American Composers Orchestra Hold 2023 SONiC Festival Livestreams

Performances take place June 1-12, 2023.

By: May. 25, 2023
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American Composers Orchestra Hold 2023 SONiC Festival Livestreams

 American Composers Orchestra (ACO) will hold livestreams from the 2023 SONiC Festival, a New York City-wide celebration of the breadth and vibrancy of the nation’s modern composers, taking place June 1-12, 2023. Spearheaded by the organization’s new leadership, President & CEO Melissa Ngan and Artistic Director Curtis Stewart, the majority of the events will be available worldwide via livestream on the SONiC Festival website, emphasizing ACO’s mission to serve as a national pipeline for developing relationships between living American composers and major orchestras throughout the United States.

ACO’s main program, EarShot, celebrates its 31st appearance in NYC during the 2023 Festival, joining year-round national partnerships with orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and many more. EarShot is the nation's first systematic program for building relationships between composers and orchestras, and expands the definition of American orchestral music to ensure a vibrant and inclusive future. Composers discovered through these programs include Jessie Montgomery, Carlos Simon, Courtney Bryan, Jennifer Higdon, and more.

The 2023 SONiC Festival is made possible with lead funding from the Fromm Music Foundation, and key partnership with Mannes School of Music/The New School, which is providing space for several events for the duration of the Festival. In addition, ACO partners with Kaufman Music Center, The Next Festival of Emerging Artists, Hostos Community College in The Bronx, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Roulette Intermedium, Joe’s Pub, Americas Society, Copland House, and leading performers and composers including Clarice Assad, Angélica Negrón, Miguel Zenón, Kamala Sankaram, Aaron Diehl, Raquel Acevedo Klein, Marcus Gilmore, inti figgis-vizueta, Paula Matthusen, Missy Mazzoli, Ellen Reid, the Harlem and Bergamot Quartets, The Rhythm Method, Music from Copland House, and more.

“After catching up with each of these curators, I am in constant awe of the brilliance of our American composers – each curator is coming from such a distinct perspective, regarding the nature of ‘Interactivity,’” says ACO Artistic Director Curtis Stewart. “From scoring revolutionary feminist humor postcards to musically engaging Puerto Rican communities in the South Bronx and organizations designed to support their country to exploring the Afro Caribbean roots of the transatlantic slave trade – SONiC is at the tip of the iceberg, surveying sonic results of American musical experimentation and interactivity – between past + present, culture + culture, dream + reality, creator + creators.”

The 2023 SONiC Festival opens on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 7:30pm at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center with Ecstatic Music, featuring violinist and composer Curtis Stewart in his own newly composed music alongside pianist and Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence Aaron Diehl, the Harlem Quartet, violin/vox/freestyle composition artist Mazz Swift, and a chamber orchestra from The Next Festival of Emerging Artists and Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School, conducted by Peter Askim. A New Sounds Live co-presentation hosted by John Schaefer, the program brings new creative voices to the fore, in part through reinterpreting works from the past, including the world premiere of Stewart’s ACO-commissioned work, Embrace. 

The ACO hosts EarShot readings led by conductor and Queens native Tito Muñoz, on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 10:30am and a public reading on Friday, June 2, 2023 at 7:30pm at Tishman Auditorium at Mannes School of Music. Mentor composers Derek Bermel, ACO’s Artistic Director Emeritus; Mary Kouyoumdjian, who uses her Armenian American heritage to inform meaningful large-scale works; and Daniel Bernard Roumain, known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic and African American music influences, guide participating composers Younje Cho, Henry DornBrittany J. GreenOswald HuỳnhAmy Nam, and Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei.

On Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 12:30pm, Merkin Concert Hall presents composer and singer Kamala Sankaram in a lunchtime concert showcasing an ongoing creative project in which the audience becomes integral participants in the music-making process, a Communal Sing-In. Celebrating ACO’s commitment to creativity, Sankaram has been developing an app to enable anyone to participate regardless of prior music experience or score-reading ability for an ever-evolving game-like experience.

The Next Festival of Emerging Artists celebrates its 10th anniversary with a program of world premieres for string orchestra including by guest artist and soloist guitarist/composer Yvette Young, 2022 Pulitzer Prize-finalist Leilehua Lanzilotti, composer/violinist (and Festival alum) Che Buford, saxophonist/composer Matthew Evan Taylor, and conducted by The Next Festival’s Artistic Director Peter Askim on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 7:30pm at the Tishman Auditorium at Mannes School of Music. A $20 donation is suggested.

Composer-performers Angélica Negrón and Miguel Zenón curate an afternoon of works highlighting the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico leading up to the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, June 4, 2023 at 4:00pm at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture in The Bronx. Featured performers and composers include Ahmed Alom, Raquel Acevedo Klein, Angélica Negrón, Victor Pablo, Darian Thomas, and Miguel Zenón.

Jazz at Lincoln Center and SONiC co-present a program curated by two of the most innovative artists bridging the boundaries between Latin jazz and classical music – Clarice Assad and Yosvany Terry – at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, June 5, 2023. At 7:30pm, Grammy-nominated composer, pianist, and vocalist Clarice Assad curates a one-hour set featuring Brazilian guitarist João Luiz Rezende, pianists Mariel Mayz and Carolina Calvache, and more. At 9:30pm, JALC and SONiC present Atlantic Connections – created by Grammy-nominated saxophonist, percussionist, and composer Yosvany Terry and multi-dimensional vocalist Alicia Hall Moran – a song cycle inspired by a selection of poets from the African diaspora, including Maya Angelou, Salgado Maranhão (Brasil), and Silvie Kande (Senegal). The work of these poets serves as a launching point for Terry and Hall to explore themes of land, home, motherhood, love, loss, distance, displacement, and water as some of the elements that spiritually connect the peoples of the African diaspora. Atlantic Connections was originally commissioned by the Harvard University Committee on the Arts.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 8:00pm at Brooklyn’s Roulette Intermedium, the Bergamot Quartet and special guest Dan Trueman perform a program that pays homage to the intricate array of textures and pitches available on our non-fretted instruments, featuring works that explore “the spaces between the notes,” and backboned by fiddle traditions from around the world.​ 

ACO teams up with Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater for a night of SONiC explorations curated by two of ACO’s recently commissioned composers, inti figgis-vizueta and Paula Matthusen. Alongside string quartet, The Rhythm Method, and interdisciplinary artist Ella Joklik, inti figgis-vizueta (2022-23 EarShot CoLABoratory Fellow and recipient of National Sawdust Hildegard Award and The ASCAP Foundation Fred Ho Award) curates the 7:00pm set, and Paula Matthusen (recipient of Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, and two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards) curates a 9:30pm set featuring Seth Cluett, Anthony Dean, Dani Dobkin, and Natalie Greffel.

ACO’s EarShot: The Next Festival of Emerging Artists Choreography Workshop from June 5-9, 2023 at the Mannes School of Music in NYC features artists Michael R. Dudley Jr.Emil Ernström, and Akari Komura. They will be mentored by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis and the “strikingly original” (The New York Times) Kamala Sankaram – along with composer/conductor/bassist Peter Askim, the festival’s Artistic Director – in preparation for a public event at Mannes on Thursday, June 8, 2023 at 7:00pm. In addition, choreography mentor Sidra Bell will lead choreographer fellows Flora Ferguson, Jay Beardsley, and Ameeya Singh in the development of new dance work, in collaboration with EarShot composer fellows and string performance fellows.

On Friday, June 9, 2023 at 7:00pm, SONiC welcomes a program of Caribbean music titled Nexus, produced by Puentes Caribeños, an organization dedicated to promoting Caribbean art music since 2013. Featuring Jamaican pianist Paul Shaw, Puerto Rican flutist Nora Lee Garcia, and Bahamian ensemble C Force – with Christine Gangelhoff, flute; Christian Justilien, euphonium; and Paul Jones, piano – this performance presents works connected to the Caribbean, including four world premieres, with spoken word by Garrett McQueen. The program was coordinated by Gangelhoff, currently a Professor of Music at the University of the Bahamas.

SONiC partners with the International Contemporary Ensemble to present a concert of brand new works from Luna/">Luna Lab – the national workshop for young women and non-binary composers – hosted by curators Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid on Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 7:00pm at Stiefel Hall at Mannes School of Music. Featured composers include Hannah Chen, Lucy Chen, Lili Masoudi, Gabrielle Smith, Elaina Rae Stuppler, and Isabelle Tseng.

SONiC and Mannes/The New School co-present three new interactive works developed through ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory composer residency program in a Showcase Concert on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 4:00pm at Tishman Auditorium at Mannes School of Music. Inspired by the African American history of resilience, healing, and awakening post-trauma, Grammy-winner Marcus Gilmore’s Pulse, developed with ACO through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative with his mentor, world-renowned tabla player Zakir Hussain, is scored for drums, jazz ensemble, spoken word, and orchestra. Pulse will feature spoken word by Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Trevor New’s Cohere Touch connects artists across continents using the composer’s own augmented reality environment and performance on viola. Mendi + Keith Obadike’s DreamTrain is an immersive sound installation and performance that encourages audiences to dream collectively as a means of social transformation. The American Composers Orchestra will be led by conductor David Bloom. From 2010-2011, Tracy was mentored by German poet and author Hans Magnus Enzensberger through the Rolex mentoring program.

The 2023 SONiC Festival closes with Music from Copland House - CULTIVATE 2023 on Monday, June 12, 2023 at 7:30pm at Elebash Recital Hall at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Music from Copland House presents six world premieres it commissioned from the 2023 Fellows of its acclaimed annual emerging composers institute: Henry Dorn, Seare Farhat, Oswald Huỳnh, Maya Miro Johnson, Grace Ann Lee, and Max Vinetz. CULTIVATE 2023, directed by Grammy-nominated composer-clarinetist Derek Bermel, is an intensive creative workshop and mentoring program for gifted American composers of all backgrounds and identities, in the initial stages of their professional careers. Each year, six young composers are awarded Fellowships to participate in this immersive, weeklong, all-scholarship institute at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home in Westchester County, one hour north of New York City.