American Composers Orchestra & Carnegie Hall Co-Present


The Natural Order

October 20, 2022 at 7:30pm

Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall


Mei-Ann Chen, Conductor
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Attacca Quartet
Sandbox Percussion
Yvette Janine Jackson, electronics

About the Program, Composers & Works

American composer-librettist Mark Adamo’s work has returned to the stage in force. Opera Holland Park gave the U. K. premiere of his first opera, Little Women, in July of 2022;  Pittsburgh Festival Opera completed and introduced its filmed version his second opera, Lysistrata, that same month, which also saw the Tanglewood Institute’s premiere of the wind-orchestra version of the Overture to Lysistrata, arranged by Peter Martin.  Up next is the New York premiere of Last Year, his concerto for cello and string orchestra which refracts Vivaldi’s Four Seasons through the prism of a changing climate; Mei-Ann Chen leads soloist Jeffrey Zeigler and the American Composers’ Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in October. Teatro Colón, in Buenos Aires, gives the Argentine premiere in Buenos Aires of Little Women in November; that same month, Boston Modern Orchestra Project gives the East Coast premiere of The Lord of Cries, the opera he co-created with composer John Corigliano for Santa Fe Opera in 2021. These performances will be recorded for the work’s premiere release on CD. The autumn of 2021 saw the first performances of Last Year in San Francisco and in Houston, followed, in December, by Chicago Opera Theater’s new production of Becoming Santa Claus, Adamo’s fourth opera, which was conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya and directed by Kyle Lang. This followed the warmly received Dutch premiere by the Dutch National Opera Academy of Little Women, given in Amsterdam in January of 2020. Read More

In the Composer’s Own Words

In 2018, for reasons that don’t really matter now, I’d listened—really listened—to a  new-to-me recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  And I marvelled: not only at the  score’s vigor and clarity, but at its innocence, too—as it portrayed each season offering its own delights and terrors while still yielding, safely, to the next.  The  recording finished: I turned to the news, and learned that—due to the latest in our  series of once-in-a-lifetime-except-now-every-year storms—a hurricane had left the  city of Houston nearly drowned. Read More

Listen to Mark Adamo’s Last Year

Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the music of American composer Viet Cuong has been performed on six continents by musicians and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, Eighth Blackbird, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sō Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, Atlanta Symphony, Sandbox Percussion, Albany Symphony, PRISM Quartet, and Dallas Winds, among many others. Viet’s music has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, and his works for wind ensemble have amassed hundreds of performances worldwide. Passionate about bringing these different facets of the contemporary music community together, his upcoming projects include a concerto for Eighth Blackbird with the United States Navy Band. Viet also enjoys exploring the unexpected and whimsical, and he is often drawn to projects where he can make peculiar combinations and sounds feel enchanting or oddly satisfying. His recent works thus include a snare drum solo, percussion quartet concerto, and, most recently, a double oboe concerto. He is currently the California Symphony’s Young American Composer-in-Residence, and recently served as the Early Career Musician-in-Residence at the Dumbarton Oaks. Viet holds degrees from Princeton University (MFA/PhD), the Curtis Institute of Music (AD), and Peabody Conservatory (BM/MM). 

In the Composer’s Own Words

I have tremendous respect for renewable energy initiatives and the commitment to creating a new, better reality for us all. Re(new)al is a percussion quartet concerto that is similarly devoted to finding unexpected ways to breathe new life into traditional ideas, and the solo quartet therefore performs on several “found” instruments, including crystal glasses and (reusable) compressed air cans. And while the piece also features more traditional instruments, such as snare drum and vibraphone, I looked for ways to either alter their sounds or find new ways to play them. For instance, a single snare drum is played by all four members of the quartet, and certain notes of the vibraphone are prepared with aluminum foil to recreate sounds found in electronic music. The entire piece was conceived in this way, and it was a blast to discover all of these unique sounds with the members of Sandbox Percussion. Read More

Excerpt of Viet Cuong’s re(new)al

“[inti’s] music feels sprouted between structures, liberated from certainty and wrought from a language we’d do well to learn” writes the Washington Post.

NYC-based composer inti figgis-vizueta (b. 1993) writes magically real musics through the lens of personal identities, braiding a childhood of overlapping immigrant communities and Black-founded Freedom schools—in Chocolate City (DC)—with direct Andean & Irish heritage and a deep connection to the land. Her musical practice is physical and visceral, attempting to reconcile historical aesthetics and experimental practices with trans & indigenous futures. Read More

In the Composer’s Own Words

The increasing intensity of wildfires in the United States, alongside shifts in mainstream conversations regarding decoloniality, has made clear the need for the traditional Indigenous knowledge of fire ecology. Controlled burns were integral to Indigenous peoples as part of land stewardship and modification; fire was a source of regeneration and cultivation that cleared open areas for grazing/hunting, increased regrowth of foods and medicinals, and decreased the risk of large, uncontrolled fires drawing on built-up fuel. The genocide and displacement of American Indigenous peoples in the past 400 years disrupted the caretaking of the land and introduced the colonial practice of total fire suppression. There have been recent collaborations between government environmental agencies and tribes regarding new fire regimes, but there has yet to be any significant systemic change that would ensure continued access and stewardship by American Indigenous peoples. Read More

Recent Work

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. Read More

In the Composer’s Own Words

Hello, Tomorrow!, for orchestra and electronics, takes its title from George Lefferts’ story that was adapted for the radio drama series Dimension X and X Minus One in the 1950s, and is a response to reading Naomi Oreskes’ and Eric M. Conway’s The Collapse of Western Civilization.  Both use science fiction to depict a future made unrecognizable by human (in)actions.  This composition is a reflection on the actions that can be taken today to bring about positive change.  Building on Yvette Janine Jackson’s body of electroacoustic radio operas, Hello, Tomorrow! invites the listener to draw upon personal experiences and knowledge to construct the narrative.

Yvette’s Featured Work for EarShot in 2016

About Featured Artists

Praised for her dynamic, passionate conducting style, Taiwanese American conductor Mei-Ann Chen is acclaimed for infusing orchestras with energy, enthusiasm and high-level music-making, galvanizing audiences and communities alike. Music Director of the MacArthur Award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta since 2011, Ms. Chen has been named Chief Conductor of Austria’s Recreation Grosses Orchester Graz at Styriarte beginning fall 2021 after two seasons as the orchestra’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor, making her the first female Asian conductor to hold this position with an Austrian orchestra. Since September 2019, she also serves as the first-ever Artistic Partner of Houston’s ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra). Ms. Chen also has served as Artistic Director & Conductor for the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Summer Festival since 2016. Highly regarded as a compelling communicator and an innovative leader both on and off the podium, and a sought-after guest conductor, she has appeared with distinguished orchestras throughout the Americas, Europe, Taiwan, The United Kingdom, and Scandinavia, and continues to expand her relationships with orchestras worldwide (over 110 orchestras to date).Honors include being named one of the 2015 Top 30 Influencers by Musical America; the 2012 Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras; Winner, the 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship founded by Marin Alsop; and 2005 First Prize Winner of the Malko Competition (she remains as the only woman in the competition history since 1965 to have won First Prize), and ASCAP awards for innovative programming. [/read]

Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. He has been described as “fiery”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone” by the New York Times. Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works, and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. As a member of the Kronos Quartet, he is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society’s Cultural Achievement Award.

This Fall, Zeigler will release his next album, Houses of Zodiac: Poems for Cello with music by Paola Prestini. It will be a multimedia experience that combines spoken word, movement, music, and imagery into a unified exploration of love, loss, trauma and healing. The project takes its title from the twelve houses of the zodiac as facets of the self, and draws inspiration from explorations of the subconscious including Anaïs Nin’s House of Incest and the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Natasha Trethewey. Filmed by Murat Eyüboglu at MASS MoCA and Studio Polygons in Tokyo, Japan, the digital experience will feature the performances and original choreography of New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and Butoh dancer Dai Matsuoka, a member of the acclaimed Butoh troupe Sankai Juku.

“Their playing is exuberant, funky and more exactingly nuanced.” (New York Times)

Described as “exhilarating” by The New York Times, and “utterly mesmerizing” by The Guardian, GRAMMY®-nominated ensemble Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent of this generation of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music. Read More