Tag: New Music USA

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.

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.”

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

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


The new cohort members were selected by the following panelists:

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

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


What We Believe

One of the supreme joys of my position as president and CEO of New Music USA is to have the opportunity to work with twelve brilliant and thoughtful staff colleagues. Yesterday we gathered for two reasons. We marked with a toast the five-year anniversary of the creation of New Music USA in a charmed merger between the American Music Center and Meet The Composer. Then we worked together to put in writing the core values that have driven New Music USA since its inception.

This seems a pointedly good time to be talking about values. The actual anniversary date of our merger was November 8. The events of the election that day have now sent shockwaves across the country and around the planet. Some welcome the disruptions to come, believing that they will restore feelings of security lost over decades of globalized inequality and dizzying social change. For others, those disruptions inspire anxiety, fear, and even despair. Fragile progress toward becoming a more perfect union seems poised to disintegrate before their eyes.

In a world in which the only certainty is constant and sometimes disorienting change, values are the most reliable compass. Our limited ability as individuals to control the course of outside events is balanced by an unlimited power to form and hold deep beliefs. Steadfast service to, and principled defense of those beliefs always serves us and will lead us eventually to a better place than we were before. In that spirit, I’d like to share three core New Music USA values that came to the fore in my conversation with my colleagues. We’ll continue to be guided by them in the days and months and years ahead.

We believe in the fundamental importance of creative artists and their work. A society without respect for its artists is a dead society.

We espouse a broad, open definition of “new music.” Closed borders limit. Openness empowers.

We uphold and embrace principles of inclusivity and equitable treatment in all of our activity and across our nation’s broadly diverse constituency in terms of gender, race, age, location, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, and artistic practice. Difference is not a threat. Difference is an opportunity: a chance to hear a new voice, see a new perspective, feel a new inspiration.

We’re the same people and the same organization today that we were on Monday. Even and especially through wrenching change, we’ll remain devoted to our values and be ever watchful of new ways to put them into practice for the benefit of both New Music and the USA.

New Music USA Awards $276,770 to 53 Projects

New Music USA has announced its fifth round of project grants awards, totaling $276,770 in funding to support artistic work involving a wide range of new American music. The 53 awarded projects include concerts and recordings, as well as dance, theater, opera, and more—all involving contemporary music as an essential element. Awarded projects from all five rounds can be discovered, explored, and followed by the public via media-rich project pages.

New Music USA President and CEO Ed Harsh commented, “We continue to be amazed and humbled by the incredible array of great projects brought to us by artists around the USA. We’re committed to doing everything we can to increase the amount of money we’re able to distribute in support of this groundswell of meaningful work.”

To date, an additional $33,000 over our program’s original budget was made available through the actions of New Music Connect: The Network for Friends of New Music. This additional investment adds support to projects qualified for funding as part of our grant program’s panel process. New Music Connect is designed to connect and engage individuals from across the United States to advocate for and empower the new music field.

In response to feedback from artists who were surveyed following the two inaugural rounds of the program, the fifth round continued to include a special focus on requests of $3,000 and below. Approximately 47% of grants awarded were in this category. The next round of project grants will open for requests in March 2016, and decisions will be announced before July 2016. Including the awards announced today, New Music USA’s project grants program, launched in October 2013, has now distributed $1,482,340 in support of 283 projects.

More information about New Music USA’s project grants is available on New Music USA’s website.

(–from the press release)

New Music USA Requesting Feedback on Project Grants

New Music USA(waveform)
If you have participated in the New Music USA project grant application process, our grantmaking staff would like your feedback on the new platform. A brief list of questions has been posted here to collect your thoughts on the application experience, your use of the site, areas for further development, and anything else you’d like to share.
Responses will be accepted until August 29 and may be submitted anonymously.
Go to the questionnaire

New Music USA Awards $311,000 to Artists

New Music USA(waveform)
Today is an exciting day for New Music USA; we are thrilled to award $311,000 to the 57 projects comprising our second round of project grants awardees.  Our organization and the 43 peer panelists who helped us make our awards are delighted to support an amazing group of projects. During the eight months since the grant program was launched in November 2013, it has provided more than $648,000 for a diverse range of projects involving new American music.

We received 1,174 project requests this round!  The total amount requested represented the need for more than 9.8 million dollars in support. Those numbers in relation to our current funding capacity are humbling, but also inspiring; these submissions only capture a glimpse of the overwhelming creativity resonating throughout the United States today. We wish we could support even more.

The awarded projects are as eclectic as they are diverse—from multi-piece bagpipe commissions to afro-bop big band, to orchestral works, first recordings, and interactive works for dance. This group is provocative, fresh, and immensely talented.
Because a large part of why we exist is to support new American music, we are delighted that over half of our awarded funds this round are for the creation and commission of new work around the United States. There are also many who will be using funds to travel, for dance, to create scores and parts, to pay artists and collaborators, and to bring preexisting pieces to life in new contexts throughout the world.

The world of our funded projects can be found on newmusicusa.org, where the funded project pages can be discovered, complete with artist profiles, work samples, project information, dates, and photos. Anyone exploring those pages can listen to, watch, and experience the diverse array of these awardees’ works. Furthermore, creating a profile on our website allows individuals—you—to follow any of the awarded projects and choose to receive updates on that project by email. Creating a profile is the starting point for experiencing projects and discovering new artists. To find out how, read this. To experience a sampling of the music that is created by our awardees, hit “play” on one of the SoundCloud or YouTube playlists we’ve assembled of all of our awardees and their work samples.
New Music USA featured projects 7-2-14
Our approach to project grants continues to be driven by the conviction that artists should tell us what they need, instead of us telling them what we think they should want. It is driven by the conviction that artists should spend as much time as possible creating and easily sharing their art instead of writing grants, and that funding opportunities should be simple and free. So far, we hope that our streamlined, public platform helps artists across the country simply ask for crucial support while easily sharing their artistic ideas with a larger community. When we look at the sum of our awardees’ efforts, we’re proud of the results.

Putting Artists in the Limelight

This is a very exciting time for New Music USA! After months of extensive review that employed 47 artists, composers, administrators, vocalists, instrumentalists, and choreographers from all over the country, we have just announced the awardees of our inaugural round of project grants.

We were astounded by the 1,618 projects we received in November—astounded by the sheer volume, but also astounded by the projects themselves. This first round of project grants captured a tiny glimpse of the tremendous creativity and tireless efforts of artists working throughout our country. We’re humbled by their presence in our process.

Our approach is driven by a number of convictions. One is that the best way to serve new music is to ask the people making it what they need instead of telling them what they should want. We also believe that the process for requesting financial support should be simple and should help artists connect with audiences, not just funders. Based on feedback thus far, an overwhelming number of folks seem to think our process passes the simplicity test. And to follow through on the point about connection, now is the moment we bring our awardees into the public limelight, featuring them in a way we’ve never before been able to do.
featured projects screenshot
We’ve published all of our awardees’ project pages on newmusicusa.org, complete with artist profiles, work samples, project information, dates, and photos. This means that the world at large can explore, listen to, watch, and experience the diverse array of these awardees’ works.  Furthermore, anyone who creates a profile on our website can follow any of the featured projects and choose to receive updates on that project by email. (As an example, here’s my profile, including a few sample projects that I’m currently following.) Your profile is the starting point for experiencing projects and discovering new artists. If you need some additional guidance about your profile, read this.

The awardees of this inaugural round represent a stellar collection of creativity and talent. We want to recognize as well that there were literally hundreds of great projects and talented artists whom we weren’t able to fund this time around. To those artists: I wholeheartedly encourage you to apply again—with the same project even—for the April 1 deadline of project grants, which will open in early March.

Music is inherently social. Despite the periods of isolation it demands to create or perfect, it is ultimately experienced, performed, recreated and enjoyed by others who are just as committed and curious. There are so many people in the world who love new music but don’t know where or how best to find it, and an even greater number of people who love new music but don’t know it yet. Our goal is to connect audiences and artists with each other in both familiar and new ways. The public-facing project pages this first round of awardees will provide yet another means of doing exactly that.

NewMusicBox Mix: 2013 Staff Picks

As a fond farewell to 2013, the intrepid New Music USA staff has chosen some of their favorite tracks from the past twelve months for this edition of the NewMusicBox Mix. Below you will find each track streamed separately on this page, as well as a continuous playlist of all of the tracks at the bottom of this post. Information about the recordings and purchasing links is intended to encourage further exploration and continued listening.
These artists have very generously donated their tracks to this project, and we encourage you to support them by purchasing their albums and letting them know if you enjoy what you hear!
Happy Holidays to all!—AG

Dawn of Midi: Dysnomia
Dawn of Midi: Algol
Thirsty Ear
Purchase via Bandcamp
With Dysnomia, Dawn of Midi have confirmed that we no longer think about electronic music in terms of instrumentation; today’s definition has much more to do with content, sensibilities, and aesthetics. Though the Brooklyn-based trio’s percolating, slowly-permuting jams suggest minimal techno, they are created entirely by three acoustic instruments, performed live in a room together. There’s a drum kit, cymbal-less save for clicky hi-hats; a double bass, conversing with itself across registers; and a grand piano, performed so as to remind us why we call the piano a percussion instrument. Dysnomia is my album of the year, and “Algol” is one of its finest moments. Listen loudly and on the best speakers or headphones you can find.
Rafiq Bhatia, Development Manager for Institutional Giving

Son Lux: Lanterns
Son Lux: Lost It To Trying
Joyful Noise
Purchase via Bandcamp
I first encountered the music of Ryan Lott (Son Lux) this past year when he and Stephen Petronio Company applied for and were awarded for their project Like Lazarus Did. At the premiere I was totally blown away by the creative synergies he and the ensemble yMusic drew between acoustic and electronic sound—a difficult feat to accomplish in live performance, let alone in performance that is paired with such stunning choreography. I’ve been paying attention to this composer ever since, if anything for his totally unique voice and approach to sound. This densely layered and energetic song, “Lost it to Trying,” from his new album Lanterns, has been one of my favorite aural dissections since it was released in October. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.—Emily Bookwalter, Program Manager

Rose & The Nightingale
Rose & The Nightingale, I write you a love poem
Spirit of The Garden
Purchase via Bandcamp
Jody Redhage’s cello playing is well known in jazz and new music circles, as is her singing voice. Jody put together Rose & The Nightingale after a year of touring with Esperanza Spalding to play her own garden-inspired songs, using poetry from all over the world. The musicianship is impeccable, and the songs are beautiful. Also they will get stuck in your head. Catch one of their concerts in a botanical garden, or just buy the album for everyone you know.—Kevin Clark, Communications Manager

Three-Mountain Pass
Van-Anh Vanessa Vo, Three-Mountain Pass
Three Mountain Pass

Evocative vocals and enticing sonic landscape take you on an interesting, if short, journey.
Eddy Ficklin, Technology Manager and Developer

Brooklyn Babylon
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society: Missing Parts
Brooklyn Babylon
New Amsterdam

I keep coming back to this album for Darcy James Argue’s stunning large ensemble writing (how often is it possible to hear an 18-piece jazz ensemble anymore?), and for the cornucopia of musical references that are smartly woven into the work. Though originally created as a multimedia work with stop-motion animation by Danijel Zezelj, the music on it’s own is truly a listening adventure!—Alexandra Gardner, Associate Editor, NewMusicBox

Build Me Up From Bones
Sarah Jarosz: Fuel the Fire
Build Me Up From Bones
Sugar Hill

As a “classical” violinist just beginning to break into the folk music scene, I am inspired by the melding of traditional and contemporary ideas—both musical and lyrical—in this powerful, original track by Sarah Jarosz.
—Ethan Joseph, Development Manager for Individual Giving

Hexgon Cloud
Erika: North Hex
Hexagon Cloud
Interdimensional Transmissions
Available on vinyl!

I saw Erika play a live set at the abandoned, re-appropriated Leland Hotel in downtown Detroit over Thanksgiving weekend as part of the homegrown Interdimensional Transmissions techno label’s “No Way Back” night of chaos. Imagine a decaying, decadent 1920’s gigantic ballroom, no heat to fight the bitter cold, completely dark except for a few disco lights flashing underneath a deflated hot air balloon sprawled behind the stage halfway covering the floor-to-ceiling windows. Erika had about 20 feet of gear lined up, and mesmerized the scant, but dedicated audience with her minimal, process-driven techno. She has defined herself as an electronic musician, and has become one of the focal points of the current Detroit techno scene.
Lorna Krier, Program Manager

Mobious Loop
Mathew Rosenblum: Sharpshooter
Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose
Mathew Rosenblum: Möbius Strip
Purchase from BMOP

Orchestras rarely take on microtonal music, except when certain members of the string and brass sections inadvertently play music intended for performance in 12-tone equal temperament with less than accurate intonation. This alone makes Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s perfectly in-tune performance of Mathew Rosenblum’s Sharpshooter, which is crafted from an idiosyncratic 19-pitch scale with equally beating minor thirds, a thing of wonder. But the fact that the music shimmers and grooves and that these otherworldly intervals are almost hummable make it an extremely satisfying, if slightly mind-altering, listening experience. For added enjoyment, try singing along with it!
Frank J. Oteri, Composer Advocate and Senior Editor, NewMusicBox

John Luther Adams: Inuksuit (excerpt)

When word came down that Doug Perkins was producing a recorded version of John Luther Adams’s powerful outdoor percussion piece Inuksuit, I wondered if committing such an expansive and variable work to something so fixed was really going to do the music and its underpinning ideas justice. After all, a big part of the live listening experience involves actively moving through the performance space and among the 9 to 99 percussionists involved, allowing you to hear “your” unique version of the music. However, while this recording (offered both on CD and high resolution surround-sound DVD) won’t change from play to play, the surround sound option and the excellent performances of the 32 musicians who bring it to life make it a powerful version all its own. To my mind, this is definitely not intimate headphone music. You’re going to want to find the best stereo equipment available to you and fill the space up with sound. Things may start off in the midst of peacefully chatting birds, but there are musicians with mallets coming up behind them and it will get loud!—Molly Sheridan, Executive Editor, NewMusicBox

A Lorca Soundscape
Alexis Cuadrado, “Danza de la Muerte” from A Lorca Soundscape

There was a lot of great jazz released this past year, reflecting a huge range of music in this genre, but I was asked to choose one, and Alexis Cuadrado’s Lorca Soundcape spoke to me. The poetry Lorca wrote more than 80 years ago during his time in NYC at the start of the Great Depression resonates still, and it becomes even more contemporary through Alexis’ cohesive and deeply personal rendering, which is influenced by Flamenco, African music and contemporary jazz. The selected track, “Danza de la Muerta” is an example of how well text and music are working together, as it opens with “The mask! Look how the mask comes from Africa to New York”. The performances, from Claudia Acuna’s both raw and silky voice to Miguel Zenón’s virtuosic saxophone, drive this profoundly moving work straight into our hearts.—Deborah Steinglass, Director of Development