AACM Great Black Music Ensemble

ACF to Award Three Commissions for Composers to Have World Premieres Performed by Great Black Music Ensemble, Part of AACM’s 55th Anniversary Season

The American Composers Forum Connect Program (ACF | connect) today announces its partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the Great Black Music Ensemble for the 2019-20 season. The AACM—unparalleled contributors to the modern music scene and an inspirational leader in the Chicago community since 1965—will work with three selected composers who represent diverse periods of a composer’s artistic life, over a thirteen month period.

“Through the ACF | connect program we support ensembles in the discovery of new voices and composers in the collaborative development of new work,” said Vanessa Rose, President & CEO of American Composers Forum. “The amazing history and mission of the AACM is an example to so many of us, and ACF is excited to feature them through this program. We look forward to the exchange of ideas, experiences, and of course the music through this process.”

“The AACM is honored and excited about our collaboration with the American Composers Forum,” said Ernest Dawkins, on behalf of the AACM Executive Committee. “We are looking forward to working with them over the next twenty months on this project and additional projects in the future.”

Selected composers will receive a $7,500 commission to create a piece for the Great Black Music Ensemble, scored for thirteen musicians plus string ensemble. Composers will participate in an introductory workshop (September 2019), and full rehearsal process with the Great Black Music Ensemble, culminating in a performance in Chicago during Fall 2020 as part of the AACM’s 55th anniversary season. Housing, domestic transportation, and meals for the duration of the workshop, rehearsal, and performance process will be provided.

The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and geography.

The application, full requirements, and more information can be found at https://composersforum.org/programs/acf-connect/. Entries must be submitted by June 1, 2019. Applicants will be notified of their status in early August 2019, and selected composers will be announced in early September 2019.


Launched in 2017, ACF | connect provides opportunities for composers to build relationships with leading American ensembles to create new work, reach new audiences, and engage with new communities. The inaugural group was the celebrated Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME) and the second cycle has featured Roomful of Teeth, who will perform their premieres on August 23, 2019 at MASSMoCA as part of their tenth anniversary celebration. Through this program, composers are offered competitive commission fees, and have significant time to both work with performers and participate in learning/networking opportunities with industry professionals. Ensembles are able to connect to a broader composer community and invite applicants from a national call. Consistent with the mission of the American Composers Forum, the program supports meaningful, long-lasting connections between composers, performers, audiences, and the local community where the ensemble is based. The program intentionally supports a diversity of voices and music to advance creative musical expression as a core value of a global society. ACF | connect ensures a vibrant future for composers and their work by supporting their vision and creativity, and by pairing them with performers and audiences in traditional and innovative spaces and media.

About the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)

Internationally renowned for unparalleled contribution to modern music, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Inc. (AACM) has been an inspirational leader within the cultural community since 1965. A non-profit organization chartered by the State of Illinois, the AACM is a collective of musicians and composers dedicated to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music. This collective of dynamic and visionary artists formed the AACM to meet their emergent needs to expose and showcase their original compositions and to create an outlet for the development and performance of their music.

Since its inception, one mission of the AACM has been to provide an atmosphere conducive to the development of its member artists and to continue the AACM legacy of providing leadership and vision for the development of creative music. The AACM first coined the phrase Great Black Music to describe its unique direction in music. The AACM pays homage to the diverse styles of expression within the body of Black Music in the United States, Africa, and throughout the world. This experience extends from the ancient music of Africa to the music of the future.

The AACM may best be known for its leading-edge public concerts featuring some of the most accomplished, versatile and innovative musicians performing original creative music. The organization takes particular pride in developing new generations of talent through the free music training program conducted by members for city youth, the AACM School of Music. Another equally important aspect of AACM ‘s mission is the high moral standard members seek to provide in their capacities as performers, artists, teachers, and role models.

The AACM has continuously achieved international recognition for its contributions in modern music. AACM groups have performed in Moscow, Japan, Europe, Africa, and the United States. Members are regularly awarded grants and commissions to compose music for solo instrument, small ensemble and full orchestra. In 1990, AACM co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams was the recipient of the prestigious Jazzpar Award in Denmark to compose for the Danish Orchestra. AACM member Lester Bowie composed and performed the theme music for The Cosby Show seen on network television. In 1990, the City of Chicago saw fit to honor the AACM by dedicating an evening at the 1990 Chicago Jazz Festival to the music and members of the organization. AACM members Anthony Braxton and George Lewis were awarded Genius Grants from the MacArthur Foundation. AACM flutist Nicole Mitchell was recently awarded the prestigious Doris Duke Artists award.For further information, visit www.aacmchicago.org.

About the Great Black Music Ensemble

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Inc. (AACM), Great Black Music Ensemble (GBME) features some of Chicago’s most visionary artists of improvisation and creative music. An intergenerational ensemble ranging in size from three to thirty musicians, the GBME carries on the legacy of Chicago’s South Side creative music by expressing the excitement of new sounds and rhythms while invigorating the traditions of Black music including funk, reggae, bebop, swing and African and Caribbean styles.

The AACM Great Black Music Ensemble has been in residence at the Rebuild Foundation and performs at the Arts Bank every first Sunday for the last two years. The ensemble has also been in residence at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago for the past two years, and performs regularly at the Chicago Park District Night Out in the Parks (NOIP). In 2018, the Ensemble gave two separate performances in the Chicago Jazz Festival. In September 2018, the GBME gave a performance at Co-Prosperity Sphere as part of the Chicago Overground Worldwide FM broadcast.