ACO legacies

Meet the Composers

ACO exists to inspire, develop, support and build the art of American composers seeking to create new orchestral music. For over 40 years, we’ve worked with and celebrated composers such as Philip Glass, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Joan Tower, and George Lewis, and more recently Paola Prestini, Du Yun, Alex Temple and Matthew Aucoin. We have premiered over 350 pieces at venues across NYC including Carnegie Hall, Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and placed these works with esteemed orchestras nationwide. We are dedicated to promoting diversity and representing all the voices and views that reflect America today.

Please note: ACO is transitioning 40+ years of data.The current archive is not yet comprehensive. To see a full list of ACO Composers, please click here.

Anthony Green

The creative output of Anthony R. Green (composer, performer, social justice) includes musical
and visual creations, interpretations of original, contemporary, and repertoire works,
collaborations, educational outreach, and more.

Charles Ives

For all his singularity, the Yankee maverick Charles Ives is among the most representative of American artists. Optimistic, idealistic, fiercely democratic, he unified the voice of the American people with the forms and traditions of European classical music.

Christian Quiñones

Christian Quiñones is a Puerto Rican composer whose music explores concepts like cultural identity and minorities within society, literature, and poetry.

Christopher Cerrone

Christopher Cerrone is internationally acclaimed for compositions characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, a deep literary fluency, and a flair for multimedia collaborations.

Dai Wei

Dai Wei is originally from China. Her musical journey navigates in the spaces between east and west, classical and pop, electronic and acoustic, innovation and tradition.

Dawn Norfleet

Dawn Norfleet is a Los Angeles-based flutist, vocalists, and composer whose eclectic influences include traditional and contemporary jazz, Stevie Wonder, and Claudio Monteverdi. In 2016, her first orchestra work was selected for the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute’s New Music Readings series by the American Composers Orchestra, in New York City; the piece was performed by the Bloomington (IN) Symphony Orchestra in February 2020.

Dr. Norfleet’s academic and musical journey began in the Los Angeles area, where her musical talents were nurtured by a musical family and local public school music programs. At Wellesley College, she became intrigued by early Italian Baroque vocal polyphony, chromatic music, and the power of music to effect societal change. She also discovered jazz composition and South Indian rhythms during a year at Wesleyan University. she attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, first earning an M.A. in music composition and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology. Fascinated by the improvisational aspect of “underground” hip-hop world, she chose this topic for her doctoral dissertation. While still a graduate student, Dr. Norfleet also discovered the Big Apple’s vibrant jazz scene. There, she began her musical career among other respected jazz musicians of her generation, including renowned pianists Vijay Iyer and Andy Milne.

Eventually, Dr. Dawn returned to her Southern California hometown to immerse herself in the Los Angeles. She has performed and recorded with jazz saxophonist, Kamasi Washington, and at numerous venues as a bandleader. As a music educator, she presented workshops in African American music for The Music Center, Skirball Cultural Center, and Grammy Museum. She has also performed duo concerts accompanied by Andy Milne at Colorado College, Lewis and Clark College, Wellesley College, and University of Virginia. She taught courses in African American music at Colorado College, CSU Pomona, and UC San Diego, lectured at Occidental College, and was a Scholar in Residence at Grinnell College. She currently teaches African American music and jazz at University of California, Irvine.

Du Yun

DU YUN, born and raised in Shanghai, China and currently based in New York City, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music, who works at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, musical theater, oral tradition, public performances, sound installation, electronics, visual arts, and noise.

Ellen Reid

Ellen Reid is a composer & sound artist whose work “brims with canny invention” (LA Weekly). She creates visceral experiences where sound and story collide.

Gity Razaz

Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Gity Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to opera and large symphonic works.

Hannah Lash

Hailed by The New York Times as “striking and resourceful…handsomely brooding,” Hannah Lash’s music has been performed at such major venues as Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, the Times Center in Manhattan, the Chicago Art Institute, Tanglewood Music Center, The Aspen Music Festival & School, among others.

Hilary Purrington

Hilary Purrington is a composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her work has received recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, the International Alliance for Women in Music, and the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), among others.

Jonathan Bailey Holland

A native of Flint, MI, composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s works have been commissioned and performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles across America.

Julia Adolphe

A composer, writer, and soprano whose music embraces diverse artistic and sociological influences, unfolding intricate emotional narratives. Adolphe’s work has received performances across the United States and abroad.

Keane Southard

Described as “a hugely prolific musician with a wide variety of skill sets” (, Keane Southard is a composer and pianist who believes deeply in the power of music to change how people think, feel, and act, and that it can be a catalyst for positive change in the world.

Matthew Aucoin

Matthew Aucoin, a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, is an American composer, conductor, pianist, and writer. His oeuvre as a composer extends from solo piano to chamber and orchestral music to opera.

Nate Smith

For nearly two decades, Nate Smith has been a key piece in reinvigorating the international music scene with his visceral, instinctive, and deep-rooted style of drumming.

Paul Novak

Paul Novak writes music that is lyrical but fragmented, exploring the subtleties of instrumental color and drawing influence from literature, art, and poetry.

Woman playing piano

Robin Holcomb

Pianist, composer, librettist, singer and songwriter Robin Holcomb has performed internationally as a solo artist and the leader of various ensembles at venues across the world.

Yvette Janine Jackson

Yvette Janine Jackson is a composer of electroacoustic, chamber, and orchestral musics for concert, theatre, and installation. Building on her experience as a theatrical sound designer, she blends various forms into her own aesthetic of narrative soundscape composition, radio opera, and improvisation. Her works often draw from history to examine relevant social issues.

Watch ACO Composer Portrait Videos

To preserve and promote new American Music, we assemble and maintain an extensive video and audio archive of the works we perform.

Our Mission & Vision

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, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

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