Counterstream Radio is your online home for exploring the music of America’s composers. Drawing upon New Music USA’s substantial library of recordings, our programming is remarkable for its depth and eclecticism. The station streams influential music of many pedigrees 24 hours a day. Keep listening and discover the sound of music without limits. Click here to open Counterstream Radio.
New Music USA launches NewMusicBox Guest Editor series with forward-thinking artists and organizations across the US
First partnership kicks off today with Los Angeles-based radio station dublab, which will present original content that explores the current landscape of music composition
New Music USA‘s web magazine NewMusicBox today launches its new ongoing Guest Editorseries, which aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation and will feature exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization. The series kicks off with Los Angeles-based nonprofit radio station dublab, which strives to cultivate and support cultural ecosystems through community-generated radio, curiosity, experimentation, inclusivity, and connection. NewMusicBox, edited by Frank J. Oteri, amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms, and has provided a vital platform for creators to speak about issues relevant to them in their own words since 1999.
The dublab partnership will feature new weekly content from at least 15 different voices through January 2023, presented in conversations, DJ mixes, articles, and live performances all exploring the current landscape of music composition. Contributors include creators, curators, writers, and artists such as Andrew Maxwell, Colloboh, Jeremiah Chiu with Marta Sofia Honer, Maddi Baird, Mark McNeill, Qur’an Shaheed, shesaidso, Tana Yonas, with more to be announced.
The first piece, an introductory essay written by dublab’s Executive Director Alejandro Cohen, is available to read now here.
The Guest Editor is the first such series in NewMusicBox’s 23-year history and reflects New Music USA’s aim to deepen its impact across the many diverse music communities across the United States. This aim is also demonstrated by NewMusicBox’s ongoing “Different Cities, Different Voices” feature that spotlights music creation hubs across the nation.
For more than two decades, dublab has been one of the defining voices of online radio as a medium; through radio broadcast, myriad public events and celebrated cultural projects, dublab has fostered a community in Los Angeles and now around the world that places creativity, enrichment, diversity, inclusivity, and equality as valued priorities.
“The goal of NewMusicBox has always been to give voice to American music creators working in every possible idiom,” says NewMusicBox editor Frank J. Oteri. “These idioms keep evolving and transforming and we hope that by creating space for other ‘curators’ around the country we will amplify an even broader range of people and their work as well as present this material in an even broader array of formats. All of us here at New Music USA have been fascinated and inspired by what dublab has been producing since, as luck would have it, 1999, the same year that NewMusicBox launched online. This is a collaboration that is long overdue, so it is an honor and privilege to feature dublab content on NewMusicBox.”
“As we launch dublab’s collaboration with New Music USA, we welcome the opportunity to feature the work of many musicians we believe represent the current landscape of contemporary music composition,” says Alejandro Cohen, dublab Executive Director. “Throughout our four-month hosting we hope the series can not only shine a light on these artists and their work, but also bring up questions such as the place, role and meaning of a composer in our current times.”
The dublab Guest Editor content will be accessible for free at newmusicusa.org/newmusicbox starting today. The site also features thousands of NewMusicBox articles, interviews, and more dating back to 1999.
About the NewMusicBox Guest Editor Series
Published by New Music USA, NewMusicBox is a web magazine that amplifies creators and organizations who are building a vibrant future for new music in all its forms. The NewMusicBox Guest Editor series features exclusive content written, produced, or commissioned by a rotating artist or organization, and aims to celebrate a plurality of voices from across the nation. Learn more at newmusicusa.org/newmusicbox
About New Music USA
New Music USA supports and amplifies the sounds of tomorrow by nurturing the creation, performance, and appreciation of new music for adventurous listeners in the United States and beyond. We empower and connect US-based music makers, organizations, and audiences by providing funding through our grants; offering support and fostering new connections through our programs; deepening knowledge through our online magazine, NewMusicBox; and working as an advocate for the field. New Music USA envisions a thriving and equitable ecosystem for new music throughout the United States. Learn more at newmusicusa.org.
dublab is a non-profit, radio station based in Los Angeles. dublab broadcasts hundreds of radio programs hosted by some of the most talented DJs worldwide. Our DJs are empowered to freely play sounds they are passionate about, making each show distinct. Our “Future Roots” concept collapses time, space and genre to celebrate the continuum of creative music made by passionate people. Influential sounds of the past flow into the dynamic sounds of tomorrow. The dublab airwaves allow space for diverse styles, eras, genres and music cultures to co-exist. dublab is documenting the lineage of creative sound and accelerating its progress. Learn more at dublab.com.
NewMusicBox is doing an open call for pitches of “how to” content for publication online in 2022! The deadline to submit has been extended to January 31, 2022.
We’re looking for original material that offers significant value and takeaway benefits for the new music community. We’re excited to share special knowledge that will uplift others!
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
Using specific software tools (notation, DAW, etc.),
Writing for specific instruments/voice-types
Practical matters such as concert production, PR, recording demos, etc.
Online music presentation/distribution
We’re accepting pitches for:
Hybrids of prose, audio, video and anything else!
All published content will be remunerated.
Article prices range from $200-400 depending on length and the level of research.
Video prices range from $150-300 depending on length and level of production work.
Hybrid presentations will be assessed and remunerated on a case–by–case basis.
Send pitches to [email protected] with this subject line: “PITCH FOR HOW-TO ARTICLE ON NewMusicBox” clearly marked. The deadline to submit pitches has been extended to January 31, 2022.
Please submit pitches along with 2 samples of previously existing work in the same format as that of the proposal you’re submitting.
We highly recommend reviewing previously published “how to” content here.
Pitches should clearly and concisely convey the idea you plan to write about and why it matters. The best pitches display that you have deep knowledge of the topic, that you have an unmistakable sense of the angle or insight you plan to pursue, and that you can demonstrate all of that in only a couple of paragraphs. Pitches should also be written in the style you expect to approach the topic.
Submissions to NewMusicBox should be topical and relevant to our publication and follow accepted standards of digital communication. All submissions are subject to a moderation process that verifies material is appropriate and topical. The Editorial Team screens all incoming submissions and may reject manuscripts without further review, or review and reject manuscripts at any time in the editing/reviewing process.
Authors are expected to self-submit.
You will be contacted by an editor if your pitch is accepted. We plan to respond by February 2022 so thank you in advance for your patience as we carefully review submissions.
[Updated December 14, 2020] On December 6 and 12, two concerts from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem presented over Zoom, both at 7:00 EST, offered listeners their first opportunity to hear six world premieres that are the result of a new initiative called Mutual Mentorship for Musicians, M³ for short. The two concerts were hosted by M³ “Editor in Chief” Jordannah Elizabeth, who also guided post premiere Q&As with the audience. M³ is a revolutionary new model for mentorship which was created by co-founders Jen Shyu and Sara Serpa in March and launched in June 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The founders describe M³ as “a think tank for new ways to connect, collaborate, support, create, and empower womxn musicians worldwide including BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, and musicians of all abilities across generations.” To celebrate these first two concerts of this new initiative, we asked the twelve initial participating musicians about why they decided to participate in this opportunity and how mutual mentorship and creative collaboration have affected their artistic process. New Music USA is funding the next round of M³ collaborations. – FJO
On New Year’s Eve 2019, I remember being excited for 2020 and making all the 2020 puns I could; it was the year of 20/20 vision. In my opinion 2019 had been a pretty rough year and I was excited to start afresh, so to speak. By mid-March of this year all the optimism had completely dissipated. From the moment I landed back in the UK to quarantine, it just seemed to go from bad to worse. And in the middle of this, I was being forced to learn some hard truths myself, personally and artistically. How do I interact with my friends and peers? How can I offer support when I felt like this is a time that I’ve probably needed the most support? How do I create without being surrounded by immensely creative beings? How do I collaborate? Is music even important anymore?
It was in the midst of this doubt and fear that Jen contacted me about M³ and it felt like this little beam of excitement and happiness. Yet, I could never have envisioned what M³ would really do for me. I remember tentatively turning up for the first meeting via Zoom and instantly I experienced complete warmth and honesty from everybody and felt inspired. I wanted to play again. I wanted to write again. Music became important again. Although we have had to conduct the whole process via Zoom, with a 5-hour time difference and the lag or cameras not working properly and being entirely at the mercy of technology, music and this community that has been created prevailed over all of these obstacles.
Some are born into tribes, but the creative process of re-defining ourselves places us in new ones. This year has presented some pretty severe obstacles—the pandemic, the persisting face of race, gender, and class biases, the political climate, the encroaching climate crisis. All seem to divide us into factions while at the same time allowing us to connect with individuals who are ready and willing to fight for the cause.
The initiative dreamed up by Jen and Sara has gifted me safe spaces with which to unpack all of these obstacles and more. The group space gives perspective, while the smaller meetings have opened intimate ways of interpreting and designing poetry, melody, and video production, through sending messages, phone calls, and meetings on Zoom. With each passing meeting, my mind sees how each of us would handle situations differently, leaving me confident to approach my creative and professional endeavors with more vigor. The creations haven’t felt prescribed or scheduled in any sense; rather, they are journeys that we are all on in this tribe, which, in the end will emerge most naturally.
Why say yes to M³? There is the easy answer of how could I possibly refuse any opportunity to work with the brilliant Jen Shyu and Sara Serpa? But also, I think I responded instinctively from a yearning for a holistic musical community, one that certainly predated the pandemic, and was only intensified through it.
Particularly, there seem to be so few models for intergenerational artistic communion; I’ve spoken with many friends who are also aspiring artists, and who have shared such deep desires for something akin to mentorship or apprenticeship. There is so much about the artistic landscape and industry that is utterly nebulous, especially for those (like myself) who do not come from artistic families or see themselves, their background, represented meaningfully. In the midst of cacophony and silencing discrimination, how does one find their voice? How does one survive, when attempting to employ their voice for artistic meaning and financial security? How, through our artistic practice, might we carry forward the legacy of those who fought, died, for a more just and equitable world? There is no handbook, no well-worn path, only the stories and experiences of those before us to gather any idea. So, this was one way in which M³ really struck me: as an avenue for such needed dialogue between youth and elders. To be honored with the presence and insights of such powerful and resilient women—and to also have my own perspectives celebrated and valued as something of worth—is indescribably enriching.
How is this program affecting my practice? I think, if anything, to have this vibrant community in my life right now has invigorated so much of my spirit. Given the bleakness of this time, frankly it has felt life-saving. I can perceive the growth, shifts of relationships with others and also with myself, due to the space we are creating now. What is evolving due to this program is a collective awareness and compassion and confidence that invariably influences my work by way of influencing my deeper self. And I believe that the interpersonal and internal changes occurring now will affect my practice for years to follow.
As a collaborator/artist, working with “Women” has always been a major goal of mine.
This creative collaboration/ mentorship has been such a blessing during these intense and uncertain times. It’s a great source of inspiration and support, and it connects me to women that I’ve always wanted to collaborate with.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how deep, structural change actually comes about. In moments like this one it’s easy to see change as something that is sparked spontaneously from the heat of a charged moment. But looking further, we find that social change comes about from a lineage of resistance—from decades of folks fighting not just for survival but for the right to live beautiful lives.
I’ve been reflecting on several linked movements—the fight against white supremacy, especially by radical Black feminists, the queer liberation movement, the development of creative improvised music—and how these movements all required groups of people who trusted each other to come together and create their own momentum outside of the systems that oppressed them. For me, Mutual Mentorship for Musicians feels like a continuation of this tradition. We are this little underground intergenerational family giving each other love and support to bolster ourselves against a society that leaves very little space for the voices of non-cis-male, queer and BIPOC artists. Our group completely reconstructs the foundations of our musical ecosystem; it imagines a community free from patriarchal, capitalistic, and white supremacist ideals and presents one based upon vulnerability, communal support, and compassion. And M3 does this while also meeting the current moment; over Zoom we have tuned in from Portugal, the UK, and all over the US.
The current limitations have challenged us to create new forms of community-building and art-making that take advantage of the digital format, from using the Zoom chat function to hype each other up to combining exquisite-corpse style audio recording with film editing for our joint projects. I’m so excited to continue this model of artistic collaboration and mentorship and I truly believe structures like these will create profound systemic change in our musical community and beyond.
The aspect of this initiative that I was not expecting, but feel so grateful for, is the intergenerational energy generated from our talks and sharing of perspectives. It is fertile ground for synergist transformations. It also has been a great experience to have the opportunity to collaborate with other artists that one might not have had the chance to do so otherwise, and to become more familiar with a whole new generation of amazing musicians and composers who have a strong and unique voice to contribute to the music.
Thank you Jen and Sara for spearheading the development of this creative community. I envision it expanding and growing stronger through the years. We need new spaces, new visions, new methods to communicate with and to support each other. If there was ever a time for transformation of the arts, the business, the culture, it is now. The breaking down of the normal, that this pandemic has created, let it become a crack that a new reality can be born through.
Black American Music, and the creative music it has informed, is inherently political. In a time where white supremacy, corporatization, and militant fascism seem to undermine the core values of our existence, it’s crucial we ask ourselves: how can the music, the process of collaboration, and the spaces we work within, actually reflect the times we’re living in?
History has shown us the capacity for change when we create spaces that reflect the diversity of our creative ecosystem. Groups like the AACM, the Black Artists’ Group, and the Pan-African Peoples Arkestra have focused on building community and social consciousness, and have done so outside of existing corporate structures. To me, M3 is an extension of this work, bringing together BIPOC womxn to foster support, love, and growth through adventurous music-making.
M3 has allowed me the space to be truthful and vulnerable in an otherwise white, male-dominated, cis-heteronormative space. I’m grateful to Jen and Sara and all my fellow M3-ers for nurturing this space, and for allowing the fullest expression of ourselves.
I’m reminded of this quote by Joshua Briond: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but rather individuals and classes repeat history.” Mary Lou Williams, Abbey Lincoln, Nicole Mitchell, Susie Ibarra, Amina Claudine Myers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Fay Victor, Matana Roberts… and all those who’ve illuminated the way, thank you…The fight for liberation continues!
When I was asked to be a part of this group, I was initially on the fence. While I was concerned about my gigs disappearing for what I realized at that point would be the rest of the year and into 2021, I also felt that there was a kind of pressure to still do, to be active…so many wonderful organizations were shifting quickly to create much needed lifelines for the artist community but honestly all I wanted to do was just be and process all that was and had been happening so quickly!
Over the years, I think I have felt a kind of exhaustion of always having to adapt to some new (mostly digital) change or update and I felt like, while the moment was indeed financially challenging, this might be the moment and rare opportunity that forces all of us to just slow down, reflect, reevaluate. To just simply stop. Is it okay to just not do for a while? Thus, I was weary to commit to something, especially something that I knew would be conducted expressly online and that would require an online performance as well. I was still very much resisting that reality, lol!
But Jen and Sara curated a wonderful cast of intergenerational womxn artists and I have really enjoyed sharing and getting to know them all, some of whom I have met prior to COVID life and others whom it will be exciting to meet in person someday! It’s been a great space to hear how others are managing in this current climate. Everyone is extremely supportive of where everyone is at this current moment. It’s been a welcome positive space to be a part of in this moment that has felt so fragile, confusing and disillusioning. I am grateful that this space has been created for us to just be.
It has always interested me how we, as artists, can create alternative structures that connect us as opposed to alienate/divide us, where the artist is free and does not have to conform or compete in order to be successful. This mutual and intergenerational mentorship initiative proposes the idea that we all learn from each other, instead of the original top-down mentorship structure. The absence of the traditional hierarchical system is liberating, and has allowed me for a personal transformation that initially was subtle. Now, as time goes by, this seed is growing and expanding to all relationships I nurture. The meetings have opened my mind to different ways of interacting with my peers: supportive instead of competitive, honest instead of performative, transforming instead of conforming.
I didn’t have this kind of support when I was growing and studying to be a musician, and just the fact that is right happening now, when we are all forced out of work and the world seems to be falling apart, has helped me going through the uncertainty of the moment. Zoom has limitations. Nothing can replace the act of being/ playing/ listening together in a room. However, each meeting is invigorating and inspiring and shows me that we are all more connected than I initially thought.
I feel incredibly fortunate for being able to communicate and interact with this group of womxn on a regular basis. I don’t want it to end in December! Each time we meet is different – the honesty, creativity and vulnerability each one of us brings into our projects or meetings stays with me during the periods we don’t meet, inspiring me to use different approaches to challenges that seem to always exist no matter the generation we belong to. The fact that each artist has such a unique and original way of expression makes me dream about the possibilities of expanding these kinds of dialogues to as many artists as possible. I am beyond grateful for this work and to be doing it with Jen—a work in progress of imagining, restructuring, discussing and hopefully transforming our artistic landscape, in which kindness, generosity and respect prevail.
The night after our eighth M³ meeting, I dreamt that one of my students taught me a very specific way to move my hands and legs that would enable me to fly up the stairs without ever having to step down. The infinitely linked staircases in the dream hung in the air like in an M.C. Escher drawing. The room was hardly a room, but rather a greenhouse full of sunlight with no walls. Perhaps it was so big that I didn’t feel the walls around me.
I woke up. The dream still fresh in my half-sleeping body, I tried out the hand and leg movements in my kitchen, which will surely become new movements in a new dance. This process is a metaphor for what these M³ meetings have meant to me, whether in our full cohort of 12 or in our smaller groupings. We’ve been exercising our vision-building and integrating that envisioning into our everyday lives. Personally, I’ve infused those dream states into my reality not only as an artist, but as a human being and a citizen of the world. I’ve learned from each cohort member how I can better do this, from how each artist speaks, lives their art, articulates their ideas so clearly, and creates such profound work. The issues and situations that we have talked about, all happening in real time, have continually moved me and shaped my psyche. These are issues I rarely discussed openly on such a deep level with other womxn artists when I was in my 20s or 30s. Those conversations usually happened one-on-one and rather secretly, in the context of male leadership or in relationship to men, as I usually found myself as the only woman or one of two women in any given musical setting.
My concept of “mentor” has also changed. I have many mentors, most who influenced me in life-changing ways, but also some who placed their limitations on me, telling me I couldn’t be a “jack-of-all-trades,” for example. Obviously, I rebelled. Another interaction which challenged my idea of “mentor” was just after a breakfast with Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell at the Ojai Festival in 2017, where I had performed solo the day before. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see Muhal before his passing four months later. As we were walking to the elevator, I told Muhal, “I just want to thank you for being such a generous mentor to all of us all these years.” He stopped me and said, “Now wait. I don’t like this word ‘mentor.’ Because it implies someone is higher than the other, like there’s a hierarchy. I prefer the word ‘exchange.’ Like I want to know about those Taiwanese folk songs you’re into.” I was stunned and humbled. This short conversation initiated the idea of “mutual mentorship” in my head, and when Sara and I began developing the manifestation of this idea, it was one of the concepts that inspired M³, which has been absolutely shaped by our inaugural cohort members every step of the way.
We always try to take a screenshot at the end of our meetings, capturing our time together which began on the Summer Solstice of this tumultuous year of 2020. These are magical snapshots of our lives colliding at different points in our careers, painting a picture of the work that needs to be done and how we’ll continue to grow this energy exponentially outward for the rest of our lives.
Anjna Swaminathan (photo by Molly Gazay of Diabla Productions)
Truthfully, I was initially reluctant to join M3. This of course has nothing to do with the brilliance and camaraderie that Jen Shyu and Sara Serpa offer or the beauty of the kind of mentorship they sought to cultivate. However, in the early stages of the pandemic, I was trying to feel secure in my ongoing projects and commissions and felt “too busy” for this. The feeling of community and catharsis that this group would offer was terrifying to me because it would push me to confront the fragility of our existing musical ecosystem.
As my colleagues lost gig after gig, I clenched harder to my lingering commitments, trying to convince myself that the pandemic couldn’t destabilize me. It was likely a triggered response. In March 2019 almost exactly a year before we became aware of the virus’s toll on New York City, I started experiencing severe chronic pain symptoms, which forced me to part with my instrument (the violin). I went through many of the same motions that our entire community of artists is going through now. I stopped performing. I stopped improvising with my community. I stopped traveling due to the toll it took on my back and the radiating neurological pain I was experiencing. And to make everything worse, I had also developed a psychosomatic response in my immune system that manifested as frequent respiratory illnesses, that kept me constantly washing my hands and fearful of touching my face. Fortunately, I found home in composing and felt safe to heal while still creating music.
I suppose, when the pandemic started, I wanted to be privileged enough to stay grounded. I got attached to not experiencing an existential crisis — even going so far as to create an alliance for patrons to connect to starving composers and performers from my oh-so-charitable high horse. I needed to hold on to this, and when I saw Jen’s email, my internal response was, “I’m totally fine! This should go to someone who actually needs community.” Of course, though fearful, I said yes to Jen, because I knew that every encounter I’ve had with Jen has taught me to confront my fears. I heard her voice saying something like, “go towards the things that frighten you and figure out why.”
Since we began our meetings, I’ve been so deeply grateful. For one, in these meetings, we speak at length about how these illusions of security were wound up in capitalistic, white supremacist, and heteropatriarchal structures. Many of us spoke of scarcity in our initial meetings. Feeling that there weren’t enough spaces where we could truly be ourselves, artistically, politically, and spiritually. We spoke about tactics to navigate existing power structures and to find our voices within them. And as these conversations have progressed, I’ve witnessed and experienced cosmic intergenerational healing. There are days when mentors in their 60s nurture and comfort mentors in their 20s. On other days younger mentors radicalize their experienced mentors. And on most days it is like a wild game of volleyball, each of us bouncing this radical and dynamic energy off of one another, working together to elevate in abundance rather than falling into scarcity. In the course of the past few months, the security of commissions and projects has dwindled. Yet, I feel renewed with a different kind of security. I feel connected to this ageless, timeless creative energy within me. With the love and encouragement of this community, I am exploring the widest and wildest extremes of artistic play. This group, in replacing power and hierarchy with love and radical vulnerability, has kindled a security in me that feels everlasting. I think back to this feeling of fragility in our musical ecosystem. Of course, it is fragile. It wasn’t working for musicians. This group is planting seeds of abundance, of communication, and of vulnerability that I know will transform music-making and fortify intergenerational mentorship for years to come.
I know it’s cliché to reference the Lotus Blossom that grows out of the mud. But that is precisely what M3 is, something beautiful, and exquisite that has arisen out of these chaotic, dark and troubled times…2020, whew, and it’s not over yet!
Saying yes to Jen and Sara who had the initial vision for M3 was easy, especially considering the dynamic group of invited persons to take part. I loved their idea and vision to collaborate, with a choice group of artists that represent the broadest spectrum of sexual identity, genre, and generations among women, to produce new music together as composers and players. We meet bi-monthly via Zoom, to support each other with our diverse creative processes. The duos and quartets were formed randomly and provide an even more intimate window to share and build. M3 has provided a means of support, caring and creativity that I am so grateful to be a part of, especially now! There is a way in which we have bonded and we are learning so much from each other. There is chemistry and momentum moving forward with love and mutual respect at its core. We are doing all this through the rather limited technology on Zoom of all things and this has surprised me!
I’m a child of the 60’s and 70’s. I was raised by radical left wing bi-racial parents during a very tumultuous time in this country. My parents lived through World War II, the Great Depression, the McCarthy era. My mother, who was Japanese American was imprisoned in Internment camps during World War II because of her race. My father who was African American, was a union man, a Marxist, a factory worker. My parents’ philosophies were woven into the fabric of their children’s lives. I cooked breakfast for the Black Panther breakfast program in Mantua Philadelphia when I was 12 years old! My family marched against the Vietnam War, when the country was unified, sick, and tired, but not too tired to protest.
The current struggles of our times is something not new to many of us, it’s an old fight. I am disheartened, angry and depressed at the level of anti-blackness in our culture, the systemic racism in our institutions and prison system and the fact that Black mothers, still fear for their son’s lives, but I am relieved to see the current revolution for racial injustice and people of all races engaged so actively across the globe uniting in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement, the Climate crisis, and more.
Nina Simone, whom I greatly admire, said that artists must address their times. We can look to artists like her to learn exemplary ways in which artists can respond to injustice. Nina was black, beautiful and bold and knew it. Her musical expression contained her fury, love, and soulfulness, fighting for freedom and equality. We can look to artists like John Coltrane whose humanity and protean musical expression and legacy is a constant reminder of what it means to be free as an artist and a great human being.
The fight goes on, as it must until we reach a level of humanity, understanding, and acceptance, a more spiritual ground of love for one another. It might be that we have to keep going round and round until we get it right. The human realm is complex and flawed and ugly and beautiful.
If you haven’t worked with us before, here are a few pointers on how to craft a pitch and capture our attention. NewMusicBox is currently seeking smart, original, short essays (< 1500 words) from members of the music community.
NewMusicBox is deeply committed to highlighting new music communities across the United States and encourages contributors to write about the vibrancy of their local scene.
Thoughtful critiques, solid analyses, with emphasis on real actions/ideas/tips with takeaway value catch our attention more than promotional material or opinion pieces. And we’re particularly interested in writers whose experiences and opinions are underrepresented in the media.
Note: NewMusicBox does not do album or concert reviews.
Writers will be paid for their work. To pitch your essay or idea, please email us.
General Submission Guidelines
Submissions to NewMusicBox should be topical and relevant to our publication and follow accepted standards of digital communication. Essays should be written in a clear, informal style free of jargon and accessible to nonspecialists. All submissions are subject to a moderation process that verifies material is appropriate and topical. The Editorial Team screens all incoming submissions and may reject manuscripts without further review, or review and reject manuscripts at any time in the editing/reviewing process.
Please email us to pitch an article, or to send an unpublished piece for consideration. Authors are expected to self-submit.
Articles that appear in other locations online – personal website, Medium, Facebook, etc. – will not be considered.
A good pitch to NewMusicBox contains a compelling story and a clear outline. Pitches should clearly and concisely convey the idea you plan to write about and why it matters. The best pitches display that you have deep knowledge of the topic, that you have an unmistakable sense of the angle or insight you plan to pursue, and that you can demonstrate all of that in only a couple of paragraphs. Pitches should also be written in the style you expect to write the story. Help us get excited about your topic!
If sending an unpublished piece for consideration, please include:
Your written article in MS Word or Google Doc format with edit access enabled.
Any audio/video embed links to be included with the article.
A link (Dropbox, WeTransfer, or Google Drive preferred) to any high-resolution photos in landscape format to be included with the article. (Must have photo credit or be royalty-free/Creative Commons CC BY license)
A high-resolution photo that is relevant to article topic, which can serve as a featured photo. (Must include photo credit and be royalty-free/Creative Commons CC BY license)
An author headshot in landscape or square format.
A very short author bio. (100 words max)
Author social media links.
You will be contacted by an editor if your article or pitch is accepted. Thank you!
ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams today announced the recipients of the 2019 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, which encourage talented young creators of concert music ranging in age from 10 to 30. The 2019 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards composer/judges were: Timo Andres, Martha Mooke, Tamar Muskal, Jeffrey Scott, Robert Sirota, and Edward Smaldone.
The 21 recipients of the 2019 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards are listed with their age, current city and state of residence, and the titles of their award-winning compositions which are linked, where possible, to audio recordings of them (for the youngest winners, only the state of residence is given):
Jules Pegram (27, Los Angeles CA): Higher Ground (an opera in one act for 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, 2 baritones and SATB chorus, with wind quintet, string quintet, harp, piano, and percussion) [60′]
James Takashi Tabata (24, Austin, TX): Nagare (for SATB [two of each voice], two flutes, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet, percussion, piano, organ, melodica, tabla, and string nonet) [14′]
Shelley Washington (27,Princeton, NJ): The Farthest (for SSSAAA choir, violin, viola, cello, double bass, baritone saxophone, electric guitar, piano, and drum set) [8’30”]
Established in 1979 with funding from the Jack and Amy Norworth Fund, The ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards grant cash prizes to concert music composers up to 30 years of age whose works are selected through a juried national competition. These composers may be American citizens, permanent residents, or students possessing US Student Visas. To honor his lifelong commitment to encouraging young creators, the program was dedicated to Morton Gould’s memory following his death in 1996. Gould himself was a child prodigy whose first composition was published by G. Schirmer when he was only six years of age; he later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. He served as President of ASCAP and The ASCAP Foundation from 1986 – 1994.
The ASCAP Foundation has announced the 18 recipients and 4 honorable mentions of the 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. The recipients, who receive cash awards, range in age from 11 to 29 and hail from five continents. They were selected through a juried national competition; the ASCAP composer/judges for the 2019 competition were: Fabian Almazan, Erica Lindsay, and Nate Smith.
The 18 winners of the 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award…
Top row (left to right): Eri Chichibu, Eddie Codrington, Shimon Gambourg, Ariel Sha Glassman, Philip Ryan Goss, and Takumi Kakimoto;
second row (L to R): Brian Krock, David Ling, Martina Liviero, Ben Morris, Peyton Nelesen, and Yu Nishiyama;
third row (L to R): Jueun Seok, Sara Sithi-Amnuai, Elliott Turner, Gregory Weis, and Alex Weitz, and Matthew Whitaker;
bottom row, The four honorable mentions (L to R): Samuel Boateng, Thomas B. Call, Andrew Schiller, and Yoko Suzuki.
(Photos courtesy of the ASCAP Foundation)
The 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipients are listed with their year and place of birth, current residence and the titles of their award winning compositions linked to audio recordings of them (for the youngest winners, only the state of residence is given):
The Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards program was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30. It carries the name of the great trumpeter and ASCAP member Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s multi-year financial commitment to support this program. Additional funding for this program is provided by The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund. The Newport Festival Foundation will feature one of the recipients of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards during the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival in August.
To keep New Music USA stable, vibrant, and responsive to the field, as well as to prepare for arrival of new leadership, New Music USA staff member Deborah Steinglass has assumed the role of Interim CEO (effective October 1, 2018) while the organization’s board of directors is involved in a nationwide search to find a new permanent President and CEO. Steinglass is a pianist and life-long new music enthusiast who began her administrative career at the American Music Center 30 years ago. Since then she has enjoyed a diverse career building programs and raising funds for a wide range of music organizations and artists. She joined New Music USA’s staff in April 2013, after having served for four years as Executive Director of The Jazz Gallery.
“This is a truly special time,” remarked Steinglass. ”Our board’s confidence in the staff is allowing us to move ahead with great energy and creativity even during this interim period. I am so happy to be able to help foster the continuation of our highly collaborative working culture here at New Music USA, to set short-term goals for us to serve the field well, and to help deliver a robust range of opportunities for the new permanent CEO to explore and expand upon over the long-term.”
In May 2018, the New Music USA board formed a search committee immediately after Ed Harsh announced that he would be stepping down as President and CEO at the end of September in order to pursue his lifelong dream of writing a book about German-American composer Kurt Weill. To ensure a thorough process for finding a talented individual who would bring vitality and expertise to the role, the board planned early for an interim leadership period, and anticipates that the new President and CEO will be in place by early 2019.
The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) has awarded composer Carlos Bandera its 2018 Underwood Commission, which is a $15,000 commission for a work to be premiered by ACO in a future season. Chosen from six finalists during ACO’s 27th Underwood New Music Readings on June 21 and 22, 2018, Bandera won the top prize with his work Lux in Tenebris. In addition, for the ninth year, audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings had a chance to make their voices heard through the Audience Choice Commission. The winner this year was composer Tomàs Peire Serrate, for his piece Rauxa. As the winner, Serrate also receives a $15,000 commission from ACO for a composition to be premiered in a future season.
Carlos Bandera (photo by Maitreyi Muralidharan) and Tomàs Peire Serrate (photo by Jason Buchanan). Courtesy Jensen Artists
“Carlos Bandera’s orchestral writing speaks with clarity and purpose,” said ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel. “We were impressed by the expansive, colorful landscape in his tone poem Lux in Tenebris and look forward with great enthusiasm to his new work for ACO.”
ACO President Ed Yim added, “Tomàs Peire Serrate’s piece Rauxa takes the audience on a visceral ride of arresting rhythms and colors. He harnesses the forces of a large orchestra with such amazing command, and we applaud our audience’s good taste in picking his piece as the Audience Choice Commission. The commission that goes with the audience favorite vote puts a high value on the input of our listeners in the discovery of the future of orchestral music.”
2018 Underwood Commission winner Carlos Bandera (born 1993) is fascinated by musical architecture and by the music of the past. His recent music explores these fascinations, often by placing a musical quotation, be it a phrase, scale, or sonority, within dense microtonal textures. Carlos’ music has been performed in the Faroe Islands, Scotland, Uzbekistan, China, and several spaces in the United States, including Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall. Carlos earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition from the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where he studied with Elizabeth Brown, Dean Drummond, and Marcos Balter. Carlos recently received his Master of Music degree in Composition from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he participated in masterclasses with Christopher Rouse and Georg Friedrich Haas and studied privately with Kevin Puts. Lux in Tenebris was inspired by the music of Anton Bruckner. As Bandera explained, “Upon first hearing the music of Bruckner, I felt deeply connected to the composer and his work. His Eighth Symphony in particular, with its immense harmonic landscapes, devastating silences, and profound ‘darkness-to-light’ narrative, continues to be one of my greatest influences – no doubt, in more ways than I am even aware of. Lux in Tenebris explores these elements of the Eighth Symphony by allowing Brucknerian light to pierce through a dense micropolyphonic fabric.”
The two award-winning scores. (Photo by Lyndsay Werking, courtesy Jensen Artists)
2018 Audience Choice Commission winner Tomàs Peire Serrate(born 1979) studied composition with Salvador Brotons at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (Barcelona) and with Tapio Tuomela and Risto Väisänen at the Sibelius Academy (Helsinki). In 2013 he graduated from New York University with a Master’s in Scoring for Film and Multimedia, where he studied with Ron Sadoff, Mark Suozzo, Justin Dello Joio, and Julia Wolfe. That year he moved to Los Angeles to explore the film music industry and participate as a composer in different projects including writing the music for the films The Anushree Experiements and Prism, and orchestrating and arranging music for Love and Friendship,If I Stay, and Minions. In the fall of 2015, Tomàs initiated his PhD at UCLA, where studies with Bruce Broughton, Mark Carlson, Richard Danielpour, Peter Golub, Ian Krouse, and David S. Lefkowitz. His research at UCLA is about music, space and media, with a particular interest in new technologies and virtual reality. His concert works have been performed in Europe, US and Asia, and is currently working on the English version of his monodrama Hillary, recently premiered at the Off-Liceu series in Barcelona in June 2018. According to Serrate, “Rauxa is a sudden determination, like the impulse I had to write this piece, or an outburst, which actually is how this work begins. It is a Catalan word used in pair with another one, Seny, meaning balance and sensibleness, to describe or refer to the Catalan people and their character. This duality, like in other cultures and traditions, is essential, indivisible, and necessary to understand each part separately, which is what I tried to explore here. I worked on sketches and sections of Rauxa in different moments and places, always away from my home country, Catalonia, and I kept coming back to it looking to improve it as well as to learn more about myself and about music.”
In addition to Carlos Bandera and Tomàs Peire Serrate, the 2018 Underwood New Music Readings participants were Lily Chen, Scott Lee, Ryan Lindviet, and Liliya Ugay. The 27th Annual Underwood New Music Readings were under the direction of ACO’s Artistic Director, composer Derek Bermel, and were conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan, with Bermel, Gabriela Ortiz, John Corigliano, and Robert Beaser as mentor composers. The conductor, mentor composers, and principal players from ACO provided critical feedback to each of the participants during and after the sessions. In addition to the Readings, the composer participants took part in Career Development Workshops with industry professionals. This year’s New Music Readings attracted over 250 submissions from emerging composers around the country. To date, more than 150 emerging composers have participated in these readings and it has helped launch the careers of many composers including Anna Clyne, Sebastian Currier, Jennifer Higdon, Pierre Jalbert, Aaron Jay Kernis, Hannah Lash, Tobias Picker, Narong Prangcharoen, Paola Prestini, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Huang Ruo, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Kate Soper, Gregory Spears, Joan Tower, and Nina C. Young.
After taking a collective bow, the six composers featured in the 2018 ACo Underwood New Music Readings applaud conductor George Manahan and the members of the American Composers Orchestra. (Photo by Peter Yip, photo courtesy Jensen Artists.)
John Nuechterlein has announced that he will retire as President/CEO of the American Composers Forum effective December 31, 2018. He shared the news recently with Forum board and staff, noting the decision to move on came slowly over the past few months. “The Forum is an extraordinary ecosystem of creative, imaginative people,” Nuechterlein says. “I feel privileged to have been part of that for twenty years, and I will miss it deeply.”
John Nuechterlein (photo by Nancy Hauck, courtesy American Composers Forum)
While John is retiring from his leadership role at ACF, he has no shortage of plans for the future. “I’ve listened to a lot of new music in my career at the expense of seeing new theater, watching new film, and exploring the work of visual artists,” he says. “I have a long list of places to visit for the first time, but I also look forward to discovering more of the rich tapestry of what is right here in Minnesota.”
John became President in 2003 after serving as its managing director for the previous five years. The breadth of programming has grown during his 15-year tenure through several new initiatives, most notably the NextNotes® High School Composition Awards and the national ACF CONNECT program. Especially meaningful to him was the recent launch of In Common, a collaborative artist residency program that gives communities an opportunity to explore their own diversity by sharing stories through the creation of new music. “The Forum has a long history of finding new ways to both support composers and integrate them meaningfully into our culture,” Nuechterlein explained. During his tenure the innova® Recordings label also experienced exponential growth–it’s now one of the most successful new music labels in the country with over 600 titles in its catalog. Its contribution to the contemporary music scene is internationally recognized.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors and the community of composers around the country”, says Board Chair Mary Ellen Childs, “I’d like to thank John for his excellent leadership over many years. He leaves ACF in superb shape, with a strong staff, secure financial footing, and an exciting new strategic plan on the horizon to guide the organization going forward. While we’re sad to see him go, we’re thrilled for him and all that is next in his life.”
The Forum’s board of directors will be conducting a national search to fill the position.
[Ed note: It has been 20 years since the first MATA Festival. Since that time, it has been an annual New York City showcase for new music by early career composers selected from a free global call for submissions. Originally held at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan’s East Village, hence the acronym (which stands for Music at the Anthology), the Festival has subsequently been held at Le Poisson Rouge, the Brooklyn Lyceum, Roulette, and The Kitchen where most of this season’s concerts will take place. (Details for each of the concerts on this year’s festival can be found here.) Since MATA has been such an important stepping stone for so many significant composers, including many who served in an administrative capacity for the organization, we wanted to celebrate the MATA Festival’s 20th anniversary with a series of vignettes from some of the folks for whom it has meant so much. Time forced our hands in capping this at 32 before it went live (we had to have at least 20!), but we invite additional reminiscences in the comments.—FJO]
So much of what makes MATA what it is, is the community around which it has grown and continues to thrive. In the early years, back when we were still at the Anthology Film Archives, our indefatigable tech team, composers and founders alike would carry music stands and amps and instruments up that long flight of stairs and into the hall. One such memorable event was the premier of P(L)aces by Randy Hostetler, which is being performed again at the MATA Festival (on April 13, 2018). For that concert Lisa and I went around the East Village to the second hand furniture shops and borrowed lamps. Spoiler alert! Most players in the ensemble play lamps, switching them on and off in a rhythmic pattern. To facilitate this, our TD at the time, Dan Dryden, made special switches for each lamp, hand wiring them all. Everyone helped to carry lamps, chairs and stands up the stairs. It’s absolutely amazing to me that our little idea, hatched over breakfast with Philip while on tour, has not just blossomed, but flourished and spread, giving NYC the benefit of music from all over the world that has not been heard anywhere else. … yet! From those planning breakfasts around Philip’s kitchen table 20 years ago we could never have imagined this MATA. Thanks to you all for joining us in making it what it has become. I can’t wait to see where we go next!
I remember like it was yesterday: a handful of us young composers struck out on a new path together, seeking community and a chance to be heard side by side, in joyful camaraderie regardless of our backgrounds and fascinations. Now I count hundreds among my MATA family, and I couldn’t be more proud of the role we have been able to play in the musical lives of so many—composers, performers, audiences. Thank you and congratulations dear friends!
The MATA New Music Festival was founded in 1996 by Eleonor Sandresky, Lisa Bielawa and myself. From the small beginnings (in the living room of my New York home) and the first concerts at the Anthology Film Archives in 1998, the MATA festival has become today one of the mainstays of New York’s new music world, with its annual festival, a board of directors and, thankfully, a substantial budget made possible by many patrons of the arts. I am very proud of our accomplishments and I am pleased to be honored as a part of the festival’s 20th Anniversary.
A postcard from the very first season of the MATA Festival in 1998.
The first few concerts I attended after moving to New York in 2008 were related to MATA. One in particular, Ne(x)tworks at LPR, left a huge mark. Truly inspiring concert, I hadn’t heard or seen anything like it, the event made me feel so lucky to be a musician in this city. A few years later, I had my own music performed at the festival. Music that I have written here. Music that in many ways couldn’t have happened without MATA. It was written originally for Cornelius Dufallo’s string quartet. Cornelius was one of the musicians of Ne(x)tworks who played that MATA concert at LPR a few years back. MATA is giving access to music that is at the forefront of music making. MATA is connecting people. And for that, we should be grateful. Congratulations MATA for 20 inspiring years, and cheers to 20 more!
Details for each of the concerts of the 2018 MATA Festival can be found here.
MATA’s existence and continued success has always amazed and moved me. To see a scrappy artist-founded festival not only survive, but do incredible work, presenting such a range of musical work (and beyond!) at such a high level, and doing right by young creative artists from around the world, is a tremendous thing to experience. As a composer, performer, and audience member, and working behind the scenes, I’ve always been really proud to be associated with MATA.
As a veteran of the second festival (still at the Film Anthology), I have many memories of the splendid, audacious concerts curated by Lisa Bielawa and Eleonor Sandresky in the early years. So many unusual and inspiring sounds first alighted on my ears at MATA events. Twenty years later, it’s thrilling that MATA continues to be a trailblazer!
I was very grateful to have my music presented at MATA. Over the last 20 years MATA has been such an important launch pad for so many young composers working in so many different styles, and it was wonderful to have my work showcased as part of that. Here’s to 20 years and to many, many more.
Being asked to present work at the MATA Festival was a pivotal moment for my career. As a composer and artist with an intermedia practice that is often hard to frame, MATA facilitated an outrageously supportive, legitimizing public platform for my work. At every step, I always felt like someone was right behind me, ensuring that my ideas were presented with zero compromise and I am still feeling the positive resonances of that exposure years later.
Having my videos screened at the MATA Festival six years ago was incredibly important for me in my development as a multimedia artist, encouraging me to continue down that path with a renewed enthusiasm. I attended all three concerts that year, and remember being struck by how well the evenings were curated—vibrant, inspiring pieces that were incredibly eclectic yet together formed a gratifying, cohesive experience.
I’ll always be grateful to MATA because they gave me my first show in New York City! My friend Brad and I wrote a psychedelic orchestral hip hop re-imagination of The Rake’s Progress despite the thought: “Who on earth would ever produce this?” Well, MATA did. And I still sometimes meet someone who says to me “Oh, you’re that guy!” Thanks y’all.
I am delighted to join the celebration of MATA’s bold, fearless, and vigorous championing of the new. When I was invited to perform my Electric Guitar Etudes over ten years ago, MATA already had such a reputation for presenting works of wild newness that nobody blinked an eye to see such a piece on the program. I arrived at the festival ready to perform and came away with my mind expanded. Thank you!
The year is 2018. I am glad we are now talking about diversities in our society, because social and cultural change needs to start from somewhere.
I am proud of having worked at MATA, an organization that for twenty years has been built on this dialogue. For the most part, I think curiosity drives MATA and this curiosity guides MATA as it champions and stands behind the young voices that will ultimately change our cultural landscape.
Ever since I moved to New York City in 2004, I have been a loyal audience for MATA each year. I remember witnessing Missy Mazzoli and David T. Little running around on its behalf. I remember having invigorating conversations with Yotam Haber; hearing his visions for MATA electrified me. When he stepped down, I was inspired to apply for his position, simply because I wanted to be part of that vision.
MATA has given me a tremendous four years to get to know all its composers, musicians, and collaborators, and for me to learn from my peers and my colleagues, Todd, Alex Weiser, and Loren. Our team at MATA has worked hard to realize our composers’ visions, highlighting their voices as much—and as extensively—as we could.
“Social and cultural change needs to start from somewhere.”
This is my last year serving as artistic director for MATA. I want to take this space to thank MATA for having me as part of the family. I will continue to serve on its artistic advisory board; and whatever I will do next, I assure you, will have the stamp of MATA. I also want to thank the massive pool of fellow composers who have served on the rotating MATA panels throughout the years. Thank you for having open ears to all the composers from around the world who submit their work to MATA. Each of us is working hard to be part of this conversation: to have more voices heard and seen.
The time is now. To this present moment, and to our future.
From: Yotam Haber <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 21:28:32 -0400
Cc: Garth MacAleavey
To: R. Luke DuBois
Can you please call me As soon as possible with a desperate max question regarding an Oscar Bianchi piece on tomorrow’s mata festival. It was created at ircam years ago and is now causing serious problems that we can’t seem to solve… Thank you
Having my music presented at MATA was an amazing opportunity that came at just the right time. While I had already had performances in New York City, MATA felt like an especially good fit for my music, and I loved the energy of the festival. My friend and musical colleague saxophonist Brian Sacawa performed my work Tourmaline, and we both received extremely positive press from The New York Times, which was an amazing added bonus! A few years later I served on the panel making programming decisions for that year’s MATA, and that remains my favorite panel experience. The wonderful diversity of music presented, and the focus and enthusiasm of the festival organizers continues to be a huge inspiration. Happy Birthday, MATA!
Congratulations to MATA for twenty years of being such an important force in new music, and supporting young musical voices. I vividly remember Lisa and Eleonor contacting me to invite me to write for the Harry Partch instruments for the 2000 MATA Festival. I was in residence in the factories of Nuremberg, Germany, at the time. I was thrilled and taken aback; it was a musical fantasy come true! Although the instruments have been moved, I still carry the key to the old studio in Montclair, NJ, on my keychain to remind me of the incredible opportunity that MATA gave me to touch a part of musical history and work with the instruments that Partch, one of my heroes, built with his own hands. It’s an honor to be invited to write a new piece for Liminar, a dynamic young group, to commemorate two decades of MATA.
MATA’s open call says: We accept all music from fully notated to improvised, sound art, video, electronic, found instruments, toys, installations and everything in between. That phrase really made me very happy. I’m celebrating the 20th anniversary of MATA like many other composers who like to walk there: in between. Very few experiences in my life have given me so many satisfactions as having been part of MATA. Happy Anniversary! And many more years!
MATA gave me my first proper, paid commission 12 years ago, when I was just out of school. I felt like someone special, professionally uncompromising, and absolutely committed had noticed my music and cared deeply about bringing it to light. When I served as Artistic Director, I carried that mission with me: to help composers not only present their best work on an international platform, but to also introduce audiences to electrifying, essential music of our time. I am proud each moment I hear of the superb achievements of our ever-expanding MATA family. To another 20 years of inspiring sounds!
It is a tremendous thing to look back at the history of MATA and its important mission through two decades of featuring young, emerging composers. As a young composer, when I was just starting out, I was honored to have my music featured. It was an important stepping stone, and one for which I am extremely grateful.
MATA asked me to perform my early voice/violin songs before I even had any inclincation that they were more than my own private etudes, and that perhaps they were worth listening to. Their faith in me and what I had to offer was a really an important stone in the path that brought me to where I am today. Thank you MATA, for being visionary, generous and so incredibly supportive of a generation of composers and musicians! Mwah!
“I showed up at the MATA office in Williamsburg to find an eviction notice on the door.”
A story of the indestructible MATA: I was appointed as Executive Director of MATA in 2010, taking over from my good friend Missy Mazzoli, and joining Artistic Director Yotam Haber at the helm of the organization. On the first day of what was to be a three week-long transition period, I showed up at the MATA office in Williamsburg to find an eviction notice on the door: the building had been condemned by the city, and all tenants had to leave immediately. All of MATA’s stuff was inside: archives, computers, and most importantly, all of the recent score submissions. We managed to remove everything, loaded it into Nathan Koci’s pickup truck, and tried to figure out what to do next. After a brief stint in Missy’s living room we moved to Exapno, where we camped out for a week or so while frantically looking for a new office. Yotam found the new space—the current office on West Broadway—and we moved in right away. It was an adventurous start to my tenure as ED.
My MATA commissioned piece in 2008 was my very first performance in New York. This fact alone was thrilling on its own yet I was even more taken by the high level of musicianship and ingenious programming of the festival. On the night of the premiere, one surprise happened that took my breath away: after the last sound of the piece when the clapping started, The Knights chamber orchestra conductor Eric Jacobsen gestured in my direction inviting me to the stage. And then I heard a chorus of orchestra musicians saying my name out loud. Louder and louder with each repetition! And they were pronouncing it correctly, which is quite hard to do with such an unusual Lithuanian name as Žibuoklė. Chills were running up and down my spine because at that very moment, I felt not only a part of the MATA family, but also validated and accepted as a part of the New York music community.
Looking back, it is perhaps the vision of MATA’s founders that is most remarkable to me. At the time, performance opportunities were scarce for young composers, but the MATA model has now been replicated far and wide. That MATA continues with its mission essentially unchanged is evidence enough that what Eleonor, Lisa and Philip started was rooted in something vital and important.
Missy Mazzoli (MATA Executive Director 2007-2010) performing at the 2007 MATA Festival.
“MATA continues to be an important model for inclusiveness in our increasingly divided world.”
I came into the MATA fold, first as guest curator under co-founder Lisa Bielawa and then as Artistic Director from 2008 to 2010, after several years of searching for my place in the NYC music world. I was fairly active as a player, was becoming more so as a composer, and had recently discovered a skill set for producing and curating. Joining the MATA community provided the necessary space I needed to fully engage all three directions simultaneously. That is one of the organization’s greatest strengths, the creation of a common space and network for artists to come together and share their Work. Not the dreaded “boundary crossing” of press releases but that of direct one-to-one connection through the larger project of music making. While it didn’t necessarily invent that space, MATA continues to be an important model for inclusiveness in our increasingly divided world.
—Chris McIntyre (MATA Artistic Director, 2008-2010, and current MATA Board Member)
Running riot in New York in my 20s punctuated by subversion into the depths of the red basement of Le Poisson Rouge for MATA was both informative and formative! The energy of the place and the festival wound up the creativity machine, setting in motion for months and years to come! Every year when it’s time for the festival I lament not being present. And to relive those early times in my memory keeps things real! So thanks MATA for your kick start and awesomeness!
MATA was my first window into the exciting new music community in NYC. It allowed me to discover new paths, explore new possibilities, connect with other inspiring sound makers, and to develop my own voice. It’s an incredible honor to be a part of the MATA family and to see it continue to develop in a way that attests to their deep commitment to the young voices of our generation.
In my years with MATA, I have heard every kind of music being produced by emerging composers everywhere. I attend every concert, and each MATA Festival tells me where “contemporary classical music” is right now, and where it’s going. There’s nothing like it.
“MATA provided some of my earliest live exposure to new music.”
MATA provided some of my earliest live exposure to new music when I first moved to New York in the late ‘90s and hadn’t yet decided to become a composer. The diversity of the programming struck and inspired me, and gave me a sense of where in the world my music might belong. Nine years later I was enormously honored to be programmed by MATA, sharing a program with music every bit as diverse and eclectic as I’d heard almost a decade earlier, from young composers all around the world. There is no other contemporary music festival in New York as broad-mindedly supportive of young talent as MATA; may it continue to support and inspire emerging composers for many decades to come.
I guess I should have known better when I took the job of Executive Director of MATA in 2012, because since then my days—and sometimes nights—are one long, seemingly intractable, problem solving session: last minute hotels, emergency visa applications, letters to consular officers around the world, back-up contrabass recorder players, renting and insuring an event in a swimming pool, finding money where there is none. All this on top of more grant applications than I can count, budgets, programs, marketing, trying again and again to find time to organize the archives and clean the office.
“A cosmopolitan vision of what music should be…”
I joke to myself that I’m the hardest working person in new music. Through it all are the things that make it worthwhile. I have had the thrill to have my hands on the pulse of the world’s contemporary music, guide one of New York’s most vital cultural organizations, and promote a cosmopolitan vision of what music should be.
So Percussion got a chance to do a MATA show at LPR a while back and had the awesome chance to commission a new piece from Nicole Lizée, Dystopian Suite, that we toured the next couple of years and led to another work with Nicky playing with us called White Label Experiment. On that show, we also premiered Proximity by one of my best friends of all time, Cenk Ergün. MATA makes it happen and does it right! Congrats on birthday number 20!
John Barth describes life as a river and you encounter and re-encounter people as the boat comes ashore from time to time. MATA has been the shore of my musical timeline since 2002. Back then, I remember getting the call from Lisa Bielawa that my piece was being programmed, and how exciting that was. I was home on break at my childhood home, still a graduate student. After the concert, there was a big review in the Times featuring a glorious photo of Taimur Sullivan and Matthew Gold playing my piece. The festival was electric. I met so many composers from around the country and abroad, many with whom I am still in touch. In 2008 on MATA, I got to perform my vocal concerto in NYC. And, now, I am honored and happy to be performing again on MATA 2018. Life is different, I’m a grey-haired professor now, but just as excited. Thanks, MATA, for all these years.
I spent about five wonderful, fascinating years filled with learning and discovery helping to run MATA from Fall 2011 to Spring 2016. Every year I was astounded by the incredible diversity of artistry and thought represented in the music we would receive from around the world, as well as the kindness and generosity of spirit brought to the festival by the visiting musicians and composers. As a composer I deeply value the chance to imagine what music can be and what music can say, and there is no organization devoted to as international and eclectic a platform for posing these question as MATA. For this MATA is indispensable. I continue to enjoy MATA’s incredible work as an audience member and as a member of its Artistic Advisory Board, and I look forward to the discoveries that each new concert brings.
—Alex Weiser (MATA Director of Operations and Development, 2011-2016)
Being a part of MATA’s composer and performer community has been critical to my career! MATA gave me an early start in NYC in 2003, kept up with my growth and commissioned me for 2016’s Festival. Long Live MATA!
Pico Alt and Amie Weiss (violins), Miranda Silaff (viola), and Jane O’Hara (cello) rehearse Matthew Barnson’s composition Sibyl Tones for a performance during the 2007 MATA Festival at the Brooklyn Lyceum.