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American Composers Orchestra Announces 40th Season - Tickets Now Available

American Composers Orchestra Announces 40th Season - Tickets Now Available

Tickets are now on sale for American Composers Orchestra's (ACO) 40th Anniversary Season, under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel and Music Director George Manahan. This season includes eight world premieres by a diverse set of composers performed by ACO at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space, and continues 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. Founded in 1977, ACO 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 800 American composers, including 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. ACO takes its commitment to fostering new work beyond the stage in its annual Underwood New Music Readings for emerging composers, now in its 26th year in New York, and through its program EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, which brings the Readings experience to orchestras across the country in partnership with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA.

Now in its 13th year at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Orchestra Underground led by ACO Music Director George Manahan continues as ACO's subversive and entrepreneurial redefinition of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble, and this year opens on October 28, 2016 with Contempo-Scary Music, celebrating Halloween with the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Overlook Hotel Suite, an orchestral suite which takes musical material from The Shining, his opera based on the Stephen King novel; the world premiere of Judith Shatin's Black Moon for orchestra and conductor-controlled electronics which was developed through ACO's coLABoratory "R&D" program; and performances of Bernard Hermann's Psycho Suite and David del Tredici's Dracula. Orchestra Underground returns to Zankel Hall on March 24, 2017 for Past Forward, celebrating Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a performance of his Tehillim, presented as part of Reich's season-long residency as holder of Carnegie Hall's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair, as well as Paola Prestini's The Hotel that Time Forgot with video by Kevork Mourad, the world premiere of Trevor Weston's Flying Fish, and the world premiere of ACO's 2015 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner David Hertzberg's Symphony.

On May 23, 2017, ACO inaugurates a new partnership with Symphony Space, presenting ACO Parables, a concert featuring music that conveys compelling stories, including John Corigliano's Troubadours with guitar soloistSharon Isbin for whom the piece was written, the world premiere of Alex Temple's The Three Principles of Noir featuring cellist-vocalist Meaghan Burke, the world premiere of Nina C. Young's Out of whose womb came the ice featuring baritone David Tinervia with video by R. Luke DuBois, and the world premiere of Portraits of a Queen for ACO by 2016 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner Carlos Simon.

The season concludes with ACO's 26th annual Underwood New Music Readings, one of the country's most sought-after programs for emerging composers, on June 22 and 23, 2017 at the DiMenna Center. In what has become a rite of passage for aspiring orchestral composers, seven 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.

Throughout the 2016-2017 season, ACO will partner with three orchestras for EarShot, a nationwide network that takes the ACO New Music Readings experience across the country, designed as an opportunity for emerging composers to develop their works with a professional orchestra. To date, over fifty composers have been selected for New Music Readings with orchestras. This year's EarShot Readings take place with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (September 20-21, 2016), Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (September 22-23, 2016), and Charlotte Symphony (May 3-4, 2017). Past EarShot partnerships have included the New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA), New York Youth Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony.

In addition, ACO continues its thriving education program, Music Factory, which since 1999 has brought composers into New York City's public schools, reaching over 3,000 students every year. Music Factory is a hands-on and minds-on creativity-based initiative, designed to maximize learning and develop a diversity of transferable skills among children from 4th grade through high school through in-school and after-school programs with partner schools and community organizations. During the 2016-2017 school year, Music Factory will partner with a dozen schools and community organizations throughout Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. ACO's Compose Yourself program provides in-depth study, including group lessons and readings, for promising high school composers.

"Forty years is a remarkable achievement for an orchestra that was originally conceived as a one-off," says ACO President Michael Geller. "The fact that hundreds of American composers over several generations can trace important milestones in their career development to ACO is gratifying. And given the impact that so many of these composers have had on the landscape of orchestra music, this anniversary is nothing short of historic. ACO has thrived over the years by not standing still. Whereas we were once the only orchestra that played music by American composers, we now see our mandate as much broader: to discover diverse new voices in the composition world; to create opportunities for composers to advance their work and their careers; to introduce audiences to exciting, relevant work in an incredible array of styles; and to serve as a catalyst for growth and change in the field of orchestra music. Despite many challenges, including some of the recent severe economic turmoil, ACO is measurably stronger and more vibrant than it has ever been. Our balance sheet is stronger than ever. The innovations of recent years, including our programs like Orchestra Underground and coLABoratory, which have opened the orchestra to more experimentation and multidisciplinary collaborations; the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, which has expanded orchestra repertory demographically as well as aesthetically; the Emerging Composers Project and our EarShot network, which have improved access and resulted in mentoring and new works from young composers, including, increasingly many women composers, make ACO's work deeply impactful, singularly rewarding, and unquestionably more important than ever before."

ACO's 2016-2017 Season Highlights

Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:30pm
Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music, led by ACO Music Director George Manahan, opens ACO's 40th Anniversary Season and celebrates Halloween with music inspired by all things sinister and suspenseful including the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Overlook Hotel Suite, an orchestral suite which takes musical material from The Shining, Moravec's opera based on the Stephen King novel; Bernard Hermann's Psycho Suite from the film score to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller; the world premiere of Judith Shatin's Black Moon (the most auspicious phase of the moon for casting spells) for orchestra and conductor-controlled electronics, which was developed through ACO's coLABoratory "R&D" program; and David del Tredici's setting of the Dracula vampire tale as told in Alfred Corn's poem "My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count," featuring soprano-narrator Nancy Lundy.

About the Composers & Music

Paul Moravec, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is the composer of numerous orchestral, chamber, choral, operatic, and lyric pieces. His music has earned many distinctions, including the Rome Prize Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was the 2013 Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome, served as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and was recently elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society. Moravec's The Overlook Hotel Suite is an orchestra suite that takes musical material from the composer's highly praised opera, The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King, which was premiered by Minnesota Opera to capacity audiences in May 2016. Musical America called the opera a "chilling artistic triumph," reporting, "This operatic treatment of Stephen King's breakthrough horror-thriller (1977) manages not only to distill the narrative intensity of the original but - its most significant achievement - transforms The Shining into valid operatic terms that transcend the thriller trappings."

The music of Judith Shatin has been honored with four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, as well as awards from the American Music Center and Meet the Composer. Her music has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay and West Cork. Sounds of the natural and built environments play an important role in her music, as in her path-breaking Singing the Blue Ridge, scored for mezzo, baritone, orchestra and electronics created from the calls of wild animals. And, as in COAL, an epic, evening-length folk oratorio, in which she combines sounds she recorded in a coal mine with music for Appalachian band, chorus and synthesizer. Shatin is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia, where she founded the Virginia Center for Computer Music. Judith Shatin's Black Moon was developed through ACO's coLABoratory program, which allows for the research and development of new works and techniques. Black Moon incorporates conductor-controlled electronics - specific conductor gestures directly trigger and move sounds in space by means of a Kinect controller. All of the electronics are based on transformed recordings of acoustic instruments, creating an organic link between the acoustic and digital worlds. ACO's coLABoratory allowed Shatin to interact with the conductor and players in a workshop setting during the composition of the piece, to help prototype the software and gesture palate which allows the electronics to follow the conductor and interact with the ensemble. Of the piece, Shatin says, "The title, Black Moon, refers to a second new moon in a month or an extra new moon in a season. Some Wicca followers believe a black moon is the most auspicious time for casting spells or holding rituals, as the black moon endows them with extra power. The cycles that give rise to a black moon, especially the difference in timing of the orbit of the moon around the earth and that of the time between new moons, form the basis of the filigree of temporal relationships in the piece."

By the time of his premature death in December 1975, Bernard Herrmann was a well-known figure on the London musical scene, both as a composer with a formidable list of major works to his name, and as a conductor, the role in which he first made his mark, and in which he gave the most tangible proof of his great interest in British music. He was born in 1911 in New York, and studied composition at Juilliard. In 1931 he founded the New Chamber Orchestra of New York, which he conducted until he was appointed staff conductor of the Columbia Broadcasting System three years later. He became conductor-in-chief of the CBS Symphony Orchestra in 1940, a post he held for fifteen years, and appeared regularly with many American orchestras. It was during this period that he attracted attention through the very large number of British compositions he introduced to the American public. Although perhaps best known for his film scores, particularly through his association with Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells, he also wrote a number of important concert, operatic and chamber works. Psycho Suite is based on Herrmann's famous score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho, from 1960.

Generally recognized as the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music, David Del Tredici has received numerous awards and has been commissioned and performed by nearly every major American and European orchestral ensemble. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for In Memory of a Summer Day for soprano and orchestra. Much of his early work consisted of elaborate vocal settings of James Joyce and Lewis Carroll. More recently, Del Tredici has set to music a cavalcade of contemporary American poets, often celebrating a gay sensibility. His music has been recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, Music and Arts, Dorian, Koch, and Naxos. Among past recordings were two bestsellers: Final Alice and In Memory of a Summer Day (Part I of Child Alice). A Distinguished Professor of Music at The City College of New York, Del Tredici makes his home in Greenwich Village. His Dracula is a 20-minute setting of Alfred Corn's poem, "My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count," which retells the famous gothic tale from the point of view of a woman living next door to the Count. Del Tredici says, "The piece touches many emotional levels. With the use of the theremin, copious amounts of wind-machine and roiling bass drum, 'scary' is a primary reaction, as is 'funny.' Nervous giggles and startled gasps would not be unwelcome here. Deeper down, the listener confronts the more ominous world of addiction, betrayal, and obsession. And inevitably, there comes the ultimate degradation - a Faustian bargain with a devilish price: devolution into the living dead."

Friday, March 24, 2017 at 7:30pm
Orchestra Underground: Past Forward. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Orchestra Underground: Past Forward, led by George Manahan, illustrates the role the past plays in the present, from composers' own personal explorations of their roots, to broader investigations of the universal role of memory and recollection. The concert celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a performance of his Tehillim, presented as part of Reich's season-long residency as holder of Carnegie Hall's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair, featuring Elizabeth Bates, lyric soprano; Martha Cluver, lyric soprano; Mellissa Hughes, alto; and Rachel Calloway, high soprano; Paola Prestini's The Hotel that Time Forgot with video by Kevork Mourad; the world premiere of Trevor Weston's Flying Fish which honors the composer's Barbadian heritage; and the world premiere of 2015 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner David Hertzberg'sSymphony.

About the Composers & Music

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich's music has been influential to composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. He is a leading pioneer of Minimalism, having in his youth broken away from the "establishment" that was serialism. Reich's music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental color. It also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music. His studies have included the Gamelan, African drumming and traditional forms of chanting the Hebrew scriptures. Different Trains and Music for 18 Musicians have each earned him Grammy awards, and his "documentary video opera" works - The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot - have pushed the boundaries of the operatic medium. Over the years his music has significantly grown both in expanded harmonies and instrumentation, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 composition, Double Sextet. Reich's music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; London, San Francisco, Boston, and BBC symphony orchestras; London Sinfonietta; Kronos Quartet; Ensemble Modern; Ensemble Intercontemporain; Bang on a Can All-Stars; eighth blackbird, and many more. Reich's 1981 masterpiece Tehillim sets four Psalms, one for each movement of the piece, and is written for four women's voices and orchestra. Reich writes of the piece in his note, "This is the first time I have set a text to music since my student days and the result is a piece based on melody in the basic sense of that word. The use of extended melodies, imitative counterpoint functional harmony and full orchestration may well suggest renewed interest in Classical or, more accurately, Baroque and earlier Western musical practice. The non-vibrato, non-operatic vocal production will also remind listeners of Western music prior to 1750. However, the overall sound of Tehillim and in particular the intricately interlocking percussion writing which, together with the text, forms the basis of the entire work, marks this music as unique by introducing a basic musical element that one does not find in earlier Western practice including the music of this century. Tehillim may thus be heard as traditional and new at the same time."

Paola Prestini, a graduate of The Juilliard School, is a composer and impresario whose interdisciplinary vision is helping to shape the future of new music. Named one of the "Top 100 Composers in the World under 40" (NPR), her music has been commissioned by and been performed at Carnegie Hall, by the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, and the Kronos Quartet. Prestini's compositions have been performed worldwide, from the Kennedy Center, BAM, and the Park Avenue Armory, to London's Barbican Centre. Prestini serves as Visionary-in-Chief of VisionIntoArt the non-profit multimedia Production Company she co-founded as a student in 1999, which is dedicated to fostering collaborative, interdisciplinary new music. She is also the Creative and Executive Director of National Sawdust. Incorporating powerful visual and dramatic components, Prestini works frequently with Beth Morrison Projects to create large-scale multimedia works which include Gilgamesh, the Labyrinth, The Hubble Cantata and Aging Magician. Prestini's honors include two ASCAP awards, fellowships from Paul & Daisy Soros and Carnegie Hall, and The Sundance Institute. The Hotel that Time Forgot is a collaboration between Prestini and Syrian live-painting artist Kevork Mourad. The work is inspired by The Grand Hotel Palmyra in Lebanon, which hasn't closed since it opened in 1874, even as war has raged in the region. Prestini says, "I became fascinated with the hotel when I first came upon a video showing its interior. It became clear that I wanted to create a sonic orchestral world to relive its memories."

Trevor Weston's honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony. The Boston Children's Chorus commissioned Weston's Truth Tones for a national television broadcast honoring DR. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2009. The Washington Chorus, directed by Julian Wachner, featured Weston's music in the first annual "New Music for a New Age" concert series in 2009. In 2010, Trilogy: An Opera Company premiered Trevor Weston's 50-minute dramatic work 4honoring the lives of the four girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham AL church bombing. The Manhattan Choral Ensemble premiered Weston's Paths of Peace in 2012 for choir and chamber orchestra using the text of the Long Island slave, Jupiter Hammond. Griot Legacies celebrates the African American Spiritual in new ways for Adult choir, Children's choir and orchestra, premiered by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra in 2014. Weston's Flying Fishis inspired by his Barbadian heritage, where the flying fish is a national symbol and cuisine. He says of the piece, "Every time I visit Barbados, I feel like I am walking with my ancestors and with the vast history of the African presence in the Americas and the Caribbean. On the island, I feel like I am figuratively visiting the sound source of the resonance that I live. Flying Fish honors the African roots of Bajan (Barbadian) culture and African diasporic expression."

The music of David Hertzberg is swiftly garnering recognition, with recent seasons seeing performances at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, and Santa Fe, and on the stages of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. He is Composer in Residence for Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. Recent engagements include works for ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, New England Philharmonic, Juilliard Orchestra, New Juilliard Ensemble, Curtis Orchestra, PRISM Quartet, Flux Quartet, Dover Quartet, and the New Fromm Players. In addition to ACO's Underwood Emerging Composer commission in 2015, his recent distinctions are a Fromm Commission from Harvard University, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Aaron Copland Award, the William Schuman Prize and Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI, two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, a Jerome Fund Commission from the American Composers Forum, and the Arthur Friedman Prize from The Juilliard School. Hertzberg began his musical studies in violin, piano, and composition at the Colburn School and received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with distinction from Juilliard. He also holds an Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music. Hertzberg's new Symphony for ACO is a result of his Underwood Emerging Composer Commission win in 2015.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 8pm
ACO Parables. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space.

American Composers Orchestra begins its new collaboration with Symphony Space with a concert that explores the music's incredible ability to tell stories and weave tales, ACO Parables, led by guest conductor Rossen Milanov. The concert includes John Corigliano's Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Orchestra featuring star guitarist Sharon Isbin, for whom the piece was written; plus the world premiere of Alex Temple's The Three Principles of Noir, a science fiction, time-travel tale spanning centuries, featuring cellist-vocalist Meaghan Burke; the world premiere of Nina C. Young's Out of whose womb came the ice featuring baritone David Tinervia with video by R. Luke DuBois, which tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition of 1914-17; and the world premiere of Portraits of a Queen for ACO by 2016 Underwood New Music Readings commission winnerCarlos Simon.

About the Composers & Music

John Corigliano continues to add to one of the richest, most unusual, and most widely celebrated bodies of work any composer has created over the last forty years. Corigliano's numerous scores - including three symphonies and eight concerti among over one hundred chamber, vocal, choral, and orchestral works - have been performed and recorded by many of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world. Corligliano's scores include Conjurer, commissioned for and introduced by Dame Evelyn Glennie; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra: The Red Violin, Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, the recording which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition in 2008; Symphony No. 3: Circus Maximus, and Symphony No. 2 (2001 Pulitzer Prize in Music.) Other important scores include String Quartet (1995 Grammy Award, Best Contemporary Composition); Symphony No. 1 (1991 Grawemeyer and Grammy Awards); and the opera The Ghosts of Versailles (Metropolitan Opera commission, 1991, International Classical Music Award 1992). Corigliano serves on the composition faculty at the Juilliard School of Music and holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York. Corigliano wrote Troubadours in 1993, 13 years after guitarist Sharon Isbin began asking him to write a guitar concerto for her. Isbin sent Corigliano letters over the years with ideas for the piece - one of which included stories of the age of the troubadours, including tales about women troubadours of the time. Of the piece, Corigliano writes in his note, "I started thinking about the idea of serenading and of song. Slowly the conception of a troubadour concerto began to form. During this process the crystallization of what I love most about the guitar took place: it is an instrument that has always been used to speak directly to an audience. Lyrical, direct, and introspective, it has a natural innocence about it that has attracted amateurs and professionals, young and old. It is very hard to preserve this sense of innocence in the music world we live in. Performers are held to razor-sharp recording standards as they compete with each other for superstardom. Composers have such arsenals of techniques from the past, present, and other cultures, that the idea of true simplicity (in contrast to chic simple-mindedness) is mistrusted and scorned. So the idea of a guitar concerto was, for me, like a nostalgic return to all the feelings I had when I started composing - before the commissions and deadlines and reviews. A time when discovery and optimistic enthusiasm ruled my senses."

Alex Temple writes music that distorts and combines iconic sounds to create new meanings, often in service of surreal, cryptic, or fantastical stories. She's particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of ("cheesy") sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories. In addition to performing her own works for voice and electronics, she has collaborated with performers and ensembles such as Mellissa Hughes, Timo Andres, American Composers Orchestra, Fifth House Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, and Spektral Quartet. She has also played keyboards with the chamber-rock group The Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles, and made sounds using her voice, synthesizers and various household objects with a·pe·ri·od·ic. Temple graduated from Yale University in 2005, and received her Master's degree from the University of Michigan in 2007. After leaving Ann Arbor, she spent two years in New York working for the New York Youth Symphony's Making Score program for young composers. She's currently pursuing a Doctorate at Northwestern University and working on a podcast-opera about TV Production Company logos and the end of the world. Temple's The Three Principles of Noir for ACO and cellist-vocalist Meaghan Burke tells the story of a Chicago historian who travels through time on a mission of revenge, visiting the 1893 World's Fair as well as a dystopian future where technology has been lost, whose journey ultimately teaches her about her own limitations and capabilties.

New York-based composer Nina C. Young writes music for concert, dance, film, and theatre. Her music been performed by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Argento, Either/Or, the JACK Quartet, Sixtrum, and Yarn/Wire. She participated in the 2013 Underwood Readings with American Composers Orchestra. Young has received the Rome Prize in Musical Composition, Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Martirano Memorial Award, and honors from BMI, IAWM, and ASCAP/SEAMUS. A graduate of McGill and MIT, Young is currently completing her Doctorate at Columbia University. She worked as a research assistant at the MIT Media Lab and CIRMMT and is now an active participant at the Columbia Computer Music Center. Young's Out of whose womb came the ice tells the story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17, led by famed polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. Young says of the piece, "Out of whose womb came the ice looks at the expedition from the time they enter the Weddell Sea (December 1914) to the sinking of the Endurance (November 1915). The vocal and orchestra music focuses on the crew's perception of the Endurance in relationship to their surroundings. She goes from being simply a ship, to a lifeline and memento that connects them to the world they left behind. Once she sinks, they are truly left alone. The visuals, by R. Luke Dubois, and electronics offer narrative elements drawn directly from documents of the journey: journal entries of the crew and images by expedition's official photographer Frank Hurley."

Carlos Simon, a versatile composer, arranger and performer, combines the in?uences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism in his music. Simon was named the winner of the 2015 Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, he has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. Simon is currently earning his Doctorate Degree at the University of Michigan, where he has studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He received his Master's degree at Georgia State University studying with Nickitas Demos and earned his Bachelor's degree at Morehouse College studying with Robert Tanner. In 2011, he was on faculty at Morehouse College, teaching music theory. For the 2015-2016 season, Carlos Simon served as the young composer-in-residence for the Detroit Chamber Strings and Winds. Simon's Portraits of a Queen for ACO, to be premiered on this concert, is a result of his Underwood Emerging Composer Commission win in spring 2016. Of his new piece, Carlos Simon says, "Women have always been the pillar in the African-American community. My piece will trace the evolution of black people in America from the prospective of the African-American female who represents strength, courage and selflessness. Through four movements representing different places and times - Africa, Plantation/Slavery, Southern Jim Crow, and Present Day - I will express her pride, sorrow, anger, and nurturing character. Each movement will be marked by short poetic statements that depict her emotions during her journey from Africa to present day."

Thursday, June 22 and Friday, June 23, 2017
Underwood New Music Readings. Cary Hall at The DiMenna Center.

ACO will hold its 26th Annual Underwood New Music Readings for emerging composers on Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23, 2017, at the DiMenna Center's Cary Hall. In what has become a rite of passage for aspiring orchestral composers, seven 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. Review and feedback sessions with ACO principal players, mentor-composers, guest conductors, and industry representatives provide crucial artistic, technical, and conceptual assistance.

For over a generation, ACO's Underwood New Music Readings have been providing all-important career development and public exposure to the country's most promising emerging composers, with over 150 composers participating. Readings composers have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Orchestras around the globe have commissioned and performed hundreds of works by ACO Readings alumni. The New Music Readings have, for more 25 years, served as a launch pad for composers' careers, a tradition that includes many of today's top composers, such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwantner, both of whom received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; and ACO's own Artistic Director Derek Bermel, as well as composers Lisa Bielawa, Anthony Cheung, Anna Clyne, Cindy Cox, Sebastian Currier, Jennifer Higdon, Pierre Jalbert, Aaron Jay Kernis, Hannah Lash, Ingram Marshall, Carter Pann, P.Q. Phan, Tobias Picker, Narong Prangcharoen, Paola Prestini,David Rakowski, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Christopher Rouse, Huang Ruo, Eric Samuelson, Carlos Sanchez-Guiterrez, Kate Soper, Gregory Spears, Joan Tower, Ken Ueno, Dan Visconti, MeLinda Wagner, Wang Jie, Dalit Warshaw, Randall Woolf, Nina Young, and Roger Zare.

The proceedings are open to the public free of charge. The first day of Readings, a working rehearsal, will be presented from 10:30am to 1pm on Thursday, June 22; the second day of Readings will take place on Fridayevening, June 23, at 7:30pm, during which all selected pieces will be polished and performed in their entirety, led by ACO's Music Director George Manahan. ACO's Artistic Director Derek Bermel directs the readings. The deadline for composers interested in applying to the Underwood New Music Readings is December 12, 2016. Application guidelines and information are available at

About Derek Bermel, ACO Artistic Director

Grammy-nominated composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel, "one of the most original voices of American music" (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram), has been widely hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. In addition to serving as ACO's Artistic Director, he is also Director of Copland House's emerging composers' institute Cultivate. Having just concluded a four-year tenure as artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he is serving as composer-in-residence at the Mannes College of Music. Bermel has become recognized as a dynamic and unconventional curator of concert series that spotlight the composer as performer.

Alongside his international studies of ethnomusicology and orchestration ("In the hands of a composer less assured, all that globe-trotting would seem like affectation; Bermel makes it an artistic imperative." San Francisco Chronicle), an ongoing engagement with other musical cultures has become part of the fabric and force of his compositional language, in which the human voice and its myriad inflections play a primary role. He has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, Saint Louis, and Pacific Symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri String Quartet, Music from Copland House and Music from China, De Ereprijs (Netherlands), Jazz Xchange (U.K.), violinist Midori, and electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans among others. Bermel's clarinet playing has been hailed by The New York Times as "brilliant," "rhythmically fluid, rich-hued" and "first-rate." The Boston Globe wrote, "There doesn't seem to be anything that BerMel Can't do with the clarinet."

His many honors include the Alpert Award in the Arts, Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, American Music Center's Trailblazer Award, and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, Meet the Composer, and Cary Trust; and residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri. His discography features three critically-acclaimed discs: an all-Bermel orchestral recording that features the Grammy-nominated performance of his clarinet concerto Voices, (BMOP/sound); Soul Garden, a disc of his small ensemble/solo music (New World/CRI); and his most recent disc, Canzonas Americanas, with Alarm Will Sound (Cantaloupe).

Bermel made his Cabrillo Festival debut in 2013, conducting his Dust Dances, and served as composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Festival. Recent and upcoming are appearances at the International Beethoven Festival in Chicago; and Hyllos, his evening-length collaboration with The Veenfabriek and Asko | Schönberg Ensemble, which premiered the Netherlands; performances and recordings with the JACK quartet and Music from Copland House ensemble; and his Migration Series with the Princeton Chamber Symphony and Juilliard Jazz Orchestra.

About George Manahan, ACO Music Director

In his seventh season as Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra, 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. In addition to his work with ACO, Manahan continues his commitment to working with young musicians as Director of Orchestral Studies at the Manhattan School of Music as well as guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music. He also serves as Music Director of the Portland Opera.

Manahan was Music Director at New York City Opera for fourteen seasons. There he helped envision the organization's groundbreaking VOX program, a series of workshops and readings that have provided unique opportunities for numerous composers to hear their new concepts realized, and introduced audiences to exciting new compositional voices. In addition to established composers such as Mark Adamo, David Del Tredici, Lewis Spratlan, Robert X. Rodriguez, Lou Harrison, Bernard Rands, and Richard Danielpour, Manahan has introduced works by composers on the rise including Adam Silverman, Elodie Lauten, Mason Bates, and David T. Little. Among his many world premieres are Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang's Modern Painters, and the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner.

In May 2011 Manahan was honored by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his "career-long advocacy for American composers and the music of our time that has enriched and enabled Concert Music both at home and abroad." His recent Carnegie Hall performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra was hailed by audiences and critics alike. The New York Times reported, "the fervent and sensitive performance that Mr. Manahan presided over made the best case for this opera that I have encountered." In 2013, Manahan was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Award for his outstanding commitment to the work of emerging composers.

George Manahan's recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich's Tehillim for ECM; recordings of Edward Thomas's Desire Under the Elms, which was nominated for a Grammy; Joe Jackson's Will Power; and Tobias Picker's Emmeline. As music director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for twelve years, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th century music.

About ACO

Founded in 1977, 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 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.

To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra's innovative programs have been SONiC: Sounds of a New Century, 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; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; coLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and Orchestra Underground, ACO's entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations.

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 additional 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. Recent and upcoming 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. For more information visit The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, launched in 2010, supports jazz artists who desire to write for the symphony.

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 is 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 36 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: Sounds of a New Century 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

2016-2017 Season Highlights

September 20-21, 2016 - Kleinhans Music Hall
3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY
EarShot Buffalo Philharmonic Jazz Composers Readings

Stefan Sanders, Associate Conductor
Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Cheung, and Anthony Davis, mentor composers
Amina Figarova: The Journey
HITOMI OBA: September Coming
ANTHONY TIDD: The Beginning of the End

September 22-23, 2016 - Butler University's Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts
610 West 46th Street | Indianapolis, IN
EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra New Music Readings & Composer Competition

Matthew Kraemer, Music Director
MeLinda Wagner, Michael Schelle, Robert Beaser, mentor composers
KARENA INGRAM: Animals of the Solstice; Calm of the Equinox
David Jones: Aspen
REINALDO MOYA: Passacaglia for Orchestra

Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:30pm - Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall|
Seventh Avenue and 57th Street. New York, NY
Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music

George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
Nancy Lundy, narrator and soprano
Maxwell Tfrin, electronics engineer
PAUL MORAVEC: The Overlook Hotel Suite from The Shining (World Premiere, ACO commission) JUDITH SHATIN: Black Moon (World Premiere, ACO/Carnegie Hall commission)
Bernard Hermann: Psycho Suite

Friday, March 24, 2017 at 7:30pm - Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Seventh Avenue and 57th Street. New York, NY

Orchestra Underground: Past Forward
George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
Elizabeth Bates, lyric soprano
Martha Cluver, lyric soprano
Mellissa Hughes, alto
Rachel Calloway, high soprano
Kevork Mourad, video artist
DAVID HERTZBERG: Symphony (World Premiere, ACO/Underwood commission)
TREVOR WESTON: Flying Fish (World Premiere, ACO/Carnegie Hall commission)
PAOLA PRESTINI: The Hotel That Time Forgot (World Premiere, ACO/Toulmin commission)

May 3-4, 2017 - Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
130 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC
EarShot Charlotte Symphony New Music Readings

Christopher Warren-Green, Music Director
Mentor composers and participating composers TBA.
Submission deadline: December 12, 2016

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 8pm - Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York, NY
American Composers Orchestra: ACO Parables

Rossen Milanov, Guest Conductor
Sharon Isbin, guitar
David Tinervia, baritone
Meaghan Burke, cello and voice
Luke DuBois, video
ALEX TEMPLE: The Three Principles of Noir (World Premiere, ACO/MAP/Toulmin commission)
John Corigliano: Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Orchestra
CARLOS SIMON: New Work (World Premiere, ACO/Underwood commission)
NINA C. YOUNG: Out of whose womb came the ice for baritone, orchestra, & electronics (World Premiere, ACO/Jerome commission)

Thursday & Friday, June 22 & 23, 2017 - Cary Hall at The DiMenna Center
450 West 37th Street, New York, NY
Underwood New Music Readings & Commission

George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
Derek Bermel, Artistic Director
Robert Beaser, Artistic Director Laureate
ACO's annual roundup of the country's brightest young and emerging composers. Participating composers TBA.
Submission deadline: December 12, 2016

Artists and repertoire subject to change.

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