Category: Headlines

Exclusive Trailer: Milford Graves Documentary “Full Mantis”

If you read our February 2018 interview with Milford Graves, you may recognize Jake Meginsky’s name. He’s the filmmaker who captured some of the inspired concert footage showing Graves in action, which he generously allowed us to include in our presentation.

Now Meginsky’s Full Mantis, the first-ever feature film about Graves, is set to open nationally on July 13 at Metrograph in New York City, and to celebrate he has shared this exclusive new trailer for the film with us.

Milford Graves and Jake Meginsky will attend the Metrograph screening on the opening night of this theatrical release for a Q and A. The film will then open in Los Angeles on July 27 at Laemmle Royal Beverly Hills. It has screened at the Big Ears Festival, SXSW Film Festival, IFFR Rotterdam, Sheffield Doc Fest, The BFI Southbank, and Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real. It won the Independent Visions prize at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Oak Cliff Film Festival in Dallas. More planned engagements can be found here.

And if you missed it, be sure and check out Aakash Mittal’s excellent conversation with Graves from earlier this year—Milford Graves: Sounding the Universe.

2018 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence Announced

The 2018 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence were announced during the annual meeting of the Music Publishers Association at The Redbury in New York City. The awards, which were established in 1964 in honor of the first music engraving  in America, by Paul Revere, recognize publications which best exemplify high standards in music engraving, design, and utility. Among the 2018 award-winning publications, in a total of 13 award categories, were the piano-vocal scores for two operas—Michael Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost and David T. Little and Royce Vavrick’s Dog Days—as well as Yehudi Wyiner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto “Chiavo a Mano,” orchestral works by John Adams and Anna Clyne, wind band compositions by Richard Danielpour and Erik Morales, a saxophone quartet by Chen Yi, John Corigliano’s recent unaccompanied violin solo Stomp, three compositions by Daniel Dorff, two compositions by Fred Lerdahl, and two publications devoted to the music of William Bolcom.

The 2018 Paul Revere Award winners are:

 Cover Design Featuring Photography

First Prize
Parkway for marimba and vibraphone by Joe Locke
Marimba Productions, Inc.

Second Prize
Kalmen Opperman: A Legacy of Excellence
Carl Fischer Music

Third Prize
Clear Midnight for percussion duo by Michael Burritt
Marimba Productions, Inc.

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements

First Prize
Masquerade for orchestra by Anna Clyne
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

Second Prize
Fiddle & Song: Violin, Book 1
Alfred Music

Third Prize TIE
Beyond the Starlit Skies by Peter Gjon Kadeli
Kandinsky Music

Visual Guitar Theory
Hal Leonard

Popular Music: Design in Folios

First Prize
William Bolcom Piano Works
Edward B. Marks Music Company

Second Prize
The Doors: 50th Anniversary Songbook
Alfred Music

Concert & Educational Music: Design in Folios

First Prize
Moana – The Beat of Your Heart
Hal Leonard

Second Prize TIE
Fiddle & Song: Violin, Book 1
Alfred Music

Saxophone University
Hal Leonard

Choral Music Notesetting

First Prize
Awake the Trumpet’s Lofty Sound by G. F. Handel, arr. Russell Robinson
Carl Fischer Music

Second Prize
Calm on the Listening Ear of Night by Dan Locklair
Subito Music Corporation

Third Prize
A River Glorious by James Mountain arr. Joel Raney
Hope Publishing Company

Keyboard Music Notesetting

First Prize
Sonatas, Opp. 1, 14, 28, 29 by Sergei Prokofiev
Alfred Music

Second Prize TIE
Four Impromptus by Bernard Rands
Schott Music Corporation

Cantos de España, Op. 232 by Isaac Albéniz
Alfred Music

Guitar Music Notesetting

First Prize
The Doors: 50th Anniversary Songbook
Alfred Music

Second Prize
Three Bagatelles by Fred Lerdahl
Schott Music Corporation

Piano-Vocal Notesetting

First Prize
Dog Days by David T. Little
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

Second Prize
Buoso’s Ghost by Michael Ching
ECS Publishing

Full Scores Notesetting

First Prize
Piano Concerto “Chiavi in Mano” by Yehudi Wyner
G. Schirmer, Inc./ Associated Music Publishers

Second Prize
Billy and the Carnival by Daniel Dorff
Theodore Presser Company

Third Prize TIE
Here We Come A-Caroling by Richard Hayman
Hal Leonard

City Noir by John Adams
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

Solos Notesetting, with accompaniment

First Prize
Duo for Violin and Piano by Kenneth Fuchs
Edward B. Marks Music Company

Second Prize
Concertino in F by Gaetano Donizetti (English horn and piano reduction)
Theodore Presser Company

Third Prize
Trombone Concerto by William Bolcom (trombone and piano reduction)
Edward B. Marks Music Company

Solos Notesetting, without accompaniment

First Prize
25 Studies in Scales and Chords by Ludwig Milde (bassoon)
Theodore Presser Company

Second Prize
Stomp by John Corigliano (violin)
G. Schirmer, Inc.

Third Prize
Six Sonatas and Partitas by J.S. Bach (violin)
Carl Fischer Music

Chamber Ensemble Notesetting

First Prize
Not Alone by Chen Yi (saxophone quartet)
Theodore Presser Company

Second Prize
Three Mysteries of Nagasaki by Daniel Dorff (violin & percussion)
Theodore Presser Company

Third Prize TIE
Desert Dusk by Daniel Dorff (alto flute & cello)
Theodore Presser Company

String Quartet No. 4 by Fred Lerdahl
Schott Music Corporation

Collated Music Notesetting

First Prize
Haywire by Erik Morales (wind band)
The FJH Music Company Inc.

Second Prize
Toward the Splendid City, Richard Danielpour (wind band)
G. Schirmer, Inc./ Associated Music Publishers

Third Prize TIE
None But The Lonely Heart, by Peter I. Tchaikovsky arr. José Serebrier (string orchestra)
Peermusic Classical

Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma, arr. Alfred Reed (wind band)
Keiser Southern Music

For the 2018 awards, a total of 114 submissions were evaluated by a group of four judges. Michel Léonard, the Principal Music Librarian for the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and Kazue McGregor, who serves as Orchestra Librarian for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, served as the two engraving judges. Nim Ben-Reuven, a Brooklyn-based freelance art director, custom lettering artist, video producer, and installation designer, and Callie Kant, the Art Director for the women’s workwear company MM.LaFleur, served as the two graphics judges. Robert Sutherland, the Chief Librarian for The Metropolitan Opera, serves as the Coordinator of the Paul Revere Awards. Following the awards ceremony, the award-winning scores will be sent on a tour of libraries across the United States and will be gifted to the New York Library for the Performing Arts upon their return.

Pictured from left to right: Brittain Ashford, Joe Iconis, Nicole Capatasto, and Alex Ordoñez from Alfred Music

Pictured from left to right: Brittain Ashford, Joe Iconis, Nicole Capatasto, and Alex Ordoñez from Alfred Music.

Other presentations during the day included a music publishing legal update by MPA Legal Counsel James M. Kendrick, an anti=piracy update by Erich Carey from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), a demonstration of the music notation software Dorico by Daniel Spreadbury, and a panel on social media moderated by singer-songwriter Brittain Ashford (who is also MPA’s Administrator) which featured writer/performer Joe Iconis, Nicole Capatasto of Matt Ross PR, and Alex Ordoñez from Alfred Music. As in previous years, the afternoon concluded with a cocktail hour featuring live music performed by the John Murchison Trio.

Ed Harsh to Embark on New Endeavor

New Music USA is announcing today my decision to step down as president and CEO this fall. Leading New Music USA has truly been one of the peak experiences of my life, and I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the nearly eleven years I’ve been president (counting back to my taking over leadership of Meet The Composer in 2007, four years before its merger with the American Music Center). I’d like to take the opportunity here to add a little personal perspective on why I think this is a great moment of opportunity for New Music USA, and for me too.

New Music USA has reached a very high level of achievement and function. Its programs are serving its mission well and with innovation. There are a bunch of great indicators of its readiness for next steps. It’s financially stable, with an outstanding staff committed to the new music cause and a wise and supportive board. And it’s fortunate in having an extended collection of supporters and constituents who have proven time and again their belief in the organization’s work and who will continue to live that belief out.

So this is an excellent moment to transition to a new CEO to start the next chapter of the New Music USA story in a dynamic and fast-changing world. Yes, transitions to new leadership can feel uneasy and uncertain. Those feelings are familiar to anyone who deals in The New—artists, for instance! It’s in the nature of what we do that we trade the safety (illusory, by the way) of the status quo for the exciting possibility of the future. I’m eager to work with everyone in the New Music USA family to minimize the uneasiness and maximize the opportunity.

New Music USA is much more than any one individual. It has so much potential and so many ways in which it can move forward and grow in the world.

I think it’s worth making a general point here too, about the relationship of institutional to individual identity. That is, it’s important for the one not to get too closely mixed up with the other. New Music USA is much more than any one individual. As an institution, even as an idea, it has so much potential and so many ways in which it can move forward and grow in the world. I’d like to think the same is true of me, too.

So what’s next for New Music USA? Most importantly, during the transition we’ll continue delivering the same great assemblage of programs and services to our field as we have in the past. At the same time, we’re going to work positively and productively together toward the future, energized by the exciting potential of new leadership partnering with board and staff to carry the organization into the years ahead.

And what’s next for me? Well, after doing everything I can to support my board and staff colleagues throughout the transition, I’m going to embark on a couple of new adventures. For one, I’m going to write a book. Challenged by the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and its potential meaning for artists in our culture, I’m going to examine Kurt Weill as a model and test case for the way individual and artistic values play out in artists’ decisions at times of complexity and crisis. I’m grateful to Kim Kowalke, president of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, for offering me an opportunity, concurrent with my personal writing project, to work as a member of the foundation’s staff to help advance the performance and visibility of Weill’s music around the world.

In writing this post, I want to take the opportunity as well to express my very real gratitude to all those who have served on the boards of Meet The Composer and New Music USA during my tenure. They have given me unflinching support and allowed me to do all that I was able in order to make both organizations the best and most effective they could be. Above all, I can hardly find words enough to honor my staff colleagues over the years. A more dedicated, talented, brilliant group of new music partisans you will never find anywhere. Everything we’ve done we’ve done together. They deserve all the gratitude and support imaginable from those who care about the new music cause.

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

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

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


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

*indicates first-time awardee


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

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

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

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

Uncomfortably Serious and Disarmingly Fun: The Irreplaceable Matt Marks

[Ed note: On May 11, 2018, the composer, performer, and new music organizer Matt Marks, 38, died unexpectedly in St. Louis. Testimonials from friends and colleagues sharing reflections on his humor, candor, and inspiring work as a music maker have poured in across social media where Matt was a vibrant, pull-no-punches presence. Perhaps illustrating the far reach of his impact, many of these messages were prefaced with variations of “I only met him IRL once, but our friendship here meant so much to me.” Online and off, Matt Marks was a point of community connection, and the absence of his voice—especially in the days leading up to the annual New Music Gathering he helped to found—has been difficult for many. Reflecting on this vital role he played in the field, Will Robin offered to share this interview he conducted with Marks in 2015. Spending a bit more time in the company of Matt’s conversation seemed a perfect way to celebrate him. Acknowledgments to Ted Hearne for the title inspiration.—MS]

As a historian of the recent past, I am in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to speak with the musicians whom I study. Most of the composers and performers I interviewed for my dissertation on the so-called “indie classical” scene were in their late twenties to early forties; I never thought to worry that a subject might pass away before we could talk. That one of them died last week is an unfathomable tragedy, from which the world of new music is still reeling. Matt Marks seemed like the kind of composer who would simply exist forever, whose presence would always be palpable. From his work as a founding member of Alarm Will Sound, to his heartfelt and hilarious compositions, to his organizational efforts with New Music Gathering, to his sardonically prolific Twitter account, it was impossible to overlook Matt or his essential role in the new music community.

In September 2015, I spoke with Matt in the sunny Brooklyn apartment that he shared with Mary Kouyoumdjian, a fellow composer who would become his fiancée, and their menagerie of adorable pets. I was primarily interested in his role in the scene around New Amsterdam Records, the label that released his first album, which was a main subject of my dissertation. The condensed interview transcript that you read below thus focuses primarily on Matt’s life, and less on his music; I hope that the many tributes that we will surely be reading in the coming weeks equally emphasize his compelling artistry. But what I think it does address, importantly, is that community doesn’t just “happen”: it requires the tireless labor of people like Matt to make it happen.

For me, despite—or perhaps because of—the incisive humor and postmodern irony that swirled through his music and writing, at the core of Matt’s work was a willingness to be publicly vulnerable, and to provide his listeners and readers with a sense of his entire self. This is maybe why it’s so hard to feel his absence, especially for those of us who primarily knew him virtually. His sometimes-insightful, sometimes-stupid, always-entertaining tweets are all still there; his music is so insistently written in his own voice, with his own voice. All you have to do is check your timeline and cue up his Soundcloud, and there he is again. On our screens, in our ears, in our presence.

Here is our conversation.

Matt Marks, a.k.a mafoo

Will Robin: Could you tell me a little bit about your musical background, up until college?

Matt Marks: I don’t come from a musical background. My dad owned an auto place and my mom worked with him. It was very much a car family: my brother was into cars, worked with them, my dad raced cars, all of that. I’m from Downey, California, so like L.A. I started taking piano lessons in second grade and got pretty into that but was never really a pianist-pianist, just played and had a good facility for it. And then in sixth grade I started French horn. When I got into high school I started getting more serious with horn, and actually the first big thing I did was—kind of out of the blue—auditioned for the LA Philharmonic High School Honor Orchestra, the first year they did that. I won first chair French horn. That kind of gave me a big ego boost, to “Oh, maybe this is something serious.” I joined more orchestras around there and did a bunch of playing: it was very much horn, horn, horn, classical music, Mahler, everything like that. In high school, I had my Stravinsky thing; I listened to The Rite of Spring and had my mind blown. That was a big thing for me, hearing The Rite of Spring. At this point, I was still pretty ignorant of new music or new music groups, or whether that could be a thing.

I went to Eastman. I did my undergrad there in horn. Like a lot of classical musicians, I started off trying to be really good at my instrument, and not necessary being like, “I’m going to win a job,” but just like, “I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.” Practicing horn a lot, playing horn a lot, and trying to win auditions and placements at Eastman, stuff like that. My sophomore or junior year, I played the Ligeti Piano Concerto and that kind of blew my mind, and that was this thing for me of like, “Holy shit, this is a new type of music that I don’t even understand yet.” I did a rare thing for me, which was I took the score to the library and was like, “I’m going to sit down and listen to this because it looks really hard.” And then I got lost on the first page. I was like, “What the fuck is going on?” Which is funny, now, because I listen to it and I’m like, “This is such an easy piece,” [hums and snaps the rhythms] but for some reason there was so much going on in the 12/8 and 4/4 stuff that I couldn’t follow it. I practiced it and learned it: in the horn part there are a lot of microtonal partials and stuff like that, which is something I eventually got kind of into. Within two to three years, I went from “Holy shit. What the fuck is Ligeti? How do I do this?” to then soloing on the Ligeti horn concerto at Miller Theatre for the New York premiere of that, and that was one of Alarm Will Sound’s first gigs. That was my senior year, so that would have been 2002.

WR: What was your involvement at the beginning of Alarm Will Sound, which developed out of Ossia, the student new music ensemble at Eastman?

MM: We came to New York, did that [Miller Theatre concert], and it was a success. I think we got a good review. So that was the first kind of like, “Oh, man, maybe we can actually be a thing.” At that point, there was Kronos Quartet, there was Eighth Blackbird, there was California Ear Unit, and a bunch of string quartets. And from my perspective, all the other chamber groups were people who tried to play CMA [Chamber Music America], and tried to just be a chamber group and play colleges, and play hard music or whatever, or French wind quintets or whatever, or brass quintets—I was very plugged into brass quintets, and that was pretty bro-y. What’s your instrument?

WR: Saxophone.

MM: Oh yeah, sax quartets, you know, all that shit. And there’s something really beautiful, but also kinda bro-y about traditional chamber groups—I don’t know, whatever, there’s probably something bro-y about new music groups. When we started, Alan [Pierson] and Gavin [Chuck] were like, “We want to make this a real thing, an actual group with members.” And I was like, “Sure!” But I also had no idea whether that would stick or what. I graduated and then went to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music for a year, so I was like, “Sure, if you want to fly me down to play some gigs, okay,” and they did. And that was our first year where we had somewhat of a season, and it was weird because I was in London the whole time so I would just periodically fly back. I left and moved back to the states, first to New Haven and then to New York. I moved to New York in 2004, and from then on it was kind of like, “Okay, now I’m here” and it was actually a pretty interesting time to be in New York for new music groups and shit like that.

You know, I’m your typical composer narcissist so I can just keep talking about myself: feel free to stop me.

I wasn’t really particularly interested in playing random orchestral gigs, and eventually working my way up to getting a Broadway show and playing Mama Mia or whatever.

WR: What was it like starting out in New York?

MM: It was pretty shitty for a few years. I knew just a few people in the city, and I was like, “I guess what I’m supposed to do is try to hound gigs, just make friends with horn players and brass players and bro out, and try to get gigs.” And I did that to a certain extent, but it was never really my thing. I wasn’t really particularly interested in playing random orchestral gigs, and eventually working my way up to getting a Broadway show and playing Mama Mia or whatever. So I pretty soon off decided that wasn’t the track for me, or at least I tried for a while and was like “I don’t have the heart for this. This is not my thing.” It took me a couple years, but I started meeting more people who were involved in new music. I eventually went to Stony Brook for a master’s in horn. At that time, I was starting to write music more—mainly electronic music and weird noise music on my sampler, and building my confidence for like, “Maybe eventually this will be something that’s not just on my headphones.”

At that point, there were maybe about seven Alarm Will Sounders living in the city. We started playing together and doing our own things. I started playing with Caleb [Burhans] and stuff. [Soprano Mellissa Hughes] was like, “Oh, you’re making music. You should keep doing that, and I’ll sing on some of it.” So we started working together. And after a few years, we had A Little Death, Vol. 1, my weird pop opera. That just came out of my weird sample pieces and pop pieces, and having an actual good singer to sing on it. I had that and recorded it and didn’t really know what I was going to do with all that material. Around that that time I started writing more for instruments—Mellissa, myself, and James Moore started this weird chamber group called Ensemble de Sade. It was basically this S&M-themed chamber ensemble, but it was also kind of satirical and making fun of itself. This was at that time when – I guess we’re still in that time – when classical music was all about tearing down the borders between audience and performers. Performers were trying to dress more casually, inviting people from the audience to join them. And we were generally into the idea, but we had this idea of being this satirical ensemble that was the opposite of that, like “Fuck that, there should be more distance! The audience is beneath us and we’re the top, and they’re lucky to be here!” So we put on a couple performances where we all dressed in tuxes and we were all super slick looking. We came out and we would be mean looking, play shit and finish and just leave, and not even acknowledge the audience. We had this dominatrix who would instruct the audience when to clap, and they weren’t allowed to clap unless she told them. We had all these restrictions on them—they had assigned seating, they couldn’t sit near their friends, they were really far from each other. I had been reading a bunch of Marquis de Sade at the time, and so this idea came from 120 Days of Sodom. The audience was seated, and they were super restricted and couldn’t talk, and if they did she would yell at them—she had a switch and shit. And then we had this separate section that was a VIP section with friends of ours. We let them sit there and we let them talk, and gave them food and wine. Some of the people who came were pissed about it, but some were like, “OK, I’m in a theatrical thing.” We did a few of those and that was pretty fun, and through that, basically, Ensemble de Sade and Newspeak, the two of us formed the New Music Bake Sale.

Marks on stage

Marks on stage with Mary Kouyoumdjian (left) and Lainie Fefferman
Photo by Tina Tallon

WR: What appealed to you about New Amsterdam Records—which released The Little Death, Vol 1.—and its scene?

I am interested in this idea of classical music that is appealing to people who weren’t bred to appreciate it.

MM: It’s less of a scene as in like, everybody’s going to the same concerts all the time and hanging out, and bro-ing out. It’s more that they tapped into something interesting that was happening in the mid/late 2000s that seemed pretty cool. And it’s funny, because we talk about it in the past tense because maybe it’s not as much of a thing anymore? But I am interested in this idea of classical music that is appealing to people who weren’t bred to appreciate it. I like this idea of classical music, or pop music written by classical musicians, that is a little bit more immediately appealing to people who aren’t trained to understand how classical music works. That doesn’t mean I think that that’s the only music there should be or anything like that, but I think that the people involved in New Amsterdam are all people who are very interested in pop and involve it in their work in some way. Some people more explicitly than others, I think. Some people take ideas from pop music and involve them in music that’s clearly written in a modernist tradition, or in a classical tradition. And some people like me are more explicit with it, where it’s like, “We’re going to make music that’s pretty much like pop, but with influences from outside of pop.” I think that’s interesting, and it was a unique movement or scene or whatever for a while. I think it got pigeonholed by a lot of people outside of New York and also in New York as being like, “Oh, we’re going to make classical music more fun – or more accessible.” I think a lot of people think that it was really focused on accessibility, or trying to be hip.

WR: What were the early New Amsterdam shows you performed in like?

MM: The vibe at that time at a lot of these things was playing for people or going to their shows to support them, but also, “Oh, this will be genuinely good so I’m going to go check this out.” With Little Death, when we did it and I had the small choir, I think I paid them $100 or something like that. I don’t know if that’d be possible now. That was 2010, and those people are now touring all over the world and shit, or teaching at USC. There was something kind of special about that. We got like a hundred bucks for it, but it was a day’s work and it was fine. I do feel a little bit like it’s gotten a bit spread out though: there’s not the same feeling of everybody’s going to come to everybody’s show and everybody’s going to play on everybody’s show.

WR: How has the new music scene changed since you’ve been active in it?

MM: I’ve been in New York eleven years as of September. It’s funny. I feel like I’ve gotten a bit disconnected from it, mainly because I’ve become more involved in my own things, and I’m also kind of a horrible homebody. It’s hard to get me to go out. In the event I have children of my own, I’m a little worried, because I won’t go to any shows. I always find a reason to miss shows. What are the scenes right now that I think are cool? I really dig the vibe of Hotel Elefant, Mary [Kouyoumdjian]’s scene.It’s a good mix. They tend to be younger—late 20s, early 30s. I guess I like that vibe a lot because, similarly to how I was maybe five years ago or whatever, people are just willing to try shit out and do things, and they aren’t necessarily worried about like, “Okay, this many rehearsals means I need to get paid this much and blah blah blah.” There’s a lot of vitality with younger people, because even though they have less economic freedom, they’re just down to do weird shit.

WR: What are the most interesting things you’re seeing these days?

MM: I think San Francisco will be seeing more cool stuff. The fact that we did New Music Gathering there was really interesting. There’s a ton of stuff happening in San Francisco, and when we were there, a lot of it came on our radar and we were like, “Oh wow, this is great.” We’ll see what happens in Baltimore, but I know that there’s a lot happening there. Part of what we’re trying to do with New Music Gathering is to be like, “Hey, there are all these really great scenes. Let’s go to these places.” Rather than just be like, “Let’s do it in New York where we live.” Let’s go to these places that have these interesting scenes and shine the light on them and let them show the world what they’ve got, and also have other people there too.

WR: What do you think is the significance of the entrepreneurship rhetoric that’s become a significant part of the discussion in classical and new music?

MM: It’s a tricky thing, because I do think that it’s really important to think creatively about how you’re going to run the business that is either yourself or your ensemble or your label or whatever it is, and I think people are getting better at doing that. And I think that’s something that sadly hasn’t been really taught at schools at a practical level. Schools have their entrepreneurship program or arts leadership program which, if you’re a horn player and you’re there to play the horn, you just don’t engage with. I would have gladly foregone taking the mandatory humanities class that I didn’t care about at all to take a class on how to put on a show, how to program a concert, how to schedule rehearsals. That could be a fucking semester class, just scheduling rehearsals. The most stress in my life is about scheduling rehearsals, promoting things. That’s terrifying, and I just learned it from being in New York and doing it the wrong way for ten years. That said, I don’t think you can think too capitalistically with it. Classical music, I don’t know how well it would ever survive as something that is purely capitalistic, purely something people just spend money on.

WR: Those are all my questions. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

MM: Who do you want me to talk shit about?

The New Music Gathering Co-Founders

The New Music Gathering Co-Founders: Matt Marks, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Daniel Felsenfeld, Lainie Fefferman, and Jascha Narveson
Photo by Tina Tallon

Nine Composers Receive 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards

The BMI Foundation (BMIF), in collaboration with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), has announced the winners of the 66th annual BMI Student Composer Awards. The awards were presented to nine composers, aged 18-26, at a private ceremony held on May 14, 2018, at Three Sixty° in New York City by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, who serves as Chair of the Student Composer Awards, BMI President and CEO and BMIF Honorary Chair Mike O’Neill, and BMI Executive Director of Classical and BMIF President Deirdre Chadwick.

Deirdre Chadwick welcomes guests to the ceremony.

“We are excited to honor these deserving and talented young composers,” said Deirdre Chadwick, Director of the Student Composer Awards. “This is only the start to what is sure to be an exciting professional journey for them all.”

The 2018 award winners are:
Katherine Balch (b. 1991): Leaf Fabric (2017) for orchestra [c. 14′]
Jonathan Cziner (b. 1991): Resonant Bells (2018) for orchestra [12′]
Saad Haddad (b. 1992): Takht (2016) for full orchestra [c. 14′]
J.P. Redmond (b. 1999): Silhouette (2017) for full orchestra [c. 7′]
Matthew Schultheis (b. 1997): Chamber Concerto (2017) for 15 Players [c. 18′]
Gabriella Smith (b. 1991): Carrot Revolution (2015) for string quartet [11′]
Ari Sussman (b. 1993):Kol Galgal (2017) for orchestra [9’25”]
Amy Thompson (b. 1994): Somewhere to Elsewhere (2018) for harp and ensemble [21′]
Miles Walter (b. 1994): Eighteen figments after Joanna Newsom, Side A (2017) for violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano [c. 11′]

Jonathan Cziner was additionally awarded the William Schuman Prize, for the score deemed most outstanding in the competition, and J.P. Redmond also received the Carlos Surinach Prize, which is awarded to the competition’s youngest winner. Plus, one additional composer, Avik Sarkar (b. 2001), received an honorable mention. The celebratory evening also featured a performance by the Emissary Quartet of the 2017 SCA-winning composition One Wish, Your Honey Lips composed by Annika K. Socolofsky.

The nine winners and honorable mention of the 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards.

The nine winners and honorable mention in the 2018 BMI Student Composer Awards.
Top row: Katherine Balch, Ari Sussman, Jonathan Cziner, Miles Walter, Avik Sarkar;
bottom row: Amy Thompson, J. P. Redmond, Gabriella Smith, Saad Haddad, and Matthew Schultheis.

Jonathan Cziner’s 2018 SCA and William Schuman Prize-winning composition Resonant Bells was selected for the 2018 New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Cone Composition Institute and will receive its world premiere performance by the NJSO under the direction of David Robertson at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on July 14th, 2018. Saad Haddad’s 2018 SCA-winning composition Takht, which was one of the works selected for the 2017 NJSO Cone Institute, will be performed on May 25, 2018 by the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yang Yang at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, China during the 2018 International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) World New Music Days.

Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, Shawn Jaeger, and David Schober served as preliminary panelists this year. The final judges were Michael Daugherty, John Harbison, Shafer Mahoney, Judith Shatin, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is the permanent Chair of the competition. The BMI Student Composer Awards recognize superior musical compositional ability with annual educational scholarships totaling $20,000. This year, nearly 700 online applications were submitted to the competition from students throughout the Western Hemisphere, and all works were judged anonymously. BMI, in collaboration with the BMI Foundation, has awarded over 600 grants to young composers throughout the history of the competition.

Flute quartet performance during the ceremony.

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2018 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award Winners Announced

ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams has announced the recipients of the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards which encourages talented young creators of concert music. The composers, whose award-winning works were chosen from over 500 submissions from all over the United States, will be recognized at an ASCAP event later this year.

Below are details for this year’s 17 award-winning composers and the works for which they were chosen. Wherever possible, we have also featured a complete recording of the award-winning work (either embedded below the listing or linked from the title of the work). (Recipients who are under the age of 18 are listed only by state of residence, as per ASCAP’s policy.)

    • Oren Boneh of Oakland, CA (b. 1991 in Kansas):
      Lug (2017) for flute/piccolo, saxophone (soprano/baritone), piano, percussion, and string trio [13′]
    • Theophilus Chandler of Houston, TX (b. 1992, in Durham, NC)
      Songs from Brooches (2017) for two sopranos and orchestra [17′]
    • Frazar B. Henry of Florida (b. 2005 in Long Beach, CA)
      In Exordium for orchestra [3’55”]
    • Molly Joyce of Pittsburgh, PA (b. 1992 in Pittsburgh)
      Over and Under (2016) for organ and orchestra [9′]
    • Mayumi Kimura Meguro of Brooklyn, NY (b. 1993 in Mexico City, MX)
      Hana o Tobashite (2016) for orchestra [7′]
    • Alexis C. Lamb of Dekalb, IL (b. 1993 in Denver, CO)
      Meia for berimbau (solo through sextet) [30’30”]
    • Bo Li of Kansas City, MO (b. 1988 in China)
      Encirclement for orchestra [12′]
    • Piyawat Louilarpprasert of Ithaca NY (b. 1993 in Bangkok, Thailand)
      Particle Odyssey (2017) for orchestra [10′]
    • Charles Meenaghan of California (b. 2001 in CA)
      Klepsýdra for orchestra [18′]
    • Shashaank Narayanan of New Jersey (b. 2004 in India)
      Percussion Evoluzione for percussion ensemble [17’30”]
    • Charles Peck of Philadelphia, PA (b. 1988 in Norristown, PA)
      Vinyl (2017) for chamber orchestra [8′]
    • Peter S. Shin of Kansas City, MO (b. 1991)
      Screaming Shapes (2017) for amplified flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, and fixed electronics [5’30”]

Screaming Shapes (2017) for amplified flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, fixed electronics, and dance from Feral Bodies on Vimeo.

  • Aferdian Stephens of Jersey City, NJ (b. 1992 in Bayonne, NJ)
    Trio for violin, clarinet, and piano [18′]
  • Tina Tallon of Cambridge, MA (b. 1990 in Baltimore, MD)
    luscinia (2017) for orchestra and live electronics [13’30”]
  • Felipe Tovar-Henao of Bloomington, IN (b. 1991 in Colombia)
    La Mirada del Ouroboros (2017) for harp and sinfonietta [15’30”]
  • Max Vinetz of New Haven, CT (b. 1996 in Baltimore, MD)
    Allemande (2016) for solo cello [7′]
  • Alex Weiser of New York, NY (b. 1989 in NYC)
    and all of the days were purple (2017) for singer, piano, percussion, and string trio [28′]
A composite image of all 17 winners and 6 honorable mentions in the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

The 17 winners and 6 honorable mentions of the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (all photos courtesy ASCAP).
First row (from left to right): Molly Joyce (photo by Nadine Sherman), Theophilus Chandler, Shashaank Narayanan, Justin Zeitlinger, Jenny Yao, Alex Weiser, and Frazar B. Henry;
Middle row: Piyawat Louilarpprasert, Charles Meenaghan, Oren Boneh, Bo Li, Tina Tallon, Felipe Tovar-Henao, Aferdian Stephens, and Mayumi Kimura Meguro;
Bottom row: Emma Cardon, Akshaya Tucker, Nathan Paek, Max Vinetz, Patrick Lenz, Charles Peck, Alexis C. Lamb, and Peter S. Shin.

In addition, six composers were given honorable mention.

  • Emma Cardon of Nashville TN (b. 1998 in Alexandria, VA)
    Airport Birds for string quartet [10’55”]
  • Patrick Lenz of Houston, TX (b. 1994 in Scranton, PA)
    Pillar of Fire for wind ensemble [7’05”]
  • Nathan Paek of Washington (b. 2004 in WA)
    NEUROTOCCATA (2018) for two pianos [4’33”]
  • Akshaya Tucker of Austin, TX (b. 1992 in Willow, NY)
    Breathing Sunlight for violin and cello duo [8’48”]
  • Jenny Yao of South Carolina (b. 2000 in Hangzhou, China)
    Non Compos Mentis (2017) for wind quintet, string quartet, and double bass [7’46”]
  • Justin Zeitlinger of New Jersey (b. 2000 in NJ)
    Broken Images for solo oboe [4’39”]

Established as The ASCAP Foundation Young Composer Awards in 1979 with funding from the Jack and Amy Norworth Fund, the program grants cash prizes to concert music composers up to 30 years of age whose works are selected through a juried national competition. To honor his lifelong commitment to encouraging young creators especially during his 1986-1994 tenure as President of ASCAP and The ASCAP Foundation (as well as the fact that his own music was first published, by G. Schirmer, when he was only six years old), the Young Composer program was named the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, following his death in 1996. These composers may be American citizens, permanent residents, or students possessing US Student Visas. This year’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards composer/judges were: Du Yun, Daniel Felsenfeld, Joel Hoffman, Lowell Liebermann, Tamar Muskal, Alvin Singleton, and Edward Smaldone.

Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs.


Kendrick Lamar Awarded 2018 Pulitzer Prize for DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for DAMN.. The annually awarded 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. This year the award includes a $15,000 cash prize.


DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar

Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.

Also nominated as finalists for the 2018 music prize were:

Quartet by Michael Gilbertson

Premiered on February 2, 2017, at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, a masterwork in a traditional format, the string quartet, that is unconstrained by convention or musical vogues and possesses a rare capacity to stir the heart.

Sound from the Bench by Ted Hearne

Recording released on March 24, 2017, by The Crossing, a five-movement cantata for chamber choir, electric guitar, and percussion that raises oblique questions about the crosscurrents of power through excerpts from sources as diverse as Supreme Court rulings and ventriloquism textbooks.

Last year’s winner in music, composer Du Yun, sent out her congrats to the 2018 winners:

The nominating jury for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, reviewing 186 music entries, included:

Regina Carter, jazz violinist, Maywood, NJ (Chair)
Paul Cremo, dramaturg/director of opera commissioning program, The Metropolitan Opera
Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University
David Hajdu, music critic, The Nation and professor of journalism, Columbia University
* David Lang, composer, New York City (*Pulitzer Prize Winner)

This year’s recipients constitute the 102nd class of Pulitzer Prize winners. The prizes will be awarded at a lunch on May 30, 2018, at Columbia’s Low Memorial Library.

John Nuechterlein to Retire as President/CEO of American Composers Forum

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)

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.

from the press release

2018 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards Announced

The ASCAP Foundation has announced the 15 recipients of the 2018 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards as well as 7 additional honorable mentions. The program, which was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30, is named in honor of trumpeter/composer/bandleader 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 recipients, who receive cash awards, range in age from 14 to 29, and are selected through a juried national competition. The ASCAP composer/judges for the 2018 competition were: Sylvie Courvoisier, Wycliffe Gordon, and Sachal Vasandani. In addition, one of the recipients of the Herb Alpert Awards will be featured during the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival in August.

Photos of all of the recipients of 2018 Alpert Awards and Honorable Mentions.

“The class of 2018” – pictured herein are all of the 2018 Alpert Awardees and Honorable Mentions:
(top row, from left to right) Matthew Whitaker, Lucas Apostoleris, Eddie Codrington, Mariel Austin, Drew Zaremba, Garrett Wingfield;
(2nd row, L to R) Enrico Bergamini, Evan Hyde, Ben Barson, Josh Shpak, Alexander Hurvitz, Takumi Kakimoto;
(3rd row, L to R) Gene Knific, Elijah Shiffer, Zachary Rich, Estar Cohen;
(bottom row, L to R): Billy Test, Katelyn Vincent, Ben Rosenblum, Owen Broder, Sam Wolsk, and Sara McDonald.

Below is a complete list of the 2018 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipients and their award-winning compositions (click on the titles of the compositions to hear them):

Seven additional composers received Honorable Mention: