Category: Ledes

Congrats to the 2016 Grammy Award Winners


grammy 2016

Whether or not you caught the glitz, the glam, and the shade-throwing acceptance speeches during the 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony broadcast last night, you still may have missed out on the jazz and classical awards presented earlier in the day. Stephen Paulus’s Prayers & Remembrances (from Paulus: Far In The Heavens – Reference Recordings) was awarded Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Eighth Blackbird picked up Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for their album Filament (Cedille Records), and The Maria Schneider Orchestra’s The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare) won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Judith Sherman was once again recognized as Producer of the Year for her work in the classical genre, which included the recording Ask Your Mama, the winner of Best Engineered Classical Album (Leslie Ann Jones, John Kilgore, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and Justin Merrill, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer – Avie Records). Best Musical Theater Album went to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (Atlantic).

For more on these categories and updates on all the awarded artists, see the Grammy website.

Steven Stucky (1949-2016)

Steven Stucky
Steven Stucky

Steven Stucky

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

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

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

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

Foundation for Contemporary Arts Announces 2016 Award Recipients

Jennie C. Jones and Joan La Barbara
Jennie C. Jones and Joan La Barbara

Jennie C. Jones and Joan La Barbara are among the 2016 FCA honorees.

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), a nonprofit arts organization founded by John Cage and Jasper Johns, has announced its 2016 awards to artists.

Composer Joan La Barbara is the latest recipient of their biennial John Cage Award. This prestigious $50,000 award was established in 1992 in honor of the late composer. The selection is made from among invited nominations. Previous recipients of the John Cage Award have primarily been composers, including Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Earle Brown, Takehisa Kosugi, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor, Christian Wolff, and—most recently—Phill Niblock. However, it has also been awarded to conceptual artist William Anastasi, video artist Charles Atlas, and digital artist Paul Kaiser.

In this NewMusicBox interview from 2006 (you can read the entire transcript here), La Barbara acknowledged that she has always followed advice that John Cage once gave her: “He said to me one time, ‘I always try to say yes when people ask me to do things because I never know when I might be surprised by the outcome.’”

The latest recipient of the FCA’s annual Robert Rauschenberg Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $35,000, is sound artist and visual artist Jennie C. Jones. The three previous awardees were choreographer Trisha Brown and composers Elodie Lauten and Eve Beglarian.

As part of the 2016 awards cycle, FCA has also announced 14 grants to artists in the disciplines of dance, music/sound, performance art/theatre, poetry, and visual arts, each of whom will also receive $35,000. The awardees in the music/sound category are Ashley Fure, William Winant, and Nate Wooley.

Complete details on all the 2016 awardees are posted on the FCA website.

Michael Jackson-Themed Orchestra Piece Wins ASCAP Nissim Prize

Vincent Calianno sitting at a desk and staring at a large orchestral score manuscript.

Vincent Calianno

Vincent Calianno has been awarded the 36th annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for The Facts and Dreams of the World According to Michael Jackson, a 12-minute work for orchestra. Selected by a panel of conductors from among 170 entries, the Brooklyn-based Calianno will receive a prize of $5,000. The jury also awarded Special Distinction to Matthew Browne of Ann Arbor, Michigan, for Kill Screen, a 5-minute work for wind ensemble.

In his program notes for this year’s Nissim Prize-winning piece, Calianno wrote, “The Facts and Dreams of the World According to Michael Jackson is a set of four proverbs (aphorisms, cautionary tales, apothegms) for orchestra. Conceptually, the germ of the piece comes from a dream I had some time ago: In my dream, a terminally ill Michael Jackson commissions an architect to construct a large mausoleum with gardens and galleries within its complex labyrinthine interior. This piece neither celebrates nor lampoons the real Michael Jackson’s public persona or music, but nonetheless reflects upon the gifts, experiences, and wisdom we leave behind to our loved ones when we are laid in the earth.” (An audio recording of the piece can be streamed here.)

Calianno has a diverse catalog that includes opera, large ensemble works, chamber, and electroacoustic music, as well as video works. His long-standing interest in visual media has led him to compose music for short and feature-length films and the silent cinema, as well as for his own film and media work. Recent compositions include When I Dream, Some Letters Fall Out Of My Mouth To Make a Word, which was premiered by the International Contemporary Ensemble, and Bone Chinoiserie and the Alabastard Cowboy for Ensemble 39. Other performers who have commissioned and performed his music include The New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Artifact, The Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, The UIUC New Music Ensemble, The University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and The Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, as well as members of the JACK Quartet, eighth blackbird, and Callithumpian. His media and silent cinema works have been exhibited and performed at such venues as The Banff Centre (Canada), Huddersfield University (U.K.), National Taiwan Normal University (Taiwan), The Juilliard School, and Merkin Concert Hall (NYC). Calianno was a 2015 participant in the ASCAP Foundation Columbia University Film Scoring Workshop.

The judges for this year’s Nissim Prize were: Gemma New, music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, associate conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Camerata Notturna, and director of the Lunar Ensemble; Gerard Schwarz, music director of the All-Star Orchestra, music director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, and Jack Benaroya Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony; and Diane Wittry, music director of the Allentown Symphony (PA), artistic director and conductor of the Ridgewood Symphony (NJ), artistic director (USA) for the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians through the Sarajevo Philharmonic (Bosnia), and artistic director for Pizazz Music and the Pizzaz Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Rudolf Nissim, former head of ASCAP’s International Department and a devoted friend of contemporary composers, established this annual prize through a bequest to The ASCAP Foundation. The prize is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally.

Remembering Composer and MTC Founder John Duffy (1926-2015)

John Duffy

John Duffy
Photo by Glen McClure

American composer and beloved new music advocate John Duffy, who founded Meet The Composer in 1974, died in Virginia this morning after a long illness. He was 89.

In 2011, Meet The Composer and the American Music Center merged to form New Music USA. Ed Harsh, current president and CEO, reflects on Duffy’s profound impact on the field in the post below. Many in our community will feel this loss deeply. We encourage you to share your memories of John in the comments section.

With John Duffy, everything was possible. He radiated an optimism as forthright and clear as it was free of guile and self-importance. Though the limits of observable reality might be challenged, audacity never distracted from core purpose. His optimism happily went about its business. It lived solidly on terra firma. It got things done.

In the immediate aftermath of a person’s death, we can feel an urge to sum up their impact and role and even character. We want to come to some kind of conclusion about what their life may have “meant,” perhaps as a benchmark against which to take some measure of our own. I certainly don’t propose to do that here. It’s a shaky notion in any case to impose a stable unity onto a life’s complex assemblage of experiences and relationships, joys and sorrows, narrative through-lines and irrational disconnects over time. Summing up any life is foolhardy—especially one as rich as John’s was.

My aim is something more modest and personal, though it’s certainly still daunting. I want to reflect on a few of the characteristics I treasured in John that I feel are his legacy to New Music USA, the second incarnation of his visionary creation Meet The Composer. Mine is just one perspective. I hope others will share in the comment section below their own personal perspectives and stories. John meant so many things to so many people. The more we share, the more we’ll be able to appreciate him.

A gathering of voices would be entirely appropriate to John’s devotion to the American ideals of democracy and pluralism. He was known to list the quality of “tolerance” at the top of his list of values he appreciated most. The example of his own life suggests something broader, more positive and more proactive than mere tolerance. He was omnivorously curious about and respectful of all music. Even if a given artist’s work might not have been to his taste, he would be interested to know more about it, to understand a bit better what drove its creation. What’s more, he wanted others to be interested, too.

This omnivorous openness was paired with a healthy disregard for conventional hierarchies. He didn’t recognize them as valid, so he ignored them. For John, the idea that a “classical” symphonic work was, by nature, automatically worthy of higher status than the work of, say, Ornette Coleman or Burt Bacharach—to use two of his favorite examples—was simply bunk. He was quick to fight the ingrained privilege and prejudice that often hide behind those hierarchies. The energy and self-assuredness he brought to such spirited struggles embodied for me a muscular, practical, American blue-collar view of the value inherent in solidly workmanlike effort, no matter its form.

The exploding variety of creativity we’re blessed with in 2015, which blows through genre categories like so much thin air, may obscure for us now the uncommon character of his views. It’s worth pausing for a moment to make sure that we don’t take John’s openness for granted. Because we shouldn’t. His views were decades ahead of their time and distinctly radical when Meet The Composer was founded in the 1970s.

We should likewise not underestimate the quality of courage he showed in standing up for his own convictions. The name of his organizational creation is its own example. He frequently told the story of thinking deeply about the name for his then-new program. He scribbled one possible name after another on a big yellow legal pad. Under the influence of the direct, human immediacy of Walt Whitman’s poetry, he wrote down “Meet The Composer.” When he finally chose that name—against the advice of many, let it be noted—he was met with a lot of resistance. “The higher ups” at the New York State Council on the Arts hated it, writing letters to him explaining that it wasn’t classy enough. He said he read the letters and just put them away in a drawer, figuring that people would come around to his view sooner or later. Which they did.

John embodied faith, broadly defined; faith in himself and in his fellow artists. This is the fuel that powered his will. And what a will it was, able to conjure abstract vision into very real being. For years in the late 1970s and early 1980s he enthusiastically regaled anyone who would listen with his idea for putting composers in residence with orchestras around the country. We can only imagine how many dozens (hundreds?) of indulgent smiles or blank stares he had to suffer. What an improbable idea it was for a little nonprofit with a tiny budget…. By 1992—ten years, several million dollars, and one transformed orchestral new music world later—it wasn’t improbable anymore. It was obvious.

That was a big victory, but it wasn’t the only one. There was also the MTC commissioning program, the composer-choreographer program, the New Residencies program. So many new realities conjured, to the benefit of so many. Yes, that’s the thing: to the benefit of so many. No one I’ve met more exemplified generosity of spirit than John. He used the term “angelic spark” relating to people who helped others in the spirit of pure common service. The term fits him so well.

I feel sure that in John’s case the spark was inherent and inborn. Life experience just as surely brought it brightly to the fore. John cited a key moment during his naval service in the Pacific during World War II. As he related the story, his ship was attacked and a number of shipmates were killed. He and another sailor stood guard over the bodies through the night. In the morning, with a few Old Testament words from the ship’s captain, the bodies were slid into the sea. That stark demonstration of life’s fragility seems to have inspired in John a permanent commitment to make a difference, to live a life of value and of service.

Future years would determine the focal point of that service: composers. You could talk to John for only a few minutes before feeling the energy, the power, the almost talismanic specialness that he conferred on composers. In truth, John felt this way about all artists, but when he spoke of composers the magic was palpably electric. The more society could come to put composers to work, the more society would benefit. Composers were the greatest national resource imaginable.

And composers deserved to be paid like the professionals they are. John’s experience as a composer in a broad range of marketplaces gave him a tactile understanding of creators’ economic value. He was an Emmy-winning composer for TV with deep experience in music for the theater as well as the concert hall. He understood the worthiness of matching appropriate money to appropriate work, and his perspective generated the ethos of MTC, which raised the consciousness of subsequent generations.

Bang on a Can Benefit Concert and Party Honoring John Duffy

Bang on a Can Benefit Concert and Party Honoring John Duffy, September 13, 1998. Left to right, seated: Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, John Duffy; standing: Cecil Taylor, Billy Taylor, David Lang, Steve Reich, and Alvin Singleton.
Photo by Peter Serling

To artists given less than their due attention and appreciation by their culture, John’s valuation of composers, both figurative and very literal, was manna for the starving. Like an oasis, John’s championing leadership brought new life and new energy to a community of composers who felt like creative travelers crossing a vast desert. His vision inspired high hopes for what might be built, in fact built together, on the other side. My vaguely Moses-like imagery here is intentional. On a less cosmic scale, John’s positive vision commanded deep reverence and even deeper human attachments. The theologian Forrest Church wrote that although agnostic on the subject of life after death, Church was completely convinced on the subject of love after death. He believed the most profound measure of the wealth of our lives to be the love we leave behind when we die. By this measure, John was a wealthy man indeed.

So IS everything possible? No. Not really. If it were, John would still be with us, having fought back like a champ once again, overcoming the will of the misguided cells in his body. There are certain rules we can’t change. One is that people die. But John’s life leaves a resilient legacy, especially precious at moments when our courage and faith are tested. John reminds us that what’s possible goes way beyond the horizon we see, and maybe even as far as we dare to dream.

John Duffy was featured by NewMusicBox in October 2003. Read the full hour-long conversation John Duffy: The Composer as Statesman.

About Those 2016 Grammy Nominations

The official social profile image for the Grammy Awards, a cartoon of an old horn gramophone.

The 58th annual Grammy Award nominations were announced by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences this morning. The Grammy ceremony will take place once again at L.A.’s Staples Center on Feb. 15, 2016, and will be broadcast on CBS. A complete list of nominations in all 83 award categories is available on the Recording Academy’s website.

For the next few months media pundits will probably debate whether the latest from Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, or The Weeknd will get the nod as 2016 Album of the Year, but the choice for Best Contemporary Classical Composition might ultimately be more interesting. It certainly seems even more competitive. Odds might favor Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields (just released by Cantaloupe Music in September in a performance featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars joined by The Choir Of Trinity Wall Street conducted by Julian Wachner) since it was already awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music back in April and the 2015 Best CCC Grammy went to John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean, a work beloved by Taylor Swift, which was awarded the Pulitzer last year. However, it might be too soon to rule out Andrew Norman’s Play since it has been hailed by several influential music critics as possibly the most important 21st-century orchestral work. Also, the Grammy adjudicators love anniversaries and it is the 20th anniversary for the folks performing Play on the recording, Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project, who have also recently been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

Then again, the only thing that gets the Grammy folks to pay attention more than a big number anniversary is memorializing someone. Another one of the 2016 nominees, Prayers and Remembrances by Stephen Paulus, fits that category on multiple levels. Friends of people who were killed on the September 11, 2001 United and American Airline flights commissioned it for a performance on the 10th anniversary. And the recording the work is included on, an all-Paulus choral disc titled Far in the Heavens, was the final disc of Paulus’s music recorded under his supervision since shortly after the recording sessions Paulus suffered a stroke from which he never recovered and died in October 2014. However, Grammys sometimes beget other Grammys. The only nominee who has previously won is Joan Tower—in 2008, for Made in America recorded by Naxos. This year Tower is up for the honor once again for her 2010 composition Stroke, also on Naxos. So the only longshot this year is The Importance of Being Earnest, a 2010 Oscar Wilde-inspired opera by Irish composer Gerald Barry released by the British label NMC Recordings, which was surprisingly overlooked for Best Opera recording (all nominated operas are by long dead composers) even though the star of Earnest is the phenomenal Barbara Hannigan and the recording is conducted by Thomas Adès. So if Barry’s opera were to actually win, it would vindicate the Grammy’s sin of omission in the other award category.

While recordings of operas by contemporary composers appear to have been locked out of the Best Opera nominations, nominations in other classical categories include more recent fare. Contemporary music dominates the repertoire of discs nominated for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. Aside from discs devoted to Brahms and Shostakovich, everything else is cutting-edge new. All nine of the works featured on Render, the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth’s latest New Amsterdam disc, are world-premiere recordings (including Missy Mazzoli’s Vesper Sparrow, which is among the works chosen to be performed at the 2016 ISCM World Music Days). Four of the five pieces on Filament, a Cedille disc by the sextet eighth blackbird, are also world premieres; the only “old” piece is Philip Glass’s 1968 composition Two Pages, although 8bb’s arrangement for this work whose instrumentation is left up to the performers is the first for this specific instrumental combination. The remaining nominee is Tom Flaherty’s Airdancing, a work scored for toy piano, piano, and electronics performed by Nadia Shpachenko and Genevieve Feiwen Lee on Shpachenko’s album Woman at the New Piano (on Reference Recordings). So all bets are off on who the winner will be. In the Best Choral Performance category, the aforementioned all-Stephen Paulus recording, Far in the Heavens (performed by True Concord Voices and Orchestra under the direction of Eric Holtan), seems a favorite, but in addition to competition from recordings devoted to Monteverdi, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, another nominee, Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings, is an all-American choral disc performed by Conspirare under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson featuring works by Donald Grantham, Shawn Kirchner, and Cary Ratcliff.

Woman at the New Piano has also been nominated for Best Classical Compendium, as has Ask Your Mama, a Langston Hughes-inspired, polystylistic multi-media gesamkunstwerk composed by Laura Karpman (Avie Records) and another album devoted to the music of Stephen Paulus—a Naxos disc containing Veil of Tears for strings and two of his concertos, the Grand Concerto for organ and orchestra and Three Places of Enlightenment for string quartet and orchestra. The only recording of music by a living composer to be nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo is Ursula Oppens’s new Cedille recording of Frederick Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, but considering how many recordings of that piece have now been made (including a previous one by Oppens, which was its first), it is tempting to think of it as standard repertoire as well. Ask Your Mama is also up for Best Engineered Album and its engineer, Judith Sherman (who also was behind the console for the Rzewski disc) is in the running for Producer of the Year, Classical facing off against Blanton Alspaugh, Marina A. Ledin and Victor Ledin, ECM’s Manfred Eicher, and Dan Merceruio of Sono Luminus. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, a joint composition by husband and wife Zhou Long and Chen Yi, is up for Best Orchestral Performance, as is an all-American disc (on Pentatone) performed by the Oregon Symphony conducted by Carlos Kalmar entitled Spirit of the American Range which includes works by George Antheil, Aaron Copland, and Walter Piston. Another orchestral disc, a Naxos all-Christopher Rouse album performed by the Albany Symphony conducted by David Alan Miller, has strangely been nominated for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. While the disc contains Kabir Padavali, one of Rouse’s few vocal compositions and a total winner, and soprano Talise Trevigne’s performance of it is stunning, it is only one of two works on the album; the other work—the piano concerto Seeing which features pianist Orion Weiss—is completely non-vocal.

Scores by Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game), Justin Hurwitz (Whiplash), Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything), and Antonio Sanchez (Birdman), and Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) are the finalists for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media whereas brand new works will face off against two 1951 scores that have been revived this past year for Best Musical Theater Album. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home and Something Rotten! by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick will be challenged by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I and a stage adaptation of the George Gershwin-songed motion picture An American in Paris.

In the various jazz categories, Joey Alexander, Christian McBride, Donny McCaslin, Joshua Redman, and John Scofield have all been nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and albums by Alexander and Scofield will compete against discs by Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, and Jimmy Greene for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Nominees in this category are exclusively for smaller combos since the Grammys offer another award, Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, for bigger groups; the 2016 contenders for that accolade are the Gil Evans Project, Marshall Gilkes and WDR Big Band, Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Patrick Williams, and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Maria Schneider, of course, was the recipient of the Best Contemporary Classical Composition Award for her Winter Morning Walks in 2014; 21st-century music reality, unlike the Grammy Awards, is not neatly compartmentalized into distinguishable musical genres.

Perhaps the strangest of all Grammy categories is Best Instrumental Composition which perversely excludes works nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition from consideration—although one of the 2016 nominees, David Balakrishnan’s Confetti Man, is the title track from the latest album of his group, the Turtle Island Quartet, released on the “classical” label Azica Records. Among the others are Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Suite and Marshall Gilkes’s Vesper from their respective Best Large Jazz Ensemble-nominated albums Cuba: The Conversation Continues (on Motema Music) and Köln (on Alternative Side Records) and two other big band jazz scores from albums that were not among the Best Large Jazz Ensemble finalists—Bob Mintzer’s Civil War written for the Bob Mintzer Big Band and Rich DeRosa’s Neil written for the University Of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band.

It might take Taylor Swift recording an album with John Luther Adams or (an even greater probability) Caroline Shaw recording with Kanye West for the folks in charge of the Grammy Awards to catch up with the breadth of music that people are now listening to and how they are listening to it. Once that happens, hopefully the various categories in which musical achievement are acknowledged by the Recording Academy won’t feel quite as straitjacketed.

Adams’s Become Ocean Inspires Taylor Swift to Make $50K Gift

become ocean

The New York Times reports that Taylor Swift has made a $50,000 donation to the Seattle Symphony, inspired by their Grammy-winning recording of John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean.

“Ms. Swift, one of today’s most popular and powerful pop stars, praised the recording of Mr. Adams’s large-scale, hypnotic, environmentally aware “Become Ocean” in a letter she wrote to the orchestra’s music director, Ludovic Morlot.

‘I was thrilled to hear that Taylor was moved by ‘Become Ocean,’ like all of us at the Seattle Symphony,” Mr. Morlot said in a statement. “This is a powerful piece with a unique soundscape. We’re especially thankful that she wishes to support our musicians, and that she shares our belief that all people should be able to experience symphonic music.'”

Her gift will support education programs and the musicians’ pension fund.

Swift previously gave $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony.

2015 Koussevitzky Commissions Announced

Nina C. Young, Liei Liang, and Dan Visconti

Nina C. Young, Liei Liang, and Dan Visconti

Lei Liang, Dan Visconti, and Nina C. Young are among the recipients of commissions that have just been announced by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress. The Foundation has announced that it will award a total of five commissions for the creation of new musical works. The commissions, awarded to both American and international composers, are granted jointly by the foundation and the performing organizations (also both American and international) that will present performances of the newly composed works. In addition, a special commission was awarded this past year to renowned composer Gunther Schuller, who completed the song-cycle Singing Poems, co-commissioned by the Boston ensemble Collage New Music, shortly before his death in June 2015.

The five award winners and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are:

Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949, was a champion of contemporary music. Throughout his distinguished career, he played a vital role in the creation of new works by commissioning such composers as Béla Bartók, Leonard Bernstein, and Igor Stravinsky. He established the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library to continue his lifelong commitment to composers and new music. Applications for commissions are accepted annually. The Koussevitzky commissioning program is designed primarily for established composers who have demonstrated considerable merit through their works and for orchestras and chamber groups that have a record of excellence in the performance of contemporary music. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website.

(—from the press release)

Seven Musicians Are Among the 37 New USA Fellows Announced for 2015

Official logo for United States Artists

United States Artists (USA) has announced the 37 new USA Fellows for 2015. Each individual artist or collaborative will receive an unrestricted award of $50,000 to support their artistic practice and professional development. The USA Fellowship is awarded to artists at all stages of their careers in the following disciplines: architecture & design, crafts, dance, literature, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts and visual arts. The 2015 music awardees are: composer David Lang; cellist Maya Beiser; composer/saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa; rappers Invincible (a.k.a. ill Weaver) and Jasiri X; singer/songwriter and electric blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker; and composer, singer, and My Brightest Diamond frontperson Shara Worden.

This year’s awardees were selected from over 400 nominated artists living in the United States and US Territories and were chosen by panels of expert peers in each artistic discipline. Since its inception in 2006, USA has awarded nearly 450 artists with over $21 million in support. More information, including details about all 37 new 2015 fellows, is available on the United States Artists website.

(—from the press release)

Two American Composers Among Five Chosen for Gaudeamus Shortlist

David Bird and Anthony Vine

David Bird and Anthony Vine

A professional jury consisting of Seung-Won Oh, Pierre Jodlowski, and Willem Jeths has drawn up a shortlist of five composers for the 2016 Gaudeamus Award, an international prize eligible to composers under the age of 30 consisting of a composition commission worth € 5,000. American composers David Bird (b. 1990) and Anthony Vine (b. 1988) are among the five chosen from over 175 scores from 28 different countries submitted. The other composers chosen are James O’Callaghan (b. 1988, Canada), Shih-Wei Lo (b. 1985, Taiwan), and Giulio Colangelo (b. 1986, Italy). The Gaudeamus Award has been conferred annually since 1957. For more information is available on the Gaudemus website.

(–from the press release)