American Composers Orchestra's (ACO) 2012-13 concert season is a banner year for the orchestra, marked by unprecedented opportunities for composers through three initiatives that illustrate ACO's role as a catalyst for the creation of new orchestral music: CoLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, ACO's groundbreaking composition and performance laboratory; the 22nd annual Underwood New Music Readings, one of the country's most sought-after programs for emerging composers (DiMenna Center, May 30-31, 2013); and the nationwide expansion of the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings in partnership with The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (DiMenna Center, June 1-2, 2013).
The season is anchored by three Orchestra Underground concerts at Carnegie Hall, "underground" in Zankel Hall (October 26, 2012, January 18, 2013, and April 5, 2013), which will include at least eight world premieres commissioned by ACO, two US premieres, and one New York premiere by composers José Serebrier, Narong Prangcharoen, Gabriela Lena Frank, Milica Paranosic, Kyle Blaha, Zhou Long, Kate Soper, and more. In addition, ACO will perform two iconic pieces of American music – Charles Ives' Symphony No. 3 ("Camp Meeting") from 1910 and Lukas Foss' Time Cycle from 1960.
ACO's Orchestra Underground concerts at Zankel Hall bring newly commissioned pieces and orchestral masterworks to the stage, with diverse influences including a mysterious childhood nightmare (Gabriela Lena Frank's Manchay Tiempo), the aural environment of a temple in Thailand (Narong Prangcharoen's The Migration of Lost Souls), a bestselling political-fantasy novel (Milica Paranosic's The Tiger's Wife: Prologue), an ancient timekeeping ritual of China (Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower), and a set of poems about the myth of Orpheus (Kate Soper's now is forever he whispered: Orpheus and Eurydice for Voice & Orchestra).
ACO's 36th season pushes the boundaries of what is possible for the orchestra further than ever before, fully embracing experimentation and the process of creation. CoLABoratory is ACO's research and development laboratory for innovative new orchestral music. The program does away with expectations often associated with orchestral premieres that can squelch composers' creative impulses – limited rehearsal time, restrictive instrumental possibilities, pre-conceived programmatic or thematic ideas for concerts, and most importantly – the overwhelming pressure on composers to do something "safe." CoLABoratory will run throughout the season, with several opportunities for the public to see and hear the selected composers' works-in-progress unfolding at open rehearsals and workshops (November 13, 2012; December 11, 2012; January 22, 2013; March 5, 2013; April 2, 2013) before the April 5, 2013 performance at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.
ACO and Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, in cooperation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI). The Institute will bring together 35 jazz composers at various stages in their careers, chosen from a national pool of applicants, to explore the challenges of writing for the symphony orchestra in a weeklong series of workshops and symposia from August 7-11, 2012 on the UCLA campus. Afterward, up to 20 composer participants will be awarded the opportunity to compose a new work for symphony orchestra, which will be workshopped, rehearsed, and performed between April and September 2013 by one of four host orchestras around the country – ACO, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony, and one additional orchestra. ACO's JCOI Readings will take place at the DiMenna Center on June 1 and 2, 2013.
Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra remains the only orchestra in the world dedicated exclusively to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. To date, ACO has performed music by more than 600 American composers, including more than 200 world premieres and newly commissioned works.
New Digital Album – Orchestra Underground: X10D
ACO's third digital album – Orchestra Underground: X10D – will be released on June 1, 2012. Following Playing It UNsafe (March 2011) and Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 (January 2012), this new album explores the extremes that become possible when featured soloists play atypical -- in some cases bizarre -- instruments with the orchestra. Orchestra Underground: X10D includes Keeril Makan's Dream Lightly for electric guitar and orchestra, with Seth Josel as soloist; Evan Ziporyn's Big Grenadilla featuring the composer on bass clarinet; composer/baritone saxophonist Fred Ho's When the Real Dragons Fly!; Ned McGowan's Bantammer Swing featuring the composer as the contrabass flute soloist; and Neil Rolnick's iFiddle Concerto featuring Todd Reynolds as soloist on a "cyborg" violin. By making available never-before-recorded orchestral music, ACO goes beyond the concert hall, reaching new listeners and gaining greater exposure and visibility for the composers it showcases in this series. ACO's digital albums are available from iTunes, Amazon.com, InstantEncore, and more. (Press downloads available upon request.)
ACO's Orchestra Underground
Orchestra Underground is ACO's subversive and entrepreneurial exploration of the orchestra as an elastic ensemble that can respond to composers' unhindered creativity in experimental and innovative ways. Orchestra Underground embraces new technology, eclectic instruments and influences, altered spatial orientation, new experiments in concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations. Since the opening of Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall's subterranean state-of-the-art auditorium, Orchestra Underground has played to sold-out audiences, with over 75 world premieres and newly commissioned works.
Orchestra Underground: Dreams & Dances
Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at 7:30pm. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (57th St. & 7th Ave., NYC).
Dreams & Dances features music inspired by the surreal and the fantastic. The program includes the world premieres of Milica Paranosic's The Tiger's Wife: Prologue (inspired by the novel of the same title by Téa Obreht), as well as ACO's 2011 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner Narong Prangcharoen's The Migration of Lost Souls. The concert also includes the US premiere of José Serebrier's Flute Concerto with Tango featuring soloist Sharon Bezaly, and the New York premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank's Manchay Tiempo. Charles Ives' Symphony No. 3 ("Camp Meeting") from 1910 completes the program. José Serebrier will be ACO's guest conductor.
About the Composers & Music
Conductor and composer José Serebrier (b. 1938), who has frequently guest conducted ACO and has led ACO's Underwood New Music Readings in years past, is one of the most recorded classical artists. He has received 37 Grammy nominations in recent years. Serebrier has composed more than 100 works, and has won numerous awards including two Guggenheims, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts. Flute Concerto with Tango was commissioned for flutist Sharon Bezaly, who performed and recorded it with the Austalian Chamber Orchestra for the BIS label. Serebrier explains the title, saying, "The fourth movement justifies the title of the work. Traditionally, tangos end with a strong dominant chord followed by a brief, barely audible tonic chord. I take this idea further, leaving my tango up in the air in the middle of a phrase, so that the listener can make his own conclusion." For more information, visit www.joseserebrier.com.
Narong Prangcharoen (b. 1973) studied with Chen Yi and received his doctoral degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City. His music has been called "absolutely captivating" by the Chicago Sun Times and has been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. Prangcharoen is the 2011 winner of ACO's Underwood Emerging Composer Commission. Of Prangcharoen's winning piece Pubbanimitta ("Foreboding"), Underwood mentor composer Paul Chihara said, "Mr. Prangcharoen writes music that reaches and moves his listeners with soaring melodies and intense rhythmic dance patterns." His works have been heard at the Beijing Modern Music, MoMA Music and Grant Park Festivals, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at the Library of Congress. In 2007, the Thai government named Prangcharoen a Contemporary National Artist and awarded him the Silapathorn Award. Prangcharoen's piece for ACO, The Migration of Lost Souls, takes as its inspiration a temple in Thailand and the soul's journey into the after life. For more information, visit www.narongmusic.com.
Charles Ives (1874-1954) is one of the most remarkable composers America has produced. Ives studied the organ and was a composition pupil of Horatio Parker at Yale University, from which he graduated in 1898. At an early age, he decided that he would not make music the means of earning his livelihood; he realized that it might be too difficult not to compromise his artistic ideals if his livelihood depended on his music. Accordingly, he entered the insurance business and made a fortune. His Yankee refusal to accept the usual way of combining sounds left him to explore many novel and often descriptive ways of putting sounds together, placing him far ahead of his time. Many of Ives' explorations into new harmonic and contrapuntal possibilities antedated the work of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. A long list of compositions, most written before 1920, includes four symphonies, chamber music, two piano sonatas, five violin and piano sonatas, and many songs and choral pieces, as well as a number of other orchestral works. Ives described his Symphony No. 3 in his autobiographical notes: "The themes are mostly based around hymns and from organ pieces played in Central Presbyterian Church around 1901." Symphony No. 3 was performed for the first time on April 5, 1946, in New York by the New York Little Symphony with Lou Harrison conducting. The score was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.
Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972) explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. Frank's piece, Manchay Tiempo, attempts to render a mysterious recurring dream Frank has had since childhood – one that she discovered has roots in a documentary film she viewed long ago, telling of the horrors of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), a Maoist-inspired terrorist group in Peru.
Milica Paranosic (b. 1968) is a New York City-based composer, sound designer, music educator, and producer. A 2002 participant in ACO's New Music Readings, she is also a regular teaching artist in ACO's educational outreach program in New York City public schools – Music Factory. She has received grants from Meet the Composer, American Music Center, Soros Foundation, Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg, among many others. She is the resident composer and multimedia director of VisionIntoArt, an interdisciplinary performance and production team; founder and executive director of Give to Grow, an education and cultural exchange project that brings technology to children in underdeveloped communities; and co-founder of Beyond the Machine, a festival of electronic and interactive music at Juilliard. Paranosic's new work, The Tiger's Wife: Prologue for Electronics, Projections & Orchestra, takes as its inspiration a bestselling novel of the same title by Téa Obreht, who, like Paranosic, was born in Belgrade. Paranosic says, "Apart from obvious cultural and geographical connection between Obreht and myself, there are numerous parallels in our aesthetics, including mixing real and imagined, old and new, fantasy and history, folk and pop, Serbian and English languages, and the use of symbols." For more information, visit www.milicaparanosic.com.
About the Soloist
Sharon Bezaly was chosen as Instrumentalist of the Year by the prestigious Klassik Echo in Germany in 2002 and as Young Artist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards in 2003. Classics Today has hailed her as "a flutist virtually without peer in the world today." Bezaly appears as soloist with leading orchestras and in the most prestigious concerts halls worldwide. Recent highlights include solo appearances at the London Proms and the Welsh Proms with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as appearances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Spanish National Orchestra, recitals at Wigmore Hall and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and concerts at the Musikverein Vienna. To date, Sharon Bezaly has seventeen dedicated concertos by renowned composers, which she performs all over the world. For more information, visit www.sharonbezaly.com.
Orchestra Underground: Time Travels
Friday, January 18, 2013, at 7:30pm. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (57th St. & 7th Ave., NYC).
Time Travels features music that explores the past, present, and future – both real and imagined. Lukas Foss' 1960 masterwork, Time Cycle, is the centerpiece for the concert, with soprano Jennifer Zetlan. The evening also includes the world premieres of composer and soprano Kate Soper's "now is forever" he whispered for Voice and Orchestra and Kyle Blaha's Sinfonietta, and the US premiere of Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower. ACO Music Director George Manahan conducts.
About the Composers & Music
A true Renaissance man, Lukas Foss (1922-2009) was a rare musician, equally renowned as a composer, conductor, pianist, and educator. As a composer, Foss eagerly embraced the musical languages of his time, producing a body of over one hundred works that Aaron Copland described as including "among the most original and stimulating compositions in American Music." Time Cycle marked a turning point in Foss' compositional approach. He said, "I was professor of composition, and I wanted to get my students away from the tyranny of the printed note. So I invented a form of non-jazz ensemble improvisation. It was meant to change my students; well, it changed me." Time Cycle is written for soprano and orchestra, and was premiered by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein in 1960. It sets four texts, two in English and two in German, each of which has some reference to time or clocks.
Kyle Blaha (b. 1981) received his D.M.A. in May 2011 from Juilliard and his B.M. from Eastman School of Music. He has studied composition with Darrell Handel, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Samuel Adler, Philip Lasser, and Robert Beaser. The artistic director of the Making Score composition program with the New York Youth Symphony, Blaha is also on the faculty at the European American Musical Alliance Program in Paris. He has received multiple ASCAP Young Composer Awards and awards for study in Germany, including a Fulbright grant and a D.A.A.D. grant. His work has been premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra and the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute, and he has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the New Juilliard Ensemble. His new work in three movements, Sinfonietta, is commissioned with support from The Jerome Foundation. Each movement explores a different aspect of composition – harmony, melody, and texture.
Zhou Long (b. 1953) is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. In 2011 Zhou Long was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, Madame White Snake. Zhou Long's Bell Drum Tower is inspired by the bells and drums used during the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China to tell time. Zhou Long says of the new piece, "In Bell Drum Towers, I am exploring my fantasy, the pulse of the drums beating. Gradually, new patterns develop, each time in a faster tempo, building to a climax that brings the presto wind-like section. Finally, the hazy wind rang the lingering bells."