2020 MECA Winners

The American Composers Forum is pleased to announce the results of the 2020 Minnesota Emerging Composer Awards (MECA), supported with funds from the Jerome Foundation. Three area music creators have been selected to receive Minnesota Emerging Composer Awards (MECA). Each selected musician will receive $3,000 to pursue a new project that will help them take the next steps in developing their craft. The MECA program, now in its 11th year, seeks to identify artists whose work falls outside the American Composers Forum’s other 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 artistry, to be completed within the following twelve to twenty-four months. The panelists for this year were composers Nicolas Lell Benavides (Los Angeles, CA), Theron Brown (Akron, OH), and Lisa Renée Coons (Kalamazoo, MI), Queen Drea (Saint Paul, MN), and Yohannes Tona (Fridley, MN).

About the winners

Leyna Marika Papach (Saint Paul, MN)

Leyna Marika Papach’s project is to create PERSON/a requiem. Regarding the project Marika Papach states, “PERSON/a requiem is an interdisciplinary chamber opera based on the form of a requiem that contemplates ‘undefinable experiences.’ Written for a small ensemble of multidisciplinary instrumentalists, singers, and dancers, the work is written with an interdependent, non-hierarchical approach between sound/music, movement, text, and objects, opening up a communal and alive performance, influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese Noh Theater.

Each movement paints a portrait of a person struggling with a sense of disidentification with themselves. This may be in relation to their image, their physical body, or their culture, but each is on the verge of losing connection with their more subtle, inner sensibility. Collectively, these portraits paint a collage of emotional states that relate to challenges we face when navigating between our physical body and spirit, society versus the self, and morals versus instinct.”

Carlisle Evans Peck (Minneapolis, MN)

Regarding the project for MECA Carlisle Evans Peck said, “I will create an immersive work of music-theater for a small ensemble of voices and instruments based on the annual seasonal cycles in Minnesota ecosystems. Just as epic poetry such as the Odyssey or the Mahabharata codify cultural narratives central to a society’s sense of self, I imagine a biocultural epic for this state’s bioregions that will preserve and communicate the memory of ecological narratives in an era of unchecked climate change that threatens to unravel them. Using elements of wordless vocalization, choreographed movement, and field recordings collected from locations around the state, the performance will portray such events and seasonal changes as the sprouting of spring ephemerals, the breeding of spring peepers, the migration of sandhill cranes, and the moaning and cracking of shifting lake ice, among many others. I hope this approach will illuminate the essential and intangible ways that these places, beings, and events are significant to our humanity, as a corollary to museums and traditional conservation methods. In addition to performances in the Twin Cities, I hope to also bring the piece as a place-based performance to sites representing each of Minnesota’s major bioregions – the plains and prairies, the northwoods and wetlands, and the deciduous hardwood forest.

tony the scribe (Minneapolis, MN)

tony the scribe is a rapper, producer, and composer in Minneapolis, MN. In more than a decade of musical experimentation, he’s established himself as one of the city’s more adventurous musicians, playing with jazz, Hip-Hop, and recently, electronic folk. Over the past few years, he’s been working at the edge of his capabilities, playing with new arrangements, integrating more live instrumentation into his work, and creating innovative new ways of engaging with live audiences. His greatest limitations in testing these frontiers have been time and financial support, and the Minnesota Emerging Composer Award will help with both.

tony plans to use this opportunity to schedule a writing retreat in Northern Minnesota, deepen his technical proficiency, buy new equipment, and hire session musicians and collaborators. Over the next year, he plans to release two EPs wrapping up his mixed series, then move on to integrating his experimentation into a tightly defined aesthetic. He’s grateful for the investment in his work, as well as the opportunity to build connections with other composers in the American Composers Forum community.

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 early career/emerging artists.

The Foundation makes grants to early career artists and those nonprofit arts organizations that serve them in the state of Minnesota and the five boroughs of New York City.