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Pondering New Digital Distribution Models and the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence—MPA 2019

A brown wooden table that has stacks of publications on it

The 2019 meeting of the Music Publishers Association, which took place last week in New York City, was a combination of reminiscences of the past and planning for the future, both in terms of legal issues and technology. Aside from the presentation of the annual MPA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Arnold Broido Award for Copyright Advocacy, and the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence, there were reports on the EU Copyright Directive, the USA’s Music Modernization Act, and a lively panel about digital distribution models for musical scores.J

Among the most moving segments of the afternoon was the MPA Administrative Director Brittain Ashford’s presentation of the 2019 MPA Lifetime Achievement Award to Iris Manus of Alfred Music during which she took out a coffee-stained chord handbook published by Alfred that has been a lifelong companion to her. In her equally emotional acceptance speech, Manus talked about her 60 year career at Alfred, transforming with her husband, the late Morty Manus, what was then a small business that published accordion music into a worldwide enterprise that currently has over 150,00 active titles in its catalog. The 2019 Arnold Broido Award for Copyright Advocacy was presented by John Shorney of Hope Music to Elwyn Raymer, President and CEO of the Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA) Action Fund, an initiative that was initiated in order to protect writers’ and publishers’ intellectual property rights and to rewrite the long outdated US copyright law. Raymer’s more than half century career in music publishing and production has encompassed serving as Minister of Music for churches in Arkansas and Texas to being President of Lorenz Creative Services, a leading publisher of scared music, and working with Bertelsmann Music Group to direct and manage BMG’s entry into Contemporary Christian Music.

Brittain Ashford and Iris Manus holding her MPA Lifetime Achievement Award

Brittain Ashford and Iris Manus (this photo and all other photos herein courtesy MPA)

A total of 33 sheet music publications received 2019 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence in a total of 12 award categories. Two of the publications, The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber (Hal Leonard LLC) and String Training, a collection of 80 reproducible worksheets for the beginning to intermediate orchestra classroom or private lesson studio by Kathryn Griesinger (Wingert-Jones Publications) received awards in two different categories. Among the other 2019 award-winning publications were the piano-vocal scores for two operas—David T. Little’s Soldier Songs and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby—as well as Harbison’s For Violin Alone, a solo cello work co-composed by Gabriela Lena Frank and David Fetherolf, a composer who has long served as Frank’s music editor at G. Schirmer, two chamber music compositions by Pierre Jalbert, a previously unpublished newly discovered song by Kurt Weill, and works by Brian Balmages, Mohammed Fairouz, Nancy Galbraith, and Bright Sheng. The awards, which were established in 1964 in honor of the first music engraving in America (by the legendary American Revolution patriot Paul Revere), recognize publications which best exemplify high standards in music engraving, design, and utility.  For the 2019 awards, a total of 121 submissions were evaluated by a group of four judges. Kazue McGregor, Orchestra Librarian for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Ronald Whitaker, who served as Head Librarian for The Cleveland Orchestra from 1975 to 2008, served as the two engraving judges. Nim Ben-Reuven, a Brooklyn-based freelance art director, custom lettering artist, video producer, and installation designer, and Mallory Greg, an Art Director for MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group, served as the two graphics judges. Robert Sutherland, the Chief Librarian for The Metropolitan Opera, serves as the Coordinator of the Paul Revere Awards. (A complete list of the 2019 award winning publications is appended below.)

John Phelan and one of the slides in his PowerPoint presentation

John Phelan explains the ICMP

According to John Phelan of ICMP, the EU Copyright Directive was a way to counter the value gap for music due to an abuse of safe harbor.

John Phelan, the UK-based director general for the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), presented a report on the EU Copyright Directive and the potential worldwide impact of its implementation. According to Phelan, the directive, specifically Article 17 (ex art 13) which mandates upload filters, was a way to counter the value gap for music due to an abuse of safe harbor. Of top 500 YouTube videos, 486 are music-based and the average song on YT, a great many of which are uploaded without consent of the rights’ holders, is listened to more than 80,000 times by YT’s 1.9 billion monthly users, for which remuneration is negligible. Despite intense lobbying efforts mounted by YouTube’s parent company Google, the measures passed in the European parliament in late March.  After that, entertainment, media, copyright and trademark lawyer Corey Field gave a presentation on the newly Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law in the United States on October 2018. Among the notable aspects of the new law is that there is now protection for pre-1972 sound recordings, but no termination rights. He also noted that Karyn Temple was appointed to serve as the US Register of Copyrights on March 27, 2019 after serving in that role in an acting capacity without official title from October 21, 2016 to March 27, 2019, the longest time that the United States was without an official Register of Copyrights.

There was a lively panel about the digital distribution of musical scores moderated by Brittain Ashford. The four panelists were: Joseph Ciappina, who serves as a band director for Middletown Public Schools in New Jersey; Guy Barash, a composer and the founder of the digital consulting company, Dotted Eighth; Enrique López de Mesa, who serves as the managing director of nkoda, a digital sheet music subscription service that is currently licensed with 90 publishers; and Sara Griffin, the assistant principal librarian of the New York Philharmonic.

Enrique López de Mesa of nkoda said that it would be “foolish if we start pushing technology on people.”

Ashford began the discussion by pointing out than in data collected from the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA) in 2015, only 4 percent of their constituency do not get any requests for digital materials. Griffin was quick to counter, though, that there still is not a lot of “jumping to digital” at professional orchestras since the operations of these organizations are determined by lots of tradition. They “want digital as an option, but not the only thing they do.” They “send digital perusal scores to conductors who don’t want to carry stuff around. But when it comes to concert-time, 99.9% is paper.” López de Mesa concurred saying that while “26% of musicians want digital materials,” it would be “foolish if we start pushing technology on people.” However, Ciappina explained why digital materials are a better option for him.  “As a consumer, I don’t know instrumentation until very late. I go to e-print so I can get stuff immediately. I can’t wait to get materials in the mail. If I can’t view it, I’m less likely to buy it.” However, he also acknowledged that “in terms of tablets, etc., the school system is not quite there yet. We still look to paper because that’s what my 11-year-old can remember to bring to school.”

Joseph Ciappina, Guy Barash, Enrique López de Mesa, and Sara Griffin

Joseph Ciappina, Guy Barash, Enrique López de Mesa, and Sara Griffin

Obviously, one size does not fit all. Griffin pointed out that the New York Philharmonic plans 2 years in advance, which is “very different from a school,” and that performance materials “stay with us forever.” (Their rental parts are kept on “permanent loan,” as per agreements made with publishers.) But Barash believes that there “is a real need for a digital rental system” that is viable, though no one on the panel addressed Ashford’s question about whether there is any digital rental system that could ensure that materials distributed that way could only be accessed temporarily unless there was a prior agreement.

López de Mesa said that nkoda offer non-subscribers a free preview of scores which are stored and displayed as “secure file in our own proprietary format” which he claims is “unhackable.” However, for subscribers, “if you use the service, we know where you are. All our materials come with a warning that they can’t be performed without a rental agreement. We use technology to protect you.” He also said that through this service, nkoda is “also creating a new market for this material: students wanting to study these scores.”

Barash stated that there are currently “two big challenges.” The first is “political”—the conversation “should be more open to find solutions between publishers, orchestras, and tech companies.” The second involves “getting ready for the change to digital.” For publishers, this means having materials that are ready for digital conversion and having proper metadata for all their catalog. For orchestras, it’s about “getting them to learn rather than resist.” And for tech companies, it will require “more listening” to understand the needs of these two constituencies.

Before the 2019 MPA meeting was adjourned, Kathy Fernandes from JW Pepper gave a brief update on copyright education. The MPA has created a power point presentation which is accessible and downloadable from the MPA website so it can be used in schools and universities to give students a greater understanding of copyright and its benefits to society.

MPA annual meeting attendees examine the 2019 Paul Revere Award-winning scores

MPA annual meeting attendees examine the 2019 Paul Revere Award-winning scores

The 2019 Paul Revere Award winners

The 2019 Paul Revere Award winners are:

Cover Design Featuring Photography

First Prize
Soldier Songs piano/vocal score of the opera by David T. Little
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc./Hendon Music

Second Prize
String Training by Kathryn Griesinger
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
Sousa’s Marches – as He Performed Them by Keith Brion
Meredith Music Publications

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements

First Prize
Peaceful Piano Solos
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize TIE
Baroque and Classical Masterworks for Strings
Wingert-Jones Publications

More Masterworks for Strings
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
Canzona by Peter Mennin
Carl Fischer Music

Book Design in Popular Music

First Prize
Ragtime Fingerstyle Ukulele arrangements by Fred Sokolow
Hal Leonard LLC

Book Design in Concert & Educational Music

First Prize
Vaideology, basic music theory for guitar players, by Steve Vai
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize
String Training by Kathryn Griesinger
Wingert-Jones Publications

Third Prize
The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber
Hal Leonard LLC

Choral Music Notesetting

First Prize
Simple Settings for SAB Choirs, Volume 1
Hope Publishing Company

Second Prize
Christ the Lord is Risen Again by Donald McCullough
MorningStar Music Publishers

Third Prize
Revelation 19 by Jeffrey LaValley arranged for gospel chorus by Mark Hayes
Hope Publishing Company

Keyboard Music Notesetting

First Prize
Roman Sketches, op. 7 by Charles T. Griffes
Alfred Music

Second Prize
El Male Rachamim by Mohammed Fairouz
Peermusic Classical

Third Prize
Fantaisie-tableaux (Suite No. 1), op. 5, for two pianos, by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Alfred Music

Guitar Music Notesetting

First Prize
The Evolution of Fingerstyle Guitar by Laurence Juber
Hal Leonard LLC

Second Prize
The Great Arpeggios Book, 54 Pieces & 23 Exercises for Classical and Fingerstyle Guitar by John Hill
Hal Leonard LLC

Piano-Vocal Notesetting

First Prize
The Great Gatsby, piano/vocal score of the opera by John Harbison
Associated Music Publishers

Second Prize
“Lied vom blinden Mädchen” (“Song of the Blind Girl”) by Kurt Weill
European American Music Corp.

Third Prize
Foursquare Cathedral, a setting of five poems by Todd Boss for bass-baritone and piano, by Matt Boehler
ECS Music Company

Solos Notesetting, with accompaniment

First Prize
Introduction and Variations on “Trockne Blumen”, D. 802, by Franz Schubert (arranged for cello and piano)
International Music Company

Second Prize
Concerto in A Major, K. 622, for clarinet and piano, by W.A. Mozart (arranged by Charles Neidich)
Keiser Music

Third Prize TIE
Concerto, opus 8, for violin and piano, by Leo Portnoff
International Music Company

Zigeunerweisen, by Pablo de Sarasate (arranged for flute and piano by Jasmine Choi)
Theodore Presser Company

Solos Notesetting, without accompaniment

First Prize
Serenata, for solo cello, by Gabriela Lena Frank and David Fetherolf
Schirmer, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers

Second Prize
For Violin Alone by John Harbison
Associated Music Publishers

Third Prize
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Nancy Galbraith
Subito Music Corporation

Chamber Ensemble, Score and Parts Notesetting

First Prize
Wind Dances, for piano and wind quintet, by Pierre Jalbert
Schott Helicon Music Corp.

Second Prize
Light, Line, Shadow for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and percussion, by Pierre Jalbert
Schott Helicon Music Corp.

Third Prize TIE
String Quartet No. 5 “The Miraculous” by Bright Sheng
Schirmer, Inc.

The Emperor and the Nightingale, for narrator, violin and piano, by Robert Mann
Peermusic Classical

Collated Music Notesetting

First Prize
Tower of Inspiration by Robert Thurston (wind band)
Excelcia Music Publishing, LLC

Second Prize
Pageant by Vincent Persichetti (wind band)
Carl Fischer Music

Third Prize
Dream Machine by Brian Balmages (wind band)
The FJH Music Company Inc.

An Unassuming Musical Polymath with Great Curiosity and Knowledge—Remembering André Previn (1929-2019)

A photo of two Caucasian men, one in a red shirt and one in a blue shirt, sitting in a house together

André Previn died before completing his final commission and, since his death, I’ve been absorbed in realizing it for the premiere at Tanglewood on August 3 of this year. The work is a monodrama about Homer’s Penelope, with text written by Tom Stoppard and a surprise actor in a speaking role. Commissioned by The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Ravinia Festival, Aspen Music Festival and School, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Penelope is to be performed by The Emerson Quartet with pianist Simone Dinnerstein and soprano Renée Fleming. Now that it’s in shape to get to rehearsals, I have time to think and write about André.

André Previn kept his four Oscars on the floor behind chairs at the dining table.

I think of the years I spent with André with great joy. His deep musicianship accrued many accolades, yet he was unassuming, if pleased, about the honors and awards. He kept his four Oscars on the floor behind chairs at the dining table. At Christmastime he’d tie red ribbon bows around their necks; a half-dozen of his Grammys were piled on a high shelf gathering dust and tarnish while his OBE and Presidential Medal of Freedom were sometimes out and other times in a drawer somewhere. If one asked, he would show them with pleasure, but it was conversation about music, and playing it, that most animated him.

He was a musical polymath with great curiosity and knowledge of all manner of music. Some, knowing only the externalities of his musical life, may be surprised at the breadth of his curiosity. Once when I went to see him he opened with, “Do you know the music of Wallingford Riegger?” “Yes,” I said. “Well, it’s devilishly difficult. I’ve been studying it, and I’d never write anything like it but it’s fascinating!” I never heard him disparage any other composers or styles of music; the worst he would say was, “I admit that the very experimental music, I just don’t get it. And I get nervous when it gets played because I don’t know what the point is.”[1] Interestingly, he was much more free in his critique of movie music, especially from the movies he’d watch on TCM during bouts of insomnia. He once recounted to me how he had turned on the channel and watched a movie, becoming enchanted by the music. He wanted to get to the closing credits so he could see who wrote it, and it was he! He got a good laugh out of that.

Commission or no, André was always writing. He was always looking for things to write for Renée Fleming, and he wrote all manner of works for Anne-Sophie Mutter because he loved the way she played. Let him speak to this:

…[I]t was Carnegie Hall. They were doing commissions for an anniversary. And they said they wanted me to get together with Toni Morrison. And I said, ”Wonderful!” And I wrote some songs with Toni Morrison’s words. And I played them for Anne-Sophie and she said, ”Will you write me something?” I said, ”Sure. I’d love it.” And I wrote her a piece called Tango Song and Dance, which has been done a lot, and I never looked back. I’m always writing something for her; always. And she always plays them. It’s very dear of her.[1]

And … with Renée, my recommendation to all composers is, if they write something for voice, write it for Renée.[1]

André hated writing program notes; he always preferred letting the music speak for itself. However, there were times when he felt very pressured to do so by commissioners. One time, he came into the office complaining about needing to write a program note and I fed him a line to start one. He looked askance at me and we continued speaking about his next commission. About five minutes into that, he stopped, looked at me, and gave a second line. From there we were off and running, composing a program note which was fabricated out of whole cloth and which, not surprisingly, figured in the newspaper critic’s [positive] review. That always makes me think of Martha Graham renaming the piece Aaron Copland wrote for her; the myth of the music which her name engendered carries to this day. Years later André would tell the story of that note as if it were the honest truth; who knows, maybe he sublimated it.

On one of his orchestral works the opening tempo is “Tempo I”. In another there’s no opening tempo at all.

He was also extremely sparing with tempi and dynamic markings. I often get phone calls or emails at work telling me there’s been some kind of printing error because these things are missing. On one of his orchestral works the opening tempo is “Tempo I”. In another there’s no opening tempo at all. I had a phone call from a conductor about that latter one while André was in Japan. He wanted to know what the opening tempo was. I told him to hold on a minute while I got the score. I started reading and turned to page 2 where there was a run in the clarinets which made me think, “too fast.” I started again, then told the conductor, “I’d say about q = 108.” When André returned from Japan I called him and asked him what speed he’d opened the piece at when he conducted the premiere. He thought a moment and said, “I think around q = 112.”

I always thought André just trusted that people who were schooled in the same art and discipline as he would be able to infer from his scores what he wanted. I like that idea. But when I asked him specifically about this habit he said:

Well, you see, I learned as a conductor, if you’ve got a good player playing, leave ‘em alone. First. And then if he does something that you don’t like, then you can suggest, not tell him, maybe a different way. But there are so many conductors I know, really good conductors, like [deleted] is a marvelous conductor, but he used to, you know, the first chord, ‘No, no, no!’ Please, let them play, because they’ll fix something long before the conductor will anyway.[1]

André Previn just wrote for the love of writing. He never revised…

He also just wrote for the love of writing. He never revised, and if he didn’t like a piece he’d written he wouldn’t have to hear it again so he’d just go on to the next one. He once told me, “I write music I like; I don’t expect it to last.” But he did admit to liking some of his music: He liked Owls, “And I liked two of the three trios that I wrote. I wrote a trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano, and I like that. That was a long time ago. It was very Poulenc-like. But I enjoyed that very much. I don’t know, I’m so primitive.”[1] André was generally loath to name works of his that he liked, and was generally dismissive of many things he’d done–or, a la Schubert, he’d ask, “I wrote that?” Still, I know from other conversations that besides the Poulenc-like trio, he was quite fond of his Violin Concerto [the Anne-Sophie] and the Nonet (which he also wrote for ASM), as well as Honey and Rue and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. André also very much liked his operas A Streetcar Named Desire and Brief Encounter. I would personally add to my favorites list the Harp Concerto (which he enjoyed at the time), and I think both the Concerto for Orchestra and Penelope, which are yet to be premiered, will be keepers as well.

The other André, of the popular world… I once told him I had found his album, A Touch of Elegance, at a Goodwill store near his apartment. He asked me how much I paid for it. I told him, “a dollar” and he immediately said, “Oh, you paid too much.” And he meant it. There was much schmaltz in those days. Then there was his long relationship with Oscar Peterson, whom he admired greatly:

Oscar Peterson was some kind of really towering pianist. My God.…he liked me and we were friends. And the last time he played at a club in New York was at the Blue Note. And I went to see him. And they gave me a table which was as far away from the piano as I am from you [about three feet]. And Oscar played, played his usual amazing things, and he looked up and he saw me. And he stopped and he pointed me and he said, “I thought I got rid of you.” Nice. Nice compliment.[1]

If you’ve never seen the BBC4 hour-long show with André interviewing, and then jamming with, Peterson you should look it up on YouTube; the complete show is here:

I’m cueing and extracting parts from Penelope now. Soon we’ll start rehearsals for the premiere. It will be a pleasure to “speak” with André once again.


Direct quotes from Previn in Conversation, with David Fetherolf, Editor/Production Manager, G. Schirmer/AMP, original edit.

Other quotes from memory.

A Week of New Music Celebrations: the BMI Student Composer Awards, the Ceremonial & the Underwood Readings

The 2019 BMI Student Composer Award winners with Deirdre Chadwick and Ellen Taaffee Zwilich (Photo by Amanda Stevens for BMI).

The close proximity of the BMI Student Composer Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Ceremonial, and the American Composers Orchestra’s Underwood New Music Readings, which all took place in New York City last week, have turned the penultimate week of May into a multi-day celebration of new music.

On May 21, the BMI Foundation celebrated the nine winners of the 2019 BMI Student Composer Awards.

On May 21, the BMI Foundation, in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), announced the nine winners of the 2019 BMI Student Composer Awards at a private ceremony held at Tribeca 360° presided over by BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick, BMI Senior Vice President of International and Global Policy Ann Sweeney, and renowned American composer and permanent Chair of the Student Composer Awards Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez received the William Schuman Prize, awarded for most outstanding score, and Lucy McKnight received the Carlos Surinach Prize, awarded to the youngest winner. Another one of the 2019 winners, Matthew Schultheis, received his third consecutive award this year. In what has now become an annual tradition, prior to the announcement of the award winners, an award-winning work from a previous year was performed in its entirety. The Aizuri Quartet performed Carrot Revolution composed by Gabriella Smith which received a BMI Student Composer Award in 2018.

Here is a complete list of the 2019 award winners:

Amelia Brey (b. 1994): Ar(i/e)as for wind quintet

Henri Colombat (b. 1997): Goûts égouttés… gouttes for brass dectet

Kevin Day (b. 1996): Havana for wind ensemble

Liam Kaplan (b. 1997): 8 Preludes for piano

Lucy McKnight (b. 1998): plunge for two violas, cello, two basses

Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez (b. 1995): Toys in a Field for orchestra

Matthew Schultheis (b. 1997): The Temptation of Saint Anthony for chamber ensemble

Tyler Wayne Taylor (b. 1992): Liberation Compromise for 17 players

Anna-Louise Walton (b. 1991): Basket of Figs for flute, clarinet, and voice

Additionally, 18-year-old Katie Palka received an honorable mention for her composition Stolen Flight for string quartet.

Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, Shawn Jaeger, and David Schober served as preliminary panelists this year. The final judges were Kati Agócs, Donald Crockett, Stephen Jaffe, and Elena Ruehr. (More information about each of the 2019 award-winning composers and their works is available on the BMI website.)

Eighteen composers received awards during the 2019 American Academy of Arts and Letters Ceremonial and three composers were inducted as new members.

On May 22, the annual American Academy of Arts and Letters Ceremonial took place during which numerous awards were given to writers, visual artists, and composers and new members of the academy were inducted.

Composers Chen Yi and Meredith Monk were inducted as the newest music department academicians. In addition, Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, who was unable to attend, was inducted as a foreign honorary member.

Four Arts and Letters Awards in Music (formerly Academy Awards) of $10,000 each, plus another $10,000 toward the recording of one work, are given annually to acknowledge a composer who has arrived at his/her own voice. The 2019 awardees are David Fulmer, Stacy Garrop, Wynton Marsalis, and John Musto. Elizabeth Ogonek was the recipient of the 2019 Walter Hinrichsen Award, established by the C. F. Peters Corporation, which is given for the publication of a work by a mid-career American composer. Gity Razaz received the $10,000 Andrew Imbrie Award, which has been awarded annually since 2012 to a mid-career composer of demonstrated artistic merit. Christopher Cerrone and Reinaldo Moya were the two 2019 recipients of the annually awarded $15,000 Charles Ives Fellowships which are awarded to young composers of extraordinary gifts. In addition, $7500 Charles Ives Scholarships were awarded to six composers—Ryan Lindveit, Sato Matsui, Paul Mortilla, Tanner Porter, Marco-Adrián Ramos Rodríguez (BMI’s 2019 William Schuman Prize winner), and Miles Walter—for continued study in composition, either at institutions of their choice or privately with distinguished composers. Two Goddard Lieberson Fellowships of $15,000, which are given annually to young composers of extraordinary gifts, were awarded to Travis Alford and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Finally, two musicals received 2019 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater: Bhangin’ It by Sam Willmott (music and lyrics), Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza (book); and The Lucky Ones by Abigail and Shaun Bengson who wrote the music and lyrics and also co-wrote the book with Sarah Gancher.

In addition, composer David Del Tredici delivered this year’s Blashfield Address, a speech toward the end of the award announcements which is a hallmark of the Ceremonial. Del Tredici’s talk, “The Gift of Gayness: A Tell-All,” was provocative, heartfelt, and often extremely funny.

(A complete list of the American Academy of Arts and Letter’s 2019 award recipients in every discipline is available on the Arts and Letters website.)

Six composers were featured in the 2019 American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, three of whom have received commissions to write new works for ACO.

Finally, on May 23 and 24, American Composers Orchestra, under the direction of Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot, read through works by six composers during the 28th Annual Underwood New Music Readings at New York University’s Frederick Loewe Theater. The six composers and their works are:

Rodrigo Castro (b. 1985): La gaviota – Essay No. 1 for Orchestra
Chen Yihan (b. 1994): Spiritus
inti figgis-vizueta (b. 1993): Symphony for the Body
Jack Hughes (b. 1992): Needlepoint
Jihyun Kim (b. 1989): A Tramp in the Assembly Line
Aaron Israel Levin (b. 1995): In Between

Following the readings, three of the composers received commissions for new works that will be performed on future ACO concerts: Jack Hughes received the 2019 Underwood Commission, Aaron Israel Levin received the 2019 Audience Choice Commission, and Jihyun Kim received the Consortium for Emerging Composers Commission. The Underwood Commission was chosen by the mentor composers and the conductor. The Audience Choice Commission, which is now in its 10th year, was determined by paper ballot at the run-through performance on May 24. The new Consortium Commission was chosen by ACO Leadership and Alabama Symphony Orchestra/American Youth Symphony Music Director Carlos Izcaray and the resulting work will be performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and American Youth Symphony (Los Angeles) in addition to ACO.

Jack Hughes, Aaron Israel Levin, and Jihyun Kim. (Photos courtesy American Composers Orchestra)

Jack Hughes, Aaron Israel Levin, and Jihyun Kim. (Photos courtesy American Composers Orchestra)

(More information about the 2019 Underwood New Music Readings and the six composers being featured this year is available on the American Composers Orchestra website.)

Ellen Reid Wins 2019 Pulitzer Prize

A woman sitting on a blue couch

p r i s m, an opera by Ellen Reid, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The annually awarded $15,000 prize is for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the previous year. The Pulitzer citation for p r i s m, which was a co-production of LA Opera and the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York City and features a libretto by Roxie Perkins, describes it as “a bold new operatic work that uses sophisticated vocal writing and striking instrumental timbres to confront difficult subject matter: the effects of sexual and emotional abuse.” (The award is the 2nd Pulitzer Prize for a work that was incubated by the PROTOTYPE Festival. The previous winner was Angel’s Bone by Du Yun, which received the prize in 2017.)

Here is NewMusicBox’s talk with Ellen Reid from earlier this year…

Click here to read a transcript of the entire conversation.

Also nominated as finalists for the 2019 music prize were: Still a 55-minute solo piano composition by James Romig inspired by the paintings of Clyfford Still that was released in a performance by Ashlee Mack on a CD recording issued by New World Records; and Sustain, a 35-minute orchestral work by Andrew Norman which was premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In addition, a special citation was awarded posthumously to Aretha Franklin.

The jury for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize was: Scott Cantrell, Classical Music Critic, Dallas, Texas (Chair); John V. Brown, Jr., Director, Jazz Program and Professor Of The Practice Of Music, Duke University; David Harrington, Artistic Director/Violinist, Kronos Quartet; and composer Raymond J. Lustig.

A Newly Endowed Residency Program for Underrepresented Composers

orchestra in a concert hall

Sitting in the Oberlin Conservatory’s large rehearsal room listening to the musicians of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra (NOYO) rehearse for the world premiere of Kari Watson’s Morning Music for Fish, their excitement in anticipation of the concert is palpable—and infectious. It’s a welcome sensation: the extraordinary variety and vibrancy of music-making in 2019 is undeniable, yet so is the constant hand-wringing that now seems to be a permanent feature of the classical music discourse. But if the futures of arts education and Western concert music are really as dire as they sometimes appear, why are the seventy northeastern Ohio high-schoolers in this room so psyched to be playing music nobody’s ever played before? The short answer: because of Arlene and Larry Dunn, whose most recent gift to NOYO has endowed its composer-in-residence program.

The NOYO Philharmonia Orchestra’s world premiere performance of Kari Watson’s Morning Music for Fish in Finney Chapel on March 31, 2019. (David Pope, conductor)

If you’re a jelly bean in the great glass jar that is New Music Social Media, it’s a near-certainty that you’ve encountered Arlene and Larry Dunn in the form of some virtual avatar or other. I first crossed their path as a graduate student around seven years ago; they must have seen my byline here on NewMusicBox and assumed that I was a bona fide member of the field (an extension of the benefit of the doubt that no student composer could forget). It’s safe to say Arlene and Larry are the biggest fans of contemporary music in the United States who are not personally in the business. To practitioners who inhabit our small world, that anyone not in it for themselves could be a fan can come as a mild surprise: it’s a difficult world to love sometimes, exasperating even when everyone is treating each other with civility (which they don’t, always). But Arlene and Larry are indefatigable advocates both for what new music is and—crucially—for what it should be.

Arlene and Larry Dunn are indefatigable advocates both for what new music is and—crucially—for what it should be.

The Dunns have found a vector for that advocacy in the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, on whose board Larry has served. “For us, it is essential that the NOYO composer-in-residence program is specifically focused on commissioning work from a composer of underrepresented status: people of color, women, LGBTQ,” says Arlene. “The only way we are going to move towards racial and gender equity in the arts, or anywhere else, is by taking such concrete steps.” Showing young musicians that composers are not found exclusively in the ranks of the white male dead is a vital part of NOYO’s mission to provide exceptional musical education through a variety of performance opportunities for participants of all backgrounds in an inclusive community of learning and growth. When NOYO’s artistic staff puts a composition on a high school musician’s stand by a composer who looks like them, that’s not just a way to broaden their sonic horizons: it’s a way to demonstrate that anyone can be a composer, that everyone has an aesthetic position to take, and that those positions warrant respect.

Arlene and Larry Dunn

Arlene and Larry Dunn. (Photo by Tina Tallon)

To that end, the Dunns decided to take action with a transformative gift to NOYO: a contribution to the organization’s 50th anniversary endowment campaign that will endow the position of composer-in-residence in perpetuity. Each season, NOYO solicits proposals from Oberlin Conservatory composition students—students, in particular, from underrepresented populations—to write a piece for NOYO’s advanced Philharmonia Orchestra to premiere on its March concert. The selected composers will now each be known as an Arlene and Larry Dunn Composer-In-Residence.

The Dunns’ transformative gift to NOYO will endow the position of composer-in-residence in perpetuity.

Why now? As it happens, 2019 doesn’t just mark NOYO’s 50th anniversary—it also marks Arlene and Larry’s. “It’s a delightful synchronicity that NOYO’s 50th anniversary and our 50th wedding anniversary are happening in the same year,” Arlene explains. “We were looking for opportunities to celebrate our 50th that benefit the community, and giving to the NOYO endowment campaign to secure the future of the composer-in-residence program was a perfect fit.” For NOYO’s part, the organization is readier now than ever for such a program. “[Former executive director] Mike Roest asked me to join the board in 2014 to help re-energize the organization after some lean years,” says Larry. “What NOYO has accomplished since then, under Mike’s leadership and the team that has succeeded him, is truly remarkable, in terms of number of participants and the growing breadth of program offerings.” And the position that NOYO has staked out with regard to new work is bold: in addition to the Dunn Composer-In-Residence Program, NOYO offers its high-school-age participants the opportunity to invent their own music in the Lab Group, a collaborative composing ensemble, and to hear their compositions played by Oberlin Conservatory musicians through a composition competition. “One of my ambitions as a board member was to encourage the organization to engage more with the music of right now, by commissioning and creating new works,” Larry recalls. “To see this come to fruition with the composer-in-residence program and the Lab Group is very gratifying.” Arlene concurs: “We’re proud to be supporting NOYO in two dimensions that deeply resonate with us: striving for social justice and equity in serving the community and sparking and unleashing young people’s creativity.”

But NOYO’s young musicians, who come to Oberlin from all over northern Ohio each week to rehearse, aren’t the only beneficiaries of the program. Oberlin Conservatory composition professor Jesse Jones can vouch for the residency’s value to his students, including current composer in residence Kari Watson and 2017-18 composer-in-residence Soomin Kim (retroactively included in the program):

I have witnessed first-hand the artistic and professional growth this incredible program has provided them; they are afforded the rare opportunity to workshop ideas and receive feedback on their works in progress; they build a professional working relationship with both the conductors and instrumentalists; they get to practice effective verbal communication with a large ensemble; they even gain first-hand teaching experience by mentoring budding composers within the ensemble. The Dunn residency is an indispensable part of our young composers’ education here at Oberlin, and I know Kari and Soomin both view it as a high point in their burgeoning musical careers.

Kari Watson

Kari Watson

Watson and Kim have approached the prospect of composing for NOYO’s Philharmonia Orchestra as an invitation to reflect on their own experiences as high school musicians and reacquaint themselves with the joy that youth music-making can bring. “When I went to rehearsals, it really reminded me of when I was young,” says Kim. “I used to play the piano when I was young, and my parents would come to every single little concert I had at school. [Attending NOYO rehearsals] just reminded me a lot of my family and how they used to support me, seeing the parents sitting at the lounge waiting for the kids.” Referring to the upcoming premiere of her Morning Music for Fish, Watson notes that “this piece was a very joyful thing to write. I started this year with aims to write a different dark piece, working slowly and not feeling that much excitement. This piece and the experience refueled my creative love for music making. Going to NOYO rehearsals made me so happy, and I haven’t felt as much joy surrounding music as I have there in so long.”

“The key to success for arts organizations is to make yourself essential to your community.”

The Arlene and Larry Dunn Composer-In-Residence Program is an initiative that weaves together the Dunns’ passions for contemporary music and social justice with NOYO’s mission of access and inclusion. “I’ve long thought that the key to success for arts organizations and other non-profits is to make yourself essential to your community,” says Larry. “And the best way to do that is to deliver something of value to their children, which is exactly what NOYO is doing.” In this case, the “something” is new music—and to the young musicians of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, its value is self-evident.

2019 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Awards Announced

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.

ASCAP 2019 Morton Gould Young Composer Award Winners

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):

In addition, 9 composers received Honorable Mention:

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.

18 Composers Receive 2019 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards

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 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):

Composers and their works receiving Honorable Mention this year are:

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.

The Grammys You Care About Will Not All Be Televised

A grammy award

Aside from the televised presentations during last night’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony (which you can still relive highlights from on the CBS website), The Recording Academy handed out many other awards yesterday at Los Angeles’s Staples Center. Here are some of the ones we are most excited about.

Recordings of works by living American composers triumphed over older repertoire in the Best Opera, Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, and Best Classical Compendium categories.

Terrence Blanchard’s composition Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil), which is included in the soundtrack for the 2018 Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman, was awarded Best Instrumental Composition, winning over compositions by Alexandre Desplat, Jeremy Kittel, and Alan Silvestri, as well as a co-composition by John Powell and John Williams. Aaron Jay Kernis fetched the award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for his Violin Concerto, which was released by Onyx Classics in a performance by James Ehnes with the Seattle Symphony under the direction of Ludovic Morlot, beating out work by Du Yun, Missy Mazzoli, Jake Heggie, and Mason Bates.  The Santa Fe Opera recording of Bates’s nominated composition, the opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, did however capture the award for Best Opera Recording, while Ehnes’s performance of Kernis’s concerto earned him the Best Classical Instrumental Solo accolade over soloists who had mostly recorded older repertoire. (Apart from Craig Morris, who was nominated for his rendition of Philip Glass’s early Piece in the Shape of a Square arranged for multi-tracked trumpets, the other nominees were soloists who had recorded Biber, Bruch, and Bartók.) Recordings of works by living American composers also triumphed over older repertoire in the Best Choral Performance and Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance categories. The winners were: innova’s recording of Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles performed by The Crossing under the direction of Donald Nally; and Nonesuch’s recording of Laurie Anderson’s Landfall performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Best Classical Compendium, a relatively recent Grammy category (established in 2013), was awarded to a JoAnn Falletta/London Symphony Orchestra recording on Naxos American Classics devoted exclusively to the music of Kenneth Fuchs, which includes four works, each of which features a different soloist: Fuchs’s Piano Concerto performed by Jeffrey Biegel; Glacier, a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra with D. J. Sparr; Rush, a concerto for alto saxophone with Timothy McAllister; and Poems of Life, which is a setting of 12 poems by Judith G. Wolf sung by countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. And the award for Producer of the Year, Classical went to Blanton Alspaugh, whose qualifying 2018 recording credits included operas by Jake Heggie (Great Scott), Ricky Ian Gordon (The House Without a Christmas Tree), and Robert Paterson (Three Way) plus the Pentatone compendium Aspects of America, which features Carlos Kalmar-led Oregon Symphony performances of works by Samuel Barber, Kenji Bunch, Sebastian Currier, Christopher Rouse, and Sean Shepherd.

John Daversa picked up three honors for his album American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom.

Miami-based composer/arranger/trumpeter John Daversa picked up three honors for his album American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, an album featuring DACA artists presenting Daversa’s original compositions as well as his arrangements of various standards: e.g. the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim “America,” which originally appeared in the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story; John Philip Sousa’s classic patriotic march Stars and Stripes Forever; Woody Guthrie’s protest song “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)”; and, perhaps most poignantly, Cole Porter’s 1934 “Don’t Fence Me In” (which in our current political climate takes on additional meanings not originally intended by the Montana-based cowboy poet Bob Fletcher, one of whose verses Porter bought and reworked into this song). Aside from receiving the award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album (beating out albums by Orrin Evans, John Hollenbeck, Jim McNeely, and the Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart), Daversa also beat out Regina Carter, Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau, and Miguel Zenón to receive the Best Improvised Jazz Solo accolade for his solo on “Don’t Fence Me In” and also was given the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella award for his version of Stars and Stripes Forever.

The Wayne Shorter Quartet’s disc Emanon received Best Instrumental Jazz Album eking out a victory over recordings led by Tia Fuller, Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau, and Joshua Redman. All Ashore, a Nonesuch album of nine originals performed and collectively composed by progressive bluegrass stalwarts The Punch Brothers (a quintet featuring Chris Thile) was awarded Best Folk Album; Best Bluegrass Album was given to an eponymous recording by the more traditionally oriented group The Travelin’ McCourys. All in all, awards were given out in a total of 84 categories which are all listed on The Recording Academy’s website.

New Music USA Announces Interim Plans During Nationwide Search for New President and CEO

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.

Deborah Steinglass

Deborah Steinglass

“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.

American Composers Orchestra Announces Winners of Two Commissions Chosen From the 2018 Underwood New Music Readings

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.

Tomàs Peire Serrate (photo by Jason Buchanan)

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)

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.)

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.)