Composing Inclusion brings together multiple generations, musical levels, perspectives, and community members in the creation and performance of new music. Powered by the Sphinx Venture Fund, American Composers Forum (ACF), in partnership with The Juilliard School’s Preparatory Division and the New York Philharmonic, co-commissioned nine (9) music creators who identify as Black and/or Latinx to create “flexible,” adaptive scores for players of varied musical ability. The nine commissioned works (five works for orchestra, four for chamber ensembles) were developed in collaboration with Juilliard students and Philharmonic artists over the course of several months and premiered in New York City by Juilliard Preparatory Division students performing side-by-side with members of the New York Philharmonic. ACF is publishing the works and distributing them through Hal Leonard to engage more intergenerational ensembles with the music.

Composing Inclusion panel from Sphinx Connect: Amplify 2024

Speakers from left to right: Vanessa Rose, Weston Sprott, Gary Padmore, Jordyn Davis, Carolina Heredia

American Composers Forum (ACF) oversaw the application and selection process, which attracted 71 applications. They were reviewed by Weston Sprott, Dean and Director of the Juilliard Preparatory Division; Gary Padmore, New York Philharmonic Vice President, Education and Community Engagement; Vanessa Rose, ACF’s Executive Director; Trevor Weston, composer, Juilliard Prep faculty, and program advisor; and Jacinta Clusellas, composer and teaching artist for the New York Philharmonic. Twenty-two finalists advanced to an interview round that also included Jessica Mays, composer and manager of the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers Program and Anthony McGill, Artistic Advisor for Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program and Principal Clarinet, New York Philharmonic. The final review chose Jasmine Arielle Barnes, Nicolas Lell Benavides, Jordyn Davis, James Díaz, Thomas Flippin, Lauren Mccall, Patricia Martinez, Andrés Soto, Elijah J. Thomas as the inaugural composers.

Read more about this cohort here.

Trevor Weston’s commission was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Patricia Martinez was one of the nine composers commissioned through Composing Inclusion—sadly, she passed away shortly after being selected for the program. On May 12, we paid tribute to her at the Composing Inclusion Chamber Recital with a performance of her solo piano work, Suite dedo afónica, performed by Benjamin Wien.

ACF Director of Programs Carolina Heredia reflects on the artistic legacy of composer Patricia Martinez.

In Remembrance of Patricia Martinez

As an advocate for living composers, ACF seeks opportunities to support collaborations with a variety of organizations and groups. After working with the Juilliard Preparatory Division on a residency with Valerie Coleman (ACF’s BandQuest), ACF’s Executive Director, Vanessa Rose, invited Weston Sprott, Dean of The Juilliard School’s Preparatory Division and trombonist for the Metropolitan Opera to join her on a panel named “What about the Composer?” for Midwest Band Clinic’s annual convention. Due to Covid, a virtual panel was published before the live panel took place. Also on the panels were Jasmine Britt, music faculty for Grand Street Campus High Schools and Artistic Director of the Metropolitan Music Community; Jennifer Jolley, composer and Professor of Composition at Texas Tech University; Jonathan Villela, Graduate Teaching Assistant for UT-Austin Bands; and Christopher Yee, Director of Bands for Cedar Park High School. Moderated by Vanessa Rose, the group discussed different ways to approach music by diverse living artists and helped build context for why it matters. Jolley described “flex scores” and planted a seed for Sprott’s side-by-side idea.

When Sprott called Rose with the idea for what would become Composing Inclusion it was an easy ‘yes!’ Next they called Gary Padmore about involving the New York Philharmonic, and the three friends and colleagues – already starting from a position of shared trust and commitment to living composers – got to work.

ACF Behind-the-Scenes
ACF plays a key role in developing programs that center composers in equitable ways, connecting composers with opportunities, and building greater understanding between composers and their collaborators on the commissioning and music development process.

Given the scope of this project and the number of new experiences and new relationships for various parties, ACF continued to be heavily involved throughout the planning and implementation of the project. In addition to guiding the selection process (read more about our approach) and building the project outline with our partners, we served as composer liaison/representative with partners, copyists, and other third parties. Along with advisor Trevor Weston, ACF director of programs Carolina Heredia was the go-to person for support and guidance for the composers.

On April 2, 2023 Thomas Flippin’s premiere of The Lost Village of Seneca took place at Mother AME Zion Church.

Robeson tribute concert at Mother AME Zion Church featuring Philharmonic & Juilliard musicians with bass-baritone Mark S. Doss. March 2, 2023 | Photo by Chris Lee

Flippin said The Lost Village of Seneca at times recalls the “very dissonant” jazz of Charles Mingus while other passages draw upon “1980s classical music minimalism” and “a very white, Eurocentric classical style from the 1700s and 1800s.”

Thomas Flippin at “Here I Stand: Paul Robeson’s 125th Birthday.
March 2, 2023 | Photo by Chris Lee

On May 6, 2023 the world premiere of each composer’s orchestral composition took place at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

Composers Jordyn Davis, James Díaz, and Trevor Weston at the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert: New Voices—Composing Inclusion in David Geffen Hall.
May 6, 2023 | Photo by Chris Lee

Davis’ As I Am blends elements of jazz and classical music into a piece that tells a story about continuing to get to know and love oneself, and how we are at our best when we embrace ourselves for who we are.

Díaz’ and does the Moon also fall? is a soundscape written for orchestra that brings the composer’s experience with electronics and synthesizers to the orchestral instruments, exploring the creative possibilities of color and sonority.

Composer Jordyn Davis at the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert: New Voices—Composing Inclusion.
May 6, 2023 | Photo by Chris Lee

Weston’s Subwaves is a musical response to taking the subway—an experience shared by many in the New York City metro area and is a custom-made piece for Juilliard MAP students. This project was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Composer Trevor Weston at the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concert: New Voices—Composing Inclusion.
May 6, 2023 | Photo by Chris Lee

More About the Composers

Trevor Weston Facilitates a New Way Forward with Composing Inclusion

ListN Up: James Díaz (February 9, 2023)

ListN Up: Jordyn Davis (March 9, 2023)



Orchestra concert:
Young People’s Concert / Composing Inclusion
Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall
April 20th, 2024 at 2 pm

Orchestras: Juilliard Pre-College and NY Philharmonic
Conductor: Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser
Composers: Andrés Soto, Nicolas Lell Benavides, and William Dawson (1989-1990)

Chamber concert:
Composing Inclusion
309 The Juilliard School
May 12th, 2024 at 3 pm

Ensembles: Juilliard Pre-College, MAP, and NY Philharmonic
Conductors: Pablo Rieppi (percussion), Oliver Hagen (woodwind), Andrew Bove (brass)
Composers: Lauren McCall (percussion ensemble), Jasmine Barnes (brass ensemble), and Elijah J. Thomas (woodwind ensemble)