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American Composers Orchestra to Open Season with Contempo-Scary Music at Carnegie Hall

American Composers Orchestra's (ACO), under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel and Music Director George Manahan, opens its 40th Anniversary Season on Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:30pm with Orchestra Underground: Contempo-Scary Music at Carnegie Hall's subterranean Zankel Hall.

Now in its 13th year, Orchestra Underground continues as ACO's subversive and entrepreneurial redefinition of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble. Contempo-Scary Music celebrates Halloween with music inspired by all things sinister and suspenseful, including two world premieres by composers Paul Moravec and Judith Shatin.

Paul Moravec's The Overlook Hotel Suite is a brand new orchestral suite that takes musical material from The Shining, Moravec's opera based on the well-known Stephen King novel. ACO commissionEd Moravec to create an orchestral suite drawn from his opera, which premiered in a sold-out run by Minnesota Opera this past May, and Moravec has created a piece that uses the instruments of the orchestra to provide a musical depiction of the Overlook-the infamous hotel at the center of the story's gory plot. The concert also includes a classic of horror and Hollywood history, Bernard Herrmann's Psycho Suite from the film score to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller; as well as composer David Del Tredici's Neo-Romantic setting of the Dracula vampire tale as told in Alfred Corn's poem "My Neighbor, the Distinguished Count," featuring spellbinding soprano-narrator Nancy Allen Lundy. Composer Judith Shatin explores the rare phenomenon of the second new moon of the month-thought to be the most auspicious phase of the moon for rituals and spells-in her new piece for ACO, Black Moon. Shatin specializes in the integration of electronics and acoustics, creating powerful and otherworldly sonic landscapes. For Black Moon, she introduces conductor-controlled electronics (utilizing the Kinect sensor "borrowed" from the Xbox video gaming system), allowing the conductor to shape the electronics in real-time, following his gestures and merging them with the ensemble. Black Moon was developed through ACO's coLABoratory R&D program for new music, which provided the opportunity to workshop the piece with the orchestra last season. Read about Shatin's process on ACO's SoundAdvice blog.

ACO's 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.

ACO's 40th Anniversary Season, 2016-2017, 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.

Paul Moravec: The Overlook Hotel Suite from The Shining
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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."

Judith Shatin: Black Moon
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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."

Bernard Herrmann: Psycho Suite
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Though known primarily as a Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann was born in New York and studied composition at Juilliard, earning a reputation as a conductor as well as a composer here. 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. His compositions of the 1930s and 1940s earned him something of a reputation for being an enfant terrible of American music. Although best known for his associations with Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells, he also wrote a number of important concert, operatic, and chamber works, some of which only became widely known after his death. Wuthering Heights (1950), an opera in four acts, was first performed in 1982 by Portland Opera, and the choral cantata for male voices Moby Dick (1938) received its premiere with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. A Portrait of Hitch (1968), a short orchestral piece dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock, is based on music written for the film The Trouble with Harry. Psycho Suite is based on Herrmann's famous score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho, from 1960.

David Del Tredici: Dracula
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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."

About Nancy Allen Lundy, soprano & narrator
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Nancy Allen Lundy has earned critical acclaim for her unique vocal beauty, skillful musicianship and theatrical prowess in a variety of classical and contemporary styles. Engagements with opera companies and festivals include Teatro alla Scala (Milan), English National Opera, Netherlands Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Hawaii Opera Theater, Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Portland Opera, Spoleto, USA, Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Chile), Bregenzer Festspiele (Austria), Festival Euro Mediterraneo (Rome) Opera de Lyon, and Suntory Hall (Tokyo). Her operatic repertoire encompasses more than thirty roles, of which she has earned particular acclaim for her portrayals of Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men, Gilda in Rigoletto, Musetta in La Bohème, Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rosina in IL Barbiere di Siviglia, and Cundegonde in Candide, to name a few. Notable concert engagements include Messiah and Strauss' Brentano Lieder with Montreal Symphony, Charles Dutoit conducting, Poulenc's Gloria with Lansing Symphony, Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Flemish Radio Orchestra (Brussels), Mendelssohn's Elijah with Duisburg Philharmonic, and Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 in Taipei. The demand for her portrayal of the soprano role in Carmina Burana led her to performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan), and Montreal Symphony at New York's Carnegie Hall. More recently, Lundy returned to Phoenecia Festival of the Voice to sing Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men, she sang David Del Tredici's Dracula at New York's Merkin Hall with American Modern Ensemble, a role she reprises with ACO. With pianist Stephen Gosling, Lundy will celebrate David Del Tredici's birthday this March in a recital of his music including the song cycle On Wings of Song at Barge Music (Brooklyn). May of 2017 will see a reprisal of Zina in A Dog's Heart with Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam.

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, in addition to dozens of premiere recordings he has made with ACO. 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.

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. 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 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 Upcoming Events:

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 Allen 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)

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)

Wednesday & Thursday, June 21 & 22, 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
Libby Larsen & Trevor Weston, Mentor Composers
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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