Search Results for: solidarity fund

New Music Solidarity Fund

New Music Solidarity Fund completes fundraising with $508,000. The Fund has covered 1,016 $500 grants.

I really want to thank you all for what you are doing. This grant is an immense help to me in this really insecure time- everything has been so up and down these last few weeks and I’ve really been stressing out not knowing what’s going to happen next. This email made my day today and has given me some hope for the future. Thank you to every single one of you working at New Music USA and those of you on this committee. This means the world to me. — Solidarity Fund Grant Recipient


The New Music Solidarity Fund, an initiative formed to grant emergency funding to musicians impacted by COVID-19, has concluded fundraising. At $508,000, the completed Fund has far exceeded its initial $100,000 goal, as well as its subsequent $500,000 goal; the Fund is now able to distribute emergency $500 grants to 1,016 applicants.

The New Music Solidarity Fund was made possible through the collective efforts of Marcos Balter, Julia Bullock, Claire Chase, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Du Yun, Reena Esmail, Judd Greenstein, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, Christian Reif, Christopher Rountree, Caroline Shaw, Conrad Tao, Seth Parker Woods, and New Music USA. This group sought to extend help to less-secure individuals within their community. Beyond this emergency bridge fund, the organizers and contributors hope to lay the grounds for a new financial and cultural framework that ensures the stability of musicians in the new-music scene. The New Music Solidarity Fund is administered through New Music USA, a 501c3 organization.

“The future of our whole community depends on generosity, support and, compassion for those who are the most impacted by this global challenge,” says Vanessa Reed, President and CEO of New Music USA. “It’s an honor to manage this fund in collaboration with visionary composers and musicians who share this belief – with the support of longstanding foundational supporters, alongside the hundreds of music practitioners who have kindly donated to this cause.”

Many artists, including Marcos Balter, Claire Chase, Susie Ibarra, Jen Shyu, Rebecca Sigel, Nadia Sirota, Conrad Tao, and Third Coast Percussion, also raised money for the New Music Solidarity Fund by turning online concerts into fundraisers. Organizations such as the OmniARTS Foundation and PARMA Recordings  also raised funds independently through streaming events.

The New Music Solidarity Fund would also like to thank Larry and Arlene Dunn, who donated proceeds from a recent recording project to the Fund; and Son Lux, R. Andrew Lee, Ginevra Petrucci, and more who donated proceeds from their titles on Bandcamp; as well as Just a Theory Press and Matthew Kennedy’s proceeds from the Book 1 of Miniatures to this and other charities.

The New Music Solidarity Fund could not have achieved this goal without significant generosity from the nonprofit and music communities. In addition to the outpouring of support from individual donations, several like-minded organizations have diverted their funds into major gifts. These are The Aaron Copland Fund for MusicAmerican Composers ForumThe Amphion Foundation,  Boosey & Hawkes, a Concord Company, Howard Gilman Foundation, Loud Hound Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and the Pacific Harmony Foundation.


New Music Solidarity Fund Collective

Marcos Balter
Julia Bullock
Claire Chase
Anthony Roth Costanzo
Du Yun
Reena Esmail
Judd Greenstein
Nico Muhly
Andrew Norman
Christian Reif
Christopher Rountree
Caroline Shaw
Conrad Tao
Seth Parker Woods

Support our continued solidarity

Now that fundraising for the Solidarity Fund has closed, we’re focusing our efforts on raising funds for organizational operations with three main goals:

  • increase our support of new music organizations—venues, festivals, presenters, and others who are at the frontline of commissioning and artist development,
  • provide resources to composers impacted by canceled work, and
  • sustain our services as a national advocate and resource, with an eye toward supporting those most impacted by the current crisis.

Your continued support will be directed toward these three goals, and would be immensely helpful in meeting the $200,000 fundraising target we’ve set to achieve them.

If you would prefer to donate by check, please fill out this form and contact for information on our address as New Music USA staff works remotely.

New Music Solidarity Fund Donors

To date, the following people’s donations comprise the fund:

Anahita Abbasi
Mark Adamo and John Corigliano
John Adams and Deborah O’Grady
Sam Adams
Judah Adashi
Adele Renee Gray Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund
Christopher Adler
Behrooz Afghahi
Jean-Louis Agobet
Jean Ahn
Saar Ahuvia
Matt Albert
Patricia Alessandrini
Masha Alexander
David Allen
Bill Alves
Amelia and Christopher Ames
Eli Anders
Kristian Andersen
Evan Anderson
Sally Anderson
Miles Anderson (for Erica Sharp Anderson)
Sarah Angello
Julia Antonatos
Ingrid Arauco
Arcade Fire
Abby Aresty
Megan Arns
Claude Arpels
Lisa Atkinson
Matthew Aucoin
Elizabeth Austin
Emanuel Ax
Luciano Azzigotti
Nate Bachhuber
Lina Bahn
Arlene Bailey
Don Bailey
Claude Baker
Drew Baker
Jan Baker
Allison Balcetis
Katherine Balch
Brad Balliett
Doug Balliett
Marcos Balter
Marlene Bane
Bang on a Can
Eliza Bangert
Laura Barger
Carol Barnett
Matthew Barnson
Daniel Barolsky
Logan Barrett
Jean-Baptiste Barrière
Jeremy Barth
Brandon Barton
Jamie Barton
Laura Bass
Gabriel Baum
Robert Beaser
Richard Beaudoin (in honor of Stanislawa Myslicki)
Neil Beckmann
Lembit Beecher
Eve Beglarian
Richard Belcastro
Nicole Belmont
Matthew Bengtson
Jim Bennett
Samantha Bennett
Helen Benson
Nick Bentz
Ryan Beppel
Bridgid Bergin
Paul Berkolds
Amanda Berlind
Nina Berman
Derek Bermel
Whit Bernard
Lauren Bernofsky
Oscar Bettison
Megan Beugger-Roeseler
Bob and Marti Beyer
Gregory Beyer
Jean-David Beyer
Ranjit Bhatnagar
Julia Biber
Aaron Bielish
Lynette Biery-Stinson
Birmingham Art Music Alliance
Jon Bisesi
Andrew Bishop
Jonathan Biss
David Bither
John Blacklow
Mary Blodgett
David Bloom
Patrice Bobier
Phoebe Bognár
Carl Patrick Bolleia
Judith Boomer
Leni Boorstin
Deborah Borda
Andrew Boscardin
David Bowlin (for Claire Chase)
Gail Boyd
Keith Bragg
George Brandon
Colleen Brannen
Andre Bregegere
Martin Bresnick
J’nai Bridges
Nicholas Britell
Randolph Brockman
Karla Brom
Fred Bronstein
Catherine Brookman
Carol Brown
Eliza Brown
Jennie Brown
Silas Brown
Jon Brunelle
Steven Bryant
Thomas Buckner
Allyce Bullock
Julia Bullock
Barbara Burch
Diana Burman
Patrick Burns
Erin Busch
Kayleigh Butcher
William Butler
Madelyn Byrne
Donato Cabrera
Jeff Cadow
Reba Cafarelli
Morton Cahn
Jay Campbell
Miles Canaday
Daniela Candillari
Karina Canellakis
Andrea Canter
Barbara Huggins Carboni
Mark Carlson
Julia Carnahan
Jacqui Carrasco
Kate Carter
Cheryl Casey
Courtenay Casey
Aaron Cassidy
David Castro
Patricia Caswell
Christopher Cerrone
Yeji and Eric Cha-Beach
Raven Chacon
Deirdre Chadwick
Evan Chambers and Suzanne Camino
Wayla Chambo
Daniel Chandler
Yu-Hui Chang
Eric Chasalow
Claire Chase
David Chase
Elizabeth Chase
Ryan Chase
Phyllis Chen
Chen Yi and Zhou Long
Gloria Cheng
Michael Cherashore
Howard and Phyllis Cheskin
Anthony Cheung and Lu Wang
Dalia Chin
Pablo Chin
Paul Cho
Yoon Choi
Erik Christensen
Ty Citerman
Henry Clapp
Sam Clapp
Kevin Clark
Suzannah Clark
Ann Cleare
Maureen Clements
Anna Clyne and Jody Elff
Catherine Cochran
Jim Cockey
Lauren Cognetti
Nell Cohen
Roy Coleman
Henri Colombat
Composers Doing Normal Shit
Composers Inside Electronics
Regina Compton
Andrew Conkling
Robert Conley
Gene and Sheila Connors (Tribute to Third Coast Percussion)
Jack Conte
Amanda Cook
Emily Cook
Carson Cooman
William Cooney and Ruth Eliel
Jacob Cooper
John Corbett and Terri Kapsalis
Nicholas Cords
Darwin Corrin
Anthony Roth Costanzo
Carlos Cotallo Solares (for Wombat Trio)
Nathan Courtright
Adam Crane
Noah Creshevsky
Ralph Crispino, Jr.
Donald Crockett
Thomas Crowley
Craig Cruz
Sonia Csaszar
Miranda Cuckson
Nick Culshaw
Conrad Cummings
Flannery Cunningham
Viet Cuong
Charles Curtis
Andrew Cyr
Chaya Czernowin and Steven Takasugi
Chelsea and Hannes Czuchra Giger
Sallie D’orsay
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
Leatrice Damus
Susan and Edmund Dana
Richard Danielpour
Justin Davidson
Chris Davis
Greg Davis
Nathan Davis
Carolyn Davis (for International Contemporary Ensemble)
Anthony de Mare
Amanda DeBoer Bartlett
Geoffrey Deibel
Paul Dellevigne
Nicholas DeMaison
Aram Demirjian
Stéphane Denève
Donnacha Dennehy
Michael Dessen
Bryce Dessner
Zosha Di Castri and David Adamcyk
Mario Diaz de Leon
Robert Dillon
Stephen and Sharon Dillon (In honor of Third Coast Percussion)
Nimish Dixit (for Third Coast Percussion)
Christopher Dobbins
Emily Dolan
Kurt Doles
Laura Dolp
Carrie and Stephen Dossick
Natalie Draper
Paul Dresher
Mark Dresser
Pamela Drexel
FPaul Driscoll
Stephen Drury
Du Yun
Shayna Dunkelman
Brian Dunn
Larry and Arlene Dunn
Lisa Dunn
Matthew Duvall
Kristen Dye
Jan Eric Dyke
David Dzubay
Ryan Ebright
Jason Eckardt
Ken Eddings
Andrew Edwards
John and Janet Egelhofer
Daniel Eichenbaum
Paul Elwood
Harry Endicott
Randall Eng
Mark Enslin
Marti Epstein
Paul A. Epstein (for Larry and Arlene Dunn)
Cenk Ergün
Reena Esmail
Jeffrey Evans
Noa Even
Mary Lou Falcone
Ralph Farris
Evan Fein
Howard Fein
Sue Feingold
Marlon Feldman
Matthew Feldman
Sally Fenley
Michael Fiday
Inti Figgis-Vizueta
Hilary Finchum-Sung
Rachel Fine
Karen Fink
Veronique Firkusny
Ken and Penny Fischer
Austin Fisher
Doug Fitch
John Fitz Rogers
Liam Flaherty
Robert Fleisher
Kyle Flens
Jody Forrester
Joshua Frankel
Lauren Frankel
Ella M Fredrickson
Elizabeth Freeland
Don Freund
Sean Friar
Dianna Frid
Fred Frith
Rosalie Froom
David Froom and Eliza Garth
Francisco Fullana
Ashley Fure
Robert Gable
Lorenz Gamma
Johnny Gandelsman
Alexandra Gardner
Gabriel Gargari
Carol Garner
David Garner
Ron Gartner
Marc Geelhoed
Marty Geer
Doug Geers
Stacey Geldin
Michael Genese
Geoff Gersh
Grant Gershon and Elissa Johnston
Gordon Getty in memory of Charles Wuorinen
Marc Gilman
David Ginsburg
Janet Giovanniello
Rebecca Givan (in honor of Claire Chase)
Philip Glass
Caitlin Gleason
John Glover
Genevieve Goetz
John Paul Gonzalez
Tina Gonzalez
Brian Good
Maralee Gordon
Todd Gordon and Susan Feder (in memory of Albert K. Webster)
Michaelene Gorney
Norma Gossett
Gill Graham
Rick Graham
Denyce Graves-Montgomery
Marsha Gray
Bruce Greeley
Jacob Greenberg
Judd Greenstein
Mark Grey and Cath Brittan
Jennifer Grim
Lori Gross
Eric Guinivan
Jane Gullong
Esin Gunduz
Claire Gunsbury
Vijay Gupta
Ara Guzelimian (In honor of the wondrous Claire Chase)
Monika Haar
Ada and David Haber
Yotam Haber
Fredara Hadley
Charles Hagaman
Daron Hagen
Hilary Hahn
Dorrie Hall
Stephanie Hall
Nick Hallett and Zach Layton for Darmstadt ‘Classics of the Avant Garde’
Elisabeth Halliday-Quan
Tom Hamilton
William Hamilton
Tom Hamilton (In memory of Robert Ashley)
Catherine Hancock
Jonathan and Suzanne Hannau
Mark Hanson
Andrew Hardis
Hana Hardy
Brandon Harrington
Jonathan Harris
Deirdre Harrison
Stan Harrison
Ed Harsh
Sheila Haswell
Anthony Hawley
Will Healy
Caroline Heaney
Hear Now Music Festival
Ted Hearne
Aaron and Elizabeth Helgeson
Rebekah Heller and Rudd Taylor
Megan Henschel
Paul Hershenson
Douglas Hertz
Christian Hertzog
Ramin Heydarbeygi
Benjamin Hildner
Adrian Hills
James Hirschfeld and John Pickford Richards
Ellie Hisama
Brian Hoberman
Bruce Hodges
William Holab
Peter Homans
Hitomi Honda
Robert Honstein
Zona Hostetler
Nicholas Houfek
Clif Hubby
Gregory Hugh
Robert Hughes and Margaret Fisher
Craig Hultgren
Scott Hunter
Jon Hurd
Robert Hurley
Hanna Hurwitz
Susie Ibarra
Phyllis Imhoff Wulliman
Jeffrey Ingram
Carole Ione
Iowa Composers Forum
Takuma Itoh
Vijay Iyer
JACK Quartet
Colin Jacobsen
Eric Jacobsen
Lisa Jakelski
Pierre Jalbert
Andrew Barnes Jamieson
Joan Jeanrenaud
Dana Jessen and Michael Straus
Nathalie Joachim
Evan Johnson
Maya Miro Johnson
Timothy Johnson
Emlyn and Dan Johnson-Ketter
Jennifer Jolley
Kyle Jones
Russell Jones
Per-Arne Jonsson
Greg Jukes
Josh Jupiter
Sylvia Kahan
Jeffrey Kahane
Jenny Kallick
Laura Kaminsky
Christine Kanawada
Susan Kander
Emil Kang
Lisa Kaplan
Louis and Julie Karchin
Steve Karger
Mikael Karlsson
Ross Karre
Dave Kaufman
Peter Kay
Debra Kaye
Conrad Kehn
Jim Keller
Ryan Kelly
James Kendrick
Christopher Kennedy
John Kennedy
Aaron Jay Kernis
Jennifer Kessler
Stephanie Key
Carson Kievman
Patti Kilroy
Ha-Yang Kim
Soomi Kim
Tina Kinard
John King
Liz Kinsley (for Third Coast Percussion)
Laura Kirar (for Jolie Rickman)
Alexandr Kislitsyn
Heather Kitchen
Katinka Kleijn
Runa Klem
Jamie Klenetsky Fay
Ari Klickstein
Guy and Jan Klucevsek
Polly Klyce Pennoyer
David Koblitz
Nathan Koci and Alea McKinley
Jerry Kohl
Michael Kohlmann
Peter Kolkay
Sam Koplewicz
Alan Kornberg
Tae Kwak
Lil Lacy (for Marcos Balter)
Rhiannon Laffan
Hafida Lahiouel
Dave Lake
Greg Lambrecht (Coravin Greg)
Jodie Landau
David Lang
Beth Lange
Steven Lankenau
Felipe Lara
Aaron Larget-Caplan
Brooke Larimer
Kevin Laskey
Giancarlo Latta
Steve Layton
Anne LeBaron
Anne Lee
Charlotte Lee
Charmaine Lee
Lisa Lee
Mendel Lee
R. Andrew Lee
Jamie Leidwinger
Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund
Linda Lentz
Tania León (for Dora Ferran)
James LeRoux
Carol Levin
Bruce Levingston
Ilya Levinson
David Levy
Howard Lew
Michael Lewanski
George Lewis
Michelle Li
Lei Liang
Liza Lim (for Mark)
John Link
Daniel Lippel
Mark Lipson
David T. Little and Eileen Mack
Anqi Liu
Joann Lo
Annea Lockwood
Emma Logan
Allison Loggins-Hull
Sylvan Long
Jimmy Lopez Bellido
Levy Lorenzo
Marc Lowenstein
Norman Lowrey
Wang Lu
Barbara Lupoff
Barry Lynn
Rebecca Lynn McDaniel
Eric Lyon
Shaya Lyon
Payton MacDonald
Cristian Macelaru
Ryan MacGavin (for Marcos Balter)
Sky Macklay and Sam Pluta
Matt Macvey
A.Z. Madonna
Alanna Maharajh Stone
Erin Maher
Susanna Mälkki
Eric Mandat
Scott Manzler
Anna Marcus
Todd Marcus
Brian Mark
Adam Marks
Denman Maroney
Dan Marschak
KE Marshall
Pamela Marshall
Betsy Martens
Marya Martin
Jana Martin (for Third Coast Percussion)
Miya Masaoka
Hiroyuki Masuko
Ed Matthew
Lucy Mattingly
Nate May
Ilya Mayzus
Missy Mazzoli
Sean McCain
Lori McCann
Maia McCormick
John McDonald
Patrick McEvoy
Andrew McIntosh
Neal and Peggy McKeeman
Ryan McKinny
Blair McMillen
Daniel Medow
Jennifer Merck
Jennifer Michael
Joseph Michaels
Scott Miller
Dean Minderman
Andrew and Rachel Mine
Adam Mirza
Benjamin Mitchell
Nicole Mitchell (for Joan Mitchell)
Aakash Mittal
Michael Mizrahi
James Mobberley
Eric Moe
Hitomi Mokuno
Ingrid Monson
Allegra Montanari
Jon Monteverde
Amanda Moody
H. Paul Moon
Andrea Moore
Ted Moore
Philip Morehead
Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa
Thomas Morris
Beth Morrison
Tom Morrison
Quince Mountain
Zizi Mueller
Nico Muhly
Laura Mullen
Jordan Munson
Martin and Lucy Murray
Urania Mylonas
Ruben Naeff
Murali Nair
Donald Nally
Qasim Naqvi
Susan Narucki
Jani Narvefeffer
Eric Nathan
Fernanda Navarro
Beda Nelson Farrell
Osnat Netzer
Olga Neuwirth
New Focus Recordings
Nina Newhouser
John Newsam
Jeremy Ney
Tiffany Ng
George Nickson
Ken Nielsen
Ilona Niemtschke
Flemming Nordkrog
Kate Nordstrum
Andrew Norman
Nick Norton
Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Patricia and Bill O’Connor
Patrick O’Malley
Leah Ofman
Sharon Omens
Yoshiaki Onishi
Ursula Oppens
Michael Oshea
Frank J. Oteri and Trudy Chan
Edwin Outwater
Mountha Pacentrilli
Mark Palmer
Joo Won Park
Craig Parker
PARMA Recordings
Robert Paterson
Ed Patuto
Kirk Pearson
Alex Peh
Ronald Perera
Tristan Perich and Lesley Flanigan
Douglas Perkins
Cole Perkinson
Naomi Perley
Rick Perlstein
George Peters
Ginevra Petrucci, Flauto d’Amore Project
Phuong-Nghi Pham
Louis Philipson
Flip Phillips
Nick Photinos
Marina Piccinini
Alan Pierson
Nick Platoff
Sarah Plum
Sam Pluta
Movses Pogossian
Frances Pollock
Kenneth Pound
Premiere Commission
Sandy and Barry Pressman
Paola Prestini
Karl Pribram
James Primosch
Susan Pritzker
Joel Puckett
Stephen Pushor
Kevin Puts
Blythe Quelin
Shauna Quill
David Rakowski
The Randy Hostetler Living Room Music Fund
Varun Rangaswamy
Vicki Ray
Jody Redhage Ferber
Alan Reed
Vanessa Reed
Richard Reed Parry
Amadeus Regucera
Steve Reich
Ellen Reid
Sally Reid (for Rebecca Sigel)
Christian Reif
Terry Reimer
Ruth Rendleman
Sam Renshaw
Roger and Karen Reynolds
Kay Rhie
Fran Richman
Jacob Richman
Ethan Rikleen
Robert Ripps
Stanley Riveles
Michael Robin
Will Robin (for John Duffy)
Joshua Robison
Diana Rodriguez
Anne Rogers
Barbara Rogers
Kurt Rohde
Martin Rokeach
Hannah Rommer
Susan Rose
Jesse Rosen (for Claire, Chris, Julia, Marcos, et al)
Mathew Rosenblum
James Rosenfield (for Claire Chase)
Alex Ross
Bob Ross
John Rot
Alexander Rothe
Taylor Rothenberg-Manley
Philip Rothman (In honor of Bob Zawalich)
Christopher Rountree
Mary Rowell
Bahar Royai
Hannah Rubashkin
Joshua Rubin
Joseph Rubinstein
Robin Rue
Elena Ruehr
Curtis Rumrill
Robert Rushin
Anthony Ruth
Norman Ryan
Jason S (for Ruth S)
Kaija Saariaho
Deborah Sagner
Jane M Hussein Saks
Pablo Salazar
Richard David Salvage
Laurie San Martin
Barry and Nancy Sanders
Sallie Sanders
Eleonor Sandresky
Kyle Sanna
Kaitlyn Sansevieri
Alyce Santoro
Amelia Sarah
Amelia Sarah
Eileen Sauer
Annie Saunders
Gregg Schaufeld
Margaret Schedel
Wolfgang Scheuler
Steven and Brenda Schick
Carl Schimmel
Daniel Schlosberg
Sandra Schmid
Brian Schober
Edward Schocker
Adam and Janine Schoenberg
Scholes Street Studio
Schott Music
Schubert Club (in honor of Kevin Puts and the Miró Quartet)
Mary Schultz
Sarah Schultz
Peter Schulz
Lukas Schulze
Michael Schumacher
John Schwenk
Mary Ellen Scott
Sam Scranton
Seed Artists Inc.
Gerald Seixas
Peter Sellars
Joey Sellers (for Bolt Spillman)
Serpush Serpa
Nancy Shafman
Andrew Shapiro
Yevgeniy Sharlat
Yuval Sharon
Caroline Shaw
Wallace Shawn
Gary Shea
Kelley Sheehan
Kate Sheeran
Nina Shekhar
Sarah Shellman
Bright Sheng
Sean Shepherd
Martin Sher
So-Chung Shinn
Aida Shirazi
Nadia Shpachenko
Anne Shreffler
Jen Shyu
Fahad Siadat
Rebecca Sigel
Ron Silver
Rebecca Silverman
Emily Skidmore
Nick Skrowaczewski
Jessica Slaven and Ryan Streber
Sarah Small
Melissa and David Smey
Chad Smith
Dan Smith
James Austin Smith
Jordan Smith
Steve Smith
David Smooke
Sarah Kirkland Snider and Steven Mackey
Philip Snyder
Valerie Soll
Alex Somers
Kate Soper
Gregory Spears
Jared Spencer
Chris Stark
Tom Steenland
Rand Steiger
Jim Stephenson
Michael Stern
William Sterner
Matt Stiens
Alexa Still
Elisabeth Stimpert
Susan Stodolsky
Ingrid Stölzel
Alanna Stone
Nathaniel Stookey
Shannon Stratton
Andrei Strizek
Jill Strominger
Nathan J. Stumpff
Caitlin Sullivan
Kay Sullivan
Stella Sung
John Supko
Janis Susskind
Rita Sussman
Lawrence Sutton
Tamie Swain
Kirsten Swanson
Steven Swartz
Julia Tai
Margaret Tait
Tina Tallon
Roderick Tang
Conrad Tao
Todd Tarantino
Matias Tarnopolsky (In honor of Claire Chase)
Cyndi Tate
Paul Taub
Matthew Taylor
Maria Tegzes
Neil Tesser
Matthew Testa
Christopher Theofanidis
Michiko Theurer (In honor of Annea Lockwood)
Hans Thomalla
Augusta Read Thomas
Joshua Thomas
Isaac Thompson
Jessica Thompson
Frank Ticheli
Kyle Tieman-Strauss
Michael Tilson Thomas
Davóne Tines (for Michelle Antoinette Tines Spencer)
Devon Tipp
Edward Todd
Limor Tomer
Ceiri Torjussen
Joan Tower
Carolyn Trompeter
Jacobina Trump
Thomas-How Tsang
Ming Tsu
Hans Tutschku
Dmitri Tymoczko
Christy Uchida
Ken Ueno
Kojiro Umezaki
Chinary and Susan Ung
Paul Upham
William Upham
Mert Ussakli
Kirstin Valdez Quade
Jimmy Van Bramer
Libby Van Cleve and Jack Vees
Caleb van der Swaagh
Tricia Van Eck
Dan Vanhassel
Jorge Variego
Paul Vazquez
Sugar Vendil
Elsa Verderber
Andrea Verier
Leah Verier-Dunn
Kirsten Volness
Aleksandra Vrebalov
Ania Vu
Peter Vukosavich
Todd Vunderink
Jennifer Wada
Melinda Wagner
Joe and Nancy Walker
Melanie Walker
Larry Wallach
David Walsh
Jen Wang
Meng Wang
Philip Webb
Crystal and Jonathan Wei (to Claire and all the organizers)
Steven Weimer
Gail Wein
Brendan Weinbaum
Jennifer Weinbaum
Laura Weiner
David Weininger
Jason Weinreb
Kiko Weinroth
Alex Weiser
Marc Weiss (For Floyd Cardoz)
Brad Wells
Randall West
Trevor Weston
Bonnie Whiting
Drew Whiting
Tyler Whitmer
Mark Whitnall
Michi Wiancko
Beth Wiemann
Chris Wild
Evan Williams
Mason Williams
Reid Williams (for Solidaire)
Vina Williams (In honor of Conrad Tao)
Scott Wilson
Mark Winges
Scott Winship
Conrad Winslow
Nina Wise
Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon
Gernot Wolfgang
Bruce Wolosoff
Francis Wong
Henry Wong
Shai Wosner
Bonnie Wright
Johnna Wu
Andrew Wyatt
Debbie Wylie
Scott and Karen Wylie
Hanako Yamaguchi
Lidiya Yankovskaya
Adi Yeshaya
Bora Yoon
Bryan Young
James Young
Jeffrey E. Young
Nina C. Young
Bethany Younge
Pamela Z
Rachel Z
Adriana Zabala
Eric Zahm
Lawrence Zbikowski
Kevin Zhang
Chen Zhao
Tiange Zhou
Lenny Zieben
Donna Ziel
Ted Zook
Julio Zúñiga
and 165 anonymous donors

Thank you also to The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the American Composers Forum, The Amphion Foundation, Boosey & Hawkes, A Concord Company, the Counterpoint Fund, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Loud Hound Foundation, the Mattina R. Proctor Foundation, The New York Community Trust, the Pacific Harmony Foundation, Primephonic, the Robert Black Foundation, Wise Music Group, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music for their generous contributions.

New Music Solidarity Fund completes fundraising with $508,000

“We stand with each other, and will keep each other standing until
we are on the other side of this.”  — Claire Chase

The New Music Solidarity Fund, an initiative formed to grant emergency funding to musicians impacted by COVID-19, has concluded fundraising. At $508,000, the completed Fund has far exceeded its initial $100,000 goal, as well as its subsequent $500,000 goal; the Fund is now able to distribute emergency $500 grants to 1,016 applicants.

The New Music Solidarity Fund was made possible through the collective efforts of Marcos Balter, Julia Bullock, Claire Chase, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Du Yun, Reena Esmail, Judd Greenstein, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, Christian Reif, Christopher Rountree, Caroline Shaw, Conrad Tao, Seth Parker Woods, and New Music USA. This group sought to extend help to less-secure individuals within their community. Beyond this emergency bridge fund, the organizers and contributors hope to lay the grounds for a new financial and cultural framework that ensures the stability of musicians in the new-music scene. The New Music Solidarity Fund is administered through New Music USA, a 501c3 organization.

The New Music Solidarity Fund could not have achieved this goal without significant generosity from the nonprofit and music communities. In addition to the outpouring of support from individual donors, several like-minded organizations have diverted their funds into major gifts. These are The Aaron Copland Fund for Music; the Achelis and Bodman Foundation; American Composers Forum; The Amphion Foundation; Boosey & Hawkes, a Concord Company; Howard Gilman Foundation; Loud Hound Foundation; the New York Community Trust; and the Pacific Harmony Foundation.

Many artists, including Marcos Balter, Claire Chase, Susie Ibarra, Jen Shyu, Rebecca Sigel, Nadia Sirota, Conrad Tao, and Third Coast Percussion, also raised money for the New Music Solidarity Fund by turning online concerts into fundraisers. Organizations such as the OmniARTS Foundation also raised funds independently through streaming events.

The New Music Solidarity Fund would also like to thank Larry and Arlene Dunn, who donated proceeds from a recent recording project to the Fund; and Son Lux, who donated proceeds from all their titles on Bandcamp to this and other charities.

“A single canceled performance can have a huge impact on someone’s livelihood. Time and time again, freelance musicians have been there for us composers and new music lovers.I’m deeply touched but not at all surprised that so many artists have answered our calls for contributions. We are a diverse but deeply united family, and we will get through this together.”
Marcos Balter

“Self-preservation can’t so much be on the minds of musicians because one of the fundamentals of music making is acknowledging that we are providing a service for one another. At this immediate time, the support of this fund is financial, but I hope it will resonate well beyond that, once more people know the feeling of solidarity amongst artists.”
Julia Bullock

“Thanks to this outpouring of generosity, we were able to exceed our goal and provide essential relief to more than a thousand artists working in new music. That our relatively small community could come together in such large numbers is a testament to our movement’s resilience, warmth, grit, and grace. We will keep lifting each other up.”
Claire Chase

“Quarantine has served as a powerful reminder of how deeply collaborative music making is and must be. It’s thrilling to have worked with this community of artists and makers to support one another in this crucial way during this harrowing time.”
Anthony Roth Costanzo

“In times like this, we demonstrate, once again, our strongest power and resilience. In times like this, when all else is failing and seems to fall apart, we have each other’s back. When words begin to pale, our actions stand strong. How lucky we are connected by our convictions and passions in life.”
Du Yun

“Supporting artists at this critical time and making sure their basic needs are met allows artists to perform their civic duty: to think broadly and creatively about the world we will find on the other side of this pandemic, and to pioneer new, generative ways forward together.”
Reena Esmail

“It was beyond inspiring to see how quickly our community came to the aid of those musicians who need extra support during this time, and it’s been especially wonderful to see artists supporting one another through direct donations and benefit concerts.”
Judd Greenstein

“As the cancellations started pouring in in late March, it was very easy to fall into a cycle of lonesome despair, both artistic and financial. It was, in turn, even more heartening to see so many musicians and composers whose work focuses on the music of the 21st century join together to try to help out colleagues in any way we all could.”
Nico Muhly

“I have been truly moved by the depth and breadth of generosity we have seen from artists in our community. We will get through this together and we will never again take for granted the ability to gather as a community and make music for and with one another.”
Andrew Norman

“There is a need far beyond what we’re able to give, but it offers hope and some relief to our freelance peers who have no safety net.”
Christian Reif

“Everyone is essential. In this cause it’s essential that all of us do whatever we can to preserve art, to preserve that soul of humanity, one that’s needed now more than ever.”
Christopher Rountree

“The strength and generosity that has emerged among communities of artists is energizing. Let’s keep fortifying these roots to keep this garden full and ready when the sun comes back out. This is the time to take care of each other.”
Caroline Shaw

“It has been so inspiring to see—from the earliest weeks of our concert infrastructure shutting down to now—the outpouring of support for our community, from our community. This pandemic has starkly shown just how interdependent we all are. Thank you to everyone who helped us meet our financial goals each step of the way.”
Conrad Tao

“It’s been thrilling to call on our friends and colleagues of new music to create this fund, and the outpouring of support and love has given me a deeper sense of hope as we tread these uncharted waters.”
Seth Parker Woods

The artists behind the fund are grateful to New Music USA for the generous administrative support and resources that have made the New Music Solidarity Fund possible.

New Music USA’s Response to COVID-19

To our New Music USA community:

We know that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is creating extremely challenging times for our entire community – emotionally, logistically, and financially. Here at New Music USA, we will strive to do everything we can to support you during this unprecedented crisis. Below is an overview of some of our current actions. We will be monitoring the situation and updating the information here regularly.

Please take care of yourselves and each other as we work together to get through the next few months and beyond. We look forward to the moment when we’re safely able to gather again in our love for the brilliant music you are all creating, performing, and enabling so many music fans to enjoy.

Best wishes and stay well,

Vanessa Reed
President & CEO, New Music USA


New Music Solidarity Fund has raised $460k – with final fundraising marathon this week!

[May 12, 2020]

We are so grateful for the generosity and camaraderie our whole community has shown in this incredible time – and for all of the support behind the New Music Solidarity Fund.

The artist-initiated New Music Solidarity Fund has quadrupled its initial goals, raising enough money to provide emergency resources to over 900 musicians impacted by COVID-19.

As we enter our final week of fundraising, we have received over $460,000 in donations and pledges, and are approaching our adjusted goal of $500,000. If we can meet this goal, the Fund will be able to distribute emergency grants to one thousand individual applicants.

You can help us by maximizing the impact of this incredible campaign by spreading the word among your friends and community, increasing your donation if you can, and attending and sharing related fundraising events.

Many artists and organizations, including Marcos Balter, Susie Ibarra, Jen Shyu, Rebecca Sigel, Nadia Sirota, Conrad Tao, PARMA Recordings, and Third Coast Percussion, have raised money for the New Music Solidarity Fund by turning online concerts into fundraisers. Claire Chase performed a live stream marathon concert with Music on the Rebound to raise money for the fund on Thursday, May 14; the program will consist of music by composers who have contributed to the Fund. The  OmniARTS Foundation has organized “Lean on Me,” a series of fund-raising concerts hosted by Lori Laitman, Tom Cipullo, Fred Hersch, and Isabel Leonard; the May 23 concert fundraises for the New Music Solidarity Fund. The New Music Solidarity Fund would also like to thank Larry and Arlene DunnSon Lux, and R. Andrew Lee who have pledged to donate proceeds from their albums to the Fund.

The future of our whole community depends on generosity, support and, compassion for those who are the most impacted by this global challenge. Thanks again for showing this compassion and giving hope to those whose livelihoods are at risk.

Announcing New Goals for the New Music Solidarity Fund

[April 16, 2020]

We’re excited to share a big update about the New Music Solidarity Fund‘s progress. This emergency response for independent musicians impacted by COVID-19 has now raised a total of $380,000 and successfully fulfilled 530 grants within four weeks of opening.

Having more than tripled its initial $100,000 goal, the Solidarity Fund now aims to raise $500,000 by May 15, allowing for a total of 1,000 grants of $500 each. 

On behalf of all the musicians who are benefiting, and the visionary composers and artists who initiated this fund, thank you for being part of this collaborative campaign! By donating and spreading the word about the Fund, you are supporting new music practitioners whose livelihoods have been placed in jeopardy due to cancelations and closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please read more in the Solidarity Fund press release.

These words from a Solidarity Fund recipient also highlight the importance of this emergency funding:

“I want to express my gratitude to you upon receiving this grant. Not only does it help to contribute to my immediate financial need, it encourages me to stay creative and motivated in this challenging time.”

At New Music USA, we strive to support a thriving and interconnected ecosystem for new music and we are here to serve and assist our community in any way we can. As social distancing continues, and as concert halls and festivals remain closed, we are actively considering those who are most affected and evaluating how to respond further as these unprecedented circumstances evolve.

Please also feel free to share this information with others who might be inspired to help us reach the New Music Solidarity Fund target of $500,000 to support 1,000 musicians. Donations can be made here.


Announcing $130,000 in emergency funding for freelance artists in the new/creative/improvised music community through the New Music Solidarity Fund

[March 24, 2020]

We are proud to announce that we are supporting and collaborating with a group of visionary composers and musicians who have initiated the New Music Solidarity Fund to help freelance performers with urgent financial needs following cancelations of their work in this initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 100 artists, arts leaders, and professors in the field have announced the New Music Solidarity Fund, an initiative that aims to grant emergency funding to musicians impacted by COVID-19. At the time of the announcement, more than $130,000 has been pledged, with donations coming first from musicians, composers, and others from the new music community wishing to show their solidarity for those who they know to be suffering.

The fund will be administered by our team at New Music USA, and all donations are fully tax-deductible through our 501c3 status. The fund is accessible here and will run until April 30. Some members of the new music community are able to weather these uncertain times more smoothly than others. If you are in the position to be generous, please donate to help your friends and colleagues.

The New Music Solidarity Fund will distribute at least two hundred and sixty, $500 emergency assistance grants. Any musician who has had a project involving a living composer canceled because of the pandemic is invited to apply. The New Music Solidarity Fund opens to applicants at 12 p.m. Eastern time on March 31, and will run until April 30. Grants will be available on a first-come, first-served basis as funds last. Artists are encouraged to bookmark this page to gain access when the application form opens.

New Music USA’s Response to COVID-19

[March 16, 2020]

For current New Music USA Project Grant awardees:

We are expecting postponements and cancelations which relate to projects we are already funding and we will of course be flexible about these changes. Please email Monisha Chowdhary to let us know what has happened and please use “Project Grant Changes – COVID-19” as the subject line.   

For all individual artists and organizations who applied to the latest New Music USA Project Grants deadline (January 2020):

We are asking our independent panelists to assess the quality of your projects in accordance with our standard guidelines. The dates you are proposing for your activity will not influence the advisors’ assessment.  Advisors’ decisions will be made by the end of May as planned. We will then contact selected awardees with guidance on any projects which are likely to be subject to further restrictions.

Events and live-streaming

It is clear that the COVID-19 virus is already having a massive impact on our community. Many performers and organizations are canceling or changing performances, educational offerings, and other public events. We honor this crucial effort to support public health.  If you are modifying your events to a live-stream format, please let us know. We will gladly help you spread the word.

We are also happy to share any information you’d like the community to be aware of via our social media channels. Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and we will respond. 

New Music USA staff

As of today, New Music USA’s office in NYC is closed until further notice. Our team is working from home and available by email between our usual working hours – 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Eastern time. We will be striving to honor all planned meetings by undertaking them by phone or GoToMeeting. We are committed to avoiding any non-essential travel within the US or internationally to support public health in this shifting situation.

Broader advocacy and cross-sector collaboration

New Music USA has signed a letter to the National Endowment for the Arts encouraging Congress to include the arts and individual artists in the distribution/consideration of any emergency relief funding. This is thanks to our membership of the Performing Arts Alliance. You can contact your local government officials to add your support as well. 

Emergency resources

Our friends at American Composers Forum have compiled a detailed list of resources that may offer help, guidance and financial support for those heavily impacted. We also recommended taking a look at the resources compiled by National Performance Network, Creative Capital, and COVID-19 & Freelance Artists. In addition to their list of resources, we encourage you to participate in The Economic Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Arts and Cultural Sector survey from Americans for the Arts.

Our Journey to Olly Wilson: Remixed and Beyond

Larry and Arlene Dunn at Kaleidosonic (Photo by Jack Lichtenstein)

Today, April 20, 2020, is Larry’s 71st birthday, which we are celebrating by releasing our recording project Olly Wilson: Remixed on New Focus Recordings. As a “Special COVID-19 Pandemic Release,” 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this recording will be donated to the New Music Solidarity Fund (NMSF), which has just set a new stretch goal to reach a total of $500,000 by May 15. The New Music Solidarity Fund was organized by 14 leading artists in the global new music field to raise money for freelance music artists who are suddenly deprived of their livelihood by the pandemic. The fund is administered through New Music USA, and has already issued 530 emergency relief grants. But the financial needs far outweigh the more than $300,000 already raised.

Today, we also started a coordinated Facebook birthday fundraiser to benefit the NMSF. We are listing this release at a low $4.00, and people who contribute any amount to the parallel Facebook fundraiser will receive a download code to get the album. This way, nearly anyone inclined to give is able to do so. But we urge you to pay whatever you can comfortably afford. This pandemic has suddenly deprived so many independent music artists of their livelihood. Providing them some emergency financial relief seems like the least we ought to do, in return for the countless years they have invested in their craft to bring such joy into our lives.

You might be asking, how is it that Arlene and Larry Dunn are releasing a recording? What is it? Olly Wilson: Remixed is a passion project, an homage to composer and musicologist Olly Wilson (1937-2018), an Oberlin Conservatory professor from 1965 to 1970, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the advent of electronic music at Oberlin, for which he was directly responsible.

Our own journey with Olly Wilson began in 2014, when International Contemporary Ensemble clarinetist Joshua Rubin included Wilson’s composition ​Echoes​ (for clarinet and electronics) on his album There Never is No Light. Josh has told us “I first performed Wilson’s music while I was a student at Oberlin. Then I had the honor of working with him directly in 2013, when I was recording Echoes for my album. He helped me find the materials I needed to perform and record the work, and to help shape my performance to his vision of the piece.” Josh continued: “My entire album’s inspiration came from the palette of sounds and ideas that originate from Echoes.” Josh’s recording sparked our first concentrated listening to Olly Wilson’s music. We were entranced by the music and intrigued by the man, who clearly carried a special spirit.

In February 2018, we attended a lecture by Fredara Hadley, then a Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Oberlin, who now teaches at Juilliard. Her lecture, “The Black History of Oberlin Conservatory,” focused on the substantial contributions of African American students and faculty throughout the Conservatory’s history. Among these, of course, was Olly Wilson, the first African American faculty member at the conservatory. We learned that, in addition to his teaching in the standard curriculum of the day, Wilson offered Oberlin’s first courses in African and African American music and culture, a signal achievement at a time when campuses across the country were just beginning to grapple with the far-reaching tentacles of racism.

  • This pandemic has suddenly deprived so many independent music artists of their livelihood.

    Larry & Arlene Dunn
  • Olly Wilson offered Oberlin’s first courses in African and African American music and culture at a time when campuses across the country were just beginning to grapple with the far-reaching tentacles of racism.

    Larry & Arlene Dunn
  • We extracted phrases from Olly Wilson’s written works and then organized them into affinity groups.

    Larry & Arlene Dunn
  • We hope that launching this recording as a fundraising tool will inspire in others a generosity of spirit and hope for the future.

In May 2019, we met with Tom Lopez, department chair of Oberlin TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) to talk about plans to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. We received another revelation: in the fall of 1969, Olly Wilson taught the first class in electronic music at Oberlin Conservatory (or any conservatory of music). That moment was the germination of today’s TIMARA program. As Tom unfurled the plans to celebrate TIMARA’s 50th anniversary, one particular event stood out: the Kaleidosonic Music Festival, planned for November 16, “an epic celebration of music at Oberlin. It will include musicians and ensembles from the Conservatory, the College, and the community,” as Tom described. “It will be many hours long with non-stop music — one big, long, sonic collage of ensembles, groups, and individual musicians,” he enthused. The rest came rapid fire, something like this:

Tom: Would we like to perform in Kaleidosonic?

A&L: Sure, but what?

Tom: Anything you like.

A&L: How about a text or spoken word piece about Olly Wilson?

Tom: That would be perfect!

And thus, Olly Wilson: Remixed was born. The objective of doing a spoken word piece was clear enough, but the content and substance was far from it. Soon we immersed ourselves in the hunt for all his recorded music and all his writings we could find. We quickly realized that not only was Olly Wilson a highly inventive composer, but he was a profound thinker, especially regarding the aesthetics and politics of African and African American music and culture, and he was a persuasive writer. A concept for the piece began to congeal, as we found certain works that resonated most strongly with us. Our touchstones in his music included Echoes, of course, Cetus, for which he won the first-ever international prize for electronic music in 1968, Sometimes (for tenor and electronics), and his stirring song cycle Of Visions and Truth. His written works (and transcribed interviews) that became central to Olly Wilson: Remixed include Black Music as an Art Form, The Black-American Composer, an address to an Oberlin College assembly called How Long — Not Long!, and a series of interviews with the Regional Oral History Office at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

To create our script, we extracted phrases from Wilson’s written works and then organized them into affinity groups. These groups ultimately morphed into the four movements of Olly Wilson: Remixed. The first movement, Black Music as an Art Form addresses Wilson’s refutation to the broadly held notion that there was nothing unique or distinctive about Black music that sets it apart from any other music. Next, Musical Electrons presents Wilson’s thoughts about the use of technology and electronics in the creation and performance of music. The third movement, In Oberlin portrays life in the town and the college through Wilson’s eyes. Finally, Composing While Black exposes the systemic racism that relentlessly impedes the work of an African American artist in a deeply white field like classical music, concluding with poet Claude McKay’s defiant “If We Must Die.”

As the movements came together, we started a cycle of rehearsing, rearranging, rehearsing, refining, rehearsing . . . We started to think our recitation alone was too dry, and we ought to add an Olly Wilson-inspired soundscape. We, of course, knew nothing about how to do that, but we knew someone who did: Kirk Pearson, a 2017 Oberlin grad whose work in TIMARA we had come to admire when he was a student. We contacted Kirk at his Dogbotic studio, in Berkeley, CA. He was quick to say yes. Reflecting back on the moment, Kirk says:

Olly Wilson holds a mythic status at Oberlin, but the full weight of his accomplishments weren’t clear to me until I got involved in this project. I have to admit that, despite studying in the TIMARA department, essentially Wilson’s creation, I hadn’t read any of his articles nor spent significant time with his music. To call this process eye-opening is putting it lightly. I was shocked at just how political and prophetic many of Wilson’s writings were. Wilson’s creative process was a politically indelible act in and of itself. We learn from his example that the subtle acts of sonic modulation, the generation of synthetic sound, and the splicing of tape are powerful tools for composers to reimagine, even refute, history.

Kirk dove into reading our score and the original sources to ground himself in the project while also auditioning most of Wilson’s recordings to absorb their essence. Step by step, he put shape to a soundscape attuned to the aesthetic of each movement. Kirk relates a bit of the process he employed:

The profundity of tape composition grounds much of Wilson’s electronic work, much as it forms the soundscape of Olly Wilson: Remixed. I snipped thousands of micro samples of Wilson’s music and voice, creatively mutating them through five decades worth of analog studio techniques−tape machines, Buchla modulars, vocoders, and a homemade ten-foot Slinky reverb, and more. Working with the sonic artifacts of this great composer was humbling, and I am hoping this piece helps generate interest in Wilson’s work among successive new generations of electronic trailblazers.

Premiering Olly Wilson: Remixed at the Kaleidosonic Festival in November at Oberlin’s historic Finney Chapel was an exhilarating and unique experience. It was totally chaotic, and yet also cleanly orchestrated. More than 50 separate performances were scheduled, from 7:30 to midnight, ranging from individuals to over 50 people, including marching bands, a children’s choir, the Oberlin College choir, the OSteel Band, a jazz ensemble, even bagpipes. Notable guests included composer and accordionist Peter Flint (a 1992 Oberlin grad) and experimental noise music luminary Aaron Dilloway (an Oberlin resident). Most performances were slated to last only five minutes and would bleed into each other at the beginning and end.

When we arrived at our call time, the basement of Finney was abuzz with activity−people warming up, finding a place for their coats, and talking excitedly with friends and cohorts. Soon we were being led up the tortuous path to the organ loft where we would perform our first and second movements. The MC gave us our cue as our friends in the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra (NOYO) Lab Group were wrapping up their set. We stood, turned on our music stand lights, heard Kirk’s intro, and started reciting. It was scintillating. Hundreds of people in the audience and we were the only ones performing! After completing the first movement we turned off our lights and exited to wait in a tiny, dim area behind the organ. Before emerging 25 minutes later to perform our second movement, that organ would be booming, and we wanted to protect our ears.

We performed our third and fourth movements on the floor in front of the stage, adjacent to NOYO Lab Group. By design, Kaleidosonic was full of chatter and people coming and going. But we knew people were listening, when we heard laughter at some humorous moments during our In Oberlin movement. When the time finally came, we were thrilled to hear Kirk’s arresting soundscape introduction to our fourth movement, which contains some of the most assertive and impactful text. We were sure we had succeeded when we heard loud applause at the end, and Tom Lopez agrees: “Arlene and Larry made great use of the performance space in this fully immersive event. It was very powerful to hear Olly Wilson’s words repeated in the very chapel where he gave his assembly address on racial injustice in April 1970.”

Larry and Arlene Dunn at Kaleidosonic (Scott Shaw Photography)

Larry and Arlene Dunn at Kaleidosonic (Scott Shaw Photography)

From the beginning of Kirk’s involvement in the project, we had discussed making a studio recording of Olly Wilson: Remixed. With the Kaleidosonic premiere still ringing in our ears, we descended into the TIMARA lab the following day for Kirk to record our vocal tracks. Life interrupted the process for a spell, as Larry had major surgery on his neck the very next day, followed by months of recovery. Sometime in February, Larry was well on the way to recovery and Kirk had first-cut mixes of each movement ready for us to review. A multi-step cycle of reviews and notes and revisions brought us very close to ready as March arrived. As we started to grapple with how and where we might release Olly Wilson: Remixed to the world, it turned out the word had its own plans.

Suddenly an unremitting COVID-19 pandemic was spreading across the globe, disrupting life as we know it in country after country, with a virulent outbreak sure to hit the U.S. On March 12, we decided to voluntarily stay at home except going out for food and other essentials. By March 22, the state of Ohio rolled out a stay-at-home order, just as our own community entered a “hard closure” precautionary quarantine. Across the country, music concerts, and public events of all kinds, were suddenly cancelled for the foreseeable future, wreaking havoc on musicians everywhere, especially freelance artists whose entire livelihoods depend on contracted concert appearances.

That same Sunday, March 22, Claire Chase contacted us about contributing to a new initiative she and 13 other leading artists were organizing to help funnel emergency relief grants to suddenly out-of-work musicians.   inspired our release plan: to launch Olly Wilson: Remixed as a fundraising tool, with 100% of the proceeds donated to the NMSF. When we contacted Dan Lippel about launching the project on New Focus Recordings, he enthusiastically agreed, and we started marching in sync towards our April 20 release date.

The cover for the CD Olly Wilson: Remixed features a photo of Olly Wilson in front of a blackboard lecturing to a class.

The Cover for Olly Wilson: Remixed.

We harbor no illusions that our campaign is going to fully mitigate the financial crisis for freelance musicians, much less the broad and deep economic damage of this pandemic. But we hope that it will inspire in others a generosity of spirit and hope for the future. Or, has Kirk has put it:

My studio, which sits less than a mile away from UC Berkeley, the locus of the last thirty years of Olly Wilson’s illustrious career, now boasts a framed quote from the man himself: “I am optimistic about the whole future of music.” We could all benefit from a bit of optimism right now. Wilson’s sentiment, perhaps more than ever, is a reminder of the resilience of the creative arts. While a global pandemic has uprooted our traditional institutions for making music, I have no doubt that the creative world will adapt and continue to thrive. Music will live on, and with it, our ability to call our histories into question and make a better future.

Thank you Olly Wilson. We, too, are optimistic about the whole future of music.

How the New Music Community is Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a safety precaution against further spread of COVID-19, American Composers Orchestra under the direction of George Manahan performs to a nearly empty house consisting of just the six composers whose music is being featured, composer mentors, and ACO staff in Aaron Davis Hall at City College on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Ed Yim, courtesy ACO.)

Like everyone else, we have been trying as best as possible to carefully monitor the spread of the Coronavirus worldwide and, as you can imagine from our vantage point at New Music USA, paying particular attention to what its impact has been on the new music community (e.g. the cancellation of concerts/conferences, the closure of schools and a switch to online distance learning where possible, and on and on, aside from the health and safety fears that everyone in the world is currently facing) and how we can best be of help. To that end, we thought it would be helpful to offer observations and constructive ideas of people from a variety of vantage points within our sector in NewMusicBox in the hopes that it can lead us toward a consensus about what might be best practices for how to deal with this extraordinary and unprecedented situation moving forward.

To that end, we posed a series of seven questions to: producer and marketing/PR consultant Alanna Maharajh Stone; composer Katherine Balch; Andrew Bliss, Artistic Director of Nief-Norf; improvising vocalist, composer/lyricist, and teacher Fay Victor; Opera Omaha’s General Director Roger Weitz; Kate Nordstrum, founder, curator, and producer of the Liquid Music Series and executive and artistic director of The Great Northern; David Skidmore of Third Coast Percussion; and Ashley Bathgate, cello soloist and member of the Bang on a Can All Stars.

In addition, we’ve also featured photos here from American Composers Orchestra’s 2020 Underwood New Music Readings held on March 12 and 13 in Aaron Davis Hall at The City College of New York taken by ACO’s President and CEO Edward Yim. Closed to the public due to the growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the readings were limited to orchestra musicians, the six composers featured, the mentor composers for the program, and ACO staff, but the event was recorded for a future stream available to the ACO’s audience. Unfortunately the deepening of the crisis in the days since then has meant that even this small a gathering is no longer possible, making any kind of orchestra performance unlikely for the foreseeable future. But video footage from the readings is currently being edited and ACO plans to post an online stream sometime next week. To be notified, please sign up to be added to an email list at the following URL:

As a safety precaution against further spread of COVID-19, American Composers Orchestra under the direction of George Manahan performs to a nearly empty house consisting of just the six composers whose music is being featured, composer mentors, and ACO staff in Aaron Davis Hall at City College on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Stephanie Polonio, courtesy ACO.)

As a safety precaution against further spread of COVID-19, American Composers Orchestra under the direction of George Manahan performed to a nearly empty house consisting of just the six composers whose music is being featured, composer mentors, and ACO staff in Aaron Davis Hall at City College on March 12, 2020. (ACO photos by Stephanie Polonio, courtesy ACO.)

We remain eager to hear from more people in the community to hear about your concerns as well as creative solutions for how to cope in these extraordinary times. Please add your thoughts in our Comments section below and stay safe and well.

1. How have the recent concerns over the spread of COVID-19 affected your activities as a musician/composer/presenter/etc.?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: Thanks so much for the opportunity to weigh in on these existentially trying times. I have had two concerts recently cancelled. It’s of course disappointing for everyone involved but given the circumstances of our public health crisis, it must be done.

Katherine Balch: Like everyone else right now, as far as I know, pretty much every concert scheduled for me between last week and the end of April has been cancelled. Hopefully, postponed. While some of these cancellations are very disappointing, I am more concerned for my performing freelance friends.

“I didn’t think it would impact the musical communities I interact with because our audiences and spaces are on the smaller side.”

Andrew Bliss: Like many of us, COVID-19 has been at the heart of discussion now since for several weeks. I’ve been anticipating cancellations (which have occurred, one by one) and have had all professional work halt since early March until at least the end of May at this point. For me, this has included festivals in the U.S. and abroad, educational residencies, university teaching, plus student activities and performances. Most notably here in Knoxville, the Big Ears Festival was canceled, which was both very disappointing and, of course, very necessary.

Fay Victor: As serious as I took the news, I didn’t think it would impact the musical communities I interact with because our audiences and spaces are on the smaller side. So up until last week, I was out attending events as normal. This past week there has been a sharp shift toward cancellations with venues looking out for the safety of their employees and patrons and lest we not forget that we live in a litigious society as well.

Unfortunately this has impacted me greatly. I’ve lost a week at the Stone (it would have been my first residency there for my own work); a CD release at Joe’s Pub, 4 days of shows in Chicago and more. Some venues have offered to reschedule immediately, one offered payment anyway and the others – well, I’m waiting to hear what will happen.

Roger Weitz: On March 12, Opera Omaha made the decision to postpone its third annual ONE Festival ( with performances and events stretching March 20-April 5. We sent the communication below to our artists and within 36 hours of this communication, venues in Omaha began shutting down.

From: Roger Weitz

Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2020 1:53 PM

To: All Opera Omaha

Subject: a message from Roger Weitz and James Darrah

Dear Festival Family,

The strength of Opera Omaha and the ONE Festival is you: the artists, staff, and crew that create exceptional work unlike any other company in the world. We put the health and safety of all of you and your families first and foremost. While the individual risk to you in Omaha remains low, the systemic risk is nationally high and growing locally.

As we have been monitoring the scope of this pandemic, relying on factual and scientific information, we have decided that the most responsible way to honor that commitment to you is to cease our current work and explore the possibility of rescheduling/postponing the Festival’s offerings. We do not want to contribute to this pandemic in any way, but more importantly are taking this proactive decision in the interest of your safety.

Even though our time is cut short, and we will explore options to bring these projects to fruition at a later date, Opera Omaha will fulfill its entire current contractual commitment to you. We will be in touch with you or your manager as appropriate. For those of you from outside of Omaha, we are currently preparing a plan for your travel and will reach out to you directly to discuss those arrangements shortly.

If you have any questions beyond travel logistics, please contact one of us or Kurt.

On a more personal note, we are extremely proud that you are a part of this Festival and thank you for all of the time, energy, and artistry that you have already contributed.

With respect and admiration,

Roger and James

Kate Nordstrum: As of January 2020, Liquid Music is an independent LLC, owned by me. It was launched at The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2012. This spring we had a number of projects lined up with The Kennedy Center, Big Ears Music Festival, and National Gallery of Art. My role was producer of 1 0 0 1 (Dustin O’Halloran, Fukiko Takase, Bryan Senti & Yaron Abulafia) at The Kennedy Center (part of the Direct Current festival, a 2019 SPCO Liquid Music commission), producer of Dust (Valgeir Sigurdsson and Daniel Piorro) at Big Ears and National Sawdust, and guest artistic director for The National Gallery (illuminating the exhibit “True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780-1870” with a program featuring works by contemporary composers inspired by nature, performed by yMusic). The National Gallery hasn’t formally cancelled yet, but I expect this to happen at any moment… The others are cancelled.

Beyond the spring cancellations, it is impossible to know when things will start back up again. This uncertainty makes postponement tricky.

I have another job now too: Executive & Artistic Director of The Great Northern—a 10-day festival that celebrates winter in Minneapolis and Saint Paul in an era of climate change. I’ve been actively working on fundraising and programming for Jan 28-Feb 7 activity, and wonder how/if I’ll be able to sustain the necessary momentum on both fronts.

David Skidmore: To create something positive in this uncertain and often frightening environment, we have decided to live stream a concert from our rehearsal studio in Chicago for each of our concerts that cancel. Similarly we will offer educational content online in lieu of our cancelled educational activities. It won’t replace in-person visits to these communities we were scheduled to visit in the U.S. and beyond, but we plan to leverage the technology we have at our disposal to make some really cool and fun musical experiences for all those folks around the world who are stuck at home.

We are speaking with some concert presenters about partnering with us on this project. Please contact me if you’d like to speak about it:

Ashley Bathgate: Activities have ceased. Everything I have planned on the calendar from now through the summer is up in the air right now. If the projections are accurate, I may not be performing or working until late summer or fall. It’s a wait and see approach for all of us.

Life as a freelancer is already touch and go. We can’t really count on work to begin with, we don’t know what our schedules will be more than 3-6 months in advance, there’s always the risk of something falling through at the last minute, and there is no safety net. Yet there’s some strange consistency in that. You know how it goes and what to expect and you know you have some control over what you do and don’t do. In this instance, we are totally unprepared and without control. I quickly realized that the things I would normally do when a gig gets cancelled wouldn’t serve me here. I have to accept it and move forward with what is available to me at this moment, not yesterday or tomorrow or six months from now. Everything is uncertain, and that is the only thing that is certain.

Top row: Fay Victor (photo by Kyra Kverno), Andrew Bliss, and Katherine Balch; Bottom row: Roger Weitz, Ashley Bathgate (photo by Bill Wadman), Kate Nordstrum (photo by Cameron Wittig), Alanna Maharajh Stone, and David Skidmore.

Top row: Fay Victor (photo by Kyra Kverno), Andrew Bliss (photo by Evan Chapman), and Katherine Balch; Bottom row: Roger Weitz, Ashley Bathgate (photo by Bill Wadman), Kate Nordstrum (photo by Cameron Wittig), Alanna Maharajh Stone, and David Skidmore.

2. How have cancellations of events affected your income at this point (payment for performances/talks, etc., performing rights fees for performances of your music, etc.)?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: The cancellations have certainly impacted my income but I have a little savings so I am alright for the time being. I’m very worried about everyone in the music community and our wider communities at large about the impact of the cancellations and closings. It’s the right thing to do for sure as this virus must be mitigated. I think we all need to be especially kind and look out for each other to get through this and we shall get through together. We’re all interdependent to make a vibrant, flourishing, creative world.

“We’re all interdependent to make a vibrant, flourishing, creative world.”

Katherine Balch: I am definitely losing performing rights fees, but those are not a substantial part of my income. So far, I am missing the second installment of a commission fee as a result of a postponed performance. I am very fortunate to be a graduate student with a stipend from my university.

Andrew Bliss: My wife and I have repeatedly confessed how grateful we are to have salaried positions at major universities, which have allowed for a constant sense of security in our lives. With that in mind, we do keep a to-the-dollar budget each month, and have had to make a number of changes as all of our other income has slowly evaporated due to cancellations.

Fay Victor: The impact is significant but is survivable so far. If this is a temporary situation, I should be OK. We’ll just have to see.

Roger Weitz: It is still too early to know all of the financial ramifications of this decision.

Kate Nordstrum: I am fortunate to have a stable salary via The Great Northern. The Liquid Music performances that were cancelled mean no income for myself or the artists, even though months of work have gone into project development, rehearsals, and business administration leading to the events. I am still waiting to see if the flights I purchased will be reimbursed by the airlines.

David Skidmore: Third Coast Percussion has seen several cancellations of scheduled concerts and educational activities, and we expect we might see more still. We are fortunate to a certain degree because over the years we have made a point of setting aside money in the event of an unexpected budget shortfall. That said, this unprecedented situation presents an existential threat to all arts organizations, and Third Coast is not immune to that. We stand to lose an extraordinary amount of money (by our standards at least) should our performance fees for the rest of this concert season not come through. We have salaried employees with health benefits through TCP, there are contractors who rely on us for their livelihood, and there are composers and guest artists who rely on the commission fees and performance fees that we offer for their work.

“This unprecedented situation presents an existential threat to all arts organizations.”

Ashley Bathgate: Right now, I am in danger of losing about 1/3 of my income for the year. My gigs this month were cancelled. I will almost certainly lose all of April’s income and it’s looking more and more likely that May will fall apart as well. At that point, I will be in the position of not being able to pay my bills or my debt obligations, like student loan, vehicle loan, instrument loan, etc. I will have to dip into savings that were put aside for my future, specifically a retirement fund, because as a freelancer, I don’t have a pension to speak of. These cancellations have the potential to ruin a lot of people’s lives, or at the very least, leave a significant dent.

That said, I am heartened and inspired to see people rallying. Funds are being established for relief, people are sharing information on what’s already out there, they are asking each other if they need help and sending messages to cheer you up and let you know: you are not alone. I saw one person on Facebook offer up two beds in his apartment today to anyone who needs it.

We are continuing to perform (and some venues are allowing us to continue to perform) without a live audience so that we can still be paid and so that people can hear/see our work by watching a live stream of the show. Audiences are donating their tickets back to the venue instead of getting a refund. I am seeing presenters promise to fulfill their agreements and to pay artists regardless of whether the concert happens or not. It’s clear that everyone: artists, venues, presenters, and audiences alike want to help find a solution.

3. What kind of arrangements have been / should be in place for you to ensure a fair balance for these cancellations? (There are clearly multiple sides to this, among them the artists’ side and the venue’s side and we’d like to offer both perspectives in order to arrive at something approximating a possible best practice.)

Alanna Maharajh Stone: On a personal note, one of the cancelled concerts will turn into an album release campaign project at a later point so I’m very thankful for that.

I would ask arts organizations presenters to pay their scheduled artists their fees even if the institutions have to cancel their performances due to Coronavirus precautions. Freelancers all depend on the work they have planned and scheduled. Things can get rescheduled and the artists will appreciate the care, thought, and respect they are displaying, not to mention the ability to afford to survive. Arts orgs have annual budgets assigned already. This would not be hard to do and go a long way towards easing the financial pain I’m seeing in my colleagues’ social media feeds. I know smaller presenters will find this very hard to do but I applaud ones such as Hotel Elefant and HERE Arts Center for doing this as much as they can. Time In is also finding ways to employ their artists remotely. Tech and social media are key tools in bringing us together and helping ease the feeling of isolation. Alternatively, venues can also stream the performances to global audiences without having an in-house audience present. This way the show can go on such as with Miller Theatre with a recent concert. Several other venues are doing this as well.

For artists having gigs cancelled on them, I would recommend trying to negotiate retaining part or all of their fees in exchange for a new performance date. For future projects, build a deposit into your contracts that is non-refundable so there is some cushion should things not work out as planned through no fault of yours. Do not be afraid to negotiate and ask for what you want – this is your livelihood.

Katherine Balch: I think it’s really complicated because a lot of presenting institutions are also operating on bootstraps budgets. I do wish there were some sort of insurance in place for performers who have spent time and energy into learning a (often very demanding) new piece of music only to find out they won’t be paid the days leading up to the performance. Composers are often paid 50% fee at the signing of a contract and 50% upon delivery of the score or the premiere performance. I wonder if such a policy could be in place for freelancers for emergency circumstances like these.

Andrew Bliss: My feelings are often divided on this topic, because I work both as a performer/educator, and I also run the contemporary music organization Nief-Norf. So I can easily see and empathize with the challenges that presenters face. Up to this point, all of my cancellations have simply been offered to be rescheduled for the future.

That said, this current crisis has prompted a great deal of thinking about the future. I wonder what types of safeguards we can implement in the future to mitigate some of the difficult decisions we are facing today. In my time in academia and the non-profit sector, I’ve hosted dozens of artists and ensembles, while actively touring as a soloist and chamber performer myself. I’ve seen artist fees and artists’ contractual rigor range widely during this time. I have concluded over the years that almost all musicians have a “portfolio” career, with income coming from various sources and those obligations representing various percentages of their time obligations. I mention this, because the percentage that residencies/appearances/performances play in an artists’ overall portfolio, seems to have a strong influence on their approach to fees and contracts.

Many musicians are very strict about receiving and adhering to contracts, including price guarantees, though I think we’ve learned this is probably a topic we need to re-visit. Earlier in my career, I might have considered that position to be too strict and inflexible. From personal experience, however, I realized how critically important these contracts are to a musician’s livelihood. Flexibility is vital, of course, whenever possible. But it’s also important to write that flexibility into a written agreement or contract, rather than having to decide just-how-flexible you can afford to be in an ad-hoc way. I doubt that anyone’s contracts had a “pandemic clause” beyond force majeure, however, so we are all on shaky ground at this point.

Fay Victor: Fortunately, I have other work as an educator that balances out my income. Some venues can afford to pay out for the shows (I mentioned one is doing so in my case). I understand through that a small venue simply may not have the money to pay out to everyone. I’m not sure how best to handle it. Everyone has been kind and accommodating as much as they can be. The communities I work in all understand how precarious this situation is for everyone.

Roger Weitz: Most of our contracts have cancellation clauses and/or force majeure clauses built in. In most cases we are choosing to ignore those clauses and will pay the artists their full fee. The artists committed to us and we committed to the artists. The contracts required the artists to hold the festival time period for us and we know that it would be virtually impossible for them now to secure new engagements to replace the ones that we have postponed.

“In most cases we are choosing to ignore force majeure clauses and will pay the artists their full fee.”

Kate Nordstrum: I think artistic teams should be able to keep project deposits. There should be a recognition that this down payment goes toward development of the work — it is not held in a safe until the performance premieres. Presenters who do not do deposits should reconsider, as it can be a hardship on artists. Presenters should also take responsibility for flight purchases or reimbursements if an artist fronts this expense. My experience is primarily from the presenter side, and I still agree with all of the above! As a presenter, I do sympathize greatly with the stress that arts organizations are under, but they are in a better position than individual artists to find a way to recover costs.

There are more protections from institutions around commissioned work, which is a good thing.

David Skidmore: All of our performance contracts have what’s called a force majeure clause, which I like to lovingly think of as the oh shit clause. In the event of something catastrophic and out of the control of the artist and venue, what do we do? These contract clauses can provide some helpful guidance in situations like this.

That said: the performing arts world, and the new music world as a subset of the performing arts world, is a relatively small community of people who are in this because they love this art and they believe in it. I sincerely hope that everyone is doing their part to both take care of themselves and their loved ones, but also to think of the larger communities that they are a part of. Think of those who are more vulnerable than you are, and do everything you can to help them.

“I sincerely hope that everyone is doing their part to both take care of themselves and their loved ones, but also to think of the larger communities that they are a part of.”

Ashley Bathgate: I can’t speak to the presenting side, but I think we need to be having this conversation more openly and more often. Over the past few days I’ve gotten a clearer picture of what everyone is going through. That makes me more informed, more empathetic and more generous. I believe in transparency. There can always be more of this in life and certainly in the art world. We need to vocalize more and we need to put our heads together. In this instance, it’s on a case by case basis. Bill Bragin said it in a nutshell: it is a question of who can bear the loss.

From my perspective, if we had a clearer protocol to begin with, this wouldn’t be as much of a gray area for someone like me. If I had contracts for every gig I played, with an agreed upon language, including the language of the force majeure clause, a deposit up front and a cancellation fee in place, I’d at least have somewhere to start. If that was my standard, I would not feel so disempowered at this moment. Right now, I am at someone else’s mercy. That person is also at someone else’s mercy. Though, one can argue that contracts are meaningless if the people behind them don’t respect or are subsequently unable to honor the agreement.

When that happens, are we legally protected?

I don’t know too many freelance artists with lawyers on retainer. I don’t know too many of us (myself included) who even understand the law when it comes to things like this, or copyright, or intellectual property, etc. What about insurance? What’s that, does that even exist for us? Gig insurance? It is becoming less and less feasible in our DIY, click of a button stream-culture, to have a team around you who can look out for you in these ways. I cannot afford to have management on retainer. I cannot afford to hire a publicist, which costs per month what I would pay in rent. I cannot afford to pay a record label to release my album, which I spent thousands of dollars on and which might sell 500 copies, if I am lucky. I can’t afford to hire a development director to fundraise for my next project. So we are learning to do all of these things ourselves, on the fly, while making art, while taking care of families. I spend most of my “work” day on a lap top, not my cello. The system is becoming harder and harder for artists like me, who were told in school to just practice their instrument, be great at what you do and you will get a job. It’s not that world anymore and we aren’t preparing the younger generation for the world we exist in. It’s another form of preparation in which we are behind.

For the moment, I would say priority number one is a little extra sensitivity and kindness, all around. Number two is that if a venue or a presenter is able to cover half or the whole of a musician’s fee for the work they are cancelling, they should, as long as it does not put them in danger of going out of business themselves. If that is not possible, I think every effort should be made to honor the agreement and reschedule the concert or work as soon as possible. Outside of that, there are relief funds we can apply for and I don’t think we should be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s in the form of money, housing, food, child care, really anything. Ask for help. People want to help if they can.

Once we get through this crisis, I think there are some harder conversations to have. It’s not just about how we can help during this difficult time or how we plug the dam, it’s about a bigger picture and, hey now, “a greater coming together”.

I think artists like myself would do well to vocalize the things they want and need more often and to just walk away when it feels wrong for them. There will be other opportunities and there are lots of human beings to collaborate with in the world. The number one thing I come up against is my own fear. I fear quoting too high a price for my work because: x, y, z. I fear being disagreeable because I will not get the gig, it will go to the person who is agreeable or more “grateful”. I fear suggesting alterations in the language of the contract because it will create tension or delay going forward. I fear speaking up because most people around me don’t speak up. No one wants to rock the boat. No one wants to lose work they have by asking for more. No one wants to be disliked or to have a reputation for being difficult. Presenters and contractors are Gods in this business, they can make or break our year, sometimes our career. And for presenters and contractors, well, there are Gods in their world too. Beth Morrison described it as a food chain, we are all part of the same food chain. It’s true, we are part of the same ecosystem. We’re also part of the same species, so, let’s try to communicate more instead of fighting for our own survival, because we can.

“I think artists like myself would do well to vocalize the things they want and need more often and to just walk away when it feels wrong for them.”

When I think about it, I fear most everything about my job, except for the part where I make music. This comes from my experience. This comes from hearing things like, “that’s just the way it is” and “well, you’d do it for free, right?” and “this is the life you chose”. This comes from getting offered gigs with no mention of the pay or terms, only “do you have these dates free?”. This comes from receiving offers that are basically “take it or leave it” with no room for negotiating and a built in protection for the other party, not me. This is from going into temporary credit card debt to pay for flights that a presenting organization will not book themselves or reimburse up front, based on “policy” because it’s too big a risk for them?! This is from playing show after show, where despite having an agreement in place and going through every hoop imaginable to make it operate smoothly, the end result is me spending extra hours (unpaid) emailing and phoning to figure out why my payment is still being withheld, months later.

Saying these things out loud leaves me feeling bit vulnerable, but I know I am not alone in my experiences. I know we talk about it among ourselves, within our close circle, but we won’t make a habit of talking to those outside our point of view, or collectively. If we could all be so forthcoming and generous on a regular basis the way that I am seeing right now, we’d be better off. So please, let’s continue these conversations, let’s have more webinars and town halls and group chats. Let’s all make ourselves more aware of each other’s perspectives so that we can emerge from this crisis more informed, more empathetic and more generous going forward.

4. What precautions have you been taking personally to ensure your safety as well as that of your family and the artistic collaborators with whom you most frequently work?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: Usually I work from home anyway so it’s not hard for me to isolate from others communicating by phone or email. I really think it’s integral for everyone to heed the social distancing and isolate as much as possible. This seems very counterintuitive to hear myself say that as I much prefer face-to-face meetings but we are living in extraordinary times. We must flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus so the US does not end up in a worse situation than Italy and China. And it is crucial to support capable politicians who are looking out for everyone and taking active measures to help communities affected by this. Health care is a human right. Testing and care for coronavirus should be free and easily accessible throughout the nation. This whole crisis has illustrated why we need Medicare for all.

Katherine Balch: Aside from the CDC recommendations, in terms of my financial well-being, I’m budgeting and have made a spending plan for the next few months. I’m also researching where is best to make (modest) donation(s) to support relief for freelance artists. In terms of mental health, I’m trying to come up with a daily schedule, getting dressed instead of staying in my PJ’s, those kinds of things. It helps to be teaching online, actually.

“I’m budgeting and have made a spending plan for the next few months. I’m also researching where is best to make (modest) donation(s) to support relief for freelance artists.”

Andrew Bliss: I’ve been working from home since basically March 1 and we’ve moved all Nief-Norf meetings to online conferencing. Everyone is working from home. My wife and I have made rigorous spreadsheet schedules for ourselves and our two young children to try and find a balance between giving them varied activities and attention, and continuing to have time to ourselves for various work-related activities. We stopped leaving the house over a week ago for anything that is not strictly necessary. At work, we had made preparations for how we might substitute players who weren’t comfortable or couldn’t attend our performances at the Big Ears Festival, which ended up being cancelled anyway. We are now looking ahead to the Nief-Norf Summer Festival (nnSF) in June and making plans A, B, and C, keeping in mind how we can best (and most safely) serve the community that we have built for the last 10 years at nnSF.

Fay Victor: We’re beginning at home to plan for being there more! Stocking up on necessities just in case I or my husband become ill. I’m washing my hands as much as possible, keeping surfaces clean and eating healthy. I found an incredible TedTalk about the virus that I’ve referenced back to a few times:

Roger Weitz: We stopped all rehearsals and planned activities in an effort to lower the transmission of the virus, to help “flatten the curve.” Within one business day of postponing the festival and sending guest artists back to their homes, we closed Opera Omaha’s administrative offices and the staff are working from home to the extent that their job duties will enable them.

Kate Nordstrum: We are all at home… texting, Skyping, creatively plotting, encouraging each other, organizing, cooking, reading, tending to family. I don’t know anyone taking their chances with regard to personal health and safety. I am on the lookout for artist and arts org resources to share.

David Skidmore: Washing our hands like a maniacs more than we ever have, being especially mindful of our bodies and germs should we find ourselves in contact with anyone who we perceive as possibly at risk, and meanwhile erring on the side of caution and assuming that anyone might be a person at risk who does not outwardly present as such. It’s worth remembering that losing a paycheck, or a month’s paycheck, or several months’ paychecks is a tremendous burden, but losing a loved one does not even compare.

Ashley Bathgate: I am staying home right now as much as possible. Trying to keep stress and anxiety to a minimum. Less risk taking, more healthy choices. I am driving more, avoiding public transportation. I am sacrificing things I would consider normal in terms of socializing or self-maintaining, trying to do more of those at home, which also saves money. I am intending to follow through with concerts that have not been cancelled yet. I am a bit nervous about it but I think we should try to go about our life as we normally would. Realistically, I need to work to make some money. So there will be some risk taking.

Then there are all the little things which you never think about like washing your hands more, touching your face, touching other people, disinfecting things, cleaning up more. It doesn’t feel great to be checking yourself or obsessing over it, but I am trying to remember it’s either something that will be temporary or something that will become a good habit that I won’t think so much about eventually. This has also triggered me to get in the habit of not wasting things. Don’t waste time, don’t waste energy, don’t waste food, re-use, recycle, up-cycle, less is more, keep your carbon footprint low. There’s time to pay more attention to that.

5. What are your biggest concerns/fears about the uncertain landscape we are currently in?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: First and foremost, that family, friends, colleagues – all of us – are at great risk. I fear that people won’t take this seriously and understand the gravity of the situation – the importance of isolation; that the economic impact of this wide spread shutdown will hurt us all ultimately. I want to do as much as possible to help others as I know many colleagues are already feeling the pressure of how to afford to survive. I know we will all make it through together. And I encourage people to ask their networks for help when it is needed.

It is heartening to see the real sense of community we have and active measures being taken to assist each other. I am especially grateful to Equal Sound for starting a Corona Relief Fund for artists who have had their gigs cancelled. They are raising money to help artists in urgently need. In a couple of days, they have already received $50,000 in funding requests. We need to help get the word out about this fund on both the donor side and the artist side so they will be able to assist as many artists as possible.

New Focus Recordings is also waiving the label’s share of sales from their recordings on Bandcamp through April so their artists can receive the full amount of sales from their work. I would heartily encourage everyone to buy some new music to support these and other independent artists on this label and beyond.

And I would also encourage donors to generously support our arts organizations through these difficult times. It is really vital to help keep everyone afloat.

Katherine Balch: My concerns are that my friends will suffer massively emotionally and financially with all these cancellations, and that collaborations and engagements I’m looking forward to will be cancelled or postponed. I’m concerned that the organizations that are the bedrock of new music, which tend to have more modest budgets and infrastructure, will suffer irreparably. I’m also concerned for my students, many of them are feeling a lot of anxiety about the situation, and worried about my own limitations and shortcomings as an educator during this period.

Andrew Bliss: Amidst the current chaos, it’s difficult to find a signal in the noise. It’s hard to focus on things like “work” or music making when there are threats to our basic health and safety. Typically this time of year, I would be finalizing the 2020-21 season, but discussing those possibilities with presenters right now somehow feels a little tone deaf. I’m worried about the disruptions artists will face into Spring 2021 for this reason. As a teacher, I imagine there will be similar regrouping that must occur in the Fall term, and that’s assuming that COVID-19 has abated by then.

“Typically this time of year, I would be finalizing the 2020-21 season, but discussing those possibilities with presenters right now somehow feels a little tone deaf.”

Fay Victor: Right now, I’m just processing the loss and the work to recoup costs i.e. flights, hotels, etc. I feel that our community of musicians will figure out performance alternatives. There’s already the technology to support streamed performances – that may be the way of the future for now.

Roger Weitz: If we cannot serve our community by creating art then there is little reason for the community to support us. We must find new ways to serve the community and new means by which we deliver our art. We are currently brainstorming and mapping out new creative content that we will share on line.

Kate Nordstrum: I’m concerned that arts funders (individual and corporate in particular) will fully pull away until the COVID-19 dust settles. No one knows when that will be. But we’ll need the arts and cultural sector to be stronger than ever when we emerge from this separation.

David Skidmore: We sincerely believe that the extreme measures we are taking as a society, though indescribably difficult in the short term, will prevent the worst case scenarios. We are concerned for the health and safety of everyone, and we are concerned about the hardships faced by so many of our colleagues and friends in the United States who have no financial protection against cancelled work, and a weak and ill-equipped social safety net to fall back on.

Ashley Bathgate: This virus is a pandemic, it’s global. Seems huge, right? It’s also small. This isn’t the end of the world. We will get through this. My fear is that we might not learn from our mistakes. We might say we’re going to take things more seriously from now on, things like climate change or preparation for another disaster like this one. Once the panic is over, will we forget this terror and motivation we are feeling and just allow things to go back to normal? If this virus brought anything up for me, it’s that I keep complaining about things that are broken or things that are unfair, but I don’t do enough to enact change. I mean change from within as much as change from without. My fear is that I will not act enough. I want to do the things that I keep saying I will do, and that includes thought toward the ways in which we value ourselves and those around us.

6. How do you see the current situation affecting your artistic practice?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: It’s a time for more creativity, ingenuity, and solidarity than ever before. Good to see artists going online to do FB live broadcasts of home performances. Perhaps they can also include details to donate so people can help support them directly. I myself plan to do a bit more with my own creative work as a photographer and a director in addition to my music marketing and publicity projects. I’m currently working on some album release campaigns and a video premiere campaign for clients so the timing actually works out for me not being out and about thankfully.

Katherine Balch: As a composer with a slightly slower creative metabolism than my performing colleagues, I think the answer to that question will emerge in the coming months or beyond.

Andrew Bliss: It has slowed it down considerably. I am on professional development leave (i.e. sabbatical) from the University of Tennessee at the moment, and now have a 7 and a 2-year old home, likely for weeks, if not months. We have no family anywhere nearby so it’s the four of us in the house until further notice. Anyone who has read Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” knows – the only “deep work” happening these days is with Lego in hand. I don’t see a clear way to complete my proposed projects for the university in this environment, but sometimes that is not the most important thing. As I mentioned, my wife and I have carved out personal time each day, and are handling things the best we can while focusing on our family.

We make allowances for our students every semester due to outside circumstances, and have to remember as professionals that we can do that for ourselves as well. I’m enjoying time at home with my kids, trying to get to those projects around the house (work-related and otherwise) that I normally can’t get to, and making the best of the new circumstances of working 100% remotely. I may not have as much practice time, but every situation provides some opportunity. So I’m clearing some clutter, organizing some projects and plans, and clarifying pathways for future months and years. I’m lucky to be able to “focus on the bright side” at this point, and I’m grateful that our inconveniences, thus far, are mostly just being housebound with a family I love.

“Online learning might offer students more autonomy and greater accessibility. That said, it’s hard to learn anything amidst a public health crisis.”

I’m also curious to see how this situation impacts a younger generation. Specifically, as a professor, I’m curious to see what giving our students almost all of their time back, does for their learning. There are obvious downsides to the situation we are in, but there are potentially some positives as well, since online learning might offer students more autonomy and greater accessibility. That said, it’s hard to learn anything amidst a public health crisis, so I think professors and students will be learning as we go together.

Fay Victor: More free time in the short term will be enriching for my artistic practice! I can practice, compose and write more and I plan on doing just that. Also, if some musicians are willing, a great time to get together and work out ideas.

Roger Weitz: The vast majority of our artistic practice calls for artists and audiences/participants to gather in the same physical space: performances, workshops, masterclasses, events, etc. We are exploring new ways to document and share the work of our artists and will plan to use our website and social media channels to deliver that content and engage with our audience.

Kate Nordstrum: This is as a great time for project concepting and organizing. I see my responsibility as pulling together teams to do incredible work in 2021 and beyond. As an Executive Director as well as Artistic Director, ED duties usually take up more time than I’d like. This is an opportunity to lean into the creative producer side of my work more.

I also need to continue to be an advocate for artists and new projects to potential funders, making the case that post-pandemic, the hunger for new art and cultural events will be insatiable. We need to continue to invest now for the work of tomorrow.

David Skidmore: Too early to tell, but I’m hopeful this will be a time that reminds everyone how precious live performance is, and how easy it is to take it for granted.

“I’m hopeful this will be a time that reminds everyone how precious live performance is, and how easy it is to take it for granted.”

Ashley Bathgate: If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that during these times we find every reason to focus on our craft, whether it’s to send a message of hope, to shed light on what needs improvement, to bring people together, or to find time to one’s self. These events give us more purpose and drive. They cause us to reflect and to think on our toes. As awful as it is for everyone, I know I am not alone in saying that I have already thought of so many things I can do with this time. I can read, research, make plans, make art, think, relax, cook, be with my family, and reconnect with friends. I can be a sponge. I can be a leader. I can be a better human being. I want to perform and to work, don’t get me wrong. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t perform anymore. But this “free” time is exactly what we are always wishing we had more of. So I am going to fill it with everything I haven’t had time to do, and that includes making music.

7. What are some alternatives that can ensure that we can continue to advocate for our own artistic work and that of others during this extremely uncertain time? What kind of support would enable you to do that?

Alanna Maharajh Stone: I will always advocate for the artistic work of colleagues and community as well as encouraging others to do so. I think what will help artists the most right now is Emergency relief funds without a long processing time; they are really critical at this point. Perhaps New Music USA can aid with this as well as the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and other funding sources? New Music USA can also appeal to local and national politicians to push for more emergency aid for the creative community. Here are some other resources that may be useful as well.

NYC Covid-19 Musician Resources and Support

Online Music Lessons and Teachers (NY Metro Area)

Covid-19 Freelance Artist Resources

Katherine Balch: Government support for the arts. Some type of insurance plan for the gig-economy. In our own lives, finding ways to connect and engage with music making though tuning into livestreams, facetiming with colleagues, donating to arts relief funds if within ones means to do so.

Andrew Bliss: I think we need to offer (and ask for) as much support as possible. A few things I’ve tried to do: Make a phone call to a friend or collaborator and check in on how they are doing. Schedule a video conference with a fellow musician and scheme up some future projects. Support online initiatives that you think offer value and are perhaps, even breaking new ground that we might be able to incorporate into our in-person practice when COVID-19 seems to have slowed down.

I think many of us are aching for live, in-person collaboration during this time, but deep, meaningful, one-on-one or group conversations, meetups, and projects, though happening remotely, can offer friendship, artistic support, and creation that could last far beyond 2020’s quarantine.

Fay Victor: There’s much to think about regarding advocacy for our work as artists in this shifting climate. For now, perhaps its a good idea to wait it out for a bit. What we can all do now is support artists by purchasing any product they have. Support artists that give shows over the internet or have small musical gatherings. We’re thinking of having small house concerts that we can stream from our living room. These are scary times yet the ability to be creative means we’ll make the best of the situation. We’ll figure it out, perhaps creating innovations that will carry us even further. I understand that pandemics such as what we’re experiencing now with Covid-19 will be in our future more. It is better we learn now how to adapt to our present and for what’s coming. This gives me great hope.

“These are scary times yet the ability to be creative means we’ll make the best of the situation.”

Roger Weitz: Our alternatives are to bring more of our community online, so building the platforms and interconnectivity would be our first challenge.

Maybe virtual convening through New Music USA, and paying performers for salon concerts? If not directly, perhaps New Music USA could publish some “best practices” for companies seeking to engage in this way and how to direct donations from on-line viewers directly to artists?

Kate Nordstrum: Seeing, and hearing from, art institutions/individuals/sponsors who are able to continue to plan and invest in the future would help producers and artists know it’s okay to invest their time right now too. I certainly understand that is difficult in the immediate moment. We should all remind ourselves and our loved ones daily to take a breath… These days of confinement and restriction will feel long, and we are going to need patience (and more time) to see clearly how to navigate. Everyone’s lives are on hold right now — the preciousness of our days is hitting us hard.

David Skidmore: For now we’re very focused on providing as many meaningful musical experiences online as we can. This will include at least TCP performing, perhaps with some of our guest artists as well, and we will be performing a wide range of music from a wide range of composers. It’s way too early to tell how it will work or how successful it will be, but at least it will be us doing what we do best and putting it out there for the world to experience. As always, we hope people will watch and listen, and we hope people who believe in what we’re doing will support this work that we believe in so much.

Supporting artists in any way that you can is always important and rewarding. Given the current state of things, mutual support is now vital to the survival of all artists.

“Mutual support is now vital to the survival of all artists.”

Ashley Bathgate: I have more questions than answers to this one. It’s all about online I think. We’re headed that way already: Patreon, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, YouTube, social media platforms, live streams, online performances, living room concerts, VR, Twitch. My question is: are we ready for monetized streaming of live performances? Is there a market for that within crisis-mode? Is there a market for that beyond crisis-mode?

Patreon is probably a good place to start because it is in favor of the artist, it is exclusive and it is ongoing. Create your site, invite your followers and supporters to subscribe and pay what they wish, monthly. If I have 100 people who will pay $10/month to hear me speak, sing, play the cello, or other, then that is $1000 of income I did not have before. It’s tough to build a following, and you have to generate content more frequently, but I think it’s a great way to maintain control of your work and it functions for people who don’t want to or can’t be on the road all the time. During this particular time, I would feel the most comfortable asking for help this way where there is an exchange of some sort. I want to give back as much as I want to receive help.

We can continue to cultivate donors and presenters who are willing to take more risks. New music is not a proven commodity. There is more hesitation both in programming it and funding it. Because it’s not something tangible that you can hang on your wall or bring home, that makes it harder as well. How and where can we find patrons who are willing to underwrite entire new music festivals, who will fund larger commissions, records and concerts the same way that they do for pop or classical music?

Videos and albums: how do we take control of our content so that we can actually profit from streams and downloads as opposed to making fractions of a penny?

If we move to teaching online, what is a setup and connection that can function? That’s one of the questions circulating the most right now. What’s the best technology both available and affordable for teachers and students to conduct a lesson successfully this way?

Aside from funding, I think we benefit tremendously from community building. In a big city like New York, it’s hard to feel community sometimes. Nobody has time for you, you don’t have time for them, we’re all “so busy”. Freelancers are on the road all the time trying to make rent for a home we are never in. It’s bonkers.

What’s ironic is that I have connected (and reconnected) with more people over the past week than I have in the last year altogether. Aside from wanting more of that in general, I kept thinking what if there was website or forum where we could pool our talents, beyond this crisis? Here’s a site with artists, sound engineers, filmmakers, stage managers, presenters, producers, development directors, entertainment lawyers and anyone else you could think of. You would receive a private message setting up a time to speak. Whether it’s donated time or the barter system or a small fee per hour, this is now an online community designed to help each other. We’re not on retainer for hundreds and thousands of dollars a month, we are there to answer a question, look over a contract, write a letter, pitch an idea to, read through a composition, listen to a speech, guide you through a Pro-Tools conundrum, help you start a website, or a 501(c)(3). All of these things I can research online or guess at, occasionally I have a friend to help. In this scenario, I can be as much helpful as I am being helped, while being a part of my community, as opposed to desperately trying to catch up to it or squeeze it in through the cracks.

“We need more access to each other.”

I feel we need more access to each other, the barriers have to come down; we need fluidity and openness in a time like this. If I must be a cog in the wheel, I want to know what the wheel looks like, what the car looks like, the road, the total landscape. If we remain satisfied with partial views, we are never going to move the vehicle forward.


This is a landing page that corresponds to ALL PROGRAMS in the wireframe.

Get Funding

This is a landing page that corresponds to GET FUNDED in the wireframe.

Leveraging the Quarantine to Create an Online Music Camp

Young composer at keyboard wearing headphones

“So is your father an entrepreneur to have worked with you through all of this?” asked Benjamin Taylor, composer and founder of the Music Creators Academy.

“That would be my mother.”

I remember my heart racing two months prior to that call on one of my regular walks around the neighborhood with my mother. Only a day before our walk, my plans to attend the Brevard Music Center’s Summer Institute had been canceled due to COVID-19, and we were already planning out the logistics for me to host my own summer camp.

“The demand is there,” I said, “I’m evidence enough of that! But this could be the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken…”

The Composers Collaborative Project (CCP) is an online series of lectures designed for the benefit of composers of all ages and skill levels. It has been my project of the last three months, and my attempt to leverage the quarantine to create a unique opportunity for composers seeking a path to continue developing their skills. The CCP currently features fifteen professional composition professors and freelancers – each teaching a 90-minute masterclass tailored to their individual strengths and passions. It has been one of the most exciting, nerve-racking, and fulfilling things I’ve ever attempted.

April 6th. The first email of many. If I was going to make this thing work, I would need a business entity. So I reached out to Steve Goldman, founding member of the National Young Composers Challenge (NYCC), in hopes of establishing a sponsorship or partnership. I wrote the email, took a deep breath, and pressed send.

Even though no professional partnership emerged from the conversation, Mr. Goldman was incredibly supportive and put me in touch with another NYCC judge, Dr. Alex Burtzos. Luckily for me, Dr. Burtzos had experience organizing festivals. He suggested that the best chance I had at seeing the project succeed was to turn it into a fundraiser. And with that, he introduced me to New Music USA’s Solidarity Fund. Though the Solidarity Fund would end earlier than I had expected, my mother and I decided to follow Dr. Burtzos’s advice, and – encouraged by their Solidarity Fund and other programs – evolved the project into a benefit for New Music USA.  And with a warm conversation and a plan secured with their Development Manager Miles Freeman, my next step would be to find our teachers.

From the beginning, I was concerned that it would be difficult to find anyone interested in giving their time for the project. What I discovered instead was the incredible generosity of the composition community. The support was overwhelming. I started with teachers that I knew, and reached out to others they recommended from there. In a short time, we had enough support to schedule two weeks of masterclasses!

“It’s common for young composers to think of established composers as superstars. In reality, most composers are relatively unknown outside of the new music community… They will generally be excited to hear about your interest in their work, and much more open to donating their time than you might think.” – Alex Burtzos, on our call

As a high school student, it’s intimidating reaching out to any college professor. Imagine now if that professor was a Grammy award winner, or was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, or is known around the composition world, or has judged the competitions you’ve entered, and so on! The humanity of the people I have worked with has been one of the most surprising parts of this process.

An example involving my initial conversations with Dr. Marcos Balter comes immediately to mind. I always do my best to research a person’s title before reaching out to them. In his case, I made the mistake of using ‘Mr.’ instead of ‘Dr.’. When, in the next email, I realized my mistake and apologized, he responded that it was no problem at all and that I could call him Marcos! I was blown away.

With the panel of teachers squared away, I needed to build a website. In many ways, this was a family affair. I worked on the layout and graphic design, my sister took care of the photography, and my mother wrote out the copy. Stuck in the house, my sister and I worked with what we had to create professional-looking backdrops: we rearranged my room and created props out of old manuscripts and an easel from years ago. The end result, I must say, I am very proud of.

  • The Composers Collaborative Project is my attempt to leverage the quarantine to create a unique opportunity for composers seeking a path to continue developing their skills.

    Brendan Weinbaum
  • I discovered the incredible generosity of the composition community. The support was overwhelming.

    Brendan Weinbaum
  • Of course, we were not the only ones creating a camp.

    Brendan Weinbaum
  • I will not be able to judge the success of the project until the very last minute.

    Brendan Weinbaum

Of course, we were not the only ones creating a camp. This brings us back to Benjamin Taylor’s quote from the beginning. Days before launch, I traded details with Joseph Sowa, a professor of the Music Creators Academy. He described his program as “a band camp with a heavy dose of creativity” for middle- and high-school students. I was antsy for sure; nervous at the prospect of competition. Nevertheless, both Dr. Sowa and the project’s founder, Benjamin Taylor, were incredibly kind, and given our conclusion that the two programs were meant for different audiences, we agreed to support one another in what ways we could.

This brings me another one of my favorite stories from this whole experience. Somehow neither I nor Dr. Sowa had told Dr. Taylor that I was a high school student. When we had our call and I referred to him as “Dr. Taylor”, he laughed and responded, “Should I call you Dr. Weinbaum?” He thought I was a composition professor! Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever received one.

Launching the website and social media accounts brings us to where I am today. For the past few weeks and for the next few weeks, I have dedicated myself to promoting the event however I can: Email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, group chats, etc. I have had to stretch myself to get my head around many of these platforms; nevertheless, the results have been promising so far, and I continue to hope for the best!

Regardless, my heart still races. People generally prefer to wait until the due date to sign up for an event like this (as I have discovered talking to many people), and so I will not be able to judge the success of the project until the very last minute. If that doesn’t keep someone in suspense.

The lectures will take place from July 20-31 and registration will remain open throughout. If you are interested in learning more about the Composers Collaborative Project, please visit our website or send me an email. I would love to hear from you!



Bringing Artistic Communities Together for Black Lives 

A collage of photographs of people involved in the virtual fundraising concert for Black Lives Matter on Friday July 31, 2020.

By Felix Reyes & Roya Marsh

When everyone saw the disgusting, undeniable murder of George Floyd by Minnesota police, we both took immediate action and joined the protests out in the streets. While the Black community has been dealing with these acts of injustice for generations, seeing the awful video of Floyd being murdered made us personally realize just how numb and conditioned we as a society have become to seeing these types of crimes happen on a daily basis by cops. For many around the country and around the world, witnessing Floyd’s tragic death was the breaking point when people finally stood up and began saying “enough is enough.” What follows here are our individual accounts of how we came to work together to organize an online benefit concert for Black Lives Matter this Friday, July 31 at 7-10pm EDT.

Roya Marsh: It is impossible to ignore cries for help as a Black butch woman and educator. I look at my students and wonder what world will be left for them and quickly I’m reminded that they are living right now. Blk Joy began, for me, as a poem–a concept that I had conceived in therapy and wanted to translate into written and spoken words. I had never imagined the impact it would have on my life and others, but had hoped that it would serve as a constant reminder of the joy Black people possess and deserve. I’ve been protesting the murders of Black people for over a decade and am constantly exploring new ways to effect change. This virtual fundraiser is just one way that we can perpetuate joy while simultaneously raising funds to support those that are constantly on the front lines.

Felix Reyes: During those first few weeks of protests, I reached out to Roya to see how she was doing in coping with all of this. At that point in late May we hadn’t seen each other in over two years, where she came out to my Lincoln Center debut concert in May 2018. Since we’ve reconnected it’s been great to really grow close with her these past couple of weeks. Coming from the classical/chamber music world I already knew of certain artists like Nathalie Joachim, Allison Loggins-Hull, and Shelley Washington, but I’d never actually had black musical friends to talk to on a regular basis. Now having been involved in these protests, educating myself, and reflecting on the current structure of musical institutions, both at the collegiate and professional level, it’s become very clear how disproportionate representation in programming and opportunities are between artists of color and their counterparts. From being able to afford private lessons growing up, to going to private music school/pre-college programs, we consider these things to be critical periods of time where students fully develop themselves as musicians, yet most Black and Brown families cannot afford the luxury of providing these educational opportunities for their children.

In hindsight I think this raises a broader concern about the flaws in our institutions to provide adequate access to proper music education in communities of color, which then leads to a severe lack of diversity in different musical perspectives, thus leading to fewer black musicians going to/pursuing careers in music. To be able to have various representations in outlooks, views, and culture I feel should be considered essential in our field, in order to push music to progressively evolve with the times, be relevant, and best represent the voices of all artists that currently contribute to that musical landscape. There are so few Black classical/chamber musicians in our field, and so Roya immediately was the first person that came to mind when these protests started, and since then we’ve been working as a team to build this fundraiser together.

  • This virtual fundraiser is just one way that we can perpetuate joy while simultaneously raising funds to support those that are constantly on the front lines.

    Roya March, poet and performer
  • To be able to have various representations in outlooks, views, and culture I feel should be considered essential in our field.

    Felix Reyes, percussionist
  • This event is meant to amplify all the black voices involved, as so Pathos Trio’s role in all of this would be to simply facilitate the broadcast.

    Felix Reyes, percussionist
  • The hope isn’t just to raise awareness, but to enact change and demand visibility and respect for our Black lives.

    Roya March, poet and performer

Roya Marsh: When conceptualizing what artists would be amazing additions to this event I knew exactly who to reach out to. There’s an incredible amount of talent in New York City and I am honored to call many of these artists my friends. Mahogany L. Browne, Whitney Greenaway, Jennifer Falú, Elliot Bless, and Elena Pinderhughes are all fantastic artists that use their platforms to promote the fight for Black lives on a consistent basis. Their work takes place both on the ground and behind the scenes, so it will be amazing to showcase their talents for our audience!

Felix Reyes: When I started getting involved with these protests I began to follow organizations like Warriors In The Garden, Freedom March NYC, Strategy For Black Lives, and BLM Greater NY. From the beginning I’ve been able to see firsthand all of the amazing work these young groups of activists have been doing in swaying the narrative and leading the charge here in New York City on Black Lives Matter (BLM), while also pushing for legislative change. I knew that once Roya and I started playing around with the idea of this fundraiser event that we had to reach out to each of these organizations, in order to have them be involved in some kind of way.

We both feel that especially in this moment there’s a real need for an event like this, where if we could bring in these organizations to talk to the various communities within the arts world, groups of people, that we could create a real special experience that can provide a space to educate people about current initiatives, legislation, and other important events coming up relating to BLM. As artists now more than ever it’s essential for us to use our platforms to elevate those who need to be heard, and in understanding that this was the precipice to the idea for this fundraiser.

Roya Marsh: As an educator, I transitioned to a virtual workspace back in March and have been exploring new and improved ways to interact with the world online. The world is learning that activism looks different for everyone. There are tons of ways to assist in the movement and financial help is a major component. Blk Joy has been an excellent vehicle for giving in this time; we were able to fundraise and give a scholarship to a young Black scholar for her first year of undergrad. Although there is a distance that exists between us, the poetry community has committed to holding space and so many wondrous events have been birthed to assure the work continues. The artists can perform from the safety of their homes and still be doing the necessary work of using their platforms to stand firm in solidarity with the movements for Black lives. We’ll get to pop in and out of folks’ respective spaces while the viewing world can be comfortably seated on their couches!

Felix Reyes: It’s hard to believe that we’ve been able to organize such a huge event like this in a matter of 3 weeks. It was only in mid June where we both had talked about the idea of this fundraiser, and now that we’re actually putting it on it’s been a bit overwhelming all of the work that’s needed to go into an event like this.

It wasn’t too long after that I had also received news from New Music USA that Pathos Trio, an ensemble I manage and co-founded, was going to be awarded a New Music USA project grant. For us the timing couldn’t have been better, and so once we found out this great news I began brainstorming the logistics of how we could utilize our new platform with New Music USA and immediately approached Vanessa Reed (New Music USA’s President and CEO) with the idea for the event. She immediately loved it and jumped on board in having New Music USA support and help promote this event to their fullest capability. I had then reached out to Alan Hankers and Marcelina Suchocka (the rest of Pathos Trio) with the idea for the fundraiser, and they agreed to let myself and Roya use our trio’s platform to co-host this event and provide additional technical support if needed. I made it clear with both Alan and Marcelina that this event is meant to amplify all the black voices involved, and so Pathos Trio’s role in all of this would be to simply facilitate the broadcast of their messages and education about BLM to as many people as we possibly can.

Roya, coming from the world of poetry, also started to think about other spoken word poets who she personally knew that could potentially say poetry for the event. In finalizing her thoughts she reached out to some of her closest allies: Mahogany L. Browne, Jennifer Falu, Whitney Greenaway, and Elliot Bliss, all of whom are award winning speakers, writers and some have been featured on NBC, PBS News, BET, and more for their amazing poetry work.

Thinking about musicians of color who have been actively vocal on the issue of BLM, Nathalie Joachim, Allison Loggins-Hull, Jessie Montgomery, Darian Donovan Thomas, and Kendall Williams all immediately came to mind. Whether it’s performing electronic music centered around ACAB, to performing flute duos on Freedom Schools of the 1960s, or performing steel pan tunes related to black struggle, each of these amazing artists have had something to say. We wanted to give them, along with these other great speakers and organizations, the dedicated space for them to do just that – express themselves and educate those watching about what they can do to help within the broader BLM movement.

Roya Marsh: The hope isn’t just to raise awareness, but to enact change and demand visibility and respect for our Black lives. It isn’t enough to just repeat a phrase over and over as we have seen the numbers of lives lost grow exponentially. We must commit to doing all that we can to promote the survival and prosperity of ALL Black lives. After our event, proceeds will be donated to groups of activists that continue to risk their lives and their safety to assure that the ills of white supremacy, including racism, state sanctioned violence and murder against Black lives comes to a halt.

For those of you reading we hope you can join us on Friday, 7/31 from 7pm-10pm EST on either Pathos Trio’s/New Music USA’s Facebook page, or on New Music USA’s YouTube channel to catch this amazing live-stream event and consider making a donation towards our campaign to raise $10,000 for these amazing activist organizations!

Facebook Event Page:

Donation Page: