The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the recipients of their Art Works Grants for 2016, and several faculty, alumni, and student composers are among the awardees. The organization awarded $27 million for arts projects across the United States, and the first round of FY 2016 funding inaugurates the next 50 Years of National Endowment for the Arts Support. The NEA defines "Art Works" as referring to three things: the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and the fact that art is work for the artists and arts professionals who make up the field. The NEA recognizes these catalytic effects of excellent art, and the key role that arts and design organizations play in revitalizing them.
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
The New Haven Symphony Orchestra has received a $20,000 grant for its two-year journey with Hannah Lash '12 AD, current YSM composition faculty member and the NHSO’s Composer-in-Residence. She will write the most monumental work of her career thus far– a complete Symphony based on the mysterious Voynich Manuscript housed in Yale’s Beinecke Library. The NHSO will premiere each of the Symphony’s four movements over the course of two seasons. The first movement, “Herbal,” was premiered on October 1, 2015 at Woolsey Hall in New Haven, CT; the second movement, “Astronomical,” will be premiered on May 19, 2016. The third movement, “Biological,” will be premiered in the Fall of 2016 and the entire Symphony, including the fourth movement, “Cosmological,” will be performed in the Spring of 2017.
Sarah Kirkland Snider
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra has received a grant to help fund a community engagement project centered on Hiraeth, a new work by Princeton composer Sarah Kirkland Snider '05 MM, '06AD. A meditation on home, family, heritage, and identity, Hiraeth will be performed by the orchestra under Princeton Symphony Orchestra music director Rossen Milanov at the orchestra's final classical series concert of the season on May 15, 2016 at Princeton University. A series of community engagement events are also planned that include lectures, in-school workshops, and a special chamber concert designed to explore the music and inspirations being Snider's music.
Beth Morrison Projects LA Opera
Beth Morrison Projects and LA Opera have both received Art Works grants to support the commission and development of Anatomy Theater by composer David Lang ’83 MMA, ’89 DMA and co-librettist Mark Dion. A contemporary reflection on a historical event, the opera by Lang, who is also a current YSM faculty member, follows English murderess Sarah Osborne from confession to execution, denouncement, and public dissection. The libretto comprises found texts and anthropological investigations from the period. The creative team comprises director Bob McGrath, designers Bill Morrison and Laurie Olinder, conductor Christopher Rountree, and mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell (Sarah Osbourne). Production workshops will occur in Brooklyn at BRIC in the spring of 2016, and the premiere will take place at the Roy and Edna Disney CALARTS Theater (REDCAT) in the summer of 2016.
Augusta Read Thomas
The Chicago Philharmonic has received a grant to support the commission and premiere of a new work for percussion quartet and orchestra by composer Augusta Read Thomas '88 MM. Thomas will write the new work for Third Coast Percussion as the featured ensemble, and CPO Artistic Director Scott Speck will conduct the premiere. Educational activities surrounding the premiere will include open rehearsals for area school children and senior citizens.
The Industry Composer
Andy Akiho '11 MM and The Industry theatre company have received a grant to support the commission and premiere of the new multidisciplinary opera "Galileo." Adapted from Bertolt Brecht's play "Life of Galileo," the work will connect Brecht's text to a contemporary aesthetic, exploring new ways of realizing his theatrical theories. To draw out the mythical, promethean strands of the play's themes, the opera will be staged around an enormous bonfire on a stretch of public beach in Santa Monica, near the Santa Monica Mountains National Park. Director Yuval Sharon will create a new version of Brecht's original work, which composer Andy Akiho will set to music in a highly percussive original score. The project's multidisciplinary collaborations with an Los Angeles-based theater company and dance company will continue the organization's mission of creating new works that honor the origins of the genre while pushing to expand its traditional boundaries. The work is set to premiere in the fall of 2017.
The Minnesota Orchestra has received a grant to support their annual Composer Institute, directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts '96 MM and co-presented with the American Composers Forum. As many as seven emerging composers, selected competitively from a pool of more than 150 applicants, will participate in the intensive residency program, which will enable them to hear their work performed by a full orchestra. The resulting compositions will be performed in concert by the orchestra and conducted by Music Director Osmo Vanska.
Bang on a Can
The Bang on a Can organization, founded by YSM alumni Michael Gordon '82 MM, David Lang ’83 MMA, ’89 DMA, and Julia Wolfe '86 MM, have received a $50,000 grant in support of the Summer Festival of Music. The festival is a performance series and resident teaching facility for emerging composers and contemporary music performers, hosted annually by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA. It will feature concerts by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, resident teaching faculty, and students of the festival in galleries and in community venues, and community engagement activities will include a family concert and a free performance at Windsor Lake Park. The finale of the festival will be the annual Bang on a Can Marathon, an event featuring musicians and composers from around the world.
The Crossing choir has received a $30,000 grant to support commissions and premieres of new choral works, including the commission of a new work from Caroline Shaw '07 MM. Additional composers include Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, David T. Little, Santa Ratniece, Lewis Spratlan, Hans Thomalla, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Composers will create individual responses to Buxtehude's 1680 sacred work, "Jesu Membra Nostri," consisting of seven cantatas. Led by conductor Donald Nally with managing director Steven Gearhart '07 MM, the chorus will perform the new works along with Buxtehude's work accompanied by the Quicksilver Baroque ensemble and the International Contemporary Ensemble.
Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble
To support commissions and premieres of new works inspired by National Parks, the Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble has received a grant of $15,000. An Imagine Your Parks project, commissioned composers include current YSM student Molly Joyce '17 MM, as well as Betsy Biggs, Rob Deemer, Alexandra Gardner, Patrick Harlin, Jeff Herriott, Phil Kline, and Paula Matthusen. The ensemble will be in residence at four national parks throughout the summer of 2016, with multiple concerts planned that will feature the newly commissioned works plus works previously commissioned for national parks. Concerts also will take place in a variety of schools and venues both prior to and following the park performances.