Ensemble For These Times Announces Winners of 2023 Call For Scores With Luna Composition Lab Alums

Commission winners are Lucy Chen, Madeline Clara Cheng, and Caleb Palka.

By: Apr. 22, 2024
Ensemble For These Times Announces Winners of 2023 Call For Scores With Luna Composition Lab Alums
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Award-winning SF contemporary chamber group Ensemble for These Times has announced three commissions to Luna Composition Lab alums as part of the group's two-year collaborative Call for Scores.

Commission winners Lucy Chen, Madeline Clara Cheng, and Caleb Palka will receive one-on-one mentoring with Elinor Armer, a member of E4TT's Advisory Council as well as on the Composition faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. A fourth composer, Sage Shurman, will also receive mentoring with Armer as a special recognition but without a new commission, since her piece "Composure" for piano trio is already programmed on E4TT's 2024-25 season opener this coming fall.

"It is an important part of our mission to support underrepresented compositional voices," E4TT co-founder and Senior Artist Advisor David Garner said, "and we were greatly impressed by the breadth, skill, and imagination these composers displayed in their music."

Begun in 2023, the first year of the collaboration has already yielded three works chosen from the Call for Scores (by Madeline Clara Cheng, Sage Shurman, and Isabelle Tseng) on E4TT's January 21, 2024 concert, "Quest: Music by Women and Nonbinary Composers" at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. E4TT will perform works by the three remaining winners (Olivia Bennett, Gabriella Cariddo, and Devon Lee) on the group's sixth annual program of music by women and nonbinary composers in January 2025. Finally, all eight composers have been invited to appear on E4TT's podcast of interviews with BIPOC and women composers, "For Good Measure."


A two-year collaboration between Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) and Luna Composition Lab, the project consists of two phases: 1) E4TT held a Call for Scores to Luna Composition Lab alums in June 2023, choosing a total of six works for performance on each of E4TT's 2024 and 2025 concerts of new music by women and nonbinary composers; 2) E4TT has commissioned three of the composers who submitted scores in the first phase to write for the group, for performance on the group's 2025 concert of new music by women composers. All the composers will receive mentoring with E4TT Advisory Council member, composer Elinor Armer, as will a fourth composer from the Call for Scores. In addition, E4TT will focus an upcoming mini-series of its podcast, "For Good Measure" on the Call for Scores composers.


As part of the two-year, two-phase collaboration, E4TT has commissioned three works for performance on the group's annual series of music by women and nonbinary composers, the sixth edition of which will take place on January 25, 2025 at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. The three commissions will be as follows:

  • Lucy Chen: Cello and piano
  • Madeline Clara Cheng: soprano, cello, piano, and tape
  • Caleb Palka: soprano and piano


SF Bay Area composer, saxophonist, and pianist Madeline Clara Cheng is studying Composition and Business Law as a Presidential Scholar at the University of Southern California. A 2023 YoungArts Award Winner and recipient of the ICEBERG New Music and Lift Up Our Voices scholarships, she has been commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's May Festival and the UUCWC Crossing Chorale and her compositions have been performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Bergen International Festival, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. Cheng is an alumna of the Tanglewood Institute, for which she received a full scholarship, and the Yellow Barn Young Artists Program. When she's not composing, Cheng can be found music directing a show or building escape rooms.

Lucy Chen (b. 2005) is a freshman at Stanford University, and she has studied composition with Wang Lu and Yiming Wu. Her works have been recognized by the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, Broadcast Music Inc., National Young Composer Challenge, YoungArts, and more. Lucy was a composer apprentice for Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra (NYO-USA), premiering original work at venues across North America. As a Luna Composition Lab Fellow, she worked with the International Contemporary Ensemble to premiere a quintet. Lucy also premiered three orchestral pieces with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra under director Kristofer Sanz. Besides composition, Lucy plays piano and violin, as well as runs the Young Artists Music Society, an organization dedicated to spreading free concerts and music resources.

Caleb Palka (b. 2001) is known as "an eloquent thinker and creator" (PSU Vanguard) whose work is "inquisitive and creative in an unapologetic way" (Oregon ArtsWatch). He has been performed/commissioned by the Bergen International Festival/Norwegian Soloists' Choir Academy, Britt Festival Orchestra, Cincinnati May Festival/Cincinnati Men's Chorus, International Contemporary Ensemble, Opera Omaha, Eugene Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Mivos Quartet, Portland Piano International, and others. Palka is an alumnus of the Luna Composition Lab and Fear No Music's Young Composers Project. He has received a BMI Honorable Mention and Tribeca Emerging Composer honor. He studied with Ryan Francis, Kenji Bunch, and Ellen Reid, and attends the USC Thornton School of Music, studying with Nina C. Young, Donald Crockett, Camae Dennis, Ted Hearne, Veronika Krausas, and Andrew Norman.


Luna Composition Lab's mission is to close the gender gap in the field of music composition. Founded in 2016 by composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, Luna Composition Lab provides mentorship, education, and resources for young female, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming composers ages 13-18. Luna Composition Lab is the only initiative of its kind in the United States. It has achieved national recognition as a program that aims to achieve a broad, lasting, and positive impact in the field of music by empowering and emboldening the next generation of musicians and creative leaders.


Winner of The American Prize in 2021 for Chamber Music Performance, ENSEMBLE FOR THESE TIMES (E4TT) consists of award-winning soprano/Artistic Executive Director Nanette McGuinness, cellist Abigail Monroe, pianist Margaret Halbig, and cofounder/Senior Artistic Advisor composer David Garner. E4TT made its international debut in Berlin in 2012; was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Budapest for a four-city tour of Hungary in 2014; and performed at the Krakow Culture Festival in 2016 and 2022, and at the Conservatorio Teresa Berganza in Madrid in 2017. E4TT has performed locally at the German Consulate General, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Old First Concerts, JCC Peninsula, Trinity Chamber Concerts, and Noontime Concerts, among other venues. E4TT has released four albums, all of which have medaled in the Global Music Awards: "The Guernica Project" (2022), commemorating the 85th anniversary of the horrific carpet bombing of civilians and Picasso's masterwork in response; "Once/Memory/Night: Paul Celan" (2020), honoring the centennial of the seminal 20th century poet; "The Hungarians: From Rózsa to Justus" (2018), with works by Hungarian émigré Miklós Rózsa, and three of his compatriots who perished in the Holocaust; and "Surviving: Women's Words," (2016), new music to poetry by women Holocaust survivors. The group's next album, "Emigres & Exiles in Hollywood," will be released on the Centaur label in June 2024.


To post a comment, you must register and login.

Vote Sponsor