Las Vegas Philharmonic To Lead Commission Of New Work By Juan Pablo Contreras
The Las Vegas Philharmonic has announced that it has been selected as one of six orchestras in the U.S. to lead an initiative to co-commission a new orchestral work through New Music USA's Amplifying Voices program, supported by the Sphinx Venture Fund.
Amplifying Voices fosters collaboration and collective action toward equitable representation of composers in classical music. LVP will lead a collective of esteemed orchestras joined by California Symphony, Richmond Symphony Orchestra and one other TBD in the co-commission of a new musical work by Mexican composer, Juan Pablo Contreras. Contreras will immerse himself in the Las Vegas community, as he joins patrons and musicians on a journey of discovery three times throughout the coming year and engage deeply with our broader community in meaningful ways that both demonstrate the program's efficacy and speak to our community's unique spirit and vibrant potential. His resulting composition will be an inspired 12-minute orchestra work, which LVP will debut at its world premiere during the 2021-2022 season, under the baton of Music Director, Donato Cabrera.
Contreras is inspired to tell a story that celebrates the edge effect that occurs in communities that are in the shared border between the United States and Mexico. While Las Vegas is not in the specific geographic area cited in the concept, it shares many of the inherent elements explored in the project. The edge effect is an ecological concept that describes how there is a greater diversity of life in the region where the edges of two adjacent ecosystems (i.e. land/water) overlap. It is a place where you can find species from each region, as well as unique species that have specially adapted to the new environment. The composition will tell the story of these new communities where immigrants and locals blend their ways of living to create unique subcultures.
Contreras shares "I am thrilled to collaborate with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and their co-commissioning orchestras for this exciting project and I applaud them for championing voices from all backgrounds to feel more included and represented in the beautiful genre that is classical music. I'm extremely honored to be a part of New Music USA's "Amplifying Voices" program and to write a new work that will further this mission. My composition will shine a light on Mexican-American communities that have flourished in the border, and in cities like Las Vegas, where this cultural edge effect has taken place. My hope is that this will also continue to happen in classical music: that diversity is championed, and all voices are valued and heard."
"It is such an honor to bring Juan Pablo Contreras to work with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, to bring his artistic voice into this wonderful city with so much cultural intersection. To celebrate the diversity of our city through a world premiere is very exciting. Additionally, working alongside a consortium of orchestras within the New Music USA program will give the new work increased presence, and enhance the power of the story told," says LVP Executive Director Lacey Huszcza.
Contreras is a Latin GRAMMY-nominated composer and Universal Music recording artist who combines Western classical and Mexican folk music in a single soundscape. His works have been commissioned and performed by orchestras throughout the Americas including National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Victoria Bach Festival Orchestra. Winner of the BMI William Schuman Prize, Presser Music Award, and the Young Artist Fellowship of Mexico's National Fund for Culture and the Arts, Contreras holds composition degrees from California Institute of the Art, Manhattan School of Music, and is pursuing his DMA at University of Southern California. www.juanpablocontreras.com
Contreras created a video for New Music USA, where he explains why this commission means so much to him and goes into the details of this collaboration: https://youtu.be/1SB-983dm-g.
Additional Composers selected for the Amplifying Voices program include Valerie Coleman, Tania León, Brian Raphael Nabors, Tyshawn Sorey, and Shelley Washington. Additional lead orchestras co-commissioning new works are The Philadelphia Orchestra commissioning Valerie Coleman, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra commissioning Tania León, the Berkeley Symphony commissioning Brian Raphael Nabors, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra commissioning Tyshawn Sorey, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra commissioning Shelley Washington.
Leadership at each orchestra will also work with their partner composer to increase the programming of works in their mainstream seasons by composers of all generations whose voices have not been represented in orchestral programming.
Amplifying Voices aims to make major strides in transforming the classical canon. According to the Institute for Composer Diversity's analysis of 120 American orchestras' 2019-2020 plans, 94% of music programmed for that season's mainstage orchestral concerts was written by white composers.
Through Amplifying Voices, New Music USA commits to be a steward and partner in a multitude of projects that foster strong working relationships between American orchestras and composers whose work should be more frequently heard in the concert hall. Amplifying Voices seeks to increase support and promotion of composers of color, bringing them to the table for artistic planning at major national orchestras, and ensuring orchestras' engagement with repertoire, past and present, that has previously been omitted from major concert programs.