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Students, Faculty + Alumni

Andy Akiho ’11 MM wins ACO's Underwood Emerging Composer Commission

akiho_h_webComposer Andy Akiho has been named the winner of the American Composers Orchestra's 2014 Annual Underwood Emerging Composers Commission. Chosen from seven finalists during ACO’s 23rd annual Underwood New Music Readings in April, Akiho will receive $15,000 for a work to be premiered by ACO in a future season.

The Underwood Commission is one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States. Akiho won the prize with his work Tarnished Mirrors.

ACO music director George Manahan said, “When the musicians of ACO and I performed Andy Akiho’s Tarnished Mirrors, we discovered a work of intense pulse – music with syncopations, cross-rhythms, and metric modulations. His clarity of orchestration reflected a deep understanding of idiomatic writing for the individual instruments and an original palette of colors. We look forward to performing a new commissioned work of Andy’s next season.”

Julia Wolfe, also a mentor composer this year, added, “Andy Akiho is an exciting fresh voice in the new music scene. His high voltage works incorporate speedy cross-rhythms, beautiful timbres, and tuneful fragments that weave together with a very personal voice. In addition to composing Akiho is also a steel pan virtuoso and his work is informed by this tradition in new and inventive ways. His broad musicianship brings a rich array of sounds and sensibilities together in highly original work.

Upon winning the Underwood commission, Andy Akiho said, “My experience in the Underwood Readings was truly inspiring. I learned so much from my innovative colleagues, mentor composers, George Manahan and the performers in ACO. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to have my orchestral work read and workshopped by such an amazing orchestra, and I really look forward to writing a new piece specifically for them.”


About Andy Akiho

Andy Akiho was born in 1979 in Columbia, South Carolina and now resides in New York. His musical interests run from steel pan to traditional classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! series and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW, a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. His rhythmic compositions have been recognized with awards including the 2014-15 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, a 2012 Chamber Music America Grant with Sybarite5, the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition Grand Prize, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, the 2011 Woods Chandler Memorial Prize (Yale School of Music), a 2011 Music Alumni Award (YSM), the 2010 Horatio Parker Award (YSM), three ASCAP Plus Awards, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and a 2008 Brian M. Israel Prize. Akiho is a graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition). He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Princeton University. His compositions have been featured on PBS’s “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music. Of Akiho, Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang says, “His music is attractive and smart and full of invention. [He is] one of the hardest working composers I have ever met.” Tarnished Mirrors was his first non-concerto work for orchestra. He was a featured composer/performer in ACO’s 2011 SONiC Festival of emerging composers.