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National Sawdust Announces Fall 2020 Programming

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The Fall season builds on National Sawdust’s pioneering Digital Discovery Festival, with two streamed performances by the National Sawdust Ensemble and the JACK Quartet.

National Sawdust Announces Fall 2020 Programming

This Fall National Sawdust has announced the New Works Commissions-world premieres of commissioned works by 20 winning composers performed by the JACK Quartet and National Sawdust Ensemble, and a series of 9 weekly broadcasts (New Works Composer Sessions) that reflect the institution's commitment to supporting and empowering artists through mentorship, community, and financial assistance during this challenging time of change. The Fall season further commits itself to community building by partnering with The Kennedy Center on their Arts Across America live digital performance series, giving two National Sawdust artists enhanced exposure.

The pioneering Digital Discovery Festival provided a performance platform and financial support to over 100 artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the culmination of the festival, National Sawdust will present two online performances of commissioned works by the 20 winners of the New Works Commission, who will receive $3,000 each for their 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 ET, 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 will also present the New Works Composer Sessions series on their Live@NationalSawdust platform (, and broadcast weekly for free on its Facebook page from September 17th to November 12th at 5pm ET. The 20 New Works Commission winners will participate in a Q&A during each session, and industry luminaries will discuss topics such as composition, curation, collaboration, improvisation, music criticism, recording, intellectual property, creating a Pulitzer Prize winning work, women and leadership, and more.

Masterclasses in the New Works Composer Sessions:

Marcos Balter - Thurs, Sept 17th at 5pm

The New Works Composer Sessions begin with composer, and professor of composition UCSD, Marcos Balter, who will explore the topic of Collective Structures: collaboration, cooperation, and reimagining hierarchical methods in music.

Steve Smith - Thurs, Sept 24th at 5pm

Steve Smith, writer and editor, will explore the topic of Interdependence of Music and Criticism: Musicians and Critics at the End of Time.

Ellen Reid - Thurs, Oct 1st at 5pm

Ellen Reid, composer, sound artist, and Pulitzer Prize winner 2019, will present on creating her Pulitzer Prize winning work - Creating p r i s m: unpacking the messy process of bringing ideas into the real world.

Jeffrey Zeigler - Thurs, Oct 8th at 5pm

Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist and Music Director for the National Sawdust Ensemble, will present on the topic of Survival and Evolution: Finding your voice as a 21st Century Artist. He will also touch on recording techniques and recording curation.

Andy Bart - Thurs, Oct 15th at 5pm

Andy Bart, trial lawyer and Billboard list of Top Music Lawyers, will discuss intellectual property in music. All creative works are "born" into a legal structure that sets rules for the ownership and exploitation of those works. Understanding those rules and the practices and entities that result from those rules is essential to artists maintaining control of their works and careers and maximizing the economic potential of those works.

JACK Quartet - Thurs, Oct 22nd at 5pm

String quartet, JACK Quartet members, violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, will participate in this lecture on Tuning in Color: Alternative Tunings in Action.

Chris Grymes - Thurs, Oct 29th at 5pm

Chris Grymes, clarinetist with the NS Ensemble and curator of Open G Series will present on the topic of Musical Citizenship and Collaboration.

Pamela Z - Thurs, Nov 5th at 5pm

Pamela Z, composer, performer, and Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellow 2019/2020 will present a lecture on the topic of Crossing Disciplines (working as an extremely hyphenated artist). Highlighting her use of voice, processing, gesture-based MIDI controllers, and video, and her integration of sampled speech sounds with chamber music composition, she will illustrate the various directions her work has taken over the years.

Karen Wong - Thurs, Nov 12th at 5pm

Karen Wong, Deputy Director of the New Museum will present on the Future of Culture. As cultural production expands and innovates, how will musicians absorb and incorporate these current attitudes of hybridity and immersion into their shows, recitals, and concerts? No matter the framing device, be it a stage or headset, we are increasingly obsessed with an experience that immerses us. As audiences shift from observer to active participant, there will be new platforms in theater, music, and visual arts. More than ever, musicians will require fluency in future-leaning formats and the vehicles that amplify and distribute emergent culture.

In partnership with the Kennedy Center, National Sawdust will also curate the September 11th Arts Across America live digital performance series, which showcases artists and organizations that tell the stories of their communities during this unprecedented time amidst a global pandemic and the national urgency to address historical systems of oppression. The Kennedy Center will host this event on their Facebook and YouTube pages, and National Sawdust will co-stream it. The artists featured are Amyra Leon, and Majel Connery. Amyra's work fuses music and poetry through powerfully transparent performances focusing on social inequalities and communal healing whilst celebrating love, blackness, and womanhood. Her performance will feature songs off her new album out September 15th, in lieu of her album release date at National Sawdust which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Majel is a vocalist, composer, and musicologist whose set will be a meditation on healing and joy inspired by the current quarantine and September 11th anniversary.

To learn more about National Sawdust's Fall 2020 programming, visit the National Sawdust website:

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