Conducted by ACO Music Director Emeritus George Manahan
ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Jessie Montgomery
Tommy Dougherty, Adeliia Faizullina, Patrick Holcomb, Elijah Daniel Smith, Will Stackpole, Yuting Tan, Yuqin (“Strucky”) Yi
Open-to-the-Public Reading: Friday, June 17 at 7:30PM
In-person attendance is at capacity.
Register to watch the free livestream, and receive the link for on-demand viewing: REGISTER
DiMenna Center for Classical Music | 450 W. 37th St., NYC
New York, NY – American Composers Orchestra (ACO) continues its commitment to the creation and development of new orchestra music, and to the next generation of composers, through its 2022 ACO EarShot Readings in New York City on June 16 and 17, 2022 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 W. 37th St.). In what has become an influential platform for aspiring orchestral composers, seven artists from throughout the United States are selected to receive a reading of a new work, giving audiences a chance to look behind the scenes of bringing new, diverse orchestral music to life. Each composer participating in the Readings receives rehearsals, a reading, and a digital recording of his or her work, and one commission will be awarded to write a new work for ACO. In addition, participants attend a series of online Professional Development Sessions which cover topics including creative collaboration, self-publishing for composers, fundraising, and orchestral commissions and contracting.
Two open-to-the-public events will be held. A free, working rehearsal will be presented on Thursday, June 16 at 9:30AM (reservations required); on Friday, June 17 at 7:30PM, all selected pieces will be polished and performed in their entirety. Both events at the DiMenna Center are at capacity for in-person attendance, but a livestream of the Friday evening Reading has been added. Registration is free, and will also include a link for later on-demand viewing. Register here.
This year, seven of the nation’s most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers were selected from over 200 submissions. Tommy Dougherty, Adeliia Faizullina, Patrick Holcomb, Elijah Daniel Smith, Will Stackpole, Yuting Tan, and Yuqin (“Strucky”) Yirepresent a broad spectrum of musical backgrounds and sound worlds. Feedback sessions with ACO Music Director Emeritus George Manahan, ACO players, mentor composers, and ACO’s directors provide crucial artistic, technical, and conceptual assistance. This year’s mentor composers ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and Jessie Montgomery.
EarShot is a nationwide network of new music readings and composer development programs that provide professional level working experience with orchestras from every region of the country. Since 1991, EarShot Readings, and their predecessor ACO’s New Music Readings, have provided all-important career development and public exposure to the country’s most promising emerging composers, with over 350 composers participating. Readings alumni have won every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes. Orchestras around the globe have commissioned EarShot alumni.
This season, ACO also partnered with the Houston Symphony for EarShot Readings from March 29-30, 2022, conducted by Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation Assistant Conductor Yue Bao; the Oregon Symphony,conducted by Raúl Gómez-Rojas, from April 18-20, 2022; and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra from May 17-21, 2022, conducted by Music Director José Luis Gomez.
To date, ACO has partnered with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony and Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra (Mexico) through EarShot. ACO EarShot operates in partnership with American Composers Forum, New Music USA, and the League of American Orchestras.
About the Composers and their Works
Tommy Dougherty (b. 1990) – Restrung
Composer and violinist Tommy Dougherty is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a composer of orchestral, chamber, and solo works. Over the past several years, his music has been performed by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Modern Violin Ensemble (MoVE), Alarm Will Sound, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Kinetic Ensemble. In 2019, he was the recipient of the ASCAP Leo Kaplan Award for his orchestra piece Restrung, and in 2016 and 2017, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards. In 2018, Modern Violin Ensemble premiered Extraordinary Instruments, a violin quartet that aims to bring awareness to issues of gun culture in the United States. Dougherty received his bachelor’s degrees in both composition and violin performance from the Eastman School of Music and his Master of Music degree in composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He completed his DMA in composition at the USC Thornton School of Music where he studied privately with Andrew Norman and Sean Friar.
Of his piece Restrung, Dougherty writes, “Being a small part of a greater whole in a string section is exhilarating to me as a performer, yet I find that in today’s orchestra, where hundreds of violinists appear for an audition to compete for one chair, the audience rarely has the opportunity to hear each individual voice. Restrung is my first orchestral piece where the various string techniques and behaviors that I’ve developed over the past several years interact with the other families of the orchestra.”
Adeliia Faizullina (b.1988) – Bolghar
Adeliia Faizullina is a Tatar composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and quray player. As a composer, she explores cutting-edge vocal colors and paints delicate and vibrant atmospheres inspired by the music and poetry of Tatar folklore. The Washington Post has praised her compositions as “vast and varied, encompassing memory and imagination.” Her recent commissions include works for Jennifer Koh, the Tesla Quartet, Johnny Gandelsman, and the Metropolis Ensemble. Her works have also been performed by the Seattle Symphony, cellist Ashley Bathgate, the Del Sol Quartet, and Duo Cortona. She won the Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Competition in 2019, she won first prize in the Radio Orpheus Young Composers Competition in Moscow in 2018. Faizullina was a guest artist at Play On Philly in 2021, and is a member of Composing Earth 2022-2023, by the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. She was one of seven composers to be selected for the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute in 2022. Faizullina received her BM in Voice in Kazan, Russia, and BM in Music Composition in Gnessins Russian Academy of Music. She holds an MM in Music Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Music & Multimedia Composition at Brown University.
Faizullina’s piece is influenced by her recent visit to Bolghar, for her sister’s wedding. She writes, “Bolghar is an ancient city located in Tatarstan, Russia, from as early as the 8th Century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. . . When I’m in Bolghar, I feel my identity more precisely. I hear its voice more distinctly. It awakens in me, feelings that I am not just myself – I am someone that comes from this culture, these older generations. . . Because Bolghar is incorporated so well with nature, I’m using all the possibilities where I can refer to the basic nature of the orchestral instruments. I base my harmonies on the overtones series. With strings, I use a lot of harmonics and open strings. With winds, I use the sound of air, but it’s formed as a ritual: repeating patterns with slight differences.”
Patrick Holcomb (b. 1996) – Persephone
Patrick Holcomb is a composer from Ocean View, Delaware who is currently based in Rochester, New York. Holcomb’s recent compositional honors include a 2021 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, a 2021 American Prize in Composition, a 2020 BMI Student Composer Award, the 2019/2021 Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award, and the 2019 Georgina Joshi Composition Commission Award. Holcomb completed his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College, from which he graduated top of his class in the School of Music with a BM in Composition in 2018. He also earned an MM in Composition and an MM in Music Scoring for Visual Media from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2021. He studied with Claude Baker, Eugene O’Brien, and Aaron Travers at Indiana University; with Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann, Evis Sammoutis, and Dana Wilson at Ithaca College; and with Mark Camphouse prior to beginning his college education. Holcomb is currently pursuing a PhD in Composition at the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music as a student of David Liptak and a recipient of the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull University Fellowship from the University of Rochester.
Holcomb writes, “Persephone is a reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Persephone, the goddess who was abducted by Hades and subsequently forced to spend a portion of each year with him in the underworld. The work was born out of my attempt to imagine Persephone seeing her reflection in each of the six rivers visible from the underworld on her annual journey into Hades.”
Elijah Daniel Smith (b. 1995) – Wraith Weight
Praised by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a “rising star” composer Elijah Daniel Smith is quickly establishing himself as one of today’s leading young composers. His music, which has been described as “an extended flirtation with chaos” (Chicago Tribune), ranges from orchestral compositions to multimedia and interdisciplinary collaborations. His affinity for dense and complex textures, rhythmic ambiguity and fluidity, and rich gravitational harmonies shines through in all of his creations. Smith’s music has been premiered and performed by world-renowned ensembles such as The Chicago Symphony Orchestra for MusicNOW, Mivos Quartet, Sō Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, Contemporaneous, ~Nois, Ensemble Linea, Ecce Ensemble, Fuse Quartet, Earspace, and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming commissions and projects include new works for Bergamot Quartet, DITHER, and saxophonist Julian Velasco on behalf of the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. Smith is currently pursuing his PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University after earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition from the Boston Conservatory in 2017, and a Master of Music degree in Music Composition from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in 2020.
Smith writes of his new piece, “Wraith Weight explores the idea of sonic afterimages by blurring and distorting pitch centers, rhythmic centers, and varying levels of harmonic clarity.”
Will Stackpole (b. 1990) – Increment
Will Stackpole is a composer whose music has been called “lively” and possessing a “savage charm” by The New York Times. He began his musical career as an electric guitarist and recording engineer in Hoboken, New Jersey. He found himself driven to compose for the orchestra and quickly developed a vibrant compositional voice notable for its unique orchestration and quasi-tonal harmonic language. He continued his studies at The Juilliard School where he was the only ever three-time winner of the Juilliard Orchestra Competition. Stackpole’s works have been played across the United States by many notable ensembles including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the AMFS Conductor’s Orchestra, the Davin Levin Duo, and the Juilliard Orchestra. He is also the host of the Adagio for Things podcast and co-founder of Red Dog Ensemble, a new music group focused on innovative concert works. Stackpole holds a B.A. in Music and Technology from Stevens Institute of Technology and an M.M. in Composition from the Juilliard School. He is currently a composition instructor and adjunct professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ and a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Juilliard School where he is completing his dissertation on Steven Stucky’s life and music.
Stackpole’s piece Increment is written in response to today’s changing vision of normality. He writes, “Seemingly small and incremental changes to our social contract are gradually wearing away at our perception of societal order. These changes can be so constant that our capacity for activism or outrage or even simple attention can be worn thin. If a people cannot remain vigilant against these steadily encroaching revisions to our way of life, the door is left open for our entire social contract to be demolished. In this piece I attempted to explore the experience of living through these steady and imperceptible changes.”
Yuting Tan (b. 1994) – Ashes and Embers
Singaporean composer Yuting Tan writes music which explores the interaction of different sounds to form unique harmonies and textures. Her music has been recognized with numerous awards and has been performed in Singapore, the US, UK, Thailand, New Zealand, and Italy. Past collaborations include performances by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, National Sawdust Ensemble, Tacet(i) Ensemble, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Empyrean Ensemble, ~Nois, Alarm Will Sound, Now Hear This, Unassisted Fold, and Ensemble Soundinitiative. Recent commissions include four set pieces for the National Piano and Violin Competition 2021 in Singapore and a piece for the Megalopolis Saxophone Orchestra as their composer-in-residence. Yuting also enjoys working with artists from other fields and creating music in collaboration with other art forms. In 2019, she performed her original live score for the USA premiere screening of Chinese film pioneer Shouju Zhu’s 1925 film Stormy Night (Fengyu zhi ye). Yuting is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Composition at the University of Chicago on a full fellowship from the Division of the Humanities.
Yuting Tan writes of her new piece, “The flames burn into the night and sparks fly amidst the growing cloud of smoke. What is burning? There is a sense of wonder, awe, horror, and loss. In the morning, ashes and embers are all that is left.”
Yuqin (Strucky) Yi (b. 1994) – Fetters
Yuqin (Strucky) Yi is a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist based in New York City. Influenced by a wide variety of music genres, his works aim for a crystallization not only of classical music but also of rock, jazz, and soul music. In addition to working in the commercial music industry, Yi has been involved with many classical and jazz events as a composer, orchestrater, and consultant. Selected for the NCPA’s Young Composers Program Award in 2019, his works have been in China, the United States, and Europe. His method of composition – of works that are often literary in conception – reflects the fullness and possibility of contemporary music, freshly processing timbre, harmony, and rhythm to generate a philosophical narration of life experience. Yi held a Dual Degree of Bachelor in Music Performance and Finance from the South China University of Technology’s School of Art. Later he received his Master of Music in classical composition at Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Marjorie Merryman, Damien Sneed, David Adamcyk, Miguel Zenon, Reiko Fueting, Marc Cary and Matthew Holman.
Yi writes, “People have various sorts of fetters, fetters of lust and passion, fetters of the limitation in knowledge, fetters of relationship, fetters of government, fetters of social environment, fetters of the times. . .Nevertheless, we can also keep a positive attitude under the burdens, and still be able to dance in life philosophically.”
About American Composers Orchestra: Founded in 1977, 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, middle school through college composer education programs, and composer advancement programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders. ACO identifies and develops talent, performs established composers, champions those who are lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, racial, ethnic, geographic, stylistic, and age diversity. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works.
ACO offers an array of programs for emerging composers including its own annual New Music Readings in New York City, which has served over 350 composers since its inception in 1991, and EarShot Readings, which since 2008 have been offered in partnership with orchestras across the country in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras, New Music USA and American Composers Forum. Readings composers have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Rome Prizes.
ACO has received numerous awards for its work, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra’s outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded ACO its annual prize for adventurous programming 35 times, singling out ACO as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States.” ACO received the inaugural MetLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. Read more: www.americancomposers.org