Welcome Back Family & Friends
Chamber Concert


Thank you for joining us for this evening’s program. We are so happy to see  you!

You can read about tonight’s program, composers, and musicians by scrolling through this page. 


Welcome Back Family and Friends Chamber Concert

Mary Flagler Cary Hall at DiMenna Center

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 – 7:00pm

Laura Conwesser, Flute
Liam Burke, Clarinet
Karen Kim, Violin
Eugene Moyé, Cello
Javier Diaz, Percussion
Christopher Oldfather, Piano
James Baker, conductor

Five Greek Folksongs (after Ravel)
Karen Kim, Violin
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Towards Night
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Argoru VIII
Javier Diaz, Snare Drum



Liam Burke, Clarinet
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Unsung Chordata
I. Reconnaissance
II. Second Hand (Interlude)
III. Unsung
Laura Conwesser, Flute
Liam Burke, Clarinet
Karen Kim, Violin
Eugene Moyé, Cello
Javier Diaz, Percussion
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Karen Kim, Violin
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Liam Burke, Clarinet
Karen Kim, Violin
Eugene Moyé, Cello
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

IV. Spain
Liam Burke, Clarinet
Christopher Oldfather, Piano

Welcome Back Family and Friends Chamber Concert is made possible by a NYSCA Restart NY: Rapid Live Performance grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

About the Program

Steven R. Gerber was born on September 28, 1948 in Washington, D.C. He held degrees from Haverford College and from Princeton University, where he received a 4-year fellowship. Steven’s music composition teachers include Robert Parris, J. K. Randall, Earl Kim, and Milton_Babbitt. His early works were in a free atonal style, incorporating serial and non-twelve-tone languages into a distinctive and deeply personal sound world. Beginning in the early 1980s, he abandoned twelve-tone and atonal composition, with rare exceptions, and his music became much more tonal while still retaining the expressive elements of the his earlier works. His music has been recorded and performed by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, National Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony, San Francisco Symphony,  Amernet String Quartet and Concertante Chamber Players. Recordings of his works can be found on labels including Composers Recordings, Inc., Opus One, Naxos, and Albany Records. Gerber’s catalog of works also includes many song cycles, choral works and pieces for solo instruments. His compositions are published by Mobart Music Publications / Boelke-Bomart, Inc. and Lauren Keiser Music. Information about Gerber, including a complete list of works and discography is available at wwwstevengerber.com.

About Steven Gerber’s Music

Excerpted from the album notes for the album “American Classics Gerber: Piano Trio, Duo, Elegy, Notturno”, available on Naxos.

Each of Steven Gerber’s works is “an important addition to music… its sense of evolution from previous generations welcome at a time when change seems to have become a virtue in itself” (Fanfare).  Whether meditating on Gershwin’s music or classic folksongs, paying tribute to Shostakovich or exploring the possibilities offered by a particular musical idea, his solo and chamber works can possess the imagination and haunt the memory of listeners in a way that is both authentically American yet also universal in its humane spirit.

Edward Thomas is a classical and popular composer whose works have enjoyed success in concert halls and theaters. Thomas studied musical composition with the celebrated Hungarian-American composer, Tibor Serly, and began his many faceted musical career as guitarist, songwriter, and composer. He is equally at home in jazz, theater, commercial and concert music genres. Thomas’ opera Desire Under the Elms, with a libretto by Joe Masteroff, was produced at New York’s City Center, and the Grammy-nominated recording featured the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Manahan. Thomas has also received seven gold records as producer and composer for a wide range of artists, including Julie Andrews, Jack Jones, Vikki Carr, Leontyne Price, Vic Damone, Roberta Peters, and the Vienna Choir Boys. His works have been performed by San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Westchester Philharmonic, the New York Virtuosi, American Composers Orchestra and the Dali String Quartet. All recorded works by Mr. Thomas are available in various forms on Naxos. 

About Reflections

Reflections was begun in the late 1990’s and finished around 2010. Despite the title, the piece is structured in one continuous movement. After a mysterious and melancholy opening (some have called it “autumnal”), a fast middle section reminds one of a tarantella. The final section returns to the opening mood and motives.

Augusta Gross (b.1944) began her musical studies at an early age, learning to play the piano at age 5. Her father’s Polish family included doctors and lawyers, several of whom were also accomplished pianists. She has continued the family tradition of combining music with pursuing a professional field. As a clinical psychologist, she maintained a private practice. Upon retiring, she resumed musical studies, and started developing her own compositional techniques. Her music is written on an intimate scale, expressing internally felt experiences in a spare yet evocative way. While frequently contemplative in mood, her works often incorporate jazz idioms and reflect classical harmonic and contrapuntal influences. Selections of her pieces appear in two CDs featuring pianist Bruce Levingston: Still Sound (2012) and Citizen (2019) on the Sono Luminus label. Gross has been called “a fine composer in the contemporary American style” (The Whole Note).   

In the Composer’s Own Words 

This work is featured in pianist Bruce Levingston’s latest CD “Citizen” (Sono Luminus, 2019}, and is part of a trilogy entitled “Locations in Time.” Toward Night evokes a particular time of day, and symbolically, a place in the trajectory of life.  

Alvin Singleton was born in Brooklyn, New York and completed his studies at New York University and Yale. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. After living and working in Europe for 14 years, Singleton returned to the United States and served as Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (1985-88), Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1996-97), Ritz Chamber Players of Jacksonville, Florida (2002-2003), and American Composers Orchestra (2004). With ACO, he also served as Artistic Advisor for the IMPROVISE! Festival and joined the board of directors.Singleton’s music is notable for its rare union of influences, “from Mahler to Monk, Bird to Bernstein, James Baldwin to Bach, Santana to Prince,” (Philadelphia Inquirer) as well as for its signature moments of theatricality and surprise. He has worked extensively with major orchestras worldwide, and has written significant works for chamber and vocal ensembles, as well as works for the theater. His set ofArgorupieces for solo instruments span a compositional period from 1968-2002 and have been championed by soloists across the world. His music is recorded on the Albany Records, Elektra/Nonesuch, First Edition, Tzadik, and Innova labels.  

In the Composer’s Own Words 

ARGORU VIII for snare drum is a daring, even cheeky little piece. It plays with the common notions of what snare drums are supposed to do. For example, it features absolutely deafening silences. It is also decidedly about rhythm on the one hand and about expression on the other, no less so than a popular song might be. Like some strange creature eloquent in only its own language, the snare drum gets worked up but also whispers, gripping the listener in its brutal honesty. The composer is quoted as saying of the work, “I avoided the use of drum rolls, flams and other typical things one associates with snare drumming. Rhythm was my main concentration in the writing of this work.” ARGORU VIII was commissioned by Meet The Composer Commissioning Music/USA and was written for Peggy Benkeser.  

A native New Yorker, composer and author Karen LeFrak has created vibrant, moving musical scores that have been presented in prestigious concert halls across the globe. She is an ardent champion of musical and literary education for children and has received wide accolades for her children’s books published by Bloomsbury, Random House, and Crown Books. LeFrak’s works have been commissioned and performed by a wide variety of prominent institutions and artists worldwide including the New York Philharmonic; American Ballet Theatre; Mariinsky and San Francisco Ballets; Shanghai and Miami Symphony Orchestras; and pianist Anne Marie McDermott; among many others. Her compositions have been heard at esteemed venues across the world including David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Russia’s fabled Mariinsky Theatre, National Sawdust, Festival Napa Valley, and the White House.  This fall, LeFrak released a beautiful cache of short solo piano pieces as a four volume album project called Interlude, performed by Doeke. Each volume of the series captures a theme of discovery from this extraordinary period of Interlude during the pandemic – Harmony, Inspiration, Gratitude, Clarity. The project includes visual pairings of each work. Of Ms. LeFrak’s over 270 compositions, she has written several powerful orchestral works including the multimedia children’s score Sleepover at the Museum, orchestrated by Bill Ross. She is married to Richard LeFrak and has two sons, five grandchildren, and two poodles.  

In the Composer’s Own Words 

Daybreak and When are my musical imagery of that feeling one gets in early summer mornings in New York, when the air is velvety and humid, but still calm and quiet, and the faint sun envelops in its warmth ever so slightly. Tinged with nostalgia, these works are a tribute of my love for my hometown – a larger than life city that, when caught at the right moment, can also be serenely magical and comforting.  

Celebrated as an“…eloquent, poetic voice in contemporary music…”[American Record Guide], Melinda Wagner’s esteemed catalog of works embodies music of exceptional beauty, power, andintelligence. Wagner received widespread attention when her colorfulConcerto for Flute, Strings and Percussionearned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Since then, major works haveincludedConcerto for Trombone, for Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic, a piano concerto,Extremity of Sky, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony for Emanuel Ax, andLittle Moonhead, composed for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as part of its popular “New Brandenburgs” project. Recent performances have come from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, the United States Marine Band, BMOP, the American Brass Quintet, the Empyrean Ensemble, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.  Among honors Wagner has received is a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, an honorary doctorate from Hamilton College, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017. A passionate and inspiring teacher, Wagner has given master classes at many fine institutions across the United States, including Harvard, Yale, Eastman, Julliard, and UC Davis. She has held faculty positions at Brandeis University and Smith College, and has served as a mentor at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and Yellow Barn. She currently serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music.   


About Unsung Chordata 

Composing for Boston Music Viva on a Fromm Foundation grant, Melinda Wagner drew inspiration from an astounding video of an industrious little pufferfish and his sand artistry. Working 24 hours a day, he carves out a beautiful medallion of swirls and ridges, in the hope of attracting a sweetheart. Wagner has written, “I was so moved by the careful preparation, determination, patience, and artistry of this little fish, who has no guarantees of finding true love. The phenomenon reminded me very much of the act of composing – of creating something out of nothing, with few guarantees.”  

Jonathan Bailey Holland’s works have been commissioned and performed by the Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, National, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and South Bend Symphony Orchestras; Da Capo Chamber Players; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (currently Vocal Essence), and many others.  A recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, and a Fromm Foundation Commission, he has received honors from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, American Music Center, ASCAP, the Presser Foundation, and more. He served as the first ever Composer-in-Residence for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during their 2018-2019 season, and served as Classical Roots Composer-in-Residence for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during that same season.   He has held similar roles with the Ritz Chamber Players; South Bend Symphony; and Radius Ensemble. His music has been recorded by the Cincinnati Symphony; Detroit Symphony and numerous others. Recent highlights include performances by Hotel Elefant, and Arneis Quartet, and commissions by Boston’s Phoenix Ensemble, as well as pianist Awadagin Pratt with Room Full of Teeth and A Far Cry. Holland is Chair of Composition, Contemporary Music, and Core Studies at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

In the Composer’s Own Words 

The title of this work refers to the fascinating one-sided surface that bears the name of it’s inventor.  One day my daughter showed me how, when a mobius strip is cut lengthwise down the center, it results in more interconnected loops.  This relates directly to the way in which the instruments in this composition interact – all are interconnected, sometimes indistinguishable, and always revolving.  

Robert Beaser is Artistic Director Laureate of the American Composers Orchestra and was co-music director and conductor of Musical Elements Ensemble from 1978 to 1989. Beaser’s Mountain Songs received a Grammy nomination in 1986. He has received Fellowships from the Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Goddard Lieberson, an Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Nonesuch Commission Award, and a Barlow Commission. He was to elected to membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2002. Beaser’s commissions include works for the Chicago Symphony (Centennial Commission); the New York Philharmonic; American Composers Orchestra; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; and the American Brass Quintet. His opera, Central Park: Food of Love, with a libretto by Terence McNally, was commissioned by the New York City Opera and Glimmerglass Opera and was telecast nationally on PBS’s Great Performances series. Beaser’s 9/11 work Ground O, broadcast on the All-Star Orchestra series, received an Emmy Award in 2016. Recordings of his works can be found on Linn Records, London/Argo, Albany Records, and Musicmasters. Born in Boston, Beaser holds a BA from Yale College, summa cum laude, and MM, MMA, and DMA degrees from the Yale School of Music. He has been a member of the Juilliard faculty since 1993 and chair of the Composition department since 1994.  


In the Composer’s Own Words 

Souvenirs was commissioned by the piccolo committee of the National Flute Association. From the outset I understood that I wanted to write a work which continued in the path of my Mountain Songs for flute and guitar (1985) — one which explored folk elements reformatted in one way or another. In the earlier work I explicitly took extant and sometimes well-known Appalachian tunes and processed them through reinvented harmonies, materials and architectures. Souvenirs comes from more disparate sources, including Mountain Songs itself (Cindy Redux being a piano version of Cindy). Three of the six songs are completely original, composed in a strophic and diatonic style, two are based on folk tunes, and one is an invented trope on a Lorca transcription of a Spanish folk song (The Four Mules) — discovered, lost and re-remembered.  

About the Performers

JAMES BAKER is Principal Percussionist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Mr. Baker is Principal Conductor of the Talea Ensemble and Director of the Percussion Ensemble at the Mannes College of Music. He was Music Director and Conductor of the Composers Conference at Brandeis University for 14 years. He was the Conductor of the New York New Music Ensemble for a number of years. This season in addition to his work with Talea he will be conducting the Grossman Ensemble at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition at the University of Chicago and at festivals in Finland, Warsaw and Germany among many other engagements. He has led the Orchestra of the League of Composers, NY Philharmonic Ensembles, Speculum Musicae, Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall, the Cygnus Ensemble, the ensemble Tactus at the Manhattan School of Music, and Ensemble 21 among many others. He has conducted at the Darmstadt, Wien Moderne, Transit Belgium, Donaueschigen, Contempuls Prague, reMusic St. Petersburgh (Russia), June in Buffalo, Beijing Modern and Monadnock music festivals among others. Baker conducted Broadway shows for many years, including The King and I, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Oklahoma and An Inspector Calls, among others.

LAURA CONWESSER, the associate flute of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, was born and raised in New York City, where she attended New York City public schools and graduated from the Juilliard School. As an active member of the New York freelance community, she is principal flute of the American Symphony Orchestra and the Westchester Philharmonic. Over the years, Laura has performed with Orpheus, the New York Philharmonic, the Boehm Quintette, the Paul Taylor Dance Company and many other musical organizations. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Westchester Philharmonic, the American Symphony and Paul Taylor Dance Company. As part of a long term commitment to contemporary music, Laura is an original member of the American Composers Orchestra.

Hailed by the New York Times as a clarinetist that plays with “vitality and nuance”, LIAM BURKE has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orchestra Moderne NYC, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Stamford Symphony Orchestra among others. Burke has recorded forHarmonia Mundi,Broadway Records, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., PBS, and Netflix.  He has performed hundreds of times on Broadway in productions such asLes Misérables,The King and I,On the Town,Dr. Zhivago,The Cherry Orchard, Sunset Boulevard, andMy Fair Lady. Burke studied at The Juilliard School, where he earned admission into the Accelerated BM/MM Degree Program. Juilliard awarded Burke the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. He won Juilliard’s Clarinet Concerto Competition and led the conductor-less Juilliard Chamber Orchestra in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. Burke has been a member of Ensemble ACJW (now known as Ensemble Connect), “a two-year fellowship program for the finest young professional classical musicians in the United States that prepares them for careers that combine musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.”  He has completed three residencies as a chamber musician and teacher at Skidmore College.  

JAVIER DIAZ is a percussionist in the New York Area.He has performed with the American Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, OrpheusChamberOrchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Broadway’s productions ofTarzan,Guys and Dolls,The Wiz,Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,Rocky,Gloria Estefan’s On Your Feet,Once on This Island, and the acclaimedAin’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. His studio/film soundtrack credits include Lin-Manuel Miranda’sInThe Heights, Steven Spielberg’sWest Side Story, collaborations with jazz greats David Sanborn and Marcus Miller, ECM’s Tituli by Stephen Hartke with the HilliardEnsemble,Barbershop 3, several HBO films and many TV and radio commercials.  As an Afro-Cuban percussion specialist, Diaz has appeared with: Miami Sound Machine, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Sean Kingston, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, ChakaKhan, Patty LaBelle, LazaroGalarraga’sAfro-Cuban All Stars, percussionists Angel Luis Figueroa, CandidoCamero, DavidYazbek, Román Diaz and Pedro Martinez, ThePanamericanJazz Band, TribalSageand the New York World Music Institute. In addition, Mr. Diaz has recently released an album with the percussion group Kalunga. He is on faculty at Rutgers University, New York University, and the Juilliard School.

Grammy Award-winning violinist KAREN KIM is widely hailed for her sensitive musicianship and passionate commitment to chamber and contemporary music. Her performances have been described as “compellingly structured and intimately detailed” (Cleveland Classical), “muscular and gripping” (New York Classical Review), and having “a clarity that felt personal, even warmly sincere” (The New York Times). She received the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance in 2011 for her recordings of the complete quartets of György Ligeti.  Kim is a member of the Jasper String Quartet, winners of Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award and the Professional Quartet in Residence at Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians. She is also a member of the critically acclaimed Talea Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Échappé, and Deviant Septet, and she is a founding member of the “forward-looking, expert ensemble” Third Sound (The New Yorker). Kim received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Violin Performance, as well as a Master’s degree in Chamber Music from the New England Conservatory, where she worked with Donald Weilerstein, Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian, Roger Tapping, Paul Katz, and Dominique Eade. She is a supporter of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.  

EUGENE MOYE has been ranked as “one of the foremost cellists of his generation” by the New York Times. He is the premiere cellist on the New York classical music freelance scene. Principal cellist of American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York and Westchester Philharmonic he also is sought after to play numerous chamber music concerts. He has premiered cello concertos with New York Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra and American Symphony Orchestra. His Columbia Masterworks solo album was highly acclaimed. Mr. Moye has recorded with or backed up manypopular music stars including Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears, Ricky Martin, Tony Bennet, Ray Charles, Kiss, and countless others. He is presently Principal Cello with New York City Ballet for where he has played for 50 years.  



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American Composers Orchestra 2021-22 Season Highlights 

New Canons

Saturday, October 23, 2021

ACO welcomes audience members to choose to experience this performance at a public gathering space, as an intimate concert in a private home, or as a fully digital event:

Concert Hall, $25 ticket: New Canons at DiMenna Center 🎫 [Buy Now]

Private Home, $25 ticket: New Canons in Murray Hill  (address provided upon reservation) 🎫 [Buy Now]

Virtual Event, $5 reservation ($20 suggested donation): Virtual New Canons 🎫 [Buy Now]

Peter Askim, Guest Conductor  

Bergamot Quartet 

Ligeti Quartet

Solem Quartet

RAQUEL ACEVEDO KLEIN: Polyphonic Interlace

RAY LUSTIG: Latency Canons 

CHRIS KALLMYER: All Possible Music

PAULINE OLIVEROS: Environmental Dialogue



Friday, March 25, 2022 – Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall  

Marin Alsop, Guest Conductor  

Jennifer Koh, violin  

ANNA CLYNE: Restless Oceans 

HANNAH KENDALL: Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama 

DAI WEI: New Work (ACO commission, World Premiere)  

PAULA MATTHUSEN: New Work (ACO commission, World Premiere)  

LISA BIELAWA: Sanctuary (New York premiere, co-commission with Carnegie Hall, Boston Modern Orchestra Project and the Orlando Philharmonic)  

The Gathering   

Saturday, May 7, 2022 – Apollo Theater  

JOEL THOMPSON: Seven Last Words of the Unarmed (NY premiere)  


COURTNEY BRYAN: Sanctum for orchestra and recorded sound  

TOSHI REAGON: New Commission   

CARLOS SIMON: Amen! (NY Premiere of orchestral version)   

KAMASI WASHINGTON (proposed composer): New Commission   

2022 Underwood New Music Readings  
Details to be announced in Winter 2021  



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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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