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June 13-14: American Composers Orchestra Holds EarShot Readings Mentored by Marcos Balter, Curtis Stewart & Niloufar Nourbakhsh

April 18, 2024 | By Katy Salomon
Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations

 Katy Salomon | Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations 
katy@primoartists.com | 212.837.8466 

American Composers Orchestra Announces
June 2024 EarShot Readings 

Thursday, June 13, 2024 and Friday, June 14, 2024
Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music 

Mentor Composers: Marcos Balter, Curtis Stewart, Niloufar Nourbakhsh

Selected Composers: Malachi Brown, Samuel Torres, Sofía Scheps, 
Anuj Bhutani, Madeline Merwin, Eunsung Kim

“In an ideal musical world there would be no need for an orchestra 
dedicated to performing new and recent works by American composers. 
That mission would be crucial to every American orchestra. 
But we don’t live in an ideal musical world.” – The New York Times


New York, NY (April 18, 2024) – Hailed as an “essential organization” (The New York Times) with “an expansive vision of orchestral composition” (Represent Classical), the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces details of its June 2024 EarShot Readings in New York.

Following 2024 readings with Indiana University Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and ROCO (Houston), ACO presents and performs its own EarShot Readings on June 13 and 14, 2024 at the Neidorff-Karpati Hall in Manhattan School of Music, featuring workshops of composers Malachi Brown (Statements: a journal entry)Samuel Torres (Frailejón)Sofía Scheps (demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: %)Anuj Bhutani (After the Freeze)Madeline Merwin (Dirty Ice), and Eunsung Kim (Kaleidoscope for Orchestra). The selected composers, chosen from a competitive nationwide call for scores highlighting and celebrating the unique musical and cultural contributions of the Americas to global musical ecosystems, will receive mentorship from Marcos BalterCurtis Stewart, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh as well as musicians of the ACO and conductor Delta David Gier.

On Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:30am, audiences are welcome to experience the workshopping via open rehearsals, and on Friday, June 14, 2024 at 7:30pm, the ACO will perform the works in concert.

Malachi Brown’s Statements: a journal entry is crafted as a chronology of the composer’s thoughts, experiences, and vision for the country over a period of time, using these reflections as jumping-off points for finding peace in the midst of chaos. In his program notes, he shares, “Statements is a series of pieces that serve as my own personal journal recapping a year or a moment in time I just lived. What I struggle to do with words, I do with my music. Statements: a journal entry is no exception to this, as it describes both a crucial moment in my life and the world, just as much as it illustrates a concept. This piece exists within the realm of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.”

‍Samuel Torres’ Frailejón takes its distinctive character from its use of the cowbell, in both its tones and underlying spirit. The instrument is woven throughout this orchestral tapestry of a work, sometimes as a subtle background, providing an energetic foundation. At other times, it bursts forth with the full power of the orchestra, driving the music forward with exhilarating force. The piece takes its name from the Frailejón genus of plant life in South America – comparing its vital yet often overlooked role in the Andean ecosystem to the role of the cowbell in Salsa music. Torres shares, “This orchestral piece is a tribute to both the Frailejón and the cowbell, a celebration of the vital yet under-recognized elements that contribute to the beauty and vibrancy of our world. May it inspire us to listen more closely, not just to music, but to the delicate balance of our planet. It's a reminder that true magic often lies in the seemingly simple, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated in new ways.”

Sofía Scheps’s demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: % proposes to audibly reveal the percentage and instrumental distribution of the women who are part of the orchestra that performs it. On several occasions, the piece calls for the literal repetition of a passage, with the condition that the repetition must be performed exclusively by the group of people who perceive themselves as women. In this way, that proportion becomes audible. In the case of the strings, the piece specifically resorts to differentiated parts for women: at times, all the strings read the same part; at other times they are divided, with the women performing different lines. Scheps shares, “The number of women present and their distribution in the string section will determine the balance and preponderance in that instrumental ensemble. In this way, the aim is to make the presence of women in the orchestral group audible. How many are there? What instruments do they play? What role do they have within the section? (soloist, second chair, etc). The music will seem to fall apart at times, shedding light upon the human composition of the orchestra: the presences and absences.”

Anuj Bhutani’s After the Freeze was inspired by the historic Winter Uri freeze that hit the southern U.S. in February of 2021. As the country entered yet another level of isolation amidst freezing temperatures and rolling blackouts during the pre-vaccine era of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhutani aimed to create a backing track to the experience with synthesizers and electronic percussion. On his composition process, he shared, “I invited eight colleagues to freely improvise without hearing what any other musician was contributing. I curated their responses, added electronics and edited the videos of each ‘ensemble’ member performing into what was essentially an installation. The second version, for string orchestra, tabla, sitar, drum set, electric bass, and Carnatic singer, was commissioned by Ryan Ross and the Allen Philharmonic. In the second version, I was able to more directly bridge the orchestra with the worlds of funk, pop, and rock music (with a hint of jazz) that I grew up listening to. In this new version for orchestra, these connections between genres (and my musical identities) are fully crystallized.”

Madeline Merwin’s Dirty Ice is an exploration of the line between pop/funk and classical music. By integrating traditional funk band instruments such as the electric guitar, drum set, and saxophone into the classical orchestra, a new fusion of sounds becomes possible. While these genres exist in very separate socio-political spheres, this piece sets out to link them sonically and prove they aren’t as different as they may appear. Merwin explained, “The title Dirty Ice is derived from the process of baking cakes; to ‘dirty ice’ a cake is to slap on a coat of icing to get a foundation to work with before one goes in to clean it up. I applied this term to the piece during the early stages of my writing process, and it ended up echoing the playful and edgy pseudo-funk character of the music.” 

Within Eunsung Kim’s Kaleidoscope for Orchestra, gradually accumulating, initially disparate elements come together over time to create a unified sound – a melding of different ranges and instruments to generate a sound that’s entirely new. Using unique criteria to categorize and combine musical elements, Kim shapes this composiiton’s many pieces into a cohesive musical narrative. Kim’s participation in the EarShot Readings is made possible by the exchange of ACO’s EarShot and the Korean National Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ Atelier program. 

EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for cultivating relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level, developed by the American Composers Orchestra to ensure a vibrant future for new American orchestral music. Over the last 25 years, these readings have provided more than 250 composers with vital artistic and technical resources, as well as career-accelerating public exposure. EarShot alumni have won every composition award, including the Pulitzer, GRAMMY, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts & Letters, and Rome Prizes, to name a few. Critically, composer-orchestra relationships extend beyond the EarShot Readings themselves. Since 2009, more than 25 works have been commissioned by partner orchestras from EarShot participants, and more than half of selected EarShot composers report receiving a commission directly resulting from their participation.

Program Details:
American Composers Orchestra: EarShot Open Rehearsals
Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:30am
Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music | New York, NY

Link: www.americancomposers.org/performances-events/earshot-readings-american-composers-orchestra 

American Composers Orchestra: EarShot Public Reading
Friday, June 14, 2024 at 7:30pm 
Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music | New York, NY
Link: www.americancomposers.org/performances-events/earshot-readings-american-composers-orchestra-public-reading 

Featured Artists and Works:
Malachi Brown – Statements: a journal entry
‍Samuel Torres – Frailejón
Sofía Scheps  – demografía acústica: % / acoustic demography: %
Anuj Bhutani  – After the Freeze
Madeline Merwin – Dirty Ice
Eunsung Kim – Kaleidoscope for Orchestra

American Composers Orchestra
     Delta David Gier, conductor

About the Composers
Malachi Brown is a cellist and composer born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. He has studied music composition and cello performance at Old Dominion University and Ithaca College. He is an advocate for collaboration between art mediums and is always eager to tackle a new project if it means adding his own touch. Malachi has composed for the concert stage, animation, and film thus far in his career. He incorporates many combinations of styles in his music but it is always rooted in a neo-romantic sound. 

‍Samuel Torres is a celebrated Latin Grammy Award-winning percussionist and composer. Originally from Bogotá (Colombia) and based in Brooklyn, NY, Samuel thrives at the intersection of Afro-Latin rhythms, Latin jazz, and contemporary classical music. In 2023, he earned his master’s degree in classical composition from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, where he was honored with the Nicolas Flagello Award for his outstanding achievements as a composer.

Sofía Scheps is a Uruguayan composer and graduate from the School of Music of the University of the Republic (Uruguay), where she is currently an assistant professor to the chairs of Composition and Orchestration, at the Theory and Composition Department. In 2023 she was selected by Music at the Anthology Festival (MATA Festival, NY) as Composer in Residence, with a piece commissioned by Found Sound Nation. In addition to working in the frontiers of experimentalism, electroacoustic music, mixed media, chamber music, and sound art, Sofia also devotes part of her time to sound design and composition of original music for cinema, television series, and theatre plays.

Anuj Bhutani is a quickly emerging composer/performer whose music often features visceral grooves; ethereal, meditative spaces; a combination of acoustic instruments and electronics; and a strong sense of narrative in a genre-fluid space. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree at USC with Andrew Norman and completed his bachelor’s degree in composition at University of North Texas.

Madeline Merwin is an American composer and professor specializing in contemporary classical music composition and multimedia music projects. She enjoys working with dance, film, and theater as well as in traditional classical concert settings, and strives to blend classical music with pop/rock groove influences. Currently completing a residency fellowship at the University of Michigan to compose a full-length ballet with Eisenhower Dance Detroit, Madeline is also an adjunct professor of music theory and aural skills at Henry Ford College.

Eunsung Kim is a German-based Korean composer. Kim earned his Bachelor’s degree in composition at Seoul National University under Tae Bong Chung. He went on to earn his Master and Konzertexamen’s degree from Music University of Franz Liszt Weimar, where he studied under Michael Obst und Ulrich Kreppein. His works had been performed by Academy Ensemble Musikfabrik, Ensemble recherche, International Ensemble Modern Academy, Loh-Sondershausen Orchester, KBS Orchestra, Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha, Ensemble of Staatskapelle Weimar, Aris Quartett, and Quartet Tokyo-Berlin.

About American Composers Orchestra
In 1977, a collective of fearless New York City musicians came together to form the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), an ensemble dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. Over more than 40 years committed to artistry, creativity, community and equity, ACO has blossomed into a national institution that not only cultivates and develops the careers of living composers, but also provides composers a direct pipeline to partnerships with many of America’s major symphony orchestras.

In addition to its annual season, presented by Carnegie Hall since 1987, the ACO serves as a New York City hub where the most forward-thinking experimental American musicians come together to hone and realize new art by developing talent, established composers, and underrepresented voices, increasing the regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music.
ACO produces national educational programs for all ages, and composer advancement programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders – all dedicated to American composition. 

To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Recent and notable commissioned composers include John Luther Adams, Andy Akiho, Clarice Assad, Carlos Bandera, Courtney Bryan, Valerie Coleman, Dai Wei, Du Yun, inti figgis-vizueta, Marcus Gilmore, Vijay Iyer, Yvette Janine Jackson, Joan La Barbara, Steve Lehman, Tania León, Paula Matthusen, Trevor New, Mendi Keith Obadike, Ellen Reid, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Carlos Simon, Henry Threadgill, and many more.

Now encompassing all of ACO’s composer advancement initiatives, EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for developing relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level. Through orchestral readings, CoLABoratory fellowships, consortium commissions, publishing and professional development, EarShot ensures a vibrant musical future by investing in creativity today. Serving over 350 composers since inception, ACO Readings in NYC began in 1991, and since 2008, national Readings 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. EarShot 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. Learn more at www.americancomposers.org

*Pictured (L-R) – Top: Malachi Brown, Samuel Torres, Sofía Scheps, Bottom: Anuj Bhutani, Madeline Merwin, Eunsung Kim. Collage Courtesy of American Composers Orchestra.

# # #

EarShot is a program of American Composers Orchestra completed in partnership with American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. The program is made possible with lead support from Altman Foundation, Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting, Mellon Foundation, Sphinx Venture Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Ford Good Neighbor Committee, and The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowships; additional support is provided by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the League of American Orchestras with support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Public funds are provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lead support for EarShot CoLABoratory is generously provided by TD Charitable Foundation and Altman Foundation.

EarShot: Advancing Equity through Publishing & Repertoire Development is powered by the Sphinx Venture Fund.

The commission of Unsurrendable Glisten of the Ices, Part II by Laura Ortman is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.



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