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National Sawdust Announces 20 Winners of the Inaugural Digital Discovery Festival: New Works Commission

20 composers will each receive a commission of $3,000, a performance of their work by leading musicians & ensembles and more.

National Sawdust Announces 20 Winners of the Inaugural Digital Discovery Festival: New Works Commission

National Sawdust has announced the 20 winners of its inaugural New Works Commission, which was announced in June 2020 as the culmination of its pioneering Live@NationalSawdust Digital Discovery Festival.

The winners of the inaugural New Works Commission are Michele Cheng, Eddie Codrington, Jessie Cox, James Diaz, Mario Layne Fabrizio, Baldwin Giang, Clifton Joey Guidry III, Julie Herndon, Yaz Lancaster, Finola Merivale, Ted Moore, Daniel Sabzghabaei, Golnaz Shariatzadeh, Kelley Sheehan, Nina Shekhar, Rajna Swaminathan, Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa, Nicholas Tran, Bethany Younge, and Manjing Zhang.

In unprecedented times, new evolving models and ways of thinking are necessary. National Sawdust has responded to the pandemic by creating a Digital Discovery Festival and New Works Commission that has served and compensated over 120 artists during this time. The twenty (20) New Works Commission composers will each receive the following resources: a commission for $3,000; a performance of their work by either JACK Quartet, renowned string quartet, or members from the National Sawdust Ensemble (Miranda Cuckson, Jeffrey Zeigler, Ian Rosenbaum, Allison Loggins-Hull, Chris Grymes and Stephen Gosling) a new music pierrot ensemble with flexible orchestration and wide-ranging music skills; a recording/film of the live performance; one-on-one and group mentorship by the judging panel and musicians; and professional development sessions online. The composers will be trained by National Sawdust staff to develop skills specific to sharing their work digitally such as working with film producers and sound designers. The entrepreneurial skills required to sustain a livelihood as an artist today will be addressed in mentoring and development sessions. These sessions are available to stream for free by the public.

The New Works Composer Sessions series broadcasts weekly on National Sawdust's and Facebook page from September 17th to November 12th at 5pm ET and are free. The public can RSVP at The 20 winners of the New Works Commission will participate in a Q&A during each session. Topics such as composition, curation, collaboration, improvisation, music criticism, recording, intellectual property and women and leadership will be discussed by a range of speakers including renowned composers, artists, lawyers and music critics.

Hosted by Paola Prestini, Artistic Director, Composer and Co-Founder of National Sawdust, the speakers for the series will include the judges and mentors; Marcos Balter, composer, and professor; Ellen Reid, composer, sound artist, and Pulitzer Prize winner; Steve Smith, writer, and critic; Pamela Z, composer, performer, and Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellow 2019/2020; Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist, and Music Director for the National Sawdust Ensemble, label director, and former Kronos Quartet cellist; JACK Quartet, string quartet; plus other leading voices in the music industry; Andy Bart, Intellectual Property Lawyer, Chris Grymes, clarinetist with the National Sawdust Ensemble, and curator of Open G Series at National Sawdust, and Karen Wong, Deputy Director of the New Museum on the future of culture, and the intersections between architecture and music.

Two online performances of works by the 20 winning composers will take place as part of the New Works Commission. The first, on Thursday, Dec 10th at 5pm ET, will feature the National Sawdust Ensemble performing music by Michele Cheng, James Diaz, Baldwin Giang, Clifton Joey Guidry III, Julie Herndon, Mario Layne Fabrizio, Finola Merivale, Kelley Sheehan, Bethany Younge and Manjing Zhang. The second concert will take place on Friday Dec 11th at 5pm, featuring the JACK Quartet performing new commissions by Eddie Codrington, Jessie Cox, Yaz Lancaster, Ted Moore, Daniel Sabzghabaei, Golnaz Shariatzadeh, Nina Shekhar, Rajna Swaminathan, Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa and Nicholas Tran.

National Sawdust is deeply grateful to the Alphadyne Foundation for fully underwriting the Digital Discovery Festival which includes the composer competition, performances and masterclasses. This remarkable gift has allowed National Sawdust to support artists directly with financial and technical resources during very challenging pandemic, while also helping National Sawdust develop its overall digital stage capacity and skills. Reinvention and reimagination in the arts is needed now more than ever, and we are deeply appreciative for Alphadyne's support which allows us to amplify our mission based work of music discovery and artistic collaboration -- to entertain us, educate us and inspire us.

To learn more about the Digital Discovery Festival: New Works Commission, visit the National Sawdust website:

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