American Composers Orchestra Announces 2012-13 Concert Season at Carnegie, Digital Album and More

American Composers Orchestra Announces 2012-13 Concert Season at Carnegie, Digital Album and More

American Composers Orchestra's (ACO) 2012-13 concert season is a banner year for the orchestra, marked by unprecedented opportunities for composers through three initiatives that illustrate ACO's role as a catalyst for the creation of new orchestral music: CoLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, ACO's groundbreaking composition and performance laboratory; the 22nd annual Underwood New Music Readings, one of the country's most sought-after programs for emerging composers (DiMenna Center, May 30-31, 2013); and the nationwide expansion of the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings in partnership with The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (DiMenna Center, June 1-2, 2013).

The season is anchored by three Orchestra Underground concerts at Carnegie Hall, "underground" in Zankel Hall (October 26, 2012, January 18, 2013, and April 5, 2013), which will include at least eight world premieres commissioned by ACO, two US premieres, and one New York premiere by composers José Serebrier, Narong Prangcharoen, Gabriela Lena Frank, Milica Paranosic, Kyle Blaha, Zhou Long, Kate Soper, and more. In addition, ACO will perform two iconic pieces of American music – Charles Ives' Symphony No. 3 ("Camp Meeting") from 1910 and Lukas Foss' Time Cycle from 1960.

ACO's Orchestra Underground concerts at Zankel Hall bring newly commissioned pieces and orchestral masterworks to the stage, with diverse influences including a mysterious childhood nightmare (Gabriela Lena Frank's Manchay Tiempo), the aural environment of a temple in Thailand (Narong Prangcharoen's The Migration of Lost Souls), a bestselling political-fantasy novel (Milica Paranosic's The Tiger's Wife: Prologue), an ancient timekeeping ritual of China (Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower), and a set of poems about the myth of Orpheus (Kate Soper's now is forever he whispered: Orpheus and Eurydice for Voice & Orchestra).

ACO's 36th season pushes the boundaries of what is possible for the orchestra further than ever before, fully embracing experimentation and the process of creation. CoLABoratory is ACO's research and development laboratory for innovative new orchestral music. The program does away with expectations often associated with orchestral premieres that can squelch composers' creative impulses – limited rehearsal time, restrictive instrumental possibilities, pre-conceived programmatic or thematic ideas for concerts, and most importantly – the overwhelming pressure on composers to do something "safe." CoLABoratory will run throughout the season, with several opportunities for the public to see and hear the selected composers' works-in-progress unfolding at open rehearsals and workshops (November 13, 2012; December 11, 2012; January 22, 2013; March 5, 2013; April 2, 2013) before the April 5, 2013 performance at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.

ACO and Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, in cooperation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI). The Institute will bring together 35 jazz composers at various stages in their careers, chosen from a national pool of applicants, to explore the challenges of writing for the symphony orchestra in a weeklong series of workshops and symposia from August 7-11, 2012 on the UCLA campus. Afterward, up to 20 composer participants will be awarded the opportunity to compose a new work for symphony orchestra, which will be workshopped, rehearsed, and performed between April and September 2013 by one of four host orchestras around the country – ACO, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony, and one additional orchestra. ACO's JCOI Readings will take place at the DiMenna Center on June 1 and 2, 2013.

Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra 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 more than 600 American composers, including more than 200 world premieres and newly commissioned works.

New Digital Album – Orchestra Underground: X10D

ACO's third digital album – Orchestra Underground: X10D – will be released on June 1, 2012. Following Playing It UNsafe (March 2011) and Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 (January 2012), this new album explores the extremes that become possible when featured soloists play atypical -- in some cases bizarre -- instruments with the orchestra. Orchestra Underground: X10D includes Keeril Makan's Dream Lightly for electric guitar and orchestra, with Seth Josel as soloist; Evan Ziporyn's Big Grenadilla featuring the composer on bass clarinet; composer/baritone saxophonist Fred Ho's When the Real Dragons Fly!; Ned McGowan's Bantammer Swing featuring the composer as the contrabass flute soloist; and Neil Rolnick's iFiddle Concerto featuring Todd Reynolds as soloist on a "cyborg" violin. By making available never-before-recorded orchestral music, ACO goes beyond the concert hall, reaching new listeners and gaining greater exposure and visibility for the composers it showcases in this series. ACO's digital albums are available from iTunes,, InstantEncore, and more. (Press downloads available upon request.)

ACO's Orchestra Underground

Orchestra Underground is ACO's subversive and entrepreneurial exploration of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble that can respond to composers' unhindered creativity in experimental and innovative ways. Orchestra Underground embraces new technology, eclectic instruments and influences, altered spatial orientation, new experiments in concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations. Since the opening of Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall's subterranean state-of-the-art auditorium, Orchestra Underground has played to sold-out audiences, with over 75 world premieres and newly commissioned works.

Orchestra Underground: Dreams & Dances
Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at 7:30pm. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (57th St. & 7th Ave., NYC).

Dreams & Dances features music inspired by the surreal and the fantastic. The program includes the world premieres of Milica Paranosic's The Tiger's Wife: Prologue (inspired by the novel of the same title by Téa Obreht), as well as ACO's 2011 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner Narong Prangcharoen's The Migration of Lost Souls. The concert also includes the US premiere of José Serebrier's Flute Concerto with Tango featuring soloist Sharon Bezaly, and the New York premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank's Manchay Tiempo. Charles Ives' Symphony No. 3 ("Camp Meeting") from 1910 completes the program. José Serebrier will be ACO's guest conductor.

About the Composers & Music
Conductor and composer José Serebrier (b. 1938), who has frequently guest conducted ACO and has led ACO's Underwood New Music Readings in years past, is one of the most recorded classical artists. He has received 37 Grammy nominations in recent years. Serebrier has composed more than 100 works, and has won numerous awards including two Guggenheims, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts. Flute Concerto with Tango was commissioned for flutist Sharon Bezaly, who performed and recorded it with the Austalian Chamber Orchestra for the BIS label. Serebrier explains the title, saying, "The fourth movement justifies the title of the work. Traditionally, tangos end with a strong dominant chord followed by a brief, barely audible tonic chord. I take this idea further, leaving my tango up in the air in the middle of a phrase, so that the listener can make his own conclusion." For more information, visit

Narong Prangcharoen (b. 1973) studied with Chen Yi and received his doctoral degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City. His music has been called "absolutely captivating" by the Chicago Sun Times and has been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. Prangcharoen is the 2011 winner of ACO's Underwood Emerging Composer Commission. Of Prangcharoen's winning piece Pubbanimitta ("Foreboding"), Underwood mentor composer Paul Chihara said, "Mr. Prangcharoen writes music that reaches and moves his listeners with soaring melodies and intense rhythmic dance patterns." His works have been heard at the Beijing Modern Music, MoMA Music and Grant Park Festivals, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at the Library of Congress. In 2007, the Thai government named Prangcharoen a Contemporary National Artist and awarded him the Silapathorn Award. Prangcharoen's piece for ACO, The Migration of Lost Souls, takes as its inspiration a temple in Thailand and the soul's journey into the after life. For more information, visit

Charles Ives (1874-1954) is one of the most remarkable composers America has produced. Ives studied the organ and was a composition pupil of Horatio Parker at Yale University, from which he graduated in 1898. At an early age, he decided that he would not make music the means of earning his livelihood; he realized that it might be too difficult not to compromise his artistic ideals if his livelihood depended on his music. Accordingly, he entered the insurance business and made a fortune. His Yankee refusal to accept the usual way of combining sounds left him to explore many novel and often descriptive ways of putting sounds together, placing him far ahead of his time. Many of Ives' explorations into new harmonic and contrapuntal possibilities antedated the work of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. A long list of compositions, most written before 1920, includes four symphonies, chamber music, two piano sonatas, five violin and piano sonatas, and many songs and choral pieces, as well as a number of other orchestral works. Ives described his Symphony No. 3 in his autobiographical notes: "The themes are mostly based around hymns and from organ pieces played in Central Presbyterian Church around 1901." Symphony No. 3 was performed for the first time on April 5, 1946, in New York by the New York Little Symphony with Lou Harrison conducting. The score was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972) explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. Frank's piece, Manchay Tiempo, attempts to render a mysterious recurring dream Frank has had since childhood – one that she discovered has roots in a documentary film she viewed long ago, telling of the horrors of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), a Maoist-inspired terrorist group in Peru.

Milica Paranosic (b. 1968) is a New York City-based composer, sound designer, music educator, and producer. A 2002 participant in ACO's New Music Readings, she is also a regular teaching artist in ACO's educational outreach program in New York City public schools – Music Factory. She has received grants from Meet the Composer, American Music Center, Soros Foundation, Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg, among many others. She is the resident composer and multimedia director of VisionIntoArt, an interdisciplinary performance and production team; founder and executive director of Give to Grow, an education and cultural exchange project that brings technology to children in underdeveloped communities; and co-founder of Beyond the Machine, a festival of electronic and interactive music at Juilliard. Paranosic's new work, The Tiger's Wife: Prologue for Electronics, Projections & Orchestra, takes as its inspiration a bestselling novel of the same title by Téa Obreht, who, like Paranosic, was born in Belgrade. Paranosic says, "Apart from obvious cultural and geographical connection between Obreht and myself, there are numerous parallels in our aesthetics, including mixing real and imagined, old and new, fantasy and history, folk and pop, Serbian and English languages, and the use of symbols." For more information, visit

About the Soloist
Sharon Bezaly was chosen as Instrumentalist of the Year by the prestigious Klassik Echo in Germany in 2002 and as Young Artist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards in 2003. Classics Today has hailed her as "a flutist virtually without peer in the world today." Bezaly appears as soloist with leading orchestras and in the most prestigious concerts halls worldwide. Recent highlights include solo appearances at the London Proms and the Welsh Proms with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as appearances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Spanish National Orchestra, recitals at Wigmore Hall and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and concerts at the Musikverein Vienna. To date, Sharon Bezaly has seventeen dedicated concertos by renowned composers, which she performs all over the world. For more information, visit

Orchestra Underground: Time Travels
Friday, January 18, 2013, at 7:30pm. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (57th St. & 7th Ave., NYC).

Time Travels features music that explores the past, present, and future – both real and imagined. Lukas Foss' 1960 masterwork, Time Cycle, is the centerpiece for the concert, with soprano Jennifer Zetlan. The evening also includes the world premieres of composer and soprano Kate Soper's "now is forever" he whispered for Voice and Orchestra and Kyle Blaha's Sinfonietta, and the US premiere of Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower. ACO Music Director George Manahan conducts.

About the Composers & Music
A true Renaissance man, Lukas Foss (1922-2009) was a rare musician, equally renowned as a composer, conductor, pianist, and educator. As a composer, Foss eagerly embraced the musical languages of his time, producing a body of over one hundred works that Aaron Copland described as including "among the most original and stimulating compositions in American Music." Time Cycle marked a turning point in Foss' compositional approach. He said, "I was professor of composition, and I wanted to get my students away from the tyranny of the printed note. So I invented a form of non-jazz ensemble improvisation. It was meant to change my students; well, it changed me." Time Cycle is written for soprano and orchestra, and was premiered by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein in 1960. It sets four texts, two in English and two in German, each of which has some reference to time or clocks.

Kyle Blaha (b. 1981) received his D.M.A. in May 2011 from Juilliard and his B.M. from Eastman School of Music. He has studied composition with Darrell Handel, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Samuel Adler, Philip Lasser, and Robert Beaser. The artistic director of the Making Score composition program with the New York Youth Symphony, Blaha is also on the faculty at the European American Musical Alliance Program in Paris. He has received multiple ASCAP Young Composer Awards and awards for study in Germany, including a Fulbright grant and a D.A.A.D. grant. His work has been premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra and the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, and he has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the New Juilliard Ensemble. His new work in three movements, Sinfonietta, is commissioned with support from The Jerome Foundation. Each movement explores a different aspect of composition – harmony, melody, and texture.

Zhou Long (b. 1953) is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. In 2011 Zhou Long was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, Madame White Snake. Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower is inspired by the bells and drums used during the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China to tell time. Zhou Long says of the new piece, "In Bell Drum Towers, I am exploring my fantasy, the pulse of the drums beating. Gradually, new patterns develop, each time in a faster tempo, building to a climax that brings the presto wind-like section. Finally, the hazy wind rang the lingering bells."<

Kate Soper (b. 1981) is an Ann Arbor-born, New York-based composer with a diverse background. She was a composer participant in the 2011 Underwood New Music Readings, and was also a featured performer during SONiC, ACO's massive 2011 new music festival. Currently pursuing a doctorate in composition at Columbia University, where she focuses primarily on concert music, Soper has written music for dance, film, theatre and electronics and has worked extensively as a piano-based singer-songwriter. As a singer with experience in Western Classical, Indian Carnatik, pop and folk singing, she performs frequently in her own works as well as those of her colleagues. Her piece for ACO, "now is forever" he whispered for Voice and Orchestra, features Soper as the soprano soloist and sets poetry by Jorie Graham exploring the instant in which Orpheus turns back to look at Eurydice in that familiar myth. Soper describes her piece as, "expanding a moment out into a universe of speculation about the nature of time and the unreliability of desire . . . In dealing with this text I'm trying to find a way to paint the still core at the center of both the poem and the moment it describes – the single slice of time in which the chain of events (Orpheus turning to look at Eurydice and her consequent banishment back to Hades) has just flickered into possibility but is not quite inevitable." For more information, visit

About the Soloist
Soprano Jennifer Zetlan is swiftly garnering recognition for her artistry and captivating stage presence. She has debuted on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. She received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Emily Webb in Our Town at Aspen Music Festival and with Juilliard Opera Center; The New York Times reported, "Jennifer Zetlan . . . sings beautifully and affectingly. The part could not be in better hands." Committed to performing new works, she sang at the 2007 Opera America New Works Showcase, participated in New York City Opera's VOX Showcase of American Composers in 2008 and 2009 and is frequently involved with the new works initiative co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater. For more information, visit

Orchestra Underground: CoLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe
Friday, April 5, 2013, at 7:30pm. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (57th St.& 7th Ave., NYC).
Laboratory Workshops: November 13 & December 11, 2012; January 22; March 5; & April 2, 2013

ACO's Orchestra Underground will present the culminating public performance of CoLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan.

ACO's season-long CoLABoratory initiative is the first and only professional research and development laboratory to support the creation of cutting-edge new American orchestral music through no-holds-barred experimentation. CoLABoratory alters the landscape by treating the creation of a new orchestral work as an interactive and collaborative process, rather than just the delivery of a musical "product." This year, CoLABoratory will include a unique incubation process of workshops, public readings, collaborative feedback, and laboratory performances of music, open to the public, taking place from November 2012 through April 2013.

A nationwide call for proposals was submitted last spring for music that challenges conventional notions about orchestral music. The composers selected to participate in the 2012-13 CoLABoratory program will be chosen for their willingness to experiment and stretch their own musical sensibilities, and their ability to test and stretch the possibilities for the orchestra itself. Past participants have created a concerto for junked car and orchestra (Sean Friar's Clunker Concerto), collaborations with lighting designers (Laura Schwendinger's Shadings), new levels of orchestral improvisation (Henry Threadgill's No Gate, No White Trenches, Butterfly Effect), hybrid orchestration of laptop computers and acoustic instruments (Dan Trueman, silicon/carbon (an anti-Concerto Grosso)), and sound paintings for unorthodox spatial arrangements of the orchestra (Joan La Barbara's In solitude this fear is lived). Participating composers will be announced in September 2012.

Underwood New Music Readings
Thursday & Friday, May 30 & 31, 2013. DiMenna Center (450 W 37th St., NYC).

ACO will hold its 22nd Annual Underwood New Music Readings for emerging composers on Thursday and Friday, May 30 and 31, 2013 at the DiMenna Center. In what has become a rite of passage for aspiring orchestral composers, up to eight 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. To date, more than 100 composers have participated in the New Music Readings, including such award-winning composers as MeLinda Wagner, Derek Bermel, Randall Woolf, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Sebastian Currier, and Jennifer Higdon.

The proceedings are open to the public free of charge. The first day of Readings, a working rehearsal, will be presented from 10am to 12:30pm on Thursday, May 30; the second day of Readings will take place on Friday evening, May 31, at 7:30pm, during which all selected pieces will be polished and performed in their entirety. ACO's artistic director, Robert Beaser, directs the readings. The deadline for composers interested in applying to the Underwood New Music Readings is Monday, December 3, 2012. Application guidelines and other information will be available in September at

Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings
August 7-11, 2012. Herb Alpert School of Music, UCLA (Los Angeles, CA).
Saturday & Sunday, June 1 &2, 2013. DiMenna Center (450 W 37th St., NYC).

On Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, 2013, The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and ACO will present the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings, the culmination of a process that begins with a weeklong Intensive held at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in August 2012, which brings together 35 jazz composers, chosen from a national pool of applicants, to explore the challenges of writing for the symphony orchestra.

The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings are the practical extension of the Intensive. Selected composers from the Intensive will have the opportunity to apply to the JCOI Readings, to be held from April through June 2013 with orchestras in California and New York. The composers chosen to participate in the Readings will write a new work for symphony orchestra, which will be workshopped, rehearsed and performed by one of four host orchestras – ACO, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony, and one additional orchestra – in partnership with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network. ACO's JCOI Readings will take place at the DiMenna Center on June 1 and 2, 2013.

This innovative program is a new development in the jazz field. While many jazz composers seek to write for the symphony orchestra, opportunities for hands-on experience are few. JCOI aims to provide new resources for both jazz and classical music, promoting the emergence of composers trained in both jazz and new orchestral techniques.

About George Manahan

In his third 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 this season, 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.

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, through VOX Manahan has introduced works by composers on the rise including Adam Silverman, Elodie Lauten, Mason Bates, and David T. Little.

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 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."

George Manahan's wide-ranging 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. His enthusiasm for contemporary music continues today; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including 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. 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 Robert Beaser

Robert Beaser, ACO Artistic Director, is the senior composer in the orchestra's artistic leadership and is one of the most accomplished creative musicians of his generation. His recent opera, The Food of Love, received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program. Beaser has served as co-Music Director and Conductor of the influential contemporary chamber ensemble Musical Elements at the 92nd Street Y, and is Chairman of the Composition Department at Juilliard. He has won numerous awards and honors including the Rome Prize, Grammy and Emmy Award nominations, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundations, the NEA, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Charles Ives Scholarship, an ASCAP award, a Nonesuch Commission Award, a Barlow Commission, and a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About Derek Bermel

Derek Bermel, ACO Creative Advisor, has been described by the Toronto Star as "eclectic with wide open ears." A Grammy-nominated composer and clarinetist, Bermel has been widely hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. Bermel's works draw from a rich variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk, and gospel. Also currently serving as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study and Composer-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Bermel has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, Saint Louis, New Jersey, Albany, and Pacific Symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About ACO

Entering its 36th season in 2012-2013, 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 more than 600 American composers, including 200 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; 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 the Van Lier Emerging Composer Fellowship. In 2008, ACO launched EarShot, a multi-institutional network that assists orchestras around the country in mounting new music readings. Recent EarShot programs have included the Nashville and Memphis Symphonies, Colorado Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, and Buffalo Philharmonic. For more information visit

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. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 34 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 Audience 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. More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at

Ticket Info

Subscriptions for the Orchestra Underground concerts in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall are available for $111 and $141 and can be purchased at CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800,, or at the Carnegie Hall Box Office. Single tickets are priced at $40 and $50, and go on sale for subscribers and donors on August 20 and to the general public on August 27.

The Underwood New Music Readings on May 30 and 31, and the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings on June 1 and 2, at the DiMenna Center are open to the public, free of charge.