American Composers Orchestra Announces EarShot Readings Commission Winner

Composer Elijah Daniel Smith has won the commission, which will see him write a new work for the American Composers Orchestra

The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) was founded in 1977 and supports the creation, celebration, diversity, performance and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. Part of the COA, the annual EarShot Readings in New York, has served over 350 composers beginning their professional careers for over 20 years.

The readings are one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States, and many of its alumni have won major composition awards, including the Pulitzer, GRAMMY, Grawemeyer, and American Academy of Arts and Letters. .

Among the seven composers selected from more than 200 candidates, Elijah Daniel Smith won the 2022 EarShot Survey Commission with his piece “Wraith Weight”. The work explored “the idea of ​​sonic afterimages by blurring and distorting pitch centers, rhythmic centers, and various levels of harmonic clarity,” Smith explained.


The other six participating composers in the 2022 ACO EarShot Readings included Tommy Dougherty, Adeliia Faizullina, Patrick Holcomb, Will Stackpole, Yuting Tan and Yuqin “Strucky” Yi. The ACO’s readings of their works led by Georges Manahan can be viewed here.

This year’s mentor composers were Jessie Montgomery, Jonathan Bailey Hollandand artistic director of the ACO Derek Bermel. Each Readings composer received rehearsals, a digital recording of their work, and attended professional development sessions.

“Smith has the rare gift of distinction and clarity in his songwriting voice that inspires you and makes you want to hear more,” Montgomery said. in the press release.

Smith’s works have been performed by ensembles such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mivos Quartet, Sō Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, Contemporaneous, ~Nois, Ensemble Linea, Ecce Ensemble, Fuse Quartet, Earspace and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra.

Graduated from Boston Conservatory and the Peabody Institute from Johns Hopkins University, he is currently pursuing his doctorate in music composition at princeton university.

“I’m excited to work with the fantastic people at the ACO and to work with top musicians to really dig into less explored orchestral possibilities,” Smith said. “I am very interested in translating ideas and techniques from other art forms into musical concepts, and hope to explore some of those that lie at the crossroads between experimental poetry and the visual arts. “

“Elijah first caught my eye when he collaborated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in November 2021, before I joined the ACO team,” added the ACO Artist Equity Director. , Garrett McQueen. “The music that Elijah creates is a perfect example of what I believe our organization seeks as we continue to explore and platform the rich diversity of sounds and experiences that help all of us at the COA continue the work of codifying a uniquely American orchestral ecosystem.”

A discussion between McQueen and Smith can be viewed below.

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