In Common, the new collaborative residency from the American Composers Forum, gives communities the opportunity to explore and celebrate their unique diversity through the sharing of stories and the creation of new music. This 12-18 month community arts project will bring together diverse people, including civic leaders, a faith congregation, musicians, artists, and a composer-in-residence, who is chosen by the community during the planning process. The composer’s residency in the community will center on organizing events where people of all ages can come together to discover what they have in common.

In Common is an intentional evolution of the long-running ACF program called Faith Partners, which for more than 20 years partnered congregations of different religious denominations in the Upper Midwest’s Bremer Bank communities, allowing them to collaborate and experience new music written just for them. During the In Common composer residency, community participants from all walks of life will gather to discover shared experience and purpose, and to imagine better lives in the community they all call home. This collaboration will forge new relationships and create new music — based on real stories and experiences, and performed by community members at free public events. With support from Otto Bremer Trust, an In Common residency will take place in one Bremer Bank community each year, starting with Willmar, MN, in 2018.

In recent years, the arrival of thousands of immigrants from East Africa has reshaped the Main Street in Willmar. After arriving in the Twin Cities, many have settled in Willmar, where they found work at the local Hormel-owned Jennie-O turkey processing plant. Today more than 20 businesses in and around Main Street are immigrant-owned. Along with the city’s more-established Latino community, the two groups now make up close to 25 percent of Willmar’s population, the majority of whom have Scandinavian and Northern European heritage. Despite religious and cultural differences, longtime Willmar residents and new immigrants are finding opportunities to build together a better future for all. This project aims to share some of those stories and celebrate this thriving, evolving community.

Organizations hosting the project include the Unitarian Universalist Church of WillmarThe Willmar Community Center, and The West Central Singers. Over the course of approximately one year (summer 2018 – summer 2019), this residency will invite the selected composer to collaborate with the community in many ways. Possible collaborations could include events for storytelling, songwriting, various African drumming traditions, cultural dance, communal meals, music classes in Willmar area schools, and other events designed with the community.


Otto Bremer Trust, investing in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest.


More information will be coming soon!

The application period for this opportunity will open in January, 2018. The selection process will take place March-May, 2018. The residency will take place over approximately one year, beginning in the summer of 2018.

The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender, race, ethnicity, and geography.