Tuesday, December 4th, 2018
SAINT PAUL, MN – The American Composers Forum is pleased to announce the results of the ACF | Create program (formerly JFund – Jerome Fund for New Music). With funding from the Jerome Foundation, the American Composers Forum now in its 40th year of commissioning and supporting the production of new works by early career composers in a variety of genres. ACF 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 production and promotion support to help the project reach its maximum potential. Five projects totaling $55,000 were funded this year. Each composer is awarded $11,000 for their project ($8,000 in commissioning funds and $3,000 in production and promotion support). The panelists for this grant round of ACF | Create were composer HyeKyung Lee (Granville, OH), Ingrid Stölzel (Lawrence, KS), and Michael Woods (Clinton, NY).
About the winners
The starting point for this project is how the #MeToo movement has impacted me as a father. The multitude of allegations of harassment and misconduct by men in positions of power, in addition to the startling statistics on campus harassment that are commonly reported (see nsvrc.org/statistics), have raised the troubling question of how to explain the misconduct of men to my daughter as she grows older. Why does so much violence seem to be perpetrated mainly by men? Should I teach her to fear or always approach men with a degree of apprehension? And could I, as a man, have acted differently in my life to stop the harassment of others or to change the attitudes of men around me?
There are no easy answers to these questions and this project won’t attempt to propose any immediate remedies. Rather, the composition, tentatively entitled Father, My Father, scored for piano, synthesizer, percussion, two clarinets, and electronics, will feature a series of audio/video interviews with men of different ages on the subjects of fatherhood, gender, relationships, and power. The interviews, which will be conducted during the 2018/2019 academic year with men from as many different socio/cultural backgrounds as possible, will be edited and played back on four to eight TVs (or monitors, as available), as a multichannel reflection on the changing roles, attitudes, and interpersonal dynamics of men in society and family contexts. Musical materials will be derived from the interviews via various types of sound analysis, and the ensemble will play alongside the TVs and provide the musical discourse upon which the multichannel reflection will be interwoven.
The piece will be premiered by Talea Ensemble, in New York City, during the 2019/2020 season
Brown as the Earth. Bright as the Sun.
Her beautiful smile touched everyone.
I honor you with these words of my song.
Her name was Zula Young. I am so proud to bring you A Requiem for Zula. To be playing a piece that speaks of my mother’s life and legacy is something that I never imagined. I wanted to write a piece that encompassed what I knew of my mother’s life focusing on the way she made me feel, the way she touched anyone on her life’s path, the colors and warmth that come to mind when I think of her. I feel like this piece wrote itself. I opened up and it flowed out; in my mind that means it’s meant to be. It was a rite of passage, crafting the music and lyrics. I had to grow very quickly as a musician and adapt to writing for instruments I don’t play. Having composer Lembit Beecher and orchestrator Michi Wiancko as mentors for this project was absolutely imperative and enlightening. When I had questions or needed an ear, they were there with encouragement and sound advice. I fully and wholly trust Kyu-Young Kim and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to bring my symphony to life. As it marks eight years since her passing on February 10th, 2011, this is my way of creating her monument to be shared to the world. My mother loved music, especially jazz and instrumental music. Every movement was suited to her tastes and the sounds I remember her playing as I was growing up. This is her song. I write/speak about my mom often to keep her alive. This piece is a step forward in my healing, acknowledgement of and gratitude for my mother’s light in this world.
Project: A Point on a Slow Curve
Visual artist Jay DeFeo had one guideline when she began painting The Rose: to create “an idea that had a center.” Her sole focus for eight years, it bloomed into a 12 x 8 foot, 1-foot thick mixed-media monument, weighing over a ton. A Point on a Slow Curve is inspired by its creation story, seen through my own lens as an artist. I envision it as a staged performance work that will illuminate the experimental processes of making art.
The score will blend refined musical sounds with unconventional ones; juxtapose musical structures and gestures of abandon; the spoken voice will be used melodically and the sung voice
as chanted texture. Instrument builder and collaborator Shelby Gaines will help me construct a set in which everything on stage is playable; chairs, for instance, will be strung with guitar strings and amplified. The set will be part of the greater instrumentation of the score.
My music has been described as “chamber jazz.” It is mostly through-composed but incorporates improvisation; it has roots in chamber music as well as in prog rock. I will double on violin and prepared piano and expand my regular quintet to include trombone, upright bass and four voices. I will translate into music the imagined struggle of “finding a center” and what it feels like to be sucked into and held captive by it. Playwright-songwriter Stew and I will co-write text that will explore the internal struggles of the artistic process. I will also create stop-action animations for the piece.
DeFeo worked in many mediums and freely experimented with her materials and techniques; I have a similar approach to the tools I have at my disposal. Her words echo in my head: “only by chancing the ridiculous can I hope for the sublime.”
Quinteto Latino and I are in ongoing discussions regarding the final nature of the potential work and, through our collaborative process, we anticipate that the piece will grow and mutate over time. The group has expressed interest in working on a piece that subscribes to some of my latest goals as a composer, particularly the idea of conceiving a work that pursues connections with our ancestors’ way of thinking about art. Recently I have been interested in creating pieces that are homologous in their conception to some of the artisanal work of some indigenous cultures of Latin America. For this project, we are specifically focusing on some of the goldwork figures produced by many indigenous groups in Central and South America. Our goal here is to create a piece that engages with the artistic qualities found in these figures. Some initial examples might be the figures’ elements of imperfect symmetries, mirrored gestures, monochromatism, and angularity. The final work would strive to be the contemporary result of approaching the creative process using such parameters which have been forgotten or overwritten by other schools of thought that remain predominant. Rather than trying to reconstruct older traditions, the idea here is to renew our current state of mind by adhering to these frames while refreshing the creative process, and thus our musical language.
Project: FLIGHT, a conceptual Black opera
FLIGHT is a afrofuturistic time-traveling opera exploring freedom, the study of history, and alternative history told in 3 acts. It is an allegory of narrative ownership. The story will be an exploration of Black masculinity and what gets passed on through generations for better and for worse. It explores the lives of 3 Black adventurers, from 3 different generations of the same family line. FLIGHT asks: do the “victors” always get to write the “history”. How many generations pass before truth is lost and all that there is left is “history”? How does one keep pathways to the past open through oral traditions?
The music and soundscape will be through composed and will blend rhythm or beat driven pieces with tonal ambient sections, both will include found sounds (ambient and news, television, and/or radio sound clips). During this project I will be exploring techniques for using specific sounds to trigger certain colors and/or patterns in LED lights and lasers. I am ready for this exploration as I seek to create more immersive experiences for my audiences.
Eventual I hope FLIGHT can be used as a tool to spark intergenerational conversations about masculinity in the Black community and visioning a positive future for both individuals and the community.
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. 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.
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.
For further information contact:
William J. Lackey
Vice President of Programs
Download a PDF of the ACF | Create press release here.