Author: New Music USA

2018 Ditson Conductor’s Award Honors Oliver Knussen

Oliver Knussen

The Ditson Fund has announced that the 2018 Ditson Conductor’s Award has been awarded posthumously to Oliver Knussen. The citation will be presented to his daughter Sonya Knussen this afternoon. It reads:

In 1940 the Alice M. Ditson Fund was established by Columbia University to make grants “for Fellowships, Public Hearings and Publication” of the work of talented musicians the Fund deems worthy of assistance. To encourage public performance of the music of gifted contemporary American composers, the Ditson Conductor’s Award was created in 1945. With the 2018 Award, Columbia University proudly adds Oliver Knussen to the roster of distinguished conductors so honored.

Maestro Knussen, you are one of music history’s most eminent and influential composer-conductors and one of the few artists in history that is equally world-class at both occupations. Your excellence in composition and conducting inform one another, resulting in an extraordinary, graceful, stylish, nuanced catalogue of compositions and conducting that, likewise, is elegant, refined, clean, clear, detailed and energized.

Your deep understanding of and empathy with a composer’s intentions, allied to the precision of your intellect, communicative personality and conducting, result in buoyant, luminous, and lucid performances, which resonate and crackle with radiant, crystalline detail, nuance, and spirit.

You have helped so many younger composers to forge their voice with a generous and unfailing advocacy across a wide range of contemporary music aesthetics and styles.

You were appointed CBE in 1994 and received the Queen’s Medal for Music 2015 and have been the recipient of many honours and awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Conductor Award in 2009. You have recorded prolifically and presided over numerous premieres.

Having served as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival (1983 – 98), Head of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986 – 93), Principal Guest Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra (1993 – 97), Music Director of the London Sinfonietta (1998 – 2002), and Artist-in-Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2009 – 2014), your impact on the musical community around the world is remarkable, and is a testament to your unconditional generosity and inspiring curiosity as a musician.

Columbia University therefore recognizes your splendid record of dedication and accomplishment by conferring on you the Ditson Conductor’s Award of 2018 for distinguished service to American music.

Established in 1945, the Ditson Conductor’s Award honors conductors who have a distinguished record of performing and championing contemporary American music.


Before we sing another chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” and bring the curtain down on 2018, we have an annual tradition among the staff here at New Music USA of revisiting some of the tracks that caught our ears and hung on for any number of good reasons. Don’t see a 2018 favorite of yours? We hope you’ll tell us more about it below in the comments so we can all give it a listen.

PLUS: New this year, you can stream the entire mix using our playlist feature. This listening option will allow you to easily save tracks to your own playlist as well.

Happy Holidays from New Music USA!!


Jennifer Jolley: Prisoner of Conscience

Album: Motherland
New Focus Recordings

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes / Bandcamp
The score on ISSUU

I know that Quince’s second album made our list last year, but to me their latest (Motherland) is, to recontextualize Mao Tse Tung, a “great leap forward.” The centerpiece of this third Quince disc (featuring four recent compositions by four different women for unaccompanied female vocal quartet) is Jennifer Jolley’s Prisoner of Conscience, a substantive musical response to the 2012 trial and imprisonment of three members of the Putin-defying Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Though it was composed back in 2015, Jolley’s not-fit-for-radio-airplay, eight-movement cantata with spoken-word interludes is the ideal soundtrack and perhaps balm for our current “toxic” (to replay the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) times.

—Frank J. Oteri, Composer Advocate and Co-Editor, NewMusicBox

12 Little Spells

Esperanza Spalding: 12 Little Spells

Album: 12 Little Spells
Concord Records

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

“Grounded sensation of perpetual connection with the immensity of the external world,” reads the photo accompanying the release of “12 Little Spells,” an overture dedicated to the thoracic spine. With it, Esperanza Spalding conjures the grounding, expansive, connecting force of the twelve vertebrae between the pelvis and the base of the skull that anchor the ribcage and protect the spinal cord. This spell/song has cinematic swells that feel like breathing, like unfurling, like taking a giant full-body morning stretch while returning to your corporeality after a deep sleep. Spalding’s voice, supported by strings and guitar and bass and brass, stretches and expands alongside her lyrics.

On her website, Spalding writes that the concept behind her newest album, 12 Little Spells, came to her as an embodied tingling healing sensation. She touches upon her initiation into reiki and writes that she wanted to “harness these 12 little sensation-revelations into sounds, words, imagery, and performance that activates this healing, tingling effect in others.” For me, this collection of spells feels more like a grimoire than an album in the best possible way. If you are a body in need of some magical grooves, I would highly recommend treating yourself to a meditative hour of musical healing, courtesy of Esperanza Spalding’s 12 Little Spells.

—Mallory Tyler, Administrative Associate


Jlin: Abyss of Doubt

Album: Autobiography
Planet Mu

Purchase via Bandcamp / direct

Admit it, we’ve all been there. That’s what makes this short, intense track so compelling. Suggested listening mode is loud and with good headphones for the most dramatic impact.

After working in steel factory in Gary, Indiana, Jlin has taken the electronic music world by storm. An indefatigable touring performer, she’s been on the road almost constantly since May 2017. Despite that, she still found time for collaborating with choreographer Wayne McGregor on a major new work, Autobiography, from which this track and album resulted.

—Eddy Ficklin, Director of Platform

This is Not a Land of Kings

Gelsey Bell: This is Not a Land of Kings
Gelsey Bell, Amber Gray, Grace McLean (vocals)

Album: This is Not a Land of Kings
Gold Bolus Recordings

Purchase via Bandcamp

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for the center of the Venn diagram of folk, a capella, experimental, female vocals. On this track and across the entire short EP, Gelsey, Amber, and Grace demonstrate the full expressive power of the human voice. Extended techniques mingle effortlessly with deeply satisfying consonant and dissonant harmonies. This track helps me suspend time for a moment before I get back to “rolling up [my] sleeves.”

—Megan Ihnen, Content Associate

The Landscape Scrolls

Peter Garland: mid-day
John Lane, percussion

Album: The Landscape Scrolls

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes / Bandcamp

In the chaos of modern life which often sets my mind skipping, I found Peter Garland’s The Landscape Scrolls to be a recording which instantly focused my ear and attention. Spare lines of distinctly diverse timbres fuel the five-movement, 50-minute-long piece, expertly delivered by percussionist John Lane. In this setting, Garland’s musical imagination cuts an aural path that is striking for its clarity of expression and inspired in its cumulative effect. I have yet to find the lucidity many have achieved through the practices of yoga or meditation, but the resonances in The Landscape Scrolls shush the contemporary noise machine and offer up a centering sonic touchstone.

—Molly Sheridan, Director of Content

A Very Wandelweiser Christmas

Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Meaghan Burke: Silent Night
The Rhythm Method

Album: A Very Wandelweiser Christmas

Purchase via Bandcamp

The Rhythm Method are, individually and collectively, fierce, fearless, and virtuosic performers. They’re also a group of players who are unapologetically stylistically omnivorous and versatile, and have a definite sense of humor – which shows in their choice to release that rare animal, a new music Christmas album. (The last one I remember is Jerseyband’s Christmasband… in 2001? Which is also awesome but on a completely different level, volume-wise, to this one.) The quartet describe this album as “a cheeky but earnest tribute to the ethereal, soul-flossing music of the Wandelweiser composers’ collective” drawing on “those composers’ deep engagement with silence and slowness, with gentleness and the sort of beauty you have to lean in to hear.” If you like your holly jolly on the quieter, experimental, ASMR side, this is for you.

—Eileen Mack, Software Engineer and Platform Strategist

Yo Soy La Tradicion

Miguel Zenon: Viejo
Miguel Zenon and Spektral Quartet

Album: Yo Soy La Tradicion
Miel Music

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

Miguel Zenon has for many years used his enormous artistic vision to draw attention to the music from his own cultural heritage. This collaboration with the Spektral Quartet is a striking addition to his body of work. This entire album is worthy of some deep listening, and it was recorded just at the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, making the project all the more compelling. I chose this particular track because it demonstrates a more introspective side of the music, which often goes unnoticed.

—Deborah Steinglass, Interim CEO

Book of Travelers

Gabriel Kahane: Model Trains

Album: Book of Travelers
Nonesuch Records

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes / Bandcamp

Gabriel Kahane is such a phenomenal storyteller. On the album Book of Travelers, he captures many personalities and snapshots of lives within the romanticism of long-distance train journeys throughout America. In “Model Trains,he relates the story of a train-loving husband and father who goes slowly mad after hitting his head. The harmonic palette one might liken to romantic art song, which is probably what carried the story so poignantly for me upon first hearing it.

—Amber Evans, Grantmaking Associate


Julia Holter: Chaitius

Album: Aviary

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes / Bandcamp

I’ve always really enjoyed Julia Holter’s work, and her new album, Aviary, is stunning. Each track offers its own beautiful, terrifying, and joyous world, worth multiple listens. I was initially taken by “Everyday is an Emergency,” which is full of bagpipe, brute-i-full amazingness. However the energy and chaotic-ness of “Chiatius” grabbed my attention. It delivers something of a more classical vibe mashup. It’s as if there are multiple pieces overlapping, ebbing and flowing over the top of each other.

—Scott Winship, Director of Grantmaking Programs

New Music USA announces $530,000 in awards to 108 projects

New Music USA announced today its eighth round of project grants, totaling $530,000 in funding to support artistic work involving a wide range of new American music. The 108 awarded projects include concerts and recordings, as well as support for dance, theater, opera, and more, all involving contemporary music as an essential element. Of the newly awarded projects, 44% feature people of color and 63% feature female or non-binary project organizers or main collaborators. Explore and follow the newly awarded projects to receive email updates as they unfold.

To date, an additional $80,205 over the program’s original annual budgets were made available through the actions of New Music Connect: The Network for Friends of New Music. This additional investment adds support to projects that qualified for funding as part of our grant program’s panel process. New Music Connect is designed to link and engage individuals from across the United States who advocate for and financially support the new music field.


‘Amplified’ — Tigue Commissions three electroacoustic works for 2018-2019
[Switch~ Ensemble] Commissions Katharina Rosenberger
{RE}Happening 2018 featuring Roomful of Teeth
15 Photos for extended technique vocalist
20 Minutes of Action
20th Anniversary MATA Festival
25 Minutes of New Music*
A New Work by Che Chen
Ain’t I a Woman
Alturas Duo: Vox Americana with Gwyneth Walker*
And so the heavens turned
Auxiliary Superpower
Bel Canto: A Symphonic Canvas
Body, the Shrine
Bravo! Vail’s 2018 New Works Project*
Carolyn Dorfman Dance Commissions New Work by Carolyn Dorfman and Renée Jaworski of Pilobolus
Color Theory 2.0
Conference of the Birds*
Dark Matter: A Tribute to Vera Rubin*
David Froom Commission for the 33rd Annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition*
David Sanford: Black Noise
Demon in the Heart (DH)
Deviant Septet Summer Composition Intensive
Documenting Three New Works
Ecstatic Music Festival 2018
Edgefest 2018: Chicago-Out Kind of Town
Eko Nova: Tornado
Fanm d’Ayiti
Filigree in Textile
Four Quartets: Residency and Commission for Pam Tanowitz and The Knights
Four Strings Around the World*
Fragility : An Exploration of Polyrhythms
From Out a Darker Sea
Gather Hear Alaska*
Giselle by Post:Ballet + The Living Earth Show*
Glass Works: new music inspired by the stained-glass artistry of Judith Schaechter*
Golden Hornet presents The Sound of Science*
Grackle Call
Hardness 10
Have You Seen Me*
Helga Davis Debut Album*
Hudson Valley Philharmonic Classroom to Concert Workshops & Young People’s Concerts*
I LAND 2018*
If You Listen
Inheritance – A Chamber Opera
Intricate Machines: Rising American Composers team up with Aizuri Quartet*
Invisible Anatomy’s debut album Dissections*
Iron Jane*
Jeffrey Brooks: The Passion
Joseph Daley’s Tuba Trio
Jukebox: Unplugged*
Living Voices*
Lucy Negro Redux
Madame Ovary
Michael Gordon’s Anonymous Man, Performed by The Crossing
Music in the American Wild: Soundscapes
Musical Creativity and Artistic Exploration in Puppet Theater*
Musical Crossroads: Classical and Jazz
Neil Feather Box Set*
New American Music for Violin and Voice*
New music and dance collaboration commission by Julianna Barwick and Jodi Melnick
New Work by Eve Beglarian for Roomful of Teeth
New Work Celebrates Seasons of the Catskill Mountains*
New work for orchestra by Gabriella Smith for Kaleidoscope*
Primero Sueño
Reading the Landscape
Recording Project: Music of Kotoka Suzuki*
Restagings No. 2: Of Serra (to movement)
Rivers Empyrean
RoseAnne Spradlin Project
Samuel Adler @90: Composer in the Community
Second Inversion – 2017/2018 On-Demand Videos
Solo Works for Prepared Soprano Saxophone
Songs of Protest*
Stray Bird*
STREYA – Album of new works for solo Violin
Symphony of Hawaiian Birds
Taina and Veena Music Collaboration*
TENDER (n): a person who takes charge
The 4th Annual New Music Gathering*
The All Around Us Project
The Darkest Light in the Heart
The Future is Bright: for soloist, film, and percussion ensemble*
The Jazz Gallery Mentoring Series: Vol.5
The Oversoul
Veils and Vesper*
Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera
VocalEssence WITNESS: Of Such I Dream
What will we be like when we get there
Whole Sol Festival: Commissioning New Works
YDC Choreographer/Composer Project*

*indicates first-time awardee


Stefanie Batten Bland · Brian Baumbusch · Susanna Bolle · Amy Briggs · Kate Campbell · Katherine Ciesinski · Daniel Thomas Davis · Lorne Dechtenberg · Claire DiVizio · Tiffany Du Mouchelle · Kevin Ernste · James Falzone · Terry Fox · La Tanya Hall · Brian Harnetty · Liz Harris · Rennie Harris · Mila Henry-Moore · James Holt · Aurie Hsu · Ayako Kato · Lorna Krier · Carolyn Kuan · JoAnn Kulesza · Anna Kuwabara · Megan Kyle · Richard Montalto · Kristin Norderval · Elizabeth Ogonek · Monica Ohuchi · Forrest Pierce · Jane Rigler · Matana Roberts · Baljinder Sekhon · Sarah Silver · Lauren Snelling · Derrick Spiva Jr · Maya Stone · Molly Sturges · Timothy Sullivan · Mihoko Suzuki · Courtney Swain · Mazz Swift · Ashley Kelly Tata · Carmen-Helena Téllez · Suzanne Thorpe · Fay Victor · Anna Webber · Marcus White · Rain Worthington · Giselle Wyers

With a continued desire to support the greatest possible breadth of artists and informed by the valuable feedback we’ve received from the field, the eighth round continued to include a special focus on requests of $3,000 and below. Approximately 46% of grants awarded were in this category. The next round of project grants will open for requests in Fall 2018.

Including the awards announced today, New Music USA’s project grants program, launched in October 2013, has now distributed $2,866,978 in support of 558 projects in 36 states. Of these projects, 50% were for the creation of new work. The public-facing gallery of projects from all eight rounds and the ability for artists to update their progress and interact with followers are important promotional tools that extend the program’s service to artists beyond financial support. The overarching goal of project grants is to reach and aggregate the communities of new music enthusiasts, irrespective of genre preferences, and allow the public to discover new artistic work.

Ed Harsh, president and CEO, comments: “We’re awestruck by the diversity of projects created by artists across the United States that are part of each round. It’s the strongest motivation we can imagine to find new ways to support and serve, both through seeking more funds and developing new ways for our online platform to deliver value to our nationwide community.”

NewMusicBox Mix: 2017 Staff Picks


This isn’t meant to be just another 2017 “Best of” list. Rather, New Music USA being all about the discovery of new sounds, staffers here like to celebrate the end the year with a shout out to a track that caught their ears and hung on for any number of good reasons. Don’t see a 2017 favorite of yours? We hope you’ll tell us more about it below in the comments so we can all give it a listen.

Follow the links for further listening and to add the albums to your own collection.

Happy Holidays from New Music USA!!

This Is The Uplifting Part

Natacha Diels: Child of Chimera
Ensemble Pamplemousse

ALBUM: ..​.​This Is The Uplifting Part
Parlour Tapes+

Purchase via Bandcamp / USB

I love that Pamplemousse’s collective musicmaking is utterly virtuosic and serious but also light and often playing with humour. It elevates the concept of new music while simultaneously questioning its very underlying fabric. This is also the *only* physical media I’ve bought this year. It comes as a usb stick nestled in a laser-cut bamboo “cassette tape.”

–Eileen Mack, Junior Software Engineer

Passionate Pilgrim

Brad Balliett: My Flocks Feed Not
Oracle Hysterical/New Vintage Baroque

ALBUM: The Passionate Pilgrim
Via Records

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

I caught the CD release show for this album at National Sawdust and was completely entranced by the mix of materials used to create its unique soundworld. With period instrument and modern timbres, words that feel timeless, and musical language that cuts across eras, it was easy to enter this world and hard to stop exploring it (especially with the voices of Majel Connery and Elliot Cole in my ear). Passionate Pilgrim remained in rotation for me for weeks after the show, and I’m excited to revisit it again as part of this year-end reflection.

–Molly Sheridan, Director of Content, and Co-Editor, NewMusicBox

Memory Bells

Night Foundation: Memory Bells

ALBUM: Memory Bells
Lobster Theremin

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

Grab that eggnog (or adult beverage of choice) and chill with some seriously lush downtempo from the Night Foundation—a.k.a. the Miami-based Richard Vergez—crafted with love, hardware, real tape loops, and a trumpet.

–Eddy Ficklin, Director of Platform

Glorious Ravage

Lisa Mezzacappa: Shut Out the Sun

ALBUM: Glorious Ravage
New World

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

Lisa Mezzacappa’s album Glorious Ravage, featuring the stunning vocals of Fay Victor and an ensemble of incredibly talented musicians and improvisers, took me on a far off journey through the lens of largely forgotten female explorers. Mezzacappa transforms the words of these female explorers into song and also developed visuals for the live performance. Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the live performance, the music itself is completely captivating. I still feel I need at least a few more good listens through the whole album to really get my ears and mind around the music, but this makes the work all the more rewarding. I particularly enjoyed Shut Out the Sun. If you’re looking for a taste of this inspiring work, it will be well worth your time.

–Kristen Doering, Grantmaking Associate


Kate Soper: Songs for Nobody: “III. Song”
Performed by Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

ALBUM: Hushers
New Focus Recordings

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

Choosing just one track from one recording is just so difficult—I’m not a “favorites” kind of person. Who’s my best friend? I have many friends and I love them all. So I want to say a special shout out to Fabian Almazan for his really superb recording Alcanza, and I urge everyone to give it a listen. Meanwhile, I love the Quince ensemble’s pure and compelling vocal sound. I also adore this Kate Soper song, and together, this is a nearly perfect recording—at least as perfect as art could ever be!

–Deborah Steinglass, Director of Development


Yosvany Terry: Okónkolo (Trio Concertante)
Bohemian Trio

ALBUM: Okónkolo
Innova Recordings

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

The title track from The Bohemian Trio’s debut recording, Okónkolo (Trio Concertante), springs a joyous escape from the porous walls of the genre prison. How to label this? Who cares! It’s crafted with expertise, performed with seemingly spontaneous precision, and a blast to listen to.

–Ed Harsh, President and CEO

Wake in Fright

Uniform: The Light at the End (Cause)

ALBUM: Wake in Fright
Sacred Bones

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

“The Light at the End (Cause)” is a standout track from Uniform’s 2017 Wake in Fright. Making the most of electronic and analog tools to produce ear-splitting, heart-pounding noise, the NYC duo has imbued a recording with the strength of a live show. This track, and dare I say the entire record, is worth a listen.

–Madeline Bohm, Software Engineer and Designer

Soft Aberration

Scott Wollschleger: Soft Aberration
Karl Larson, piano; Anne Lanzilotti, viola

ALBUM: Soft Aberration
New Focus Recordings

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

A beautiful, slow meditation delicately and deftly handled that will only further reward with repeated listening.

–Scott Winship, Director of Grantmaking Programs

Knells II

The Knells: Poltergeist

ALBUM: Knells II
Still Sound Music

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

“Poltergeist” by The Knells really stood out to me this year amid the sea of new releases. I love the blending of genres to create something totally unique, and the music video is awesome.

–Sam Reising, Community Platform Strategist and Grantmaking Manager

Composer's Collection: John Mackey

John Mackey: Foundry
North Texas Wind Symphony conducted by Eugene Migliaro Corporon

ALBUM: Composer’s Collection: John Mackey
GIA Composer’s Collection

Purchase via Amazon / iTunes

The latest addition to the exceptional GIA Composer’s Collection series is surprisingly the first commercial CD release devoted exclusively to the music of John Mackey and features 12 stunning examples of the wonders he works in the wind band idiom. There are many treasures in this two-disc collection, but the piece I’ve pressed the replay button to hear the most is Foundry, a relatively brief (just 4 ½ minutes) 2011 “grade 3” piece (for what that means, read Garrett Hope) that was originally written for a consortium of junior high school and high school orchestras. Here the usual mix of winds, brass, and percussion are augmented with a wide array of found objects; ideally a group of 12 percussionists are asked to strike piles of metal, pipes, wood, and mixing bowls, as well as to whack a whip. Written nearly a century after Iron Foundry, Alexander Mosolov’s famous orchestral paean to Soviet industrial accomplishments, Mackey’s piece is less about work and all about play. Junior high school is one of my worst memories, but I’d re-enroll today if I was given a chance to participate in a performance of this!

–Frank J. Oteri, Composer Advocate, and Co-Editor, NewMusicBox

New Music USA Announces Nine New Additions to the Impact Fund Cohort

New Music USA has announced nine organizations selected to join the NYC New Music Impact Fund. The Impact Fund cohort consists of 33 New York City-based ensembles, presenters, and venues tackling challenges facing the city’s new music community today, creating a vibrant public identity for the sector, building connections and collaborations, and finding innovative solutions to the need for increased performance and rehearsal space.


The new cohort members were selected by the following panelists:

  • Courteney Casey, Senior Director of Artistic Planning National Sawdust; Managing Director VisionIntoArt
  • Charles Jarden, General Director American Opera Projects
  • Gina Izzo, flutist, Co-Founder RighteousGIRLS, Manager Public Programs Chamber Music America
  • Mari Kimura, violinist, composer
  • Nathalie Joachim, flutist, composer, Flutronix, Eighth Blackbird
  • Robert Reddy, composer, saxophonist

The Impact Fund represents the first major effort to aggregate and amplify the voice of the New York new music community online. The fund launched in 2016 through a $495,000 grant from The Scherman Foundation’s Axel and Katherine Rosin Fund. Now in its second year, the program distributes general operating and residency grants to smaller new music ensembles, venues, and presenters (many of which are artist-led) and uses New Music USA’s web platform to create a home for the community and market their work in new and creative ways. Sign up to have a listing of the cohort’s upcoming events sent to your inbox each week and stay in the know about what they are up to.


NewMusicBox Mix: 2016 Staff Picks

holiday lights

Before we ring in 2017, it’s become a bit of a tradition here at New Music USA to give a cheer for some of the standout music of the past year. Below you will find a selection of tracks streamed separately with a bit of commentary on what made them notable, as well as a continuous playlist of all of the music at the bottom of the post. Follow the links for further listening and to add the albums to your own collection.

Don’t see a favorite of yours? We hope you’ll add it below so we can all give another round of applause to the great work that hit our ears in 2016.

Happy Holidays from New Music USA!!

Timber Remixed

Michael Gordon; remixed by Ikue Mori: Timber
Performed by Mantra Percussion

ALBUM: Timber Remixed
Cantaloupe Records

Purchase via the Bang on a Can Store / Amazon / iTunes

I love the idea of keeping a work alive by recreating it in a variety of ways, and for this work Michael Gordon and Mantra partnered up to shine light on a number of composers, each with a very different voice. Why this particular track? On a personal level, I just really respond to Ikue Mori’s aesthetic. I shared this with the hope that many of you listening will explore the entire release, and then dig deeper to explore all the composers on it further. –Deborah Steinglass, Director of Development

Nicolas Jaar: No

ALBUM: Sirens
Other People

Purchase via Other People / Amazon / iTunes

An atmospheric delight. Imagine walking the halls of a slightly run-down, crowded apartment building on a sultry August evening. Lots of background, a shifting and elusive foreground—you never know what you’ll hear next. Here’s a track, but seriously, you need to sit back and just listen to the whole thing. –Eddy Ficklin, Director of Platform


Daniel Wohl: Formless
Performed by Daniel Wohl, Lucky Dragons, Olga Bell, Caroline Shaw, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Mantra Percussion, Mivos Quartet, and Iktus Percussion

ALBUM: Holographic
New Amsterdam Records

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

I’m a sucker for post-rock and ambient music. Eno’s Music for Airports done by the Bang on a Can All-Stars was one of the first introductions that brought me to contemporary classical composition. Listening to Daniel Wohl’s Holographic reminds me of this area of post-minimalist/classical and post-rock/ambient genre cross-talk that has always interested me. This record exhibits that style of slow and thoughtful musical development with well-orchestrated blends of electronic textures and instruments. — Blake Whiteley, Development Assistant


Oneida / Rhys Chatham: You Get Brighter

ALBUM: What’s Your Sign?
Northern Spy Records

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

I first heard Oneida play in a disused public parking lot Brooklyn in 2001. It was a pretty dark time for New York and we were all young and angry. Oneida’s sound has matured without losing any of that passionate, furious energy which struck me then. Teamed up with composer Rhys Chatham, Oneida have recently issued What’s Your Sign?. While some of the tracks are a little uneven, “You Get Brighter” is definitely worth a listen. –Madeline Bohm, Software Engineer and Designer

stone people

Martin Bresnick: Ishi’s Song
Performed by Lisa Moore, piano

ALBUM: The Stone People
Cantaloupe Records

Purchase via the Bang on a Can Store / Amazon / iTunes

Lisa’s playing (and singing) here is, as always, supremely musical and controlled and full of intent, and the piece, like all of Martin’s music, is profound, surprising, and rewarding to delve into. The Ishi of the title was the last of his people–the Yahi Indians–and the piece is based on transcription of a traditional song he recorded after being taken in by anthropologists at the University of California, Berkeley (his story is definitely worth reading). I’ve heard Lisa play (and Martin introduce) Ishi’s Song live a number of times now, and each performance feels like a brief glimpse into a lost world. The original melody is sung and then braided into shimmering, shifting textures, creating a mirage-like sensation, like being on the edge of seeing or grasping something that ultimately remains elusive. –Eileen Mack, Junior Software Engineer


David T. Little: Winter – Act III, Scene 2, “Endgame”
Performed by James Bobick, Marnie Breckenridge, Cherry Duke, John Kelly, Michael Marcotte, Newspeak, Alan Pierson, Peter Tantsits, and Lauren Worsham

Album Name: Dog Days
Vision Into Art Records

Purchase Amazon / iTunes

Dog Days, the opera by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, is terrifying, and that’s why I love it so much. There’s something about watching a family fall apart in a post-apocalyptic world that’s deeply disturbing (especially–spoiler alert!–when cannibalism is involved), but at the same time it’s too fascinating to look away. David’s score is a haunting representation of the action on stage, and this track reflects the tension, panic, and loss of humanity and hope we’ve reached at the climax of Dog Days. –Sam Reising, Community Platform Strategist and Grantmaking Manager

real enemies

Darcy James Argue: Dark Alliance
Performed by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

ALBUM: Real Enemies
New Amsterdam Records

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

Darcy James Argue brought a certain amount of swagger to the table just by forming an 18-piece big band in New York City. I’m pretty sure the first show I caught featuring his amazing crew of co-conspirators packed the stage so tightly that the bass player was effectively in the club’s kitchen—and they were still killing it! But what I really walked away thinking—and to even greater degrees after every performance I’ve heard since—is that Argue has a gift for attracting committed, remarkable players and feeding them a stream of witty and sophisticated material, a potent mix that excites the audience’s ears as well as their toes. With Real Enemies, his exploration of conspiracy-driven politics through the decades (originally designed as a theatrical event), his cross-era cuts are particularly incisive. –Molly Sheridan, Director of Content, and Co-Editor, NewMusicBox


Kris Davis: Tim Berne
Perform Kris Davis and Tim Berne

ALBUM: Duopoly
Pyroclastic Records

Purchase via Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes

This improvisation featuring Kris Davis and Tim Berne, is from Kris Davis’s aptly named album Duopoly. The album consists of Davis playing one composed and one improvised duet with eight different musicians (the first half of the album is all of the composed pieces and the second half is all of the improvised pieces) in a package that comes with an audio cd and a visual record documenting recording session. While the individual playing throughout the album is wonderful, what really appeals to me about this track is the way in which the musicians play off each other to creates a piece whose structure I found to be complex and organic. –Brad Lenz, Development Manager

wild cities

Clint Needham: On the Road: Nothing Behind Me
Performed by Francesca Anderegg (violin) and Brent Funderburk (piano)

ALBUM: Wild Cities
New Focus Recordings

Purchase via New Focus / Amazon / iTunes

I was first drawn to Francesca Anderegg’s album Wild Cities having known her and the pianist during my graduate studies, but I was especially taken with the work, On the Road: Nothing Behind Me by Clint Needham. The first listen had me Googling for sheet music! The piece is a mixture of playful lightness and distant, far-off memories tinged with wistfulness and the fading sunlight. –Kristen Doering, Grantmaking Associate


Jennifer Bellor: Chase The Stars
Performed by Jennifer Bellor, Rasar Amani, Lynn Tsai, Ivan Ivanov, Samantha Ciarlo, Tammy Hung, David Chavez, Lindsay Johnson, Bennett Mason, Sean Carbone, Tim Jones, Kyle Bissantz, Summer Kodama, Jeremy Klewicki, and Bronson Foster


Purchase Amazon / iTunes

Since so many extraordinary recordings are released every year, it usually borders on the impossible to sing the praises of just one of them. But JCOI-alum Jennifer Bellor’s self-released Stay seems to be several albums at the same time. Equal parts jazz and contemporary chamber music, but also indebted to indie rock, hip-hop, and even golden age Broadway musicals, this kaleidoscopic collection of 13 originals is a wonderful demonstration of how to maintain a highly individual compositional identity without needing to take refuge in pre-post-genre musical silos. I love Moments Shared, Moments Lost (a 2016 duo for clarinet and pipe organ), and AfterHours (a 2014 drum set solo), but nothing probably sums up the dazzling eclecticism of this release more effectively than Chase The Stars, a 2015 setting of an Emily Brontë poem in which Bellor’s own operatic voice is accompanied by flute, bass clarinet, string quartet, piano, electric guitars, three percussionists, and a rapper! –Frank J. Oteri, Composer Advocate, and Co-Editor, NewMusicBox

Stream the full list:

New Music USA Announces the Inaugural Impact Fund Cohort

New Music USA announces the inaugural cohort of the NYC New Music Impact Fund. The Impact Fund, a new project of New Music USA, represents the first major effort to aggregate and amplify the voice of the New York new music community online. It supports new residency relationships, provides general operating support, and leverages New Music USA’s online platform to share events and news with a growing fan base.   


Sign up to stay in tune with the Impact Fund cohort and get all their latest news and events (concerts, collaborations, residencies, album release parties, and much more) in your inbox. Subscribe here!

Together, New Music USA and the Impact Fund cohort will tackle challenges facing the NYC new music community today, create a vibrant public identity for the sector, build connections and collaborations, and find innovative solutions to the need for increased performance and rehearsal space. Follow the cohort and help make new music in the city more visible and accessible for all!

About The New York City New Music Impact Fund

The New York City New Music Impact Fund is a new program, supported by a three-year, $495,000 grant from The Scherman Foundation’s Axel and Katherine Rosin Fund, that distributes general operating and residency grants to smaller new music ensembles, venues, and presenters (many of which are artist-led) and uses New Music USA’s web platform to create a home for the community and market their work in new and creative ways.

The panelists for the inaugural cohort were:

  • Patrick Castillo, composer and executive director of Hotel Elefant
  • Laura Kaminsky, composer
  • Allison Loggins-Hull, flutist and co-founder Flutronix, composer, and educator
  • Kristin Marting, artistic director of HERE
  • Ryan Muncy, saxophonist, director of institutional giving, and co-director OpenICE with ICE
  • Kathleen Supové, pianist
  • Yulun Wang, owner of Pi Records

Commissioning Fees Calculator

Commissioning Guide

Commissioning Guide

Ensembles come and go. Venues come and go. Styles and trends, too. And how about that recording industry? The business and technology surrounding new music bear little resemblance to what was standard fifty years ago. But commissions continue, forming an important pillar that supports many composers’ careers.

Cash Week - sm

And so our Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide continues. It’s a modest document, really. A few key ideas and a few numbers delivered in a terse, to-the-point style. It is perhaps this directness and simplicity that has allowed it to last longer than many other things. Even the organization that originally created it has become part of something different. Yet this little guide-that-could is still here, giving composers and commissioners a shared baseline at which to begin their negotiation. It endures as a testament to the vision of Meet The Composer: composing is a profession deserving adequate compensation.

In the spirit of this week of music and money conversation, we present it here in interactive fashion, an offering to set out just what “adequate” means. (If you prefer a document, that’s also still available here.)

For decades, New Music USA’s (formerly Meet The Composer’s) Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide has been an essential and frequently cited reference for commissioning fees. This page is designed to bring you that resource in easy-to-use form. It presents you with typical commissioning ranges for different kinds of projects, from concert music and jazz to dance and video games.

Steven Stucky (1949-2016)

Steven Stucky
Steven Stucky

Steven Stucky

It is with great sadness that we report American composer Steven Stucky died of brain cancer in Ithaca, New York on February 14, 2016. A major mentor to and advocate for generations of American composers, Stucky served on the composition faculty of The Juilliard School, was Emeritus Professor of Composition at Cornell University, and Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of New Music USA. Stucky served as Chair of the board of the American Music Center from 2008 until its merger with Meet The Composer to become New Music USA in November 2011. His dedication and wisdom were central guiding factors in making our merger a success.

Additional obituaries have already appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, the hometown paper of a city where Stucky played an extremely important role in the new music scene. (In 1988, Stucky was appointed composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Philharmonic through the Meet The Composer Orchestra Residencies Program and remained closely involved with the orchestra for more than two decades.)

Over the years, he wrote several articles for us on NewMusicBox. In 2005, we asked him for a response to his being awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music. And in 2009, he was one of eight people we approached to share their prognostications about the future of music, for which he contributed a provocative essay entitled for The End of History. Finally, in 2010, he wrote a memorial essay in tribute to the composer Robert Moffat Palmer.

NewMusicBox will publish a memorial essay in tribute to Steven Stucky in the coming weeks.

NewMusicBox Mix: 2015 Staff Picks

Staff Mix 2015

Before we bid farewell to year that was, New Music USA staff members have surveyed the 2015 recordings crowding their desktops (real and virtual) and chosen some of their favorite tracks from the past twelve months for a special NewMusicBox Mix. Below you will find each track streamed separately with a bit of commentary on what made it stand out, as well as a continuous playlist of all of the tracks at the bottom of the post. Follow the links for further listening and to add the albums to your own collection.

These artists have very generously allowed the use of their tracks in this project, and we encourage you to support them by purchasing their albums and letting them know if you enjoy what you hear!

Happy holidays to all!


Tristan Perich: Telescope for 2 bass clarinets, 2 baritone saxophones, & 4-channel 1-bit electronics
Performed by Sara Budde, Eileen Mack, Argeo Ascani, and Alex Hamlin.

ALBUM: Telescope
Physical Editions

Purchase via Bandcamp

In 2015, Tristan Perich began releasing his “Compositions” series of recordings on his own label. So far the run includes four discs, each featuring a single composition scored for acoustic instruments in conversation with Perich’s signature 1-bit electronics. Plus, the sleek, chapbook-sized packaging also includes a fold out poster of the full score! It’s an incredibly compelling visual element that’s not often revealed to the listener and provides a poignant reminder of the composer’s presence in the audio mix.

Molly Sheridan, Executive Editor, NewMusicBox and Director, Counterstream Radio


TIGUE: Cerulean

ALBUM: Peaks
New Amsterdam

Purchase via Bandcamp

Tigue rocks. Literally. Last year they rocked the New Music Bake Sale, and they’ve got a growing following among non-new music types, too. This track is the most “Tigue” on their new album, and features a great big ritardando that makes you more excited.

Kevin Clark, Director of Platform


Du Yun: San
Performed by Matt Haimovitz, cello

ALBUM: Orbit: Music for solo cello (1945-2014)

Purchase via primephonic

While most of the world might think solo cello begins and ends with Bach, we know better. And thanks to the talented and adventurous Matt Haimovitz, we have a three-disc set of modern cello pieces to prove it. The repertoire on these discs spans a huge range and is a testament to his skill, musicality, and eclectic tastes. The track featured here is San by Du Yun, an atmospheric, and sometimes dark, journey for a lone cello through a forest of shifting electronic sounds.

Eddy Ficklin, Senior Software Engineer


Son Lux: Change is Everything

ALBUM: Bones

Purchase via Bandcamp

There is so much great music out there! I especially want to shout out to Jen Shyu, Steve Coleman, and Rudresh Mahanthappa for their recent releases. So how to choose? I went with Son Lux’s “Change is Everything” from the album Bones, for so many reasons—not the least of which was the focus of Ryan Lott’s newish band with Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia on inventing and reinventing, something I deeply believe in. The music is great, and the message of change seems perfect as we enter the new year.

Deborah Steinglass, Director of Development


Sarah Kirkland Snider: The River
Performed by Padma Newsome, DM Stith, Shara Worden, and the Unremembered Orchestra

ALBUM: Unremembered
New Amsterdam

Purchase via Bandcamp

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s arresting new song cycle, Unremembered, deserves to be listened to in order at least twice. But if you have to pick one track, listen to “The River.” Snider’s music moves swiftly, murmuring along, with a burbling vocal line and hand claps that catch the listener and indicate that not all is well on the banks of this river. It’s haunting, graceful melody will stay in your head long after you finish listening

Hannah Rubashkin, Development Manager for Institutional Giving

anthracite fields

Julia Wolfe: Flowers
Performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and Choir of Trinity Wall Street

ALBUM: Anthracite Fields

Purchase via Bandcamp

Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields, which was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is one of the most ambitious in her collection of works based on the lore of Appalachia. The oratorio harkens back to the plight of the coal miners in northeastern Pennsylvania and was created after extensive research Wolfe gathered from everything from oral histories to children’s rhymes. Anthracite Fields is a haunting and moving journey into the lives of those who inhabited the region at coal’s height as well as those who remain there today.

Sam Reising, Grantmaking and Social Media Manager

glass partita

Philip Glass: Partita VII. Chaconne, Part 2
Performed by Tim Fain
ALBUM: Tim Fain Plays Philip Glass: Partita for Solo Violin
Orange Mountain Music

This is the kind of recording that makes me hunt for sheet music. The Partita For Solo Violin, and especially “Chaconne 2,” showcases Philip Glass’s ability to work inside a form and create something new. Tim Fain’s performance showcases both the dance like, baroque rhythms and the minimalist harmonies of this incredible piece.

Debbie Milburn, Junior Software Engineer


Jason Eckardt: Subject
Performed by JACK Quartet

ALBUM: Subject

Jason Eckardt’s heavy metal and jazz backgrounds are readily apparent in the title track from his new album, “Subject.”  The piece, which is based on CIA interrogation techniques that manipulate senses, juxtaposes rapid and cacophonous phrases (expertly played by JACK) with periods of silence sometimes slashed with single chords, effectively hinting at (albeit certainly in a reduced way) the experience of that type of interrogation.

Brad Lenz, Development Associate for Individual Giving

african math

Martin Scherzinger: African Math (featuring Hallucinating Accordion and Mirror Notes / Slow Noises)
Performed by Tom Rosenkranz, piano; Jen Choi, violin; Chris Gross, cello

Album: African Math
New Focus Recordings

Some folks may find it odd that a classical piano trio is a group comprising a piano, a violin, and a cello and not simply three pianos, but they’ll be even more surprised when they hear the very non-classical sounding compositions on South African-born, NYU-based Martin Scherzinger’s 2015 CD African Math in which these instruments play music typically played on mouth bows in the Kalahari or on mbiras throughout Zimbabwe. This joyous music is a perfect soundtrack for Kwanzaa or whatever holiday you’re celebrating this December.

Frank J. Oteri, Composer Advocate and Senior Editor, NewMusicBox