American Composers Orchestra Announces 2022-2023 Season


American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces its 2022-2023 season, under the leadership of Artistic Director Derek Bermel and President Melissa Ngan. 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 re-launch of ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory workshop program; the continuation of ACO’s national EarShot Readings program for emerging composers with orchestras across the country; and its Sonic Spark Education program reaching at least 500 students in New York City schools.

ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel says, “Our 2022-23 season showcases the creativity and diverse viewpoints of four generations of living American composers. ACO also celebrates the virtuosity of our New York City community of artists, including soloists Jeffrey Zeigler and Kaki King and the ensembles Sandbox Percussion and Attacca Quartet. We look forward to welcoming audiences this season for a rich tapestry 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 new music stages today showcasing predominantly world premiere works by composers who have close ties to ACO’s national EarShot composer advancement programs,” says ACO President Melissa Ngan. “Among this season’s featured artists are alumni and mentors of our EarShot Readings, Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, and fellows in our newly refreshed CoLABoratory residencies – each expanding the definition of American orchestral music through their distinct compositional voice.”

Re-Launch of EarShot CoLABoratory with 2022-2023 Fellows 

inti figgis-vizueta, Trevor New, Yvette Janine Jackson, and Mendi & Keith Obadike

Conducted by Glenn Alexander II

October 4, 2022 | Open Workshop with ACO Musicians | The DiMenna Center for Classical Music

ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory 2022-2023 Fellows are inti figgis-vizueta, Trevor New, Yvette Janine Jackson, and Mendi & Keith Obadike. The Fellows will participate in collaborative sessions with ACO musicians to workshop musical ideas and facilitate co-learning, and will engage in ACO’s artistic curation and educational and community-focused programming. Their resulting works will be premiered by ACO over the course of the season. EarShot CoLABoratory Fellowships advance the work of composers whose work is experimental or rooted in musical traditions underrepresented in orchestral repertoire. The program addresses systemic barriers within orchestral commissioning, providing a gateway to the field and a generative environment for composers from diverse musical backgrounds to create definition-expanding work for orchestra. The public will have the opportunity to hear these works-in-progress at an EarShot CoLABoratory Open Workshop for the Fellows with ACO musicians on October 4, 2022 at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Glenn Alexander II will conduct this CoLABoratory Workshop, and will also be the cover conductor for ACO’s October 20 concert at Carnegie Hall.  Read more about ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory program >

The Natural Order at Carnegie Hall
October 20, 2022 | Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Conducted by Mei-Ann Chen
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello | Attacca Quartet | Sandbox Percussion | Yvette Janine Jackson, electronics
Premieres by Mark Adamo, Viet Cuong, inti figgis-vizueta, Yvette Janine Jackson

ACO’s season-opening performance on Thursday, October 20, 2022 is The Natural Order at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, a concert that explores humankind’s relationship to the Earth in an age of climate anxiety. The performance will be conducted by Mei-Ann Chen and features 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 hydro, wind, and solar energies. inti figgis-vizueta’s Seven Sides of Fire, developed in ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory program and written for the Attacca Quartet and ACO, explores the current wildfire crisis through the lens of American Indigenous fire ecology and traditions. Yvette Janine Jackson’s Hello, Tomorrow! for orchestra and electronics, also developed through CoLABoratory, builds on her previous electroacoustic radio operas and invites listeners to draw upon their own experiences to construct a narrative. The Natural Order grapples with the centuries-long struggle to harmonize with Mother Nature sharing both apocalyptic and aspirational visions of humanity’s future. Read more background about the program and composers >

Modern Yesterdays
March 16, 2023 | Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Conducted by Daniela Candillari | Kaki King, guitar
Premieres by George E. Lewis, Ellen Reid, Jihyun Noel Kim, Kaki King

ACO’s spring concert at Carnegie Hall, Modern Yesterdays on Thursday, March 16, 2023, features four brand new commissions that trace the links composers build between the past and future, both individually and collectively. Conducted by Daniela Candillari and featuring world-renowned guitarist Kaki King, this program includes new orchestral renderings of King’s compositions by orchestrator DJ Sparr, including her acclaimed album Modern YesterdaysEllen Reid‘s Floodplain describes a landscape in which reality shifts virtually overnight, and newly commissioned works by celebrated 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 in light from day to night. Read more background about the program and composers >

ACO EarShot Readings in New York
June 1-2, 2023 | Mannes School of Music
Conducted by Tito Muñoz

The Next Festival of Emerging Artists EarShot Workshop in New York
June 8-9, 2023 | Location TBA
Conducted by Peter Askim

ACO will hold its 31st EarShot New Music Readings (formerly Underwood New Music Readings) on June 1 and 2, 2023 in New York City at Mannes School of Music’s Tishman Auditorium. Open-to-the-public reading sessions will be held on both days, conducted by Tito Muñoz. In addition, ACO partners 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 present EarShot Readings in 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 throughout the United States will be selected to participate. As in the past, commission opportunities will be available to the participants. ACO Readings composers have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, Guggenheim, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Read more about ACO’s EarShot Readings program >

As part of the EarShot program, ACO will again offer online EarShot Professional Development Seminars throughout the season, for participating EarShot composers as well as the wider composer community. Topics to be discussed include fundraising and grants, publishing, score and part preparation, public speaking, rehearsal techniques and procedures, commissions, networking and marketing, and much more. Details will be announced this fall. Read more about ACO’s EarShot Professional Development program >

ACO’s Sonic Spark Education Programs Continue Serving New York City Students

ACO’s Sonic Spark education programs will reach at least 500 students in New York City this season. Sonic Spark uses composition as a platform to unlock students’ 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 composer teaching artists teach the curriculum, including Jess Marlor, Trevor New and Lucy Yao. Sonic Spark Ensembles engage students with active music-making, whether through song, percussion, or other instruments. This school-based program is customized to enhance and magnify the educational and social objectives of the school and taught by a dedicated team of accomplished professional Teaching Artists. Compose Yourself provides advanced curriculum in two formats, in-school and out-of-school. The program serves approximately 50 high school age musicians with direct instruction in music composition. Classes help young composers develop their creativity and learn professional standards in a supportive, hands-on environment; the program has a strong record of preparing students for the rigors of college and beyond. Read more about ACO’s Sonic Spark education programs >

ACO 2022 Creative Catalyst Awards & Gala – October 11, 2022

2022 Creative Catalyst Award Recipients: Denise Young and John Adams | Bryant Park Grill

ACO’s 2022 Gala on October 11, 2022 launches the inaugural year of ACO’s Creative Catalyst Award, which recognizes artists and leaders who exemplify its core values of discovery, diversity, disruption. 2022 Creative Catalyst Award Recipients are artist and SFJAZZ Board Chair Denise Young and composer and conductor 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, vocalist; Leanna Primiani, composer; Huang Ruo, composer; Olivia Valentine, artist; and Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist. The Gala will be held at Bryant Park Grill. Read more about ACO’s 2022 Gala and Creative Catalyst Award >

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