Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Expands in 2013

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) and The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University (CJS), in cooperation with EarShot, The National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) Readings in 2013. Three orchestras - the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (April 23 & 24), ACO (June 3 & 4), and La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (September 19 & 20) - will workshop, rehearse, and give public readings of new works for symphony orchestra written by seventeen jazz composers.

The JCOI Readings are a national expansion of the prototype JCOI program held in New York City in 2010-2011. The new Readings are the culmination of a process that began in August 2012, when 37 composers were selected from a national pool of applicants to attend the weeklong JCOI Intensive, a series of workshops and seminars devoted to orchestral composition held at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. After completing the Intensive, seventeen composers were given the opportunity to put what they learned into practice by composing a new symphonic work for the JCOI Readings. The composers, working in jazz, improvised, and creative music, were chosen based on their excellent musicianship, originality, and potential for future growth in orchestral composition. Each of the three orchestras will workshop and perform between five and seven composers' new works.

Each composer participating in the JCOI Readings receives coaching from mentor composers and a professional music engraver as they write their new pieces. Once completed, each piece will be workshopped, rehearsed, and performed by one of the three host orchestras through the EarShot program. The new works will be heard in rehearsal, open public readings, and a public performance. Composers receive travel and an honorarium, as well as feedback from orchestra principal musicians, conductors, librarians, and mentor composers, and an archival recording of their work.

JCOI 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. The first JCOI, which took place in New York during the 2010-2011 season, was the subject of two features on National Public Radio, which reported that what the composers discovered while at the Institute has "the potential to shift the course of concert music." Listen online at: www.npr.org/2010/12/19/132146455/teaching-the-symphony-to-swing

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