ACA concerts - support for young composers

Each year since 2003, the ACA Summer Music Festival has presented works by young and emerging composers working in the United States. With funding from the Alice M. Ditson Fund, BMI, and the Argosy Contemporary Music Fund, among others, more than 30 new works by young composers have been performed by top soloists and ensembles. If you are 35 or younger and would like to submit a work to the young composers project for consideration, please contact us. Listening excerpts from past ACA concerts below.

Reinaldo Moya's Generalissimo - opera premiere 2013

Reinaldo Moya is a Venezuelan American composer whose music is inspired by the complex and boundless canvases of the great Latin American novels. His music can be thought of as folk music from the magical, imaginary landscapes depicted in these books. Seemingly opposite aspects of reality coexist in his music: the simple and the complex, the familiar and the unexpected, the beautiful and the ugly, the magical and the everyday. Growing up in Venezuela as the youngest of three musical sons, he got exposed to music early and often. As a violinist, he was a founding member of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela, and travelled extensively playing throughout Latin America, the United States and Europe. He started composing more seriously as an undergraduate at West Virginia University under the guidance of John Beall. He later studied at the Juilliard School with Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser.

Sean Shepherd's "Dust" for Violin and Piano

The first movement of his Sonata for Violin and Piano, Sean Shepherd's "Dust" is a complex atmospheric sound piece of shimmering beauty. It received an unforgettable performance of precision and balance at the ACA Festival in 2011 by Canadian violinist, Veronique Mathieu, and pianist David Kaplan.

Nicholas Csicsko "Chaconne for Violin and Piano" world premiere

Nicholas Csicsko - Chaconne for Violin and Piano - new work composed for Canadian violinist, Veronique Mathieu, for the ACA Festival 2011.

Nicholas Csicsko’s award winning music has enthralled audiences throughout the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Qatar, and Afghanistan. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and at various other venues by ensembles including the Juilliard Orchestra, the Indiana University Orchestra, and the PUFF! Quintet.  In addition to composing, Mr. Csicsko is faculty at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College and Evening Divisions where he teaches composition, history, ear training, and theory.  Mr. Csicsko’s principal teachers include Samuel Adler, Claude Baker, and Sven-David Sandstrom.  Mr. Csicsko is a graduate of Indiana University and The Juilliard School, where he is currently pursuing his Doctorate in composition.

TRAVIS ALFORD "Transitions" for Flute, Trumpet, and Piano

(also see NY Times Review)
TRAVIS ALFORD (b. 1983) is a composer, trumpet player, and improviser in the Boston area. Growing up in Spring Hope, NC, he began playing the trumpet at the age of 11 in school concert and jazz bands, community groups, and in church. In college he discovered he was much better at composing than playing the trumpet (though he still tries). As a performer, Travis played with the ECU Symphonic Wind Ensemble, various chamber and jazz ensembles, and with the North Carolina "Pops" Orchestra. While at NEC he was a member of The Forge, a contemporary improvisation collective under the direction of Tanya Kalmanovitch. Current projects include Test Pattern, a composer/performer collaboration with composers Dan Van Hassel (piano) and Mu-Xuan Lin (voice), and the experimental & collaborative music series COMPROVISED (BOS & NY), of which Travis is co-founder and Artistic Director. He is also co-founder of the Park Street Brass Ensemble, based at Park Street Church in Boston, where he is also on the leadership board of the arts ministry, which

Alexandra Du Bois "Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello: L'apothéose d'un rêve (Apotheosis of a Dream)"

Piano Trio: L'apothéose d'un rêve (2005) was commissioned by pianist Menahem Pressler for the Beaux Arts Trio and was premiered by the Beaux Arts Trio at The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam on 16 January 2006 with consecutive performances throughout the Netherlands during the Trio's 50th anniversary season. Composed during Autumn 2005 and inspired, initially, by the breadth, length and depth of the Beaux Arts Trio's presence, the composition of the work began to internalize certain influences; Cathedral bells at Notre Dame de Paris on several storm-filled afternoons; Indiana's countryside--where I was based while pursing my Bachelor's degree while writing this piece, and other flat, Midwestern, land-locked landscapes.

David T. Little "Musik Fur Den Schultheiss"

Musik für den Schultheiß is a rather sweet and formally mysterious work, composed in response to the Terpsichore by Michael Praetorius. Praetorius's real last name was Schultheiß, which, in old German, meant something close to “mayor of a small municipality.” This accounts for the German title, which I carried one step further by
adding the gently sarcastic subtitle.

Derek Johnson "Fragments"

Derek Johnson is a composer, electric guitarist and educator active in the world of contemporary concert music and beyond.  His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Canada by leading soloists and ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW and Montreal’s Nouvel Ensemble Moderne.  He is a founding member in the virtuoso chamber ensemble BASILICA and a regular performer with the post-rock improvisation collective the goodhands team.  Johnson has performed internationally with the powerhouse new music ensemble the Bang On A Can All-Stars in collaboration with guest artists Iva Bittova, Don Byron, Bill Frisell, Glenn Kotche (Wilco), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Steve Reich and Ryuichi Sakamoto.  He has served as a faculty member in the music department of Columbia College Chicago, as an Associate Instructor of Composition at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music and as faculty at the Bang On A Can Summer Institute.  He is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the Ball State University School of Music.

Kate Soper "Door"

(Also see NY Times Review)

Thumbing through a Paris Review in 2006, I was struck by my first encounter with the poetry of Martha Collins.  Something about the spaciousness, the delicacy of language, and the keen yet somehow indefinite evocations of her writing seemed to me intensely musical.  Both her suite of poems Door and my setting of it explore various ways in which words communicate: as direct conveyers of real meaning, as imprecise yet eloquent expressions of the indescribable, as collections of pure sounds, and as vehicles for pure sensuous beauty.

Matthew Welch "Symphony of Drones No.1"

(Also see NY Times Review)

Symphony of Drones #1
(2001) is a symphony in the most literal meaning of the word, a collection of sounds, in this case, those centered around a drone mentality. It is a conducted, graphically notated piece designed for any collection of four or more pitched instruments. It is in a three -movement form, and each movement addresses various indeterminate and structured improvisational concepts that explore textures that ornament, enhance and disrupt a fused and continuous ensemble timbre.

Clarice Assad "Ciranda, Classicas Cantigas"

"CIRANDADA" is a word play on the term "CIRANDA" which is a type of music and dance from the Northeastern part of Brazil.  Although not all of the songs included in this piece are from that region, the word "CIRANDA" is also characterized by the formation of a small or large circle of people, who gather to perform this music by singing, playing and dancing. The folk music of Brazil is also largely associated with children, for its simplistic and playful nature

As I believe it is important to maintain these melodies alive in our minds, I have created a piece in which fuses more than ten folk Brazilian songs, arranged in extremely contrasting ways as to their original form.

Nathan Bowen, Cassia

Nathan Bowen is currently pursuing a doctorate in music composition at the CUNY Graduate Center, studying primarily with Amnon Wolman and Tania León. Having composed for chamber ensembles, short films, orchestra, choir, theater, commercial projects, and computer music.

Cassia (2004) is an aromatic spice that, among other uses, is an ingredient for anointing oil. This piece is meant to be a celebration of things that are ennobling, constructive, and beneficial to growth and enrichment. I am increasingly drawn to durational issues and how rhythm can be used to create a sense of motion or stasis. In this piece I am conscientious of the interplay between sparse and rich textures, brittle and lush timbres, and abrupt dynamic and rhythmic contrasts.

Steven Kemper, Run From Fear

Originally from Baltimore, Steven studied composition with Elliott Schwartz and Vin Shende during his time at Bowdoin. Upon graduation he moved to Chicago where he worked as a sound engineer for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Apple Tree Theatre.

The title of this piece refers to a Bruce Nauman neon sculpture which contains the text “Run from Fear” above the text “Fun from Rear.” This piece is based on the minor third E-G which comes from the first song I learned to play on guitar: “About a Girl” from the Nirvana Unplugged album.

Kirsten Volness "Hverfa" for Piano Quartet

Kirsten Volness (b. 1980) grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota, a place that fostered in her a keen interest in the outdoors and the wonders of nature. The magic to be found in the natural world informs and inspires her creative work as do earth-based spiritual traditions. She completed her DMA in Composition at the University of Michigan (from which she also holds an MM).

Hverfa, (2006) pronounced ker'fa, means to "disappear" or "vanish" in Icelandic. The word also has connotations of revolution, spiraling and change. I had this image of a long winter's

Anthony Green "Chance" for String Quartet

Anthony Green (b. 1984) holds a Bachelors of Music in theory and composition from Boston University (summa cum laude), and a Masters of Music in composition from the New England Conservatory (magna cum laude). As a pianist, he has performed at Jordan Hall, Symphony Hall, and other places throughout New England and Long Island.

Chance, composed in 2004, was originally the last movement of a 4 movement string quartet. However this movement was composed first.

David Fulmer "String Quartet No. 3"

Violinist and composer David Fulmer was just named a winner of the 56th annual BMI Student Composer Awards, and was recently presented the prestigious Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his original compositions.