The New York Phil and ACO Announce 13 Composers Whose Original Scores Have Been Chosen as a 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 13 emerging composers from an international pool of more than 400 applicants from seven countries and 37 states ranging in age from 9 to 84, whose original scores for orchestra have been chosen for readings and performances by the Philharmonic and ACO as part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL.
Three works will be selected to receive premieres on public concerts with the New York Philharmonic as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL: one work on June 5 and the second on June 7 will be conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, and the third work will be featured on the June 6 program conducted by Matthias Pintscher. The three works will be selected following a private reading of six works by the Philharmonic on June 3.
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, also as part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL. The Underwood Readings will feature new, stylistically diverse music from seven composers at the early stages of their careers. ACO's Readings include two public events - a working rehearsal on June 6 at 10:00 a.m., and a run-through on June 7 at 7:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public, giving audiences a chance to look behind the scenes at the process involved in bringing brand new orchestral music to life. One composer from the Underwood New Music Readings will be chosen to receive a $15,000 commission to write a new piece for ACO, to be premiered during the orchestra's 2015-16 season.
Writing for symphony orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges for emerging composers. The subtleties of instrumental balance, timbre, and communication with the conductor and musicians are critical skills, but opportunities for composers to gain hands-on experience working with professional orchestras are few. The New York Philharmonic EarShot Readings and the ACO Underwood New Music Readings will provide invaluable knowledge for the participating composers during the NY PHIL BIENNIAL.
"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 - I can honestly say that I have no idea which three will be selected to be performed on our concerts. 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 participate in the New York Philharmonic EarShot Readings and their works are:
Julia Adolphe: Dark Sand, Sifting Light
Julia Adolphe was born in 1988 in New York and is now based in Los Angeles. She is a composer, writer, and soprano whose music embraces diverse artistic and sociological influences, unfolding intricate emotional narratives. Adolphe has received the Theodore Front Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music, the Jimmy McHugh Composition Prize, John James Blackmore Prize, and John S. Knight Prize. She is currently pursuing a DMA from the USC Thornton School of Music studying composition with Stephen Hartke, and holds a MM in music composition from USC and a BA in music composition and literary theory from Cornell University. Hartke calls Adolphe, "a very promising composer." Her work Dark Sand, Sifting Light is her first for professional orchestra, and 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.
William Dougherty: Into Focus
William Dougherty was born in 1988 in Philadelphia and currently resides in Basel, Switzerland. His works have been performed by ensembles including the Orchestre National de Lorraine, the BBC Singers, the London Chorus, the Lontano Ensemble, the Nemascae Lemanic Modern Ensemble, and the Ligeti String Quartet. Dougherty earned his BM in composition from Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2010 where he studied with Richard Brodhead and Jan Krzywicki. As a Marshall Scholar, Dougherty earned his MM in composition with distinction from the Royal College of Music, London in 2012 working with Mark-Anthony Turnage and Kenneth Hesketh. That same year, he pursued complementary studies with Georg Friedrich Haas at the Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel, where he still attends. In fall 2014, Dougherty will continue his studies with Haas as a doctoral student at Columbia University. Of
his work, Haas says, "His music is fragile, expressive, and full of deep love of the qualities of sound." In his piece Into Focus, Dougherty seeks to aurally explore the three areas of visual perception known as the focus, fringe, and margin.
Max Grafe: Bismuth: Variations for Orchestra
Max Grafe was born in 1988 in Poughkeepsie and now lives in New York. His work has been performed by Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, bassoonists Elizabeth Garrett and Sasha Gee Enegren, pianist Han Chen, and saxophone-percussion duo Patchwork. Grafe has received several scholarships for graduate study at the Juilliard School, a fellowship for study at the 2012 Aspen Music Festival and School, a 2011 Jacobs School of Music Dean's Prize, and a 2007 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He is currently pursuing a DMA in composition as a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow of the Juilliard School, where he also received a MM in composition in 2013. He received a BM in composition with a concentration in bassoon from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2011. Grafe's work Bismuth: Variations for Orchestra is the result of the composer's desire to write a piece with a high degree of abstraction, in contrast to his previous works informed by extramusical sources. The work is named for the kaleidoscopic patina and geometric edges of a pure bismuth crystal. Mentor composer Christopher Rouse describes Grafe's music as "elegant and imaginative." This is Grafe's first reading by a professional orchestra.
Jesse Jones: ...innumerable stars, scattered in clusters
Jesse Jones was born in 1978 in Flora Vista, New Mexico and now resides in Columbia, South Carolina. His music has been performed at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Muziekgebouw, Seiji Ozawa Hall, the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, the Aspen Music Festival, and the American Academy in Rome. He was a 2009 participant in ACO's Underwood New Music Readings, and has received the Elliott Carter Rome Prize in Composition from the American Academy in Rome, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Heckscher Foundation Prize in Composition, Cornell's Sage Fellowship, a Barlow Endowment Commission, the Peter Tommaney Fellowship of the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship of the Aspen Music Festival and School. Jones holds a DMA in music composition from Cornell University where he studied with Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, and Kevin Ernste. He earned his MM in composition from the University of Oregon and his BM from Eastern Oregon University. Jones is currently Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of South Carolina. Steven Stucky described Jones' work as having, "a very special, very personal voice, shaped by his upbringing in New Mexico and Oregon. It is spell-binding music." Jones' ...innumerable stars, scattered in clusters was inspired by the experience of sharing the same view of the heavens that Galileo Galilei saw in 1609 from the tallest hill in Rome, during his residency at the American Academy in Rome.
Wang Lu: Scenes from the Bosco Sacro
Composer and pianist Wang Lu was born in Xi'an, the ancient capital of China, in 1982 and now lives in Chicago. She grew up in a musical family with strong Chinese opera and folk music traditions, and her works reflect a natural identification with those influences through the prism of contemporary instrumental techniques and new sonic possibilities. Wang Lu is a past participant in the ACO Underwood New Music Readings, and her work Flowing Water Study II was commissioned and premiered by ACO at the opening concert of the orchestra's SONiC Festival in 2011. She won the first prize at Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne's Young Composers Forum in 2010 and shared the Tactus International Young Composers Orchestra Forum Award in 2008. She was selected for a Tremplin commission by IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain in 2010, the International Composition Seminar with the Ensemble Modern in 2012, and has also received two ASCAP Morton Gould awards. Wang Lu received her doctoral degree in composition at Columbia University in 2012, after graduating with highest honors from the Beijing Central
Conservatory of Music in 2005. Her composition teachers have included Fred Lerdahl, Tristan Murail, George Lewis, and Chou-Wen Chung. Of her music, Fred Lerdahl says, "Lu is a gifted composer who is on her way to a major career . . . a distinctive melodic and instrumental amalgam of Chinese and Western stylistic traits." Her work Scenes from the Bosco Sacro, is written in response to the bizarre Mannerist garden complex, the Bosco Sacro (Sacred Grove), in Northern Lazio outside of Rome.
Andrew McManus: Strobe
Andrew McManus was born in 1985 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and is now based in Chicago. His music mixes strange sounds and irregular rhythms to find new ways of exploring spirituality, surrealism, and theatrical drama. In May 2014 his opera Killing the Goat will be premiered by eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, and members of the Contempo Chamber Players at the University of Chicago. In 2013 Ancient Vigils, a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York. His previous works include Identity, which was premiered at the 2008 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute and The Concerto of Deliverance (2010), which was read by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and premiered by the University of Oklahoma Symphony. McManus is currently a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, where he studies with Augusta Read Thomas, Marta Ptaszynska, Shulamit Ran, and Howard Sandroff. He also holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. His honors include a BMI Student Composer Award and honorable mentions from ASCAP. McManus' piece Strobe explores the connotations and images associated with the word, through sharp, pointed, scattershot rhythmic textures, erratic shrieks of brilliance and the occasional thumping kick drum. Composer and University of Chicago professor Marta Ptaszynska says, "[McManus'] compositions are imaginative, with a very good sense of structure and timbre."
A private reading session of these six works by the Philharmonic will take place on June 3, at which the participants and mentor composers will be present. Three pieces will be selected to be performed on NY PHIL BIENNIAL concerts on June 5 and 7, with Alan Gilbert conducting, and on June 6, with Matthias Pintscher conducting, at Avery Fisher Hall. Alan Gilbert will meet 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 will all have works performed as part of the NY PHIL BIENNIAL.
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.
The composers chosen for ACO's 23rd Underwood New Music Readings and their works are:
Andy Akiho: Tarnished Mirrors
Andy Akiho was born in 1979 in Columbia, South Carolina and now resides in New York. His musical interests run from steel pan to traditional classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall's Ensemble ACJW, a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC featuring original works. His rhythmic compositions have been recognized with awards including the 2014-15 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, a 2012 Chamber Music America Grant with Sybarite5, the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition
Grand Prize, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, the 2011 Woods Chandler Memorial Prize (Yale School of Music), a 2011 Music Alumni Award (YSM), the 2010 Horatio Parker Award (YSM), three ASCAP Plus Awards, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and a 2008 Brian M. Israel Prize. Akiho is a graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Princeton University. His compositions have been featured on PBS's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music. Of him, Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang says, "His music is attractive and smart and full of invention. One of the hardest working composers I have ever met." Akiho describes his new piece, Tarnished Mirrors, as an opportunity to write for a large ensemble with infinite timbral palettes. This is his first non-concerto work for orchestra.
Melody Eo?tvo?s: Beetles, Dragons, and Dreamers
Melody Eo?tvo?s was born in 1984 in Australia and is now based in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work draws on both multimedia and traditional instrumental contexts, as well substantial extra- musical references to a broad range of philosophical topics and late 19th century literature. She has studied with composers including Gerardo Dirie?, Simon Bainbridge, Claude Baker, Jeffrey Hass, John Gibson, and Alicyn Warren. Eo?tvo?s has been the recipient of various awards including the 3MBS National Composers Award (Australia 2009), an APRA PDA (Australia 2009), and the Soundstream National Composer Award (2012). She has had her music performed by ensembles and orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, BBC Singers, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian String Quartet. She holds a DM (2014) from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a MM (2008) from the Royal Academy of Music, London. Her piece Beetles, Dragons, and Dreamers draws its inspiration from the concept of four Mythological or Ancient relics that, over the ages, have been carried into the present time but with transformed meanings. Claude Baker said of her work, "She is to be admired for her fluency, imagination and craft."
Robert Honstein: Rise
Robert Honstein was born in 1980 in Syracuse, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. His works have been performed throughout North America by ensembles such as the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble ACJW, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Mivos quartet, the Del Sol Quartet, Concert Black, TIGUE, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. He has received an Aaron Copland Award, multiple ASCAP awards and other honors from SCI, Carnegie Hall, and New Music USA. He has also received residencies at Copland House, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, I-Park, the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Honstein studied composition at the Yale School of Music with Martin Bresnick, Christopher Theofanidis, and David Lang. Bresnick describes Honstein's music as, "Always rich in rhythmic vitality and a sure feel for instrumental capabilities." Honstein's new work, Rise, is a meditation on the idea of the pastoral, placed in the current post-industrial, climate-changing 21st century.