ST. PAUL, MN – The American Composers Forum is pleased to announce the results of two programs supported with funds from the Jerome Foundation: The Jerome Fund for New Music (JFund) and the Minnesota Emerging Composer Award (MECA).

Now in its 35th year, JFund supports the production of new works by emerging composers in a variety of genres. It seeks to boost a composer’s career by offering an important commission and collaboration opportunity at an early stage in their professional development. Composers apply in conjunction with a partner to present a new project. They request funding to underwrite the commissioning fee and an additional amount in enhancement support to help the project reach its maximum potential. From a total pool of 150 applicants, ten projects totaling $80,500 were funded this year. Awards ranged from $6,500 to $8,500.

The panelists for this grant round were composer/arts technologist/flutist Linda Antas, Adam Fong, executive director for the Center for New Music, and Eric Gould chair of the Jazz Composition Department at Berklee.

Applications were considered in two separate pools: those from composers based in Minnesota, and those in which the composer is based in New York City.

About the Winners

Aleksandr Brusentsev (Eagan, MN)

Aleksandr Brusentsev will compose a 20-25-minute Concerto for Flugelhorn for soloist Imogen Hancock and Ensemble Eroica (London) conducted by Toby Thatcher. The project will culminate with a premiere of the piece in London in October 2017. “The work will consist of two parts: a flugelhorn concerto and a website documenting the creative process behind it. Together, they will constitute a project centered around the themes of communication, shared experiences, and, ultimately, empathy in the 21st century.”

Stephanie Chou (New York, NY)

Stephanie Chou will create Comfort Girl, a 30-minute work for four musicians: voice/saxophone, erhu/viola, percussion, and piano. The project will culminate in the premiere performance and masterclasses at China Institute in America (New York, NY). “This project is a musical exploration of the forgotten voices of Comfort Women, Asian victims abducted into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army during WWII. It includes composing a suite of new music, making a studio recording, and performing in NYC. The piece will explore a frequently overlooked part of history through a musical lens, and will also strengthen my artistic voice.”

Asuka Kakitani (Northfield, MN)

Asuka Kakitani will compose a 45-minute Solo Suite for Percussion featuring Minnesota based percussionist Dave Hagedorn. The premiere of this work is currently planned for Fall 2017. “The suite is made from four movements deeply inspired by two dramatic changes in my life: having a child for the first time, and moving to Minnesota from New York City. I am overwhelmed by Minnesota’s breathtaking nature, and also a flood of happiness and difficulties of the motherhood, and I would like to express this colorful time of my life with my music. It will be programmatic music focused on contrasts: winter and summer, day and night, laugh and sigh, happiness and struggling, motherhood and childhood and oneself and family.”

M. Lamar (Brooklyn, NY)

M. Lamar will compose a 75-minute work entitled Lordship and Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman for The Living Earth Show. “With a libretto that draws from G.W.F Hegel’s “Lordship and Bondage” from Phenomenology of the Spirit, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and Sun Ra’s interviews and writings on discipline and freedom, this piece engages African Americans’ experiences of enslaved and liberated consciousness. It is a melodramatic epic solo expressing and enacting a becoming of Black mind, body, and soul beyond the violence of both slavery and liberty.”

Brian Mark (Brooklyn, NY)

Brian Mark will compose a 10-15-minute work entitled Breathe for Kathleen Supové and Isabelle O’Connell. “The concept of this piece comes from my interest of the condition known as Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disorder commonly affecting the lungs, and other organs of the body. A good friend of mine (Alice) from South Africa was born with this condition, and her stories have shaped my view of my own fragile health and mortality, since I have asthma. I am constantly mindful of what she experiences on a daily basis when I take my inhaler every morning. This work will incorporate elements of music quotation from Chopin’s various works, juxtaposed with sounds of breathing and circulation, with splices of narration from Alice talking about this disease.  Furthermore, the use of two pianos in this work will be a multi-sided canvas of both experiences: the prognosis of this condition, and the new freedom that is given to successful lung transplant receivers, such as Alice herself.”

JP Merz (Minneapolis, MN)

JP Merz will create an evening-length song cycle titled Distances for singer/songwriter Paul Smirl of the band Vein Rays and a small chamber group. The work will examine how relationships can be cultivated across on and offline platforms.

Brian Petuch (New York, NY)

Brian Petuch will compose a 18-24 minute work entitled 24 Hours for Echo Chamber. The piece will be designed in 24 movements with each movement exploring an hour of the day. “My plan in creating this is meditating on each hour of the day and listening carefully to what I experience. I also plan to write each movement at its corresponding hour. Some of the movements will consist of just a single gesture lasting only seconds, while others will last longer and be more elaborately developed.”

Joseph C. Phillips Jr. (Brooklyn, NY)

Joseph Phillips will compose The Grey Land, a 75-minute music drama exploring universal themes of acceptance, ostracization, and identity centered around intractable issues of race, class, and power in American society. The work will be presented at Roulette Intermedium, Inc. in the 2017-2018 season and subsequently recorded for New Amsterdam Records following the premiere.

“The Grey Land will integrate a variety of writings, archival and contemporary photography and video footage, dance, set and lighting designs, as well as dramatic elements in order to advance a non-traditional narrative that will embrace the musical and social multitudes and ‘dichotomies of high and low, inside and outside, tradition and innovation’ within black life, fusing various African-American and other popular music influences within a contemporary post-classical musical language.”

Leaha Maria Villarreal (NewYork, NY)

Leaha Maria Villarreal will create Crossing the Rubicon, a 20-minute work for Hotel Elefant. “Focusing on the writing of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus and in collaboration with librettist Adara Meyers, the work threads the idea of Julius Caesar’s famous crossing of the Rubicon River, whereupon he stated, ‘the die is cast.’ This idea of a turning point and wading into the waters takes ancient texts and historical events which are woven into modern life; the shape of our present actions and future consequences, specifically through the lens of shifting generations; cycles of birth and death; and the nature of being the same yet different at every instance.”

Samuel Wells (Brooklyn, NY)

Samuel Wells will create a 40-minute work inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Lacuna for the Los Angeles piano duo HOCKET. “The work will be substantial in scope to match the dramatic reach Kingsolver’s novel. The work will be performed in Fall 2017 as part of People Inside Electronics in Pasadena, CA, with a subsequent performance in New York City.”

In a separately administered nomination process, three area creative musicians have been selected to receive Minnesota Emerging Composer Awards (MECA). They will each receive $3,000 to pursue a new project that will help them take the next steps in developing their careers. The MECA program, now in its seventh year, seeks to identify artists whose work falls outside the Forum’s typical granting and panel processes. ACF announced an open call to nominate original, creative musicians with significant potential working in MN. The selected candidates are invited to describe a project that will boost their career and artistry, to be completed within the following twelve to twenty-four months.

Jay Afrisando (Falcon Heights, MN)

Jay Afrisando will create a project of contemporary music for mixed ensemble consisting of nine musicians. He will write for a group of Gamelan instruments, a group of western instruments, a set of electronics instruments, and some built instruments. This program is a great opportunity for him since it will provide the possibility for him to compose music for unusual instrumentation. Furthermore, the MECA program will support him in moving to the next level as a professional composer as well as build a platform for his work to find new audiences.

Zacc Harris (Minneapolis, MN)

Guitarist and composer Zacc Harris will use the Minnesota Emerging Composers Award to make time to compose a set of new modern jazz works and to record a new album with the Zacc Harris Group to be released in 2018.

Lynn O’Brien (Minneapolis, MN)

Lynn O’Brien will compose and release a “live album” of her new music, integrating genres of folk, soul, R&B, and jazz. Lynn is a vocalist who sometimes uses a loop station to create live vocal pieces with lush layers of harmonies. She also plays piano, guitar, and ukulele and collaborates with a myriad of local musicians. The songs of this album will empower the human spirit to live courageously, while capturing her journey as an entrepreneur and artist. Lynn will design and perform a live, interactive concert of this album, which will be recorded live, and later mixed and published.

About the American Composers Forum

The American Composers Forum is committed to supporting composers and developing new markets for their music. Through granting, commissioning, and performance programs, ACF provides composers at all stages of their careers with valuable resources for professional and artistic development. By linking communities with composers and performers, ACF fosters a demand for new music, enriches communities, and helps develop the next generation of composers, musicians, and music patrons. Founded in 1973 as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the organization has grown from an innovative regional initiative into one of the nation’s premier composer service organizations. ACF programming reaches composers and communities in all 50 states and helps composers engage communities with music as a source of inspiration, self-reflection, and delight. This engagement takes the form of groundbreaking composer residencies, designed to engage communities in the creative process and broaden the contexts in which new music is written, performed, and heard. It means innovative approaches to teaching music while nurturing the next generation of composers, performers, and audiences. ACF supports composers’ artistic and professional growth through a rich variety of programs and services, including commissions, performances, readings, and fellowships. 2,000 members include composers and performers, presenters and organizations that share ACF’s goals, and individuals and institutions with an interest in supporting new music. Members come from both urban and rural areas; they work in virtually every musical genre, including orchestral and chamber music, world music, opera and music theater, jazz and improvisational music, electronic and electro-acoustic music, and sound art.

Program Funding

The Jerome Foundation, created by artist and philanthropist Jerome Hill (1905-1972), seeks to contribute to a dynamic and evolving culture by supporting the creation, development, and production of new works by emerging artists. The Foundation makes grants to not-for-profit arts organizations and artists in Minnesota and New York City.