Creative Music Intensive is a two-week hybrid (in-person & online) program which will be held from July 15th – 30th at Arts Letters & Numbers in 2023. The program is open to musicians working in any genre, of any age or nationality. Participants will be immersed in the creative process of making and performing music, exploring new approaches and developing individual and collaborative works as creative artists.

This unique program will be directed and led by Michael Harrison (in person), Music Program Director and recurring Visiting Artist of Arts Letters & Numbers, and co-taught by Bergamot Quartet (in person), Aleksandra Vrebalov (in person), Elliot Cole (in person), Payton MacDonald (in person), and Arts Letters & Numbers founding director David Gersten (in person), with special guest Terry Riley (online). They will each host weekly classes on site and via Zoom, offer one-on-one private lessons, as well as facilitating potential collaborations with co-participants and local artists affiliated with Arts Letters & Numbers.

Topics to be covered during group and private classes include composition and improvisation; performance, recording and career strategies in the current environment; Indian classical ragas, rhythms and techniques; polyphony; music programming; developing interdisciplinary work and collaborations.

At the conclusion of the program, on July 29th, participants will present a public performance together (live onsite and online), in which they may perform or arrange for other musicians to perform their work. Participants will also have the opportunity to compose a new work for Bergamot Quartet, which will be premiered on their concert on July 28th. The participants’ concert, BQ’s concert and other events are opportunities to explore new performance practices and material in a safe and welcoming environment. In addition, the faculty will also offer two concerts during the program – please see details below.


The class schedule will be sent out by July 1st.

Archival recordings of online workshops and performances will be made available for future reference or use in grant applications and career development:

  • Composition: An Overview & Discussion (Michael in discussion with Aleksandra, Elliot and Payton)
  • Interactive Composers Workshop and Online Concert (Terry)
  • Improvisation (Payton and Michael)
  • Writing for Percussion (Payton)
  • Interdisciplinary Interactions & Collaborations (David)
  • Introduction to Just Intonation (Michael) 90 minutes
  • Writing for String Quartet (Bergamot Quartet & Aleksandra)
  • Intro to composing and performing in alternate tuning systems and just intonation (Michael and Bergamot Quartet)
  • Singing Indian Ragas (Michael, Elliot, Payton) 10 sessions on all weekdays – 60 minutes each
  • Writing Rounds (Elliot) 4 sessions – 60 minutes each
  • Adventures in Polyphony (Elliot) 10 sessions on all weekdays – 60 minutes each
  • Introduction to Ableton Live (Elliot) 4 sessions – 90 minutes each
  • Entrepreneurship as a 21st-Century Ensemble (Bergamot Quartet)
  • Co-writing a Piece (Bergamot Quartet)
  • Imagining and sketching a piece of music (Aleksandra) – one 60-minute intro session + one 90-minute hands on & discussion
  • Working with text (Aleksandra) 90 minutes
  • Sonic Divide/Sonic Peaks Performance Art (Payton)
  • Listening Non-Critiques (David, Michael & Participants) 3 sessions – 120 minutes each
  • Beatles Sing-along Party! (Led by Elliot)

Collaboration with Bergamot Quartet

Bergamot Quartet, an NYC-based string quartet specializing in contemporary music, will be working with participants on a first-come, first-serve basis to workshop new music during CMI and premiere it on July 28th. Participants from all backgrounds and notational traditions (or lack thereof) are welcome to submit work and proposals.

Participants writing for Bergamot Quartet should send scores or detailed proposals, whichever is relevant to the work’s format, to BQ ([email protected]) by July 1st. The number of works will be capped at 15, and participants will be notified when that number has been reached. The suggested duration of proposed works is 5-10 minutes.

Private Lessons (for in-person participants)

CMI 2023 will offer each in-person participant a total of two 60-minute private lessons: one with Aleksandra Vrebalov, Elliot Cole, Payton MacDonald or Michael Harrison, and one with any members of Bergamot Quartet.

Participants must make the request to schedule private lessons at least one week in advance. The faculty’s email addresses will be sent out along with the class schedule on July 1st.

For additional one-on-one lessons with CMI faculty, please contact them directly to inquire about fees and scheduling.

Private Lessons Opportunities (for online participants)

CMI 2023 will not offer online participants private lessons. If participants want to have one-on-one lessons with any particular faculty, please contact them directly to inquire about fees and scheduling. The faculty’s email addresses will be sent out along with the class schedule on July 1st.


Creative Music Intensive will run July 15th – 30th, 2023:

  • July 15th – Arrival, Welcome and Introductions
  • July 16th to 28th – In-person and online classes
  • July 29th – Participants’ Concert (onsite & online)
  • July 30th – Closing Session (post-performance) & Departure

The class calendar/schedule will be announced on July 1st.

Concerts/Performances during the program:

  • Date tbd – Online Concert from Terry Riley & Sara Miyamoto (online concert)
  • July 18th – Beatles Sing-along Party!
  • July 22nd – Faculty Concert from Michael Harrison & Elliot Cole with tabla player tbd, and Payton MacDonald
  • July 28th – Performance from Bergamot Quartet (including premieres by participants who created new works for them)
  • July 29th – Participants’ Concert (onsite & online)

COVID Guideline and Support

All residents must be willing to provide proof of vaccination or a negative covid test taken less than 48hrs before arrival.

There will be ALN affiliates around and we are always happy to engage and help out. Please know that during this time, we are low in numbers and we are also taking these months to recalibrate our operations and programs toward a future ALN. We will be around to check in on how things are going, and talk about any adjustments that need to be made as we are navigating these new waters together.


Public transportation is available through the Albany international airport or Albany/Rensselaer train station. We are happy to schedule a pickup and drop off from either location. Upon arrival you will be given a tour of the facilities by an ALN affiliate, a run through of the protocols of the facilities and covid guidelines.


Artists in residence are accommodated in the House on the Hill or the Twins both with shared kitchen, bathrooms and communal spaces. Although residents are responsible for their own meals, it is always encouraged that everyone in the house gathers to cook and share dinners together, or prepare dishes for the community events. Weekly grocery shopping runs for those without a car will be organized by the onsite ALN affiliate.

Studio / Workspace

Arts Letters & Numbers facilities are a collection of buildings once part of the former textile complex Faith Mills along Burden Lake Road in Averill Park, NY: the House on the Hill, the Twins, the Barn, the Studios and the Shop. With a variety of different sized studio spaces (socially distanced areas in both large and smaller rooms), a wooden barn and the outdoor grounds, we welcome artists to think of these spaces at sites they can work with and within. We’ll help you choose one that best suits your practice.

The Shop is equipped with basic woodworking tools and an assortment of power and hand tools. Additional equipment are digital media, musical instruments including a 9’ Baldwin concert grand piano, a 6’ Steinway grand and upright piano all available for artists to use.

Expectations Towards the Artist

Artists are expected to pursue their individual creative endeavor and many times this calls for leading a workshop, giving a lecture, sharing a film, partake in critique, exhibiting/performing work etc. These are optional but has proven to be an integral tool for artists to find inspiration and to allow others to experience the works in progress or previous works. The artist will be encouraged to propose any form of sharing suitable for their work.

Everyone staying at Arts Letters & Numbers is expected to treat the facilities with care and consideration as well as be mindful of each other’s space. Whether it’s in a living or working situation, everyone is responsible to clean up after themselves, and to lend a helping hand when needed. Arts Letters & Numbers is based on the value and reward derived from communal efforts.

Staying at ALN you will become part of an ecosystem. During this time you will be asked to follow the guidelines provided, and respect the integrity of the spaces, property and personal spaces.


There is a limited number of Scholarships available with partial reduction of the program fee. Scholarships are only considered for applicants for whom this is crucial for their participation in the program, and require a separate application. The scholarship application should be submitted once the program application has been submitted.

Application Deadline

June 1st, 2023

Duration of Program

July 15th – July 30th, 2023

Program Fee

$575 online (via Zoom)

$1650 (shared room)

$1950 (private room)

Selection Process

Applications are reviewed within 14 days post deadline. Work samples are required for evaluating applications. The application form asks for a website, but if your works are not on a website, samples in pdf format and any questions regarding the application can be sent directly to: [email protected]