American Composers Orchestra


Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions & Commission

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Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions

Paul Lustig Dunkel leading the Whitaker New Music Reading SessionsFriday, June 4, 1999, from 10am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm
Masonic Hall, 71 West 23rd Street, New York City

Paul Lustig Dunkel, Conductor
Robert Beaser, Artistic Advisor

ROBERT GROSS: Halcyon Nights
HSUEH-YUNG SHEN: Changing Hues & Cries
KEN UENO: Saturation & Purge

Admission is free. Call 212-977-8495 for reservations.

American Composers Orchestra Selects
Nation's Top Emerging Composers
for Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions

The American Composers Orchestra announces the winners of what has become one of this country's most coveted opportunities for emerging composers, its eighth annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions. This event, made possible by a grant from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, will be held on Friday, June 4 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Masonic Hall (71 West 23d St., NYC). The Readings provide an invaluable opportunity for up-and-coming composers to experience a full orchestral rendering of their work, receive the reactions of other composers and performers, and obtain a professional quality tape to assist in their advancement.

Seven of the nation's most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers were selected from nearly 200 submissions received from around the country. This season's winners are: Robert Gross, Ken Ueno, Sophia Serghi, Arlene Elizabeth Sierra, Hsueh-Yung Shen, Carter Pann and Felicia Ann Barbara Sandler.

One of these composers will receive the ACO's Whitaker Commission, which carries with it a $15,000 purse and a Carnegie Hall premiere. Last year's winner, Daniel Bernard Roumain, who's Hip-Hop Essay for Orchestra received special recognition from ACO's artistic staff, is currently at work on his Harlem Essay for Orchestra and Digital Audio Tape, which will have its world premiere on January 9, 2000 as part of ACO's "20th Century Snapshots" series celebrating the Millennium.

To date, the the Whitaker Reading Sessions have offered a vital resource to the industry by providing essential career development opportunities to some thirty-nine composers. Melinda Wagner, the 1999 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, participated in the Reading Sessions. Derek Bermel, another Whitaker alumnus of the Reading Sessions, who recently received a 1999 Guggenheim Fellowship calls the readings, "a rare opportunity to hear and gain valuable insight into my own orchestration technique and to think critically about my professional chops as a composer." Augusta Read Thomas is another past participant whose career has taken off. Over the years, the ACO has helped launch the careers of many of today's top composers including Ellen Taffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwanter, who both received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; and Robert Beaser, Ingram Marshall, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Rouse, and Tobias Picker, whom the orchestra championed when they were launching their careers.

This year's proceedings will be under the direction of Resident Conductor Paul Lustig Dunkel and Artistic Advisor and composer Robert Beaser. Composers meet with Dunkel before the Reading to go over the score, and afterward in a group session meet with principal players from the orchestra and ACO artistic staff who analyze their work and offer additional comments and suggestions. Senior composers are on-hand to serve as mentors to their younger colleagues.

Founded in 1977, the American Composers Orchestra is the world's only orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing symphonic works by American composers. Through its concert series at Carnegie Hall, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, new music reading sessions, and commissions, ACO identifies today's brightest emerging composers, champions this country's prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional and national awareness of the infinite varieties—stylistic, geographic, and ethnic—of American orchestral music. The Orchestra has programmed 400 works by 343 American composers, including 108 world premieres and 87 commissions, generating more new American Symphonic works than any other orchestra. Recordings by ACO are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, MusicMasters, Tzadik, and New World Records.

In addition to the support of the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, the new music readings are made possible with funds from Chase Manhattan Bank, the Jephson Educational Trust, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Major support of the American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management L.P., Mr. Thomas Buckner, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Booth Ferris Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation, Mr. Francis Goelet, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, J.P. Morgan & Co., the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The reading sessions are open to the public at no charge. Reservations are required, please call: (212) 977-8495.

About the Composers

Robert Gross

Robert Gross is currently studying at the Manhattan School of Music under Richard Danielpour and David Noon. He previously completed studies at Rice University and at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Among the awards and honors that he has received are the ASCAP/Victor Herbert Second Place Award and the National Music Clubs' Student Composers Competition in 1997. That same year, Mr. Gross was a finalist for the ASCAP Grants to Young Composers Award. In 1995, Robert's music was selected for performance by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony for their Young and Emerging Composers Concert.

Carter Pann

Carter Pann is currently working toward a doctoral degree in music at the University of Michigan. He holds an M.M.A from U. of Michigan and a B.M.A from the Eastman School of Music. His works have been performed internationally in such cities as Warsaw, Poland; Manchester, England; Perth, Australia; as well as in several cities in the USA including Boston, Chicago, and New York. In 1997, his piece "Four Orchestral Works" was recorded in Brno, Czech Republic, under the direction of José Serebrier. Mr. Pann has received the New York Youth Symphony's "First Music" commission (1998); the ASCAP Composer's Award ('98,' '96 and '93); the K. Serocki Prize for his Piano Concerto (1998); and first prize in both the Zoltan Kodaly Concours Internationale de Composition and the François D'Albert Concours Internationale de Composition (both in 1997). Mr. Pann's Slalom has been called "a thrill-ride, literally bursting with energy, a real blast!"

Felicia Sandler

Felicia Sandler is currently completing work towards a Ph. D. In composition/theory at the University of Michigan, where she has also studied composition with Michael Daugherty, William Bolcom, Curtis Curtis-Smith, Bright Sheng and Andrew Imbrie. Ms. Sandler also holds a Master of Liturgical Music degree from the Catholic University of America and a B.M. from the University of the Pacific. Her compositions range across various types of music-- from instrumental to electronic to choral. In addition to being a composer, Ms. Sandler is also a scholar and musicologist, having published several papers on Ghanan music and dance as well as on cultural studies. Her music combines a passion for African polyrhythms and exploration of musical timbre.

Sophia Serghi

Sophia Serghi received both her D.M.A. and her M.M.A. from Columbia University. She also studied at Lewis & Clark College where she received the Rena Ratte Award, the college's highest academic honor given to graduating seniors. Sophia has received commissions and has had her works performed by a wide range of orchestras and ensembles, including the Haifa Symphony Orchestra in Israel, the Oregon Repertory Singers, and Speculum Musicae. In addition to being a composer, Ms. Serghi has taught at the College of William and Mary; Columbia University; and Lewis & Clark College. Her music has been influenced by folk music of the Mediterranean, postmodern concert music, and popular music of many traditions.

Hsueh-Yung Shen - 1999 Whitaker Commission Awardee

Hsueh-Yung Shen earned his D.M.A. at Stanford University and his M.A. at Harvard. He also studied composition, theory and analysis with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau, France; ear-training with Annette Dieudonné; and piano with David Wilde. Mr. Shen has composed a wide range of orchestral works as well as quartets and quintets. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and as music director of the Southwestern University Chamber Soloists.

Arlene Sierra

Arlene Sierra completed her dissertation and is preparing to receive her D.M.A. from the University of Michigan in the spring of 1999. She has also studied at Yale and at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where she earned both a B.M. in Electronic Music and a B.A. in East Asian Studies. Ms. Sierra has received several fellowships and awards including the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival Fellowship in 1995; the Aspen Music Festival Composition Fellowship in 1992; and a residency with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Lima, Peru, in 1994. Her pieces have been performed internationally and have been broadcast on National Public Radio. Ms. Sierra's Aquilo is an exciting orchestral work which creates a strong rhythmic drive and forward motion through large-scale accumulation of motivic patterns.

Ken Ueno

Ken Ueno has studied at the Berklee College of Music, Boston University's School of Music, and at Yale where he most recently worked with Martin Bresnick and Bun-Ching Lam. He received an Honorable Mention from the ASCAP Morton Gould Competition in 1998, and was a Regional Winner in ASCAP's Student Composition Commission in 1997. Two of Mr. Ueno's works were performed at the Aspen Music Festival by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble: "NoHowOn" in 1997 and "The Circular Pentagram" in 1998. In addition to orchestral works, he has also written pieces for jazz big band and woodwind quintet, as well as two dance pieces for the Boston Conservatory.

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