Professional Development Sessions

Each season, ACO presents a series of digital professional development sessions led by composer mentors and industry leaders in partnership with the American Composers Forum. Click any session below for video, transcripts, and print resources.

Join our mailing list via the link at the top of this page for future session announcements to attend live!

Orchestra Unions 101

Arts consultant Joseph H. Kluger, ACO President Melissa Ngan, and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Elena Dubinets present the basics of orchestra unions and answer attendee questions about common aspects of the union relating to orchestral composers.

Orchestra Etiquette

Composer Aaron Jay Kernis presents the basics of etiquette as a composer working with an orchestra, discusses the general form of rehearsals with orchestras, and answers questions from the attendees.

Tricks of the Trade

ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel explores the basics of orchestration through the lens of composer Steven R. Gerber’s NewMusicBox article “Orchestration: Composers Reveal Tricks of the Trade.” Useful for composers new and old to orchestration, Bermel explores the staples of orchestration with various score examples.

Fundraising for Ensembles

Soprano and philanthropy expert Yolanda F. Johnson joins ACO President Melissa Ngan to give advice and tactics to bolster fundraising for small-to-medium ensembles.

The Gainfully Employed Composer

Composer Dan Visconti and ACO President Melissa Ngan discuss the ins and outs of self-publishing for composers, from which printer and paper to use to best practices for renting out work to ensembles.

Creating Meaningful Creative Relationships

American Composers Orchestra President and CEO Melissa Ngan joins New Music Gathering organizers Lainie Fefferman and Mary Kouyoumdjian to discuss practical approaches to collaboration in new music and how to nurture those creative relationships.

Film Composition

Established film composers talk about the film industry and the essentials of being a film composer. ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel moderates a panel of experts. The panel will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Entrepreneurship & Ensembles for Composers

How can composers help guide their own careers? What part does creating an ensemble play in that? Frank J. Oteri moderates a panel of innovative ensemble creators to explore topics of entrepreneurship and career advancement as a composer. Q&A with audience will follow.

Programming & Digital Curation

How does traditional programming change when it’s focused online? How is new music most effective in online programming? Where is classical music headed in the digital age? American Composers Orchestra President & CEO Melissa Ngan moderates a panel of experts, followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Equity in Orchestras

A panel of experts converse about the role of race in orchestral culture, individual responsibility, and how racism manifests in the classical music industry. They will use Nebal Maysaud’s article, ‘It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die’ as a jumping off point.

Project Production & Recording for Composers

What skills should a composer have in order to produce their own work? Topics include audio and video recording, project management, and producing recordings. John Glover moderates a panel of creators and producers. Q&A with audience will follow the panel discussion.

Orchestra 101

This panel peers into the inner-workings of the orchestra, illuminating the structure and best practices for composers. New York Philharmonic Principal Librarian Sara Griffin moderates a panel of experienced orchestra administrators. Q&A with audience will follow the panel discussion.

Publishing, Self-Publishing, & Management

How can a composer navigate publishing? What are their options? Self-published composer Jonathan Bailey Holland leads a panel of experienced professionals to discuss avenues of publishing and management for orchestral composers. Q&A with audience will follow.

Finding Your Voice Online

How can composers find their true artistic message and convey that effectively online? Dameun Strange moderates a panel and Q&A exploring topics of authenticity and effectiveness online.

Fundraising via Supportive Individuals

Learn how to raise funds for your next project by leveraging the support of generous individuals. American Composers Orchestra Acting President and Director of Development Lyndsay Werking leads a panel of artists and administrators fluent in grassroots fundraising.

Orchestra Musicians Roundtable

Join seasoned orchestral musicians as they speak about their experiences with living composers and new orchestral music. They’ll touch on topics of effective communication between composers and musicians in a variety of ways, including parts writing, email/remote communication, and in-person working sessions.