Welcome to Chamber Music America 2024 National Conference
ACF is pleased to introduce you to these selected artists from our annual ACF | create commissioning program, funded by the Jerome Foundation, plus two of our (several) ACF staff accomplished composers. Enjoy exploring these artists and make sure to check out the upcoming cycle of applications for the program!
The American Composers Forum (ACF) champions composers and other creative music makers, and boosts their careers with professional opportunities. ACF | create is an evolution of the Jerome Fund for New Music (JFund), which started in 1979. Through this program, ACF has made hundreds of awards and has helped launch many careers. ACF | create supports the creation, presentation, and subsequent life of a new work. Five grants are available: up to $8,000 for the composer or primary artist’s time to create the work, and up to $3,000 to help with production and promotion support. This program is for early career artists that reside in Minnesota or the five boroughs of New York City.
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JFund for New Music (now ACF | create) awardee
“A musical impressionist and supreme colorist” (Hot House Magazine) aptly characterizes the Japanese-born composer Asuka Kakitani. At the forefront of Brooklyn’s burgeoning big band scene, Kakitani has attracted some of New York’s finest jazz artists with her adventurous, melodically charged charts. Asuka was selected as a 2013 DownBeat Critic Poll Rising Star Arranger six months after her 18-piece Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra (AKJO) made a stunning debut with Bloom on Nineteen-Eight Records. The album was featured on the international radio program PRI’s The World, depicting Bloom as “full of complicated harmony . . . but it also makes room for simplicity.” Bloom was also selected as one of the best debut albums on the 2013 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, All About Jazz, and Lucid Culture. Other accolades include Jazz Wax’s Marc Myers saying “Kakitani and her ideas and pen are the real deal;” while DownBeat Magazine described Bloom as having “sumptuous positivity and organic flow (★★★★);” and All About Jazz called it “absolutely superb.”
The images of nature that are often the inspiration for Kakitani’s works are clearly felt by many of her listeners, including The International Review of Music who illustrates how “beams of light shimmer and shine while notes take flight.” WEMU’s Linda Yohn continues the imagery with: “Colors, texture and sensations weave in and out of [Kakitani’s] pieces with endless variety – reflective of our natural world.” In addition to her own original works on Bloom, Kakitani’s re-composition of two Japanese children’s songs are heard as portraying “original ideas and clarity of style” (Jazz Tokyo) and are “luminous, lush and symphonic” (Lucid Culture).
Kakitani founded her orchestra in 2009, featuring some of the most creative musicians in New York City, including Mark Ferber, Jason Rigby, John O’Gallagher, Pete McCann, John Bailey, Sara Serpa, and more. AKJO has been performing her music in venues in the New York City area such as Drom, ShapeShifter Lab, Bowery Poetry Club, St. Peter’s Church, and regularly at Tea Lounge as a part of the “Size Matters” Large Ensemble Series. Her awards include the BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize in 2006, the Manny Albam Commission in 2007, Composer Assistance Grants from the American Music Center in 2009 and 2010, Brooklyn Arts Funding in 2016, and the Jerome Fund for New Music from the American Composers Forum in 2017, the McKnight Composer Fellowship in 2019, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant in 2020, and most recently she was one of the finalists of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship in 2021. Kakitani was a member of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop, led by Jim McNeely, from 2004 to 2007. Soon after relocating to Minnesota in 2016, she co-founded the Twin Cities Jazz Composers’ Workshop, which fosters creative jazz composition in the Twin Cities area. Also Kakitani and her husband, composer/trombonist JC Sanford, founded the new jazz orchestra Inatnas Orchestra.
ACF | create awardee
I give, receive, frame and amplify music that unites and bridges. Genres won’t help you get a clear view of my work, but if you like jazz, you’ll hear Afrocentric traditions and innovations. If you like classical, you’ll sense esoteric concepts and sacred structures. If you like a good song, I’ll give you a poem and make you dance. If you are into ART, there will be craft, symbolism and naked truth. If you want healing… that will happen always, as we hold space together.
My work as a vocalist and composer focuses on the function of art to address Relation. With sound, I intend to lay common grounds for utopian futures. I connect intimacy and subconscious narratives with collective and large scale principles. I navigate song, choral, instrumental music and staging with a strong connection to cosmologies of sound and speech rooted in oral traditions such as mantra and ring shout. My works hold space for transformation. With traditional and experimental approaches, I investigate the power of sound to shape reality. I care for the stakes of hybridity in culture, working towards opening up the interstices between genres, for a multiple, inclusive-yet-sacred experience of music. I conducted scholarly research on music & utopia in Black American music, interviewed master musicians and have a sustained poetic and essay writing practice. I hold a masters degree from Paris Diderot University in modern literature, aesthetics and contemporary thought. I have collaborated with William Parker, Meshell Ndegeocello, Pauline Kim Harris, Alarm Will Sound, Okwui Okpokwasili and Stefani Jemison, among many. I write, perform and teach in New York, throughout the Americas and Europe. Both solo albums hOULe & in the garden received international acclaim. Lastly, I am an awardee of the 2019 Van Lier Fellowship, 2020 American Composers Forum Create, 2021-2022 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, 2022 NYFA Artists Fellowship, 2023 New Music USA’s Next Jazz Legacy, and a 2023 Herb Alpert Award in Music nominee.
ACF | create awardee
David Adamcyk is a Canadian composer, sound artist, electronic musician, and sound engineer living in New York. He creates musical works and installations for the concert hall and theatrical stage, often incorporating technology. His music has been played in North America, South America, Australia, and Europe and has won numerous prizes, including four from the SOCAN Foundation composer’s competition and was a finalist at the CBC/SRC Evolution composition competition. He has received support from the American Composer’s Fund, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. As a collaborator/assistant, he has worked with composers Martin Matalon, Philippe Leroux, Denys Bouliane, Zosha Di Castri, and Natacha Diels, as well as with visual artists Julia Randall, Ben Hagari, and Julia Sherman. David’s expertise in concert music electronics has led him to work with leading ensembles and institutions including the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Ircam, Juilliard’s Axiom Ensemble, ICE, NYNME, Ekmeles, Yarn/Wire, Ensemble Cairn, Esprit Orchestra, Quasar, and the SMCQ. In addition to having completed Ircam’s cursus, David holds a doctorate in composition from McGill University and was a SSHRC funded postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Computer Music Center. He is currently the technical director of Talea Ensemble, and teaches sound recording, 20th and 21st-century music analysis, live sound, and electronic music at Columbia University and the Manhattan School of Music.
Leaha Maria Villarreal
JFund for New Music (now ACF | create) awardee
With works described as “visceral” (Lucid Culture), “propulsive” (Bachtrack) and “austere” (New Music Box), composer Leaha Maria Villarreal’s output includes music for dance, film, opera, and the concert hall.
She has worked with organizations and ensembles such as Beth Morrison Projects and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; ETHEL and Friends concert series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; andPlay; Wild Rumpus; JACK Quartet; Experiments in Opera; and TRANSIT New Music, among others. Past composition teachers include Roger Reynolds, Steven Kazuo Taksugi, and Chinary Ung. Villarreal holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and an M.M. from New York University where she studied with Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon. She is a co-founder of contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant; a Jerome Fund for New Music recipient; and taught composition with New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers Bridge Program. Villarreal is currently pursuing a D.M.A at the University of Southern California.
Artist Support Manager
Oswald Huỳnh is a Vietnamese American composer whose music navigates Vietnamese aesthetics and tradition, language and translation, and the relationship between heritage and identity. His work is characterized by intricate contrasts of timbre and interweaving textures that are rooted in narrative, culture, and memory.
As a composer, Huỳnh has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by artists such as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, American Composers Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Pacific Chamber Orchestra, Akropolis Reed Quintet, Music From Copland House, Tacet(i) Ensemble, [Switch~ Ensemble], Del Sol String Quartet, Fear No Music, deaf rabbit duo, percussionist Payton MacDonald, composer/clarinetist Yoshiaki Onishi, and saxophonist Leo Schlaifer. He is the winner of the Luigi Nono International Composition Prize (2023), New England Philharmonic Call for Scores Competition (2023), Musiqa Emerging Composer Commission (2022), IPO Classical Evolve Composer Competition (2022), Black Bayou Composition Award (2022), and has received recognition from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, New York Youth Symphony, Society of Composers, and ASCAP.
Huỳnh will serve as the Composer-in-Residence with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for their 2023/24 season, and a Composer-in-Residence with the Louisville Orchestra for their 2024/25 season as part of their Creator Corps program. Huỳnh holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College and a Master of Music from University of Missouri. His principal teachers include Texu Kim, Carolina Heredia, Stefan Freund, and Michael Johanson.
Xavier Muzik is a composer and producer fascinated by the mechanisms people use to assign and ascribe essence and purpose to individuals, places, and things, and how these assignments and ascriptions come to be understood as inherent characteristics. As a Black, multiracial man, Xavier was introduced to the fluid, normative nature of essence through the near-constant negotiations around race he’s experienced. This has taught Xavier that the American social order demands that race is not just a part of our identities, but, for better or for worse, at the very root of who we are. His compositional practice inspects and dissects this assertion in both a literal and figurative sense.
In his music, Xavier initially began to explore the mechanisms of essence by dissecting the essentialism of race itself through the appropriation of analytical tools for acts of synthesis to reverse engineer and define his identity on his own terms. This process is iterative, slow, and intentional, but necessary as each step further refines Xavier’s sense of self.
As this pursuit is lifelong, it does not represent the limit of Xavier’s creative interests and output. He has replicated this approach to inspect his relationship to the essential nature of realms beyond race, such as community, spiritualism, and love often using common musical conventions in unique ways to do so. Because of this, his music tends to be intentionally organized, narrative in structure, and harmonically rich.
Xavier Muzik holds a Master’s Degree in Music Composition and a graduate minor in Creative Community Development from the Mannes School of Music at The New School. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts.
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