American Composers Orchestra Announces 2018-2019 Concerts At Carnegie Hall

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2018-2019 Concerts At Carnegie HallAmerican Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces two performances presented by Carnegie Hall in Zankel Hall during the 2018-2019 season. In 2018-2019, under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Music Director George Manahan, and President Edward Yim, ACO continues its commitment to the creation, performance, preservation, and promotion of music by American composers, with programming that reflects the infinite ways American orchestral music illustrates geographic, stylistic, gender, and racial diversity. ACO's concerts at Carnegie Hall include premieres by 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, by composer and Imani Winds flutist Valerie Coleman, and by Alex Temple, a composer who integrates love for pop culture and the Western classical tradition. Additional 2018-2019 performances and activities will be announced in March 2018.

"ACO is honored and excited to continue giving voice to today's American composers, both emerging and established," said ACO President Edward Yim. "In particular, that our premieres shine a light on issues of female empowerment, the global refugee crisis, and powerful musical storytelling is at the heart of our mission to embrace the relevance of today's creative artists to the issues of today."

ACO's concert at Zankel Hall on November 2, 2018 features the world premiere of Valerie Coleman's Phenomenal Women, inspired by Maya Angelou's poem and book, Phenomenal Woman. The concerto for wind quintet and orchestra will be performed by the Imani Winds with ACO, with each member featured in a solo interlude influenced by a different phenomenal woman - activist Malala Yousefai (oboe serenade), Brazilian Olympic Gold medalist Rafaela Silva (clarinet in choro style), athlete Serena Williams (bassoon virtuoso cadenza), Michelle Obama (flute with urban/jazz elements) and Hillary Clinton (horn fanfare). The concert also features the world premiere of Alex Temple's Three Principles of Noir with singer Meaghan Burke, a piece with a time-traveling science fiction narrative centered around a Chicago historian who travels back in time to the 1893 World's Fair. This is ACO's second commission from Alex Temple. The orchestra premiered her Liebeslied in 2011 during the opening concert of its SONiC festival that year. Joan Tower's Chamber Dance, written in 2006 for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, completes the program. Chamber Dance treats the orchestra like a chamber music ensemble, and weaves together solos, duos, and other combinations of instrumentalists, creating, as Tower puts it, "an ensemble that has to 'dance' well together."

On April 11, 2019 at Zankel Hall, ACO will give the U.S. premiere of Du Yun's Where We Lost Our Shadows, a new multidisciplinary work for orchestra, film, and vocalists, co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances. This is ACO's second commission from Du Yun, who created her piece Slow Portraits during ACO's coLABoratory research and development program in 2013. Du Yun is composing Where We Lost Our Shadows in response to film captured by Ramallah-based Palestinian visual artist Khaled Jarrar, which documents the refugee crisis in Europe. The piece will be performed by ACO with singer Helga Davis, Pakistani Qawwali singer Ali Sethi, and percussionist Shayna Dunkleman, with visuals by Jarrar. The concert also includes Gloria Coates' Symphony No. 1, "Music on Open Strings," from 1973, and Morton Feldman's 1980 work Turfan Fragments, inspired by a series of fragments of knotted carpets from the third and sixth centuries which were discovered in the Silk Road region.

ACO's 2018-2019 Concerts at Carnegie Hall

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC
Tickets & Information: (
Subscriptions now available. Single tickets available August 20, 2018.

George Manahan, music director and conductor
Imani Winds (Valerie Coleman, flute; Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe; Mark Dover, clarinet; Jeff Scott, horn; Monica Ellis, bassoon)
Meaghan Burke, voice
Amber Treadway, director
Storm Garner, costume designer

VALERIE COLEMAN: Phenomenal Women Concerto for Wind Quintet and Orchestra (World Premiere, co-commissioned by ACO and Carnegie Hall)
JOAN TOWER: Chamber Dance (2006)
ALEX TEMPLE Three Principles of Noir (World Premiere, commissioned by ACO)

Described as one of the "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music" by critic Anne Midgette of The Washington Post, Valerie Coleman is among the world's most played composers living today. The Boston Globe describes Coleman as a having a "talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations," and The New York Times has praised her "skillfully wrought, buoyant music." With works that range from flute sonatas that recount the stories of trafficked humans during Middle Passage and orchestral and chamber works based on nomadic Roma tribes, to scherzos about moonshine in the Mississippi Delta region and motifs based from Morse Code, her body of works has been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music. Coleman is the founder, composer, and flutist of the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, one of the world's premier chamber music ensembles. She is perhaps best known for UMOJA, a composition that is widely recognized and was listed by Chamber Music America one of the "Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works." Coleman is regularly featured as a performer and composer at many of the world's great concert venues, series and conservatories: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Hall, DaCamera Houston, Boston Celebrity Series, Krannert Center, Wigmore Hall, Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Paris Jazz Festival, The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, Curtis, Peabody, Mannes, The Colburn School, and more. She has received awards and/or honors from the National Flute Association, The Herb Alpert Awards, MAPFUND, ASCAP Concert Music Awards, NARAS, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, Artists International, Wombwell Kentucky Award, and Michelle E. Sahm Memorial Award, to name a few. Her works are published by Theodore Presser, International Opus, and her own company, V Coleman Music, and can be heard on Cedille Records, BMG France, Sony Classics, eOne (formerly Koch International Classics), and Naxos.

Valerie Coleman's piece for ACO, Phenomenal Women, is a concerto for wind quintet and chamber orchestra, to be premiered by ACO with the Imani Winds, and is inspired by Maya Angelou's poem and book Phenomenal Woman. The multi-movement work travels through varied sound worlds including atonality, urban, classical, Brazilian choro, bebop, swing and Afro-Cuban jazz. Coleman says of the new work, "Musical motifs will be extracted from Angelou's sensuous and peppery verses. Each movement will carry emboldened harmonies and improvisational-stylized riffs from the soloists, evolving into virtuoso exchanges between forces. Phenomenal Women is about celebrating women's efforts to overcome adversity, no matter where you are."

Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than 50 years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., among others. In 1990, Tower became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders. She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded that work, Made in America, with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra, for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Nashville's latest all-Tower recording includes Stroke, which received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Tower's tremendously popular five Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by over 500 different ensembles. She is currently Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972. Joan Tower's music is published by Associated Music Publishers.

Tower describers her Chamber Dance, written for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as chamber music. She writes in her note for the work, "It is chamber music in the sense that I always thought of Orpheus as a large chamber group, interacting and 'dancing' with one another the way smaller chamber groups do. Like dancers, the members of this large group have to be very much in touch with what everyone else is doing, and allow for changing leadership to guide the smaller and bigger ensembles."

As someone who loves both the Western classical tradition and the world of pop culture, Alex Temple has always felt uncomfortable with stylistic hierarchies and the idea of a pure musical language. She prefers to look for points of connection between things that are not supposed to belong together, distorting and combining iconic sounds to create new meanings - often in service of surreal, cryptic, or fantastical stories. She is particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of ("cheesy") sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories. Temple's work has been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles, including Mellissa Hughes, Timo Andres, Mark Dancigers, American Composers Orchestra, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Spektral Quartet, Fifth House Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, and Ensemble de Sade.

Temple received her B.A. from Yale University in 2005, where she studied with Kathryn Alexander, John Halle and Matthew Suttor, and released two albums of electronic music on a micro-label that she ran out of her dorm room. In 2007, she completed her M.A. at University of Michigan, where she studied with Erik Santos and visiting professors Michael Colgrass, Tania León and Betsy Jolas, as well as collaborating with a troupe of dancers and playing in an indie bossa-nova band. She recently completed a DMA at Northwestern University, where she studied with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim.

Alex Temple's new work for ACO, Three Principles of Noir, explores a narrative that tells the story of a time-traveling Chicago historian. The piece, which features singer Meaghan Burke, with director Amber Treadway and costume design by Storm Garner, delves into the universal themes of morality, motivation, and the consequences of one's intentions - whether or not action is taken. Temple outlines the "three principles of noir" in her note for the new work: "1. It doesn't matter how well you plan it. You won't get away with it. / 2. It doesn't matter whether you did it or not. You won't get away with it. / 3. It doesn't matter whether you did it or not. You're a bad person anyway."

Listen to music by Coleman, Tower, and Temple:
Valerie Coleman:
Joan Tower:
Alex Temple:

Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 7:30pm
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall | 57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC
Tickets & Information: (
Subscriptions now available. Single tickets available August 20, 2018.

George Manahan, music director and conductor
Helga Davis, vocalist
Ali Sethi, vocalist
Shayna Dunkleman, percussion
Khaled Jarrar, videographer

MORTON FELDMAN: Turfan Fragments (1980)
GLORIA COATES: Symphony No. 1, "Music on Open Strings" (1973)
Du Yun: Where We Lost Our Shadows (U.S. Premiere, co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances)

Morton Feldman was born in New York in 1926 and died there in 1987. Just like Cage, a close friend, he was an American composer - an American artist - an American in the true sense of the word. Feldman identified himself by differentiating his views on composition from those of his colleagues in Europe. He was proud to be an American because he was convinced that it enabled him the freedom, unparalleled in Europe, to work unfettered by tradition. And, he was an American also in what may have been a slight inferiority complex in the face of cultural traditions in Europe, something he proudly rejected and secretly admired. Like any true artist, Feldman was endowed with a sensitivity for impressions of a wide variety of sources, literature and painting in particular. His affinity to Samuel Beckett has enriched music literature by a unique music theatre piece, Neither, and two ensemble works. His friendship with abstract impressionist painters gave birth to a range of masterpieces, Rothko Chapel in particular.

But even the knotting of oriental rugs gave Feldman musical ideas, exemplified in the work ACO will perform, Turfan Fragments. A series of archaeological expeditions to East Turkestan, conducted by Sir Aurel Stein in the early part of the 20th century, unearthed several fragments of knotted carpets dating from the third and sixth centuries. Feldman writes, "Though these fragments were too small to indicate either its design or provenance, they did convey a long tradition of carpet weaving. This is to a large degree the extended metaphor of my composition: not the suggestion of an actual completed work of 'art,' but the history in Western music of putting sounds and instruments together."

An American composer who has made her career for the most part in Germany, Gloria Coates was born in Wisconsin in 1938. From rural Wisconsin, she headed to New York City to attend Columbia University for undergraduate studies in music; she then earned a master's degree from the University of Louisiana in 1965. She returned to Columbia for post-graduate work, studying under American composer icons Jack Beeson and Otto Luening, and then moved to Salzburg to take lessons from Alexander Tcherepnin at the Mozarteum there. She established a second residency in Munich in 1969. Coates has been instrumental in bringing American concert music to Germany; the reverse has been far more common over the centuries and Coates is among those who feel it is time to return the favor. She organized and developed the German-American Contemporary Music Series concerts in Munich in the early 1970s and, as an influential member of the International League of Women Composers, has helped bring American women composers in particular to a wider European audience.

Coates has written sixteen full-scale symphonies, eleven string quartets, several orchestral works, and a number of song cycles. The 1978 premiere in Warsaw of her Symphony No. 1, "Music for Open Strings" brought her acclaim; the work was among the finalists for the 1986 International Koussevitsky Award. Symphony No. 1 "Music for Open Strings," was written in 1973 and is scored for a string orchestra playing entirely on retuned open strings. The work opens with the strings tuned to a minor pentatonic scale (B flat, C, D flat, F, G flat), which are returned to their normal tuning movement by movement.

Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China and currently based in New York, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, and curator, working at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, pop music, oral tradition, visual arts, electronics and noise. Hailed by The New York Times as a leading figure in China's new generation of composers and often cited as a key activist in New York's "new movement in new music," she was selected by National Public Radio as one of the 100 composers under 40. Known as chameleonic in her protean artistic outputs, her music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, ensembles, orchestras and organizations. In addition, Du Yun has also made works in the art world, including the 4th Guangzhou Art Triennial, Sharjah Biennial (UAE), Auckland Triennial, and Istanbul Biennial. Du Yun is on the composition faculty at SUNY-Purchase. She was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and currently she serves as the Artistic Director of MATA, a pioneering organization dedicated to commissioning and championing young composers from around the world. In 2017, Du Yun was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera Angel's Bone.

In the 2018-19 season, ACO will work with Du Yun as she creates a new orchestral work titled Where We Lost Our Shadows, in response to film captured by Khaled Jarrar, which documents the refugee crisis in Europe. The work is being co-commissioned by ACO, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Southbank Centre, and Cal Performances. Du Yun writes, "At the heart of this project lies the footage that Khaled documented following a Syrian family migrating across the Aegean Sea (the mother of the family was a Palestinian refugee, who first sought refuge in Syria when she was an eight-year-old girl herself). The concerto-orchestral work, while showing only some of the footage, will mostly focus on the perpetual movement of human procession and migration, and the question of Exodus. The musical language is to take the Qawwali of Raga Aiman Kalyan (a type of devotional music) and explore its provenance (13th century Muslim India, according to legend); its subsequent migration through space and time (Central Asia, Bengal, the global South Asian diaspora); and its migration through genres, forms, techniques. The text for the work is from the poem Vehicles In The Dark, by the Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan. The work, to some degree, explores both cold hard reality and transcending unifying moments. As the piece progresses, the narrative, music and video will shift away from depicting reality as it is, to exploring symbolic, poetic, and allegorical depictions of the central themes of migration and exodus."

Listen to music by Feldman, Coates, and Du Yun:
Morton Feldman:
Gloria Coates:
Du Yun:

About Derek Bermel, ACO Artistic Director

Grammy-nominated composer-clarinetist Derek Bermel has been hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. An "eclectic with wide open ears" (Toronto Star), Bermel is acclaimed for music that is "intricate, witty, clear-spoken, tender, and extraordinarily beautiful [and] covers an amazing amount of ground, from the West African rhythms of Dust Dances to the Bulgarian folk strains of Thracian Echoes, to the shimmering harmonic splendor of Elixir. In the hands of a composer less assured, all that globe-trotting would seem like an affectation; Bermel makes it an artistic imperative." (San Francisco Chronicle).

His engagement with myriad musical cultures has become part of the fabric and force of his compositional language. In addition to his role as Artistic Director of American Composers Orchestra, he is also Director of Copland House's CULTIVATE emerging composers' institute, served for four-years as Artist-in-Residence at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study and is Curator of the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music (Bowdoin International Music Festival). Recognized as a dynamic and unconventional curator and creator, his work has been performed by renowned artists worldwide. His commissioners have included the Pittsburgh, National, Saint Louis, New Jersey, Boston, and Pacific Symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles, New Century, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri and JACK Quartets, Seattle and La Jolla Chamber Music Society, Music from Copland House and Music from China, FIGURA (Denmark) Ensembles, Midori, ASKO/Schoenberg Ensemble and Veenfabriek (Netherlands).

As The Boston Globe wrote, "There doesn't seem to be anything that Bermel can't do with the clarinet." As a performer he has worked with a dizzyingly eclectic array of artists, including as soloist alongside Wynton Marsalis in his own Migration Series, commissioned by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra. Bermel's clarinet concerto Voices premiered at Carnegie Hall, with the composer as soloist, and he has performed the critically acclaimed work with more than a dozen orchestras, including the BBC Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. His performance of Voices with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project led to a Grammy-nominated recording for Best Soloist with Orchestra. Founding clarinetist of the acclaimed Music from Copland House ensemble, Bermel's chamber music appearances also include performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Borromeo, Pacifica, and JACK quartets; festivals including Moab, Fontana, Cape Cod, and Salt Bay; the Cliburn Series at the Modern, Carmel and Albuquerque Chamber Music Series, Garth Newel Center, Seattle Town Hall, and Louisville Chamber Music Society. He has collaborated on several film scores, and with artists such as playwright Will Eno, installation artist Shimon Attie, choreographer Sheron Wray, poet Wendy S. Walters, and hip hop legend Yasiin Bey (Mos Def).

Bermel's many honors include the Alpert Award in the Arts, Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, New Music USA's Trailblazer Award, and Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, and residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri.

About George Manahan, ACO Music Director

ACO's Music Director, the wide-ranging and versatile George Manahan, has had an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. He is also the Music Director of Portland Opera (OR), previously served as Music Director of New York City Opera for fourteen seasons, and has appeared as guest conductor with the Opera Companies of Seattle, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Chicago, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera National du Paris and Teatro de Communale de Bologna and the National, New Jersey, Atlanta, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis Symphonies, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In 2013, Manahan was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Award for his outstanding commitment to the work of emerging composers, and was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th-century music during his tenure as Music Director of the Richmond Symphony (VA).

Dedicated to the music of our time, he has led premieres of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne, Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang's Modern Painters, Hans Werner Henze's The English Cat, Terence Blanchard's Champion, the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner, and Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman's Grammy Award winning Ask Your Mama, a collaboration with soprano Jessye Norman, The Roots, and Orchestra of St. Luke's. Recent seasons have included appearances at Santa Fe Opera, Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in a concert performance of Gluck's Alceste featuring Deborah Voigt, Music Academy of the West, and the Aspen Music Festival. The Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of his New York City Opera production of Madame Butterfly won an Emmy Award.

Manahan's discography includes the Grammy-nominated recording of Edward Thomas' Desire Under the Elms with the London Symphony, and Steve Reich's Tehillim on the EMI-Warner Brothers label. He is Director of Orchestral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music as well as a frequent guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music.

About ACO

Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promotion of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, internet and radio 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 also 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. ACO programs seek to innovate and experiment, educate students and the public, and open the orchestra to diverse new influences and audiences.

To date, ACO has performed music by more than 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra's innovative programs have been SONiC, a nine-day citywide festival in New York of music by more than 100 composers age 40 and under; Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; and Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers.

Composer development has been at the core of ACO's mission since its founding. In addition to its annual Underwood New Music Readings and Commission, ACO also provides a range of educational and professional development activities, including composer residencies and fellowships. In 2008, ACO launched EarShot, a multi-institutional network that assists orchestras around the country in mounting new music readings. EarShot programs have included the Detroit, Berkeley, La Jolla, Nashville, Memphis, Columbus, Colorado, San Diego Symphonies, the New York Philharmonic, New York Youth Symphony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Recently, EarShot introduced an initiative to provide career development and commissions for emerging female composers, and launched an online archive featuring audio excerpts, program notes, and score samples by more than 140 composers whose works have been performed through the EarShot Network. The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, launched in 2010, supports jazz artists who desire to write for symphony orchestra. For more information visit

Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra's outstanding contribution to American music. ACO was the 2015 recipient of the Champion of New Music Award given by American Composers Forum. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO over 35 times, singling out ACO as, "the orchestra that has done the most for American music in the United States." ACO received the inaugural MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records,, and iTunes. ACO's digital albums include Playing It UNsafe (March 2011), Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 (February 2012), Orchestra Underground: X10D (June 2012), Orchestra Underground: Tech & Techno (July 2014), and SONiC Double Live (July 2016), a collection of premiere performances from its groundbreaking SONiC festival. ACO has also released Orchestra Underground: A-V, a groundbreaking album of multimedia works available for free streaming at

More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at

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