American Composers Orchestra announces Spring 2023 EarShot Readings

American Composers Orchestra announces Spring 2023 EarShot Readings

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – May 9 & 10
Naples Philharmonic – May 15 & 16
American Composers Orchestra – June 1 & 2
Next Festival of Emerging Artists – June 5-9

Call for Scores Now Open for the Following 2023 Readings:
Dallas Symphony Orchestra – June 20
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – October 3 & 4
Deadline to apply: December 16, 2022

The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program
Composer Spotlight Event – December 6, 2022 at 12pm ET (Online)

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) continues its commitment to the creation and development of new orchestra music, and to the next generation of composers, through its spring 2023 EarShot Readings program. ACO will partner with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (May 9 and 10), Naples Philharmonic (May 15 and 16), Next Festival of Emerging Artists (June 5-9), and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (June 20) in addition to hosting its own EarShot Readings in New York (June 1 and 2). A Call for Scores is now open for the EarShot Readings with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (October 3 and 4); the deadline to apply is December 16, 2022. Composers selected for these Readings will be announced in February 2023.

Now encompassing all of ACO’s composer advancement initiatives, EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for developing relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level. Through these orchestral readings, CoLABoratory fellowships, consortium commissions, and professional development, EarShot ensures a vibrant musical future by investing in creativity today.

“For over 40 years, ACO has discovered and developed the work of composers who expand the very definition of American orchestral music,” says ACO President and CEO Melissa Ngan. “We are thrilled to expand the program with such wonderful orchestral partners this season, and to be developing new work under the guidance of some of the most exciting composer mentors working in the field today.”

ACO Director of Artist Equity Garrett McQueen says, “ACO’s EarShot programs provide a direct pathway for emerging composers to collaborate with orchestras that are interested in new music; I consider this among the programs’ biggest strengths. Additionally, I take pride in the level of access that EarShot provides for composers of various ages, backgrounds, and geographies. At ACO, we define ‘emerging American composers’ as music creators of any age who have had fewer than three performances by professional ensembles and hold citizenship to any country within North, Central, or South America. This has opened the door for countless individuals for whom other initiatives don’t or can’t apply.”

Over the last 25 years, EarShot has advanced the careers of more than 275 composers. Alumni include some of the most visible artists in the field: Jessie Montgomery, Carlos Simon, Courtney Bryan, Jennifer Higdon, and more. Over half of EarShot composers report that they have received a commission or performance as a direct result of their EarShot Reading, and many have gone on to win every major composition award including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Orchestras around the globe have commissioned and performed hundreds of works by ACO alumni.

Each EarShot Readings installment includes a series of private readings, feedback sessions, and work with mentor composers. Composers also receive a recording of their work. Feedback sessions with principal players and artistic and music directors provide crucial artistic, technical, and conceptual assistance. 

The mentor composers for the EarShot Readings with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are Carlos Simon, Valerie Coleman, and Anthony Davis. Mentors for the Naples Philharmonic will be Molly Joyce and Melinda Wagner. The EarShot Readings with Next Festival of Emerging Artists mentors are Kamala Sankaram and Aaron Jay Kernis, with composers Mary Kouyoumdjian, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel serving as mentors for ACO’s own Readings.

EarShot Readings generate multiple commissions for artists discovered through the program each season, made possible with the support of Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting. Their generous investment in EarShot amplifies the available resources of ACO and its orchestral partners to support these newly created works. 

A long-time supporter of composers at all stages of their careers, Justus Schlichting shared the following:

“Five years ago I met with six talented, ambitious young composers. I was shocked to discover that not one of them had any interest in writing for symphony orchestra. The barriers to developing their orchestral-writing craft were insurmountably high, while the rewards if they were to get an orchestral commission were negligible. All I could think was, where will the exciting new music for the next generation come from, if the best composers abandoned the field?  Since then, I have searched for programs that address this situation. ACO’s Earshot and CoLABoratory projects are exactly what I had hoped to find, providing brilliant young composers a path to the create of the orchestral music that we will be able to enjoy for years to come.”

Additionally, participants in EarShot Readings become eligible for The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program for women composers, an initiative of the League of American Orchestras in partnership with ACO, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program is embedded in EarShot; recipients are selected from women and non-binary composers who have participated in EarShot Readings. Since its inception in 2014, the Program has commissioned 22 new works. 

This season, the Program expands to commission six composers to write for an unprecedented 30-orchestra consortium between 2023 and 2025. ACO will host an online Composer Spotlight event on December 6, 2022 at 12pm ET, in which these six composers – Anna Clyne, Sarah Gibson, Angel Lam, Gity Razaz, Arlene Sierra, and Wang Lu – will discuss their works and share musical excerpts. The discussion will be hosted by David Styers, Director, Learning and Leadership Programs, League of American Orchestras and Garrett McQueen, Director Artist Equity, American Composers Orchestra. Free registration is now open at

The EarShot program also includes a series of online Professional Development Sessions which covers topics including creative collaboration, self-publishing for composers, fundraising, and orchestral commissions and contracting. 
Professional Development Sessions in Spring 2023 include:
Self Publishing: Pens, Printer Ink and the Post Office with Jonathan Page
January 11 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Part Preparation: Ready to Read with Manly Romero and Philip Rothman
January 25 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Orchestration: Tricks of the Trade with Melinda Wagner
February 1 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Media Rights: Put Me On with Corey Field
March 1 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Networking: Away from the Writing Desk and into the World with Lisa Bielawa
March 22 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Commissioning and Consortia: Fine Print with Alecia Lawyer
April 5 at 3:30p ET | REGISTER
Free registration is open now at
To date, ACO has partnered with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony and Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra (Mexico) through EarShot. ACO EarShot operates in partnership with American Composers Forum, New Music USA, and the League of American Orchestras.
About American Composers Orchestra: Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, middle school through college composer education programs, and composer advancement programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders. ACO identifies and develops talent, performs established composers, champions those who are lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, racial, ethnic, geographic, stylistic, and age diversity. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works.
ACO has received numerous awards for its work, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra’s outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded ACO its annual prize for adventurous programming 35 times, singling out ACO as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States.” ACO received the inaugural MetLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. Read more:

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