and singer Theo Bleckmann as "a vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous musicality." The Grammy-nominated and ECHO award recipient makes music that is accessibly sophisticated, unsentimentally emotional and seriously playful, leading his work to be described as "from another planet" (The New York Times), as "magical, futuristic" (AllAboutJazz), and "brilliant" (New York Magazine). Bleckmann has released a series of albums on Winter & Winter, including recordings of Las Vegas standards, Weimar art songs and popular "bar songs" (with pianist Fumio Yasuda), a recording of newly-arranged songs by Charles Ives (with jazz/rock collective Kneebody), his acoustic Solos for Voice "I dwell in possibility" and his highly acclaimed Hello Earth, the music of Kate Bush. His most current project is a song cycle dealing with the delicate subject matter of death, songs in the key of d featuring harpist Zeena Parkins. Bleckmann has collaborated with such musicians, artists, actors and composers as Laurie Anderson, Uri Caine, Philip Glass, Ann Hamilton, John Hollenbeck, Sheila Jordan, Phil Kline, David Lang, Kirk Nurock, Frances MacDormand, Ben Monder, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn, the Bang on a Can All-stars, and Meredith Monk, with whom Bleckmann worked as a core ensemble member for over 15 years. Bleckmann's piece for ACO, My Brightest Garment, is an orchestral song about death as a vanishing act. Bleckmann, the composer, lyricist, and vocalist, will use live electronic processing during the performance.

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, and creator of new opera and music-theater works. A pioneer in "extended vocal technique," Monk has been hailed as a "magician of the voice" and "one of America's coolest composers." Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument and eloquent language in and of itself expands the boundaries of musical composition. Recently Monk was named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France. She has also received the Founders Award from New Music USA and has been named Composer of the Year by Musical America, a Doris Duke Artist, and one of NPR's 50 Great Voices. In addition, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. She has received commissions from New World Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Monk has made more than a dozen recordings and her music has also been featured in films by Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers, among others. Her work has been presented by Lincoln Center Festival, BAM, Houston Grand Opera, London's Barbican Centre and at major venues from Brazil to Syria. Monk's numerous honors include a Grammy nomination for impermanence, a MacArthur "Genius" Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a San Francisco Symphony commission, an American Music Center Letter of Distinction, an ASCAP Concert Music Award, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Juilliard School, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Boston Conservatory. Monk has been appointed as Carnegie Hall's 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair. Her work Night was originally composed in 1996, and was later revised with a richer orchestration scored for voices and an unusual ensemble of instruments that includes saxophones, synthesizer, bowed psaltery, and a variety of percussion instruments.

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7:30pm.
Orchestra Underground: Sins & Songs. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

American Composers Orchestra, led by Music Director George Manahan, features guest vocalist Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) in Orchestra Underground: Sins & Songs at Zankel Hall, bringing the world's cabaret, pop, and jazz traditions into the concert hall. The program includes Kurt Weill's cabaret cult classic The Seven Deadly Sins, songs by Worden's pop alter-ego My Brightest Diamond, a haunting song cycle by Sarah Kirkland Snider, the US premiere of Daniel Schnyder's Dracula-inspired draKOOL, and the world premiere of Carman Moore's Tata Madiba, commissioned by ACO and honoring Nelson Mandela.

About the Composers & Music

Kurt Weill (1900-1950) began his career in the early 1920's, after a musical childhood and several years of study in Berlin. His works with Bertolt Brecht made him famous all over Europe. He fled the Nazis in 1933 and continued his indefatigable efforts in Paris and in the U.S. until his death. Certain threads tie together his career: a concern for social justice, an aggressive pursuit of highly-regarded playwrights and lyricists as collaborators, and the ability to adapt to audience tastes no matter where he found himself. His most important works include The Violin Concerto, The Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,The Pledge, The Seven Deadly Sins, Lady in the Dark, Street Scene, and Lost in the Stars. Weill's The Seven Deadly Sinsexplores sloth, pride, wrath, gluttony, lust, covetousness, and envy through two characters - Anna 1 (who sings) and Anna II (who dances) - as they travel to seven cities in America and encounter a different sin in each.

Shara Worden received a BA in Opera from the University of North Texas. After moving to New York, she began studying composition with composer/performer Padma Newsome from Clogs and The National. During this time she composed music for several off-Broadway theater productions. Her band, My Brightest Diamond, has released Bring Me The Workhorse, A Thousand Shark's Teeth and All Things Will Unwind and the will soon release This is my Hand. Recent years have found Worden in the role of composer as much as songwriter. She recently composed a baroque opera, You Us We All, which was co-produced by Hamburg International Summer Festival and deSingel International Arts Campus and will be performed again at the Holland Festival in 2014. She has also received commissions from yMusic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Young New Yorkers' Chorus, Brooklyn Rider, and Nadia Sirota. Additionally, many composers, songwriters and filmmakers have sought out Worden's distinctive voice, including David Lang, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, as well as Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler. Worden received the 2012 Kresge Artist Fellowship in the performing arts.

Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as "rapturous" (The New York Times), "haunting" (The Los Angeles Times) and "strikingly beautiful" (Time Out New York). Her works have been commissioned and performed internationally by ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the Hague Philharmonic/Residentie Orkest, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Knights, Psappha, Roomful of Teeth, Utah Philharmonia, Signal, Shara Worden and many others. Upcoming projects include commissions for the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, a work for Pierrot ensemble, and a work for the Young People's Chorus of New York. Her debut album, Penelope, featuring Shara Worden and Signal, was named to dozens of top 10 lists internationally. Her music also appears on the Grammy Award-winning eponymous debut album by Roomful of Teeth. Snider has an MM from the Yale School of Music. ACO and Shara Worden will perform songs excerpted from Snider's 13-song cycle Unremembered, featuring poetry by New York-based poet Nathaniel Bellows. Snider describes the work as, "A cycle about memory, innocence, and the ways we cope with an unpredictable world." Unremembered has been recorded by vocalists Padma Newsome, D.M. Stith, and Shara Worden for release on New Amsterdam Records in fall 2014.

Daniel Schnyder is known as a composer/performer with a dynamic reputation in both jazz and classical fields. He has recorded more than ten CDs of his own music and has toured and recorded with many classical musicians, world music artists and jazz players. Schnyder's orchestral works and his chamber music compositions have been performed and recorded all over the world. He has received commissions from Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Tonkuenstler Orchestra in Vienna, the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, The Norrlands Operan in Sweden, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Vienna Art Orchestra the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Opera of Bern, the NDR Orchestra in Hannover, the NDR Big Band in Germany, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the New York-based Absolute Ensemble under the direction of Kristjan Järvi, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others. Schnyder wrote draKOOL after seeing a cartoon movie with his children about a monster party at Count Dracula's Castle in Transylvania.

The New York Times described Carman Moore as a composer who not only defies categories, but "treats them with disdain." Moore earned his BM at Ohio State University and studied composition privately with Hall Overton and at The Juilliard School with Luciano Berio and Vincent Persichetti where he earned his MM. Moore began composing for symphony and chamber ensembles while writing lyrics for pop songs, gradually adding opera, theatre, dance, and film scores to his body of work. He has received commissions from New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Costa Rican Ministry of Culture, the Lincoln Center Institute, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He was recently awarded the MacDowell and Guggenheim Fellowships. Moore has taught at Yale University, Queens and Brooklyn Colleges, Carnegie-Mellon University, Manhattanville College, and The New School for Social Research. He has taught children with the Lincoln Center Institute and Jazzmobile. Moore has served as board member and/or adjudicator for several major organizations, including Composers Forum, the Society of Black Composers (of which he was a Founder), The MacDowell Colony, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Moore's work for ACO, Tata Madiba, honors the great statesman Nelson Mandela.

Thursday, April 5, 2015 at 8pm.
Blues Symphony & Beyond. Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center.

ACO, led by Music Director George Manahan, will perform a concert titled Blues Symphony & Beyond at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The concert will feature the New York premiere of Blues Symphony by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center co-founder and Artistic Director. Blues Symphony is the first work by Marsalis composed exclusively for symphony orchestra. The concert will also feature the world premiere of a new work commissioned from a past participant in ACO's groundbreaking Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI), which gives jazz composers the opportunity for vital hands-on experience working with a symphony orchestra.


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