innova Recordings Fall Call 2023 Artists

innova Recordings is pleased to announce the fourth collection of recording projects selected through its new business model. These artists illustrate the breadth and depth of artistry in the world today, with projects featuring electroacoustic improvisers, avant-garde bands, singer-songwriters, and cross-cultural collaborations.

As the in-house record label of American Composers Forum, innova aims to make the process of envisioning, producing, and releasing recordings more inclusive and accessible to artists. Selected artists receive distribution, licensing, promotion, and maintain ownership of their music, plus 100% of sales profits. Artists receive support from innova for the production and promotion of their music — at no cost — at every step of the process.

We are grateful to the Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization for their multi-year support of artists who identify as women, which includes help working with recording venues and producers from underrepresented genders. These projects are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, plus an endowment from The McKnight Foundation and ACF’s annual fund.

Applicants were invited to submit recording projects at any stage, and were offered the opportunity to seek guidance on the application process and their project. Peer panelists selected the eight projects from a pool of 160 applications, reviewing the impact of this opportunity, the strength of the project plan and music, the ability for innova to successfully support the project, and the diversity of the full cohort. The panelists were Ahmed Alabaca, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Aeryn Santillan, and Michelle Lou.

Artists and Project Descriptions:

Shinjoo Cho -- Photo by Steven Thull
Shinjoo Cho — Photo by Steven Thull

Shinjoo Cho (she/her)

This project is supported by the Sorel Organization.

Shinjoo Cho is one of the leading bandoneonists in the U.S. and is an active performer in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. She collaborates in multi-disciplinary projects as a composer, improviser, and tango and chamber musician, and explores the vast range of tango music tradition as a bandleader and ensemble member of Abaddon Sextet (NY), El Sesenta Dúo (NY/Philadelphia), Solidaridad Tango (Toronto), and Oscuro Quintet (Philadelphia). Her recent projects include creating and producing “Lo que vendrá,” a retrospective and marathon concert of Astor Piazzolla’s music presented by Esperanza Arts Center, and composition for the Lewis Latimer documentary film and the web/radio episodes of WHYY’s Route 47: Historias Along a Bus Route. Shinjoo’s latest recording credits include Roads to Damascus by Kinan Abou-afach, Postales by Patricio Acevedo, and Exploratorium by Gene Coleman. 

Project description

Shinjoo Cho’s first solo album for bandoneon features her original compositions, arrangements, and music from Argentina. Recorded in Argentina in 2024, this album exhibits Shinjoo’s search for a new language for bandoneon outside of its emblematic role in the tango genre and the making of a composer and performer whose musical passage encompasses Asia, North America, and South America. Guest composers and performers include Alban Bailly, Alejo de los Reyes, and Antonio Boyadjian.

Antenna Fuzz director, Hassan Estakhrian — Photo by Roger Chenying Hsieh

Antenna Fuzz / Hassan Estakhrian (he/him)

Antenna Fuzz is a music group that collides genres such as rock, funk, jazz, electronic, contemporary classical, and computer music. The group is directed by Hassan Estakhrian and is comprised of alternating members. Formed in 2015 in Southern California, Antenna Fuzz has since premiered two original sci-fi rock operas — Zolk Tizzer and Zolk Tizzer and the Mitten of Miracles. More info at

Project description

Butterflies in Disguise is an album of original songs that examines an ever-growing dependency on technology, how the digital world brings about excessive noise and stifles room for wonder, and how we cope nostalgically. The title represents an interplay between nature and technology within the music, where acoustic elements become disguised by digital transformation.

Jessica Ackerley -- Photo by Anabelle Ellwein
Jessica Ackerley — Photo by Anabelle Ellwein

Jessica Ackerley (they/them)

Jessica Ackerley is a Canadian guitarist, improviser, and composer based in Honolulu after a decade of living in New York City. Ackerley continually develops a hybrid musical language, drawing on the influences of Black American Music and avant-garde improvisers, as well as the culture of the thriving New York City rock and noise scenes. Since 2017, Ackerley has released 17 albums to much critical acclaim, with features in The Wire magazine, Pitchfork, BBC Radio, and Bandcamp. As an active performer, Ackerley has toured extensively throughout North America, performing at noteworthy venues like The Met Breuer, The Stone, Something Else! Festival, Coastal Jazz Festival, and countless underground venues ranging from the basements of houses to record shops.

Project description

Inspired by the ocean, Wave acts as a means to heighten the listener’s daily life by evoking emotions of empathy, connection, and compassion toward oneself – specifically, using pulses inspired by the ocean, and interpreting these naturally occurring frequencies and rhythms to serve and affect the human body in emotive ways. The project will be packaged as a recording and art book, and is meant to represent beautiful sounds and imagery as an act of resilience, centering music and art as a remedial experience.

Aaron Edgcomb –Photo by Alex Koi

Aaron Edgcomb (he/they)

Aaron Edgcomb (he/they) is a composer, drummer, and percussionist from Reno, NV – currently based in Brooklyn, NY – whose work exists in such contexts as improvisational music, jazz, “new music,” noise, and song. They have performed and showcased their work at numerous acclaimed venues including Big Ears, MoMA PS1, MATA Festival, Moers Festival, the Philharmonie de Paris, and the Jazz em Agosto Festival in Lisbon – not to mention the countless garages, basements, and DIY spaces that are foundational to the life of creative music.

Project description

CLAK is a Brooklyn-based band that makes music with explicit social commentary and an unyielding avant-garde aesthetic. This debut, full-length release will extend and develop their improvisational language and highlight the diverse influences of CLAK’s sound. Jazz, rock, noise, funk, folk, and electronica are musical references; DADA, Borges, and anti-capitalism are conceptual references; and exuberance and sincerity are goals. CLAK is also an onomatopoeia. Think high heels, tapping fingernails, the satisfying sound an idol of victory makes when you present said object to a detractor with a confident ‘clak’ in front of them.

Led by Aaron Edgcomb, who composes for and plays drums in the ensemble, the music allows for the extensive improvisatory backgrounds of the band members to flourish while exploring high speed shifts between song scapes, free improvisation, and intricately composed melodies and harmonies. The members of the ensemble are Alex Koi (vocals and electronics), Yuma Uesaka (tenor sax and clarinet), Andres Abenante (guitar), and Isaac Levien (bass).

Sivan Cohen Elias (Photo by Vera Nebolsina), Lauren Siess (Photo by Phoebe Gardner), and Cole Blouin (Photo by Travis Sherwood)

Sivan Cohen Elias (she/her), Lauren Siess (she/her), and Cole Blouin (they/them)

This project is supported by the Sorel Organization.

Sivan Cohen Elias is a composer/improviser. Her work ranges between fixed media, improvisation, chamber music, multimedia, and opera. Her works have been performed worldwide and received multiple international awards, including the Staatstheater Darmstadt Music Theater Prize, the Impuls Award, and a Fromm Commission. As noted by The New York Times, she often “deconstructs the instruments themselves” to expand sonic narratives, frequently including electronics and theatrical elements. She is currently the assistant professor of composition and music technology at the University of Minnesota.

Lauren Siess’ work explores organic processes, irrational movement, and rawness. As a composer and violist, her relationship to her instrument is directly reflected in her tactile, hands-on approach to composition. Projects include pieces for MDR Sinfonieorchester and Arditti Quartet. She is currently pursuing her master’s in composition at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden, and received her bachelor’s in viola from the Juilliard School as a Kovner Fellowship recipient.

Cole Blouin is a composer/e-guitar improviser. Their creative practice deals with memory, desire, sound, place, and time. They communicate with their collaborators across staff notation, devised and oral scores, improvisation, and recording/production technology. Critic Peter Margasak has described their work as “epic.” Recent projects include NREM DREAM FABRIC, a sound installation; TORSO, an album of songs; and MUNDIGLOSSIA, a 43-minute piece for soprano saxophone. 

Project description

Melting Planets is an immersive electroacoustic album resulting from a collaboration between three composers/improvisers: Sivan Cohen Elias (sound objects/live electronics), Lauren Siess (viola/no-input mixer), and Cole Blouin (electric guitar), edited, directed and produced by Cohen Elias. The concept of the album was developed collaboratively through narratively exploring scenes in an imaginary world experiencing ecological disasters, resulting in a complex, surreal environment. 

By sonically adjusting our perspective on the natural forces in each scene, we discovered its absurdity, its pain, its humor, and its hope. Reflecting on our structured and improvised scenes, we sought disproportionate contrasts and random gravitational forces, causing sudden blocks of sounds to appear and disappear while the constructed materials are constantly disintegrating. Climate change is one interpretation of this; one can also listen to the emotional fluctuation throughout the album as a reflection of the global human climate, its sudden eruptions and melting. This album project was made possible with additional generous support of the Imagine Fund Annual Faculty Research Grants through the University of Minnesota.

Alex Ellsworth — Photo by Maundy Mitchell

Alex Ellsworth (he/him)

Alex Ellsworth is a cellist-songwriter whose instrument sometimes evokes the sound of a guitar, other times a flute, a fiddle, bird calls, ambient electronics, or the human voice. Alex is originally from Plymouth, NH and came of age in Chicago, touring with the cinematic shadow puppetry company Manual Cinema and co-founding the artist collective Mocrep. He is a former member of Civic Orchestra of Chicago, former Music Director at Holderness School, and has performed on stages in nine countries and three continents. His music is imbued with a lighthearted spirit and the varied creative sensibilities of his collaborators.

Project description

Lunch with Ouroboros is an album with chatty lyrics that revel in contradiction and muse on curious cycles in the passage of time. The tracks alternate between vocal ballads and instrumental character pieces, developing from almost childlike simplicity into mature intricacy and back again. It takes inspiration from folk, jazz, chamber pop, Latin, electronic, and orchestral textures while maintaining a freshness that inspires the listener to return for comfort or vivification. The album features compositions, cello, and vocals by Alex Ellsworth with contributions by Eugene Kaler (violin and viola), Grayson Nye (piano), Hannah Francis (vocals), Matthew Smalligan (percussion), Matty Witney (guitar and electric bass guitar), Mark Tulk (audio engineering, mixing and mastering), Nathan Roseboom (audio engineering), NIIKA (vocals), and Zachary Good (clarinets and recorders).

Anaïs Maviel — Photo courtesy of the Shed

Anaïs Maviel (she/her)

This project is supported by the Sorel Organization.

Anaïs Maviel’s work as a vocalist and composer focuses on the function of art to address relation, and the power of sound to shape reality. Connecting intimacy and subconscious narratives with collective and large-scale principles, Anaïs navigates song, choral, instrumental music, and staging, connecting cosmologies of sound rooted in oral traditions. Anaïs has collaborated across mediums with artists such as Craig Taborn, Meshell Ndegeocello, Alarm Will Sound, and Okwui Okpokwasili, among many others. She is an awardee of the Van Lier Fellowship, ACF | create, Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, NYFA Artists Fellowship, New Music USA’s Next Jazz Legacy, and a Herb Alpert Award in Music nominee.

Project description

This recording project is a compilation of my early vocal works and revolves around my urge to give a voice to the unheard, and elevate it to a sacred dimension all at once.

In January 2020, I went to São Paulo, Brazil to record “Be,” a 20-minute vocal quartet inspired by liberation movements defending earth and people’s rights at a time when Brazil saw its rainforest given up to corporations. The vocal ensemble conjures a multi-layered, elemental narrative of the encounter of so-called nature and culture, with its parallel rhythms and polarities. Excavating words from their meaning in multiple languages, the voices find pivots in phonemes with repetition, and slowly untie the knots of duality to bring the struggle back to the source, where all is sacred.

Chicago Folklore Ensemble — Photo by Elja Roy

Chicago Folklore Ensemble

Chicago Folklore Ensemble celebrates immigrant communities and helps share and pass on their wisdom, poetry, and songs through works that interweave music, spoken word, and visual art. Founded in 2014 by Lucia Thomas and Sam Hyson, the ensemble has performed numerous shows in the Chicago area combining music and storytelling. Their first album and book, The World in Chicago (2016), presented music and oral histories of immigrants from Serbia, Thailand, Ghana, Argentina, and Palestine, featuring master musicians from each country accompanied by string quartet. Chicago Folklore Ensemble’s work, grounded in direct relationships with musicians from around the world, aims to encourage cross-cultural bridge building in Chicago and beyond.

Project description

Praner Alap (“Meeting of Hearts”) is an album of songs from Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize winning poetry collection, “Gitanjali or Song Offerings,” originally published in Bengali in 1910. The soaring vocals of Subhajit Sengupta and Swarnali Banerjee – entwined with sweeping strings and accordion harmonies, raga-based improvisations, and a variety of traditional and unexpected instruments and stylistic approaches – bring new emotional intensity to Tagore’s original melodies and lyrics. The accompanying artbook features paintings inspired by each song and newly crafted lyric translations by Lucia Thomas. Praner Alap is the fruit of a collaboration between dear friends from around the world, joining their wide array of artistic backgrounds to explore the depth and power of Tagore’s songs.


The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc., a 501(c)(3) private foundation, was established in 1996 by pianist Claudette Sorel and named for her parents. The Sorel Organization ( is committed to expanding opportunities for women in music, amplifying the voices of underrepresented composers, advancing gender and racial equity, and broadening the classical music canon for future generations.


Celebrating its 40th anniversary as the in-house record label of American Composers Forum, innova Recordings serves the needs of original, visionary, creative musicians by offering artistic and technical guidance throughout the recording and publication process; amplifying the reach of new musical ideas through access to our marketing and distribution networks; and actively working together to maximize professional impact. Together, we champion a curated body of diverse and compelling American musical voices to the listening public. Learn more at


ACF’s mission is to support and advocate for individuals and groups creating music today by demonstrating the vitality and relevance of their art. We do this by empowering composers, modeling creative partnerships, and advocating for them through storytelling and connections. Working with an ecosystem of artists, programmers, presenters, teachers, funders, and audiences, we frame all of our work with a commitment to racial equity, believing that creating a fairer world for artists benefits all of us.

Founded in 1973 by composers Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the organization continues to invest in its Minnesota home while connecting artists and advocates across the United States, its territories, and beyond. ACF frames our work with a focus on racial equity and includes within that scope, but does not limit it to: diverse gender identities, musical approaches and perspectives, religions, ages, (dis)abilities, cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and broad definitions of “American.” Visit for more information.