Joel Mellin and the Intersection of Human Sensory Experience

Written by Michael J. Cyrs On Björk’s audiovisual LP Biophilia, the Icelandic singer wore numerous musical hats. Although the most notable takeaway from the record is her masterful voice, it’s often the expertise of her collaborators that drives the songs. Featuring everything from hang drum to full dubstep breakdowns, there seemed to be no musical […]

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Metal Aether by JFund Awardee Lea Bertucci Is One of the Most Compelling Experimental Records of the Year

Lea Bertucci (Queens, NY)

by Michael J. Cyrs The setting: A concrete WWII-era bunker. The studio: Abandoned corridors of metal and empty space. The instrument: An old silver alto saxophone. These aren’t the average constraints you’d encounter when recording music, but JFund awardee Lea Bertucci isn’t an average composer. “I am more interested in creating architecture and physical spaces […]

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Member Spotlight: Celebrating a Kalo Taxidi (Good Journey)

Dr. Christos J. Granias remarks early in the conversation, “I’m a glass half full kind of person.” Composer, educator, humorist, and longtime ACF member, Granias has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) since the 1990’s, and he sees it as part of life’s journey. This month, as Granias focuses his creative talents on raising money […]

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Adam Vidiksis Reflects on the First Year of the Steven R. Gerber Residency Program with ACF-Philly and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

Last year, ACF-Philadelphia partnered with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (COP) for a three-year initiative: The Steven R. Gerber Residency Program. Each year, one composer is selected to work with COP and compose a new piece specifically for the chamber orchestra, all while participating in other residency activities during COP’s full season. The composer selected […]

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JFund Awardee Leaha Maria Villareal on Collaborative Relationships

Written by Michael Cyrs. There are perks to playing music as a group. On top of taking cues and performing, you learn fundamental relationship lessons. Remember how you’d sulk about how horrible your college roommate was at doing the dishes, only to realize later on that you hadn’t once cleaned the bathroom the whole time […]

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Sarah Cahill, Nicole Mitchell, Jim Staley to Receive Champion of New Music Award

The American Composers Forum (ACF) Board of Directors has voted to present its 2018 Champion of New Music award to three outstanding recipients: pianist, writer, producer Sarah Cahill; flutist, composer, educator Nicole Mitchell; and Jim Staley, founder of the iconic new music venue Roulette in Brooklyn, NY, at public ceremonies this year. The Champion of […]

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JFund Awardee Joseph C. Phillips and Genre Fluidity

Written by Michael J. Cyrs. “America is a great place. But it’s also not so great. You can have those two happen at the same time, and that’s a beautiful thing,” says 2016 JFund awardee Joseph C. Phillips as he walks his Alaskan Malamute through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. He doesn’t compose for his Numinous project […]

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Reimagining the Accessibility of Classical Music: JFund Awardee JP Merz

written by Michael J. Cyrs At many classical music performances, concertgoers place themselves at the whims of the composer, whose music might often communicate: Here’s how I did it, here’s what you’re supposed to feel, and so on. These are demands Wisconsin via Los Angeles composer JP Merz doesn’t want to make. Although he is […]

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JFund Awardee Brian Mark: Experience History As It Happens

by Michael Cyrs “I love the art of film music, but I’m not at all into defining labels when it comes to one being a concert or film composer,” explains JFund awardee Brian Mark about some of his recent work. Although he studied film extensively, he’s more of a historical realist. Mark wasn’t yet born […]

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Rhythm, Melody, and Dissonance: Trevor Babb’s Guitar

By Michael Cyrs Close your eyes, turn out the lights, and listen to Trevor Babb’s “Septet.” Each guitar note paints a different color of a landscape in your dream. Dozens of other strings come in, and trees form around a pasture. After 90 seconds, the notes climb up the scale as the sun shines down […]

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M. Lamar: Bodylessness and History as Told through Genres

JFund Profile by Michael Cyrs “Genre-defying” and “experimental” are words that critics enjoy tossing around, especially when it comes to genre-mixing. However, in music, most genre-mixing is old news, and the terms only gesture at describing a diverse arrangement. Every once in awhile, though, someone earns the terms. M. Lamar’s records are shining examples that […]

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Letter from Steven Homestead, New ACF-Los Angeles President

I am humbled and excited to announce that as of September 1st, I begin my term as the next President of the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles. In addition, Alicia Byer begins serving as ACF-LA Secretary and Treasurer. She steps into this leadership position having most recently run ACF-LA’s music education program. We join […]

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Asuka Kakitani Conquers the Impossible Task of Representing Nature in Jazz

by Michael Cyrs Reality is rarely compartmentalized into the rigid structure of a three-minute pop song. Recalling the full beauty of a painting or a landscape can’t be related without losing the finer details. Longer compositions, it seems, make for music that’s most representative of mother nature. Japanese-born, Minnesota-based composer Asuka Kakitani was on the […]

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Aleksandr Brusentsev’s Quest to Explore Perspectives of Music and Art

Written by Michael Cyrs   Even if it’s with someone unquestionably genuine, verbal communication is difficult to recall. Although one may remember the words that were spoken, there were feelings, objects, weather, and countless other subatomic details that were simultaneously present during conversation. The same goes for life events. Say you lost a job or […]

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Josh Hernandez-Camen’s Quest for Authenticity in Composition

A profile of a 2016 NextNotes finalist by Michael Cyrs A Google search of Ángel Jochi Hernandez-Camen (or Josh, as he prefers to be called) pulls up a small handful of sites. You’ll find a video of his masterful “Ancient Ruins,” a short bio from your esteemed Forum, and some scattered notes and performances. Go […]

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Steven Snowden

written by Michael Cyrs “I’m still learning to write music, actually,” says National Composition Contest awardee Steven Snowden. I’m speaking to him over the phone: I’m in Minneapolis, he’s at the prestigious MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, and both of us are surrounded by snow. His area code suggests Missouri, but his current address is […]

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Meet New Board Member: Stephen Miles

ACF’s summer development intern, Henry Dykstal, conducted a series of interviews with our incoming cohort of board members. This month, we’re featuring Stephen Miles. After reading his interview, learn even more about him here. 1. How did music come into your life as something you wanted to pursue as your life’s calling? From the time […]

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Clara Latham: Singing about Talking

written by Tim Hansen In the 19th century, the Age of Enlightenment, there was a great leap forward in science and medicine; many of the standard practices that make up today’s medical professional’s tool kit originating in the days of Beethoven and Brahms. But scientific progress is not a highway, it’s a jumbled mess of […]

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Meet New Board Member: Asha Srinivasan

ACF’s 2016 summer development intern, Henry Dykstal, conducted a series of interviews with our incoming cohort of board members. Meet Asha Srinivasan! After reading her interview, learn even more about her here. 1. How did music come into your life as something you wanted to pursue as your life’s calling? Music has always been a […]

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Sean Harold: Unintentional Iconoclast

written by Tim Hansen In the email ping-pong prefacing this article, JFund awardee Sean Harold warned me that his biographies “tended to be heavy on the sarcasm and light on actual detail.” For example, one iteration of his biography began: “Initially trained as a jazz bassist and improviser, Sean Harold turned his attention to concert […]

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