American Composers Orchestra Announces Season 22-23
The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces its 2022-2023 season, under the direction of Artistic Director Derek Bermel and President Melissa Ngan. The ACO is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance and promotion of orchestral music by American composers, with a commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery. This season’s slate of performances includes eight premieres of new works by American composers, as well as the relaunch of the ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory workshop program; continuing the COA’s national EarShot Readings program for emerging composers with orchestras across the country; and its Sonic Spark Education program which reaches at least 500 New York City school students.
COA Artistic Director Derek Bermel said, “Our 2022-23 season showcases the creativity and diverse viewpoints of four generations of living American composers. The COA also celebrates the virtuosity of our community of composers. artists in New York, including soloists Jeffrey Zeigler and Kaki King and the Sandbox Percussion and Attacca Quartet ensembles, we look forward to welcoming audiences this season to a rich mosaic of musical storytelling.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Carnegie Hall by bringing together some of the most dynamic soloists, ensembles and conductors active on the new music scene today, primarily showcasing world premiere works by composers who have close ties. with the COA’s National EarShot Composer Advancement Programs,” says COA President Melissa Ngan. “Featured artists this season include alumni and mentors from our EarShot readings, the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute and fellows from our recently renewed CoLABoratory residencies – each expanding the definition of American orchestral music through their distinct compositional voices.”
The 2022-2023 COA EarShot CoLABoratory Fellows are inti figgis-vizueta, Trevor New, Yvette Janine Jackson, and Mendi & Keith Obadike. Fellows will participate in collaborative sessions with COA musicians to organize musical ideas workshops and facilitate co-learning, and will participate in the art curation and educational and community programming of the COA. Their resulting works will be premiered by the ACO during the season. EarShot CoLABoratory Fellowships advance the work of composers whose work is experimental or rooted in musical traditions underrepresented in the orchestral repertoire. The program addresses systemic barriers within orchestral commissioning, providing a gateway into the field and a generative environment for composers from diverse musical backgrounds to create definition-expanding work for the orchestra. The public will have the opportunity to hear this work in progress at an EarShot CoLABoratory Open Workshop for Fellows with ACO musicians on October 4, 2022 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Glenn Alexander II will lead this CoLABoratory workshop and will also be the conductor for the coverage of the ACO concert on October 20 at Carnegie Hall. Learn more about the ACO EarShot CoLABoratory program >
The COA’s season-opening performance on Thursday, October 20, 2022 is The Natural Order at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, a concert that explores humanity’s relationship with the Earth in a time of climate anxiety. The performance will be conducted by Mei-Ann Chen and will feature the Attacca Quartet, Sandbox Percussion and cello soloist Jeffrey Zeigler. The Natural Order includes the New York premiere of Mark Adamo’s Last Year, a dystopian reflection on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons performed by Zeigler and ACO. Viet Cuong’s highly charged re(new)al is a concerto for Sandbox Percussion, inspired by the power of water, wind and solar energy. Seven Sides of Fire by inti figgis-vizueta, developed as part of the ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory program and written for the Attacca Quartet and the ACO, explores the current wildfire crisis through the lens of ecology and Native American fire traditions. Hello, Tomorrow! by Yvette Janine Jackson for orchestra and electronics, also developed by CoLABoratory, builds on her previous electroacoustic radio operas and invites listeners to draw on their own experiences to construct a narrative. The Natural Order grapples with the age-old struggle to harmonize with Mother Nature sharing both apocalyptic and ambitious visions of humanity’s future. Learn more about the program and the composers >
The ACO’s Spring Concert at Carnegie Hall, Modern Yesterdays, on Thursday, March 16, 2023, features four brand new commissions that trace the connections composers make between the past and the future, both individually and collectively. Conducted by Daniela Candillari and featuring world-renowned guitarist Kaki King, this program includes new orchestral renditions of King’s compositions by orchestrator DJ Sparr, including his acclaimed album Modern Yesterdays. Ellen Reid’s Floodplain depicts a landscape in which reality changes virtually overnight, and recently commissioned works by acclaimed composers George Lewis and Jihyun Noel Kim each present a unique perspective on the power of music to bridge time. Kim’s new work, The Yellow House, is inspired by the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and depicts the emotional shift from daylight to night. Learn more about the program and the composers >
The ACO will hold its 31st EarShot New Music Readings (formerly Underwood New Music Readings) on June 1-2, 2023 in New York City at Mannes School of Music’s Tishman Auditorium. Reading sessions open to the public will take place on both days, led by Tito Muñoz. Additionally, the ACO is partnering with the Next Festival of Emerging Artists for early-career artists, to produce EarShot workshops on June 8 and 9, led by Next Festival founder Peter Askim. This season, ACO will also work with orchestras across the country to bring EarShot Readings to their communities, in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras, New Music USA and American Composers Forum. Through these readings, ACO cultivates the next generation of composers. In what has become a rite of passage, aspiring orchestral composers from across the United States will be selected to participate. As in the past, commission opportunities will be offered to participants. ACO Readings composers have won every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, Guggenheim, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Learn more about the COA EarShot Readings program >
As part of the EarShot program, the ACO will once again offer online EarShot professional development seminars throughout the season, for participating EarShot composers as well as the wider composer community. Topics include fundraising and grants, editing, preparing scores and parts, public speaking, rehearsal techniques and procedures, commissioning, networking and marketing, and more. Again. Details will be announced this fall. Learn more about ACO’s EarShot Professional Development Program >
ACO’s Sonic Spark educational programs will reach at least 500 students in New York this season. Sonic Spark uses composition as a platform to unleash student creativity. Sonic Spark Lab is offered in partnership with a number of New York City middle and high schools. These semester-long courses teach students to engage with their creativity, harness their curiosity, and collaborate to complete original musical works. Three teacher-songwriter artists teach the program, including Jess Marlor, Trevor New and Lucy Yao. Sonic Spark ensembles engage students in active musical creation, whether through vocals, percussion, or other instruments. This school program is customized to enhance and magnify the educational and social goals of the school and taught by a dedicated team of accomplished professional teacher artists. Compose Yourself offers an advanced curriculum in two formats, in-school and out-of-school. The program is aimed at approximately 50 high school-aged musicians with direct training in musical composition. Classes help young composers develop their creativity and learn professional standards in a practical and supportive environment; The program has a strong track record of preparing students for the rigors of college and beyond. Learn more about ACO’s Sonic Spark Educational Programs >
The 2022 ACO Gala on October 11, 2022 kicks off the inaugural year of the ACO’s Creative Catalyst Award, which recognizes artists and leaders who exemplify its core values of discovery, diversity and disruption. The 2022 Creative Catalyst Award winners are artist and SFJAZZ Board Chair Denise Young and composer and bandleader John Adams. Artists featured at the Gala will include Timo Andres, composer and pianist; Gilbert Galindo, composer and DJ-producer; Paula Matthusen, composer; Trevor New, violist and composer; Alicia Olatuja, singer; Leanna Primiani, composer; Huang Ruo, composer; Olivia Valentine, artist; and Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist. The gala will take place at the Bryant Park Grill. Learn more about the 2022 ACO Gala and the Creative Catalyst Award >
Now in its sixth year, the COA Commission Club invites individuals across the country to join in the creative process of commissioning new work with the American Composers Orchestra. Members will follow the creative process from start to finish, from discussing an artist’s first creative spark, through the writing process, and finally through rehearsal and premiere. Membership fees cover expenses related to artist commission fees, printing, rehearsals and performance fees. In return, members are invited to exclusive events to interact with artists. This season, the Club will support commissions and premieres of nine new works by composers Mark Adamo, inti figgis-vizueta, Yvette Janine Jackson, Kaki King, Ellen Reid, George E. Lewis, Jihyun Noel Kim, Trevor New and Mendi & Keith Obadike. Membership starts at $1 with benefits that include invitations to preview events with featured artists and work rehearsals, concert tickets, early access to concert recordings before public release, a name listed as a commissioner under the ACO’s 2022-23 commission club in the scores and on The ACO website, bonus content from the artist’s interviews with Garrett McQueen and score memorabilia hand signed. Find out more about the ACO Commission Club >