Performance Friday, April 4, 2014 | 7:30 PM

American Composers Orchestra

Orchestra Underground: Border Vanguards

Zankel Hall
Hailed as "the singer for a new generation of firebrands eager to push the boundaries" (Billboard), Brazilian songstress Luciana Souza joins the American Composers Orchestra for an evening of internationally influenced works that defy musical and political borders. The renowned vocalist performs Derek Bermel’s Mar de Setembro, a song cycle set to texts by the late Portuguese poet Eugénio de Andrade and written expressly for Souza. The ensemble also performs works by Gunther Schuller, Gabriela Lena Frank, Silvestre Revueltas, and Marcos Balter.


  • American Composers Orchestra
    George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
  • Luciana Souza, Vocalist


  • REVUELTAS Alcancías
  • GABRIELA LENA FRANK Manchay Tiempo (NY Premiere)
  • MARCOS BALTER Favela (World Premiere)
  • DEREK BERMEL Mar de Setembro (NY Premiere)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • American Composers Orchestra

    Now in its 37th season, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, internet and radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today's brightest emerging composers; champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known; and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent; as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras; and as an advocate for American composers and their music.

    To date, ACO has performed music by 700 American composers, including nearly 300 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra's innovative programs have been SONiC: Sounds of a New Century, a nine-day citywide festival in New York of music by more than 100 composers age 40 and under; Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; coLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and Orchestra Underground, ACO's entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multidisciplinary collaborations.

    Composer development has been at the core of ACO's mission since its founding. In addition to its annual Underwood New Music Readings and Commission, ACO also provides a range of additional educational and professional development activities, including composer residencies and fellowships. In 2008, ACO launched EarShot, a multi-institutional network that assists orchestras around the country in mounting new music readings. Recent EarShot programs have included the Nashville, Memphis, Colorado, Detroit, and San Diego symphonies; and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Upcoming EarShot readings include the Berkeley Symphony and New York Philharmonic. Visit for more information.

    Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra's outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 35 times, singling out ACO as "the orchestra that has done the most for American music in the United States." ACO received the inaugural MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records,,, and iTunes. ACO's digital albums include Playing It UNsafe (March 2011), Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 (February 2012), Orchestra Underground: X10D (June 2012), and the orchestra's latest release, Orchestra Underground: A-V, an album of multimedia works available for free streaming at Visit for more information.

    George Manahan

    In his fourth season as music director of the American Composers Orchestra, George Manahan has had a wide-ranging and esteemed career, embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. In addition to his work with ACO this season, Manahan continues his commitment to working with young musicians as director of orchestral studies at the Manhattan School of Music and as guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music.

    Manahan served as music director at New York City Opera for 14 seasons. There he helped envision the organization's groundbreaking VOX Contemporary Opera Lab, a series of workshops and readings that provided unique opportunities for numerous composers to hear their new concepts realized, and introduced audiences to exciting new compositional voices. In addition to established composers such as Mark Adamo, David Del Tredici, Lewis Spratlan, Robert X. Rodriguez, Lou Harrison, Bernard Rands, and Richard Danielpour, Manahan has introduced works by composers on the rise, including Adam Silverman, Elodie Lauten, Mason Bates, and David T. Little. Among his many world premieres are Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang's modern painters, and the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner.

    In May 2011, Manahan was honored by ASCAP for his "career-long advocacy for American composers and the music of our time." Last season, he was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Conductor's Award for his outstanding commitment to the work of emerging composers.

    Manahan's extensive recording activities include the premiere release of Steve Reich's Tehillim for ECM, a Grammy-nominated recording of Edward Thomas's Desire Under the Elms, Joe Jackson's Will Power, Tobias Picker's Emmeline, and several digital albums of emerging composers with ACO.

    More Info

  • Luciana Souza

    Grammy Award winner Luciana Souza is one of jazz's leading singers and interpreters. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, in the late 1960s, she grew up in a family of bossa nova innovators: her father, a singer and songwriter; her mother, a poet and lyricist. Souza's work as a performer transcends traditional boundaries around musical styles, offering solid roots in jazz, sophisticated lineage in world music, and an enlightened approach to classical repertoire and new music.

    Souza has performed and recorded with greats, including Herbie Hancock (on his Grammy-winning River: The Joni Letters), Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Danilo Pérez, and many others. Her longstanding duo work with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo has earned her accolades across the globe, and her complete discography contains more than 50 records as a side singer.

    Souza has been a prominent soloist in two important works by composer Osvaldo Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos and Oceana. She has performed with the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

    Souza began her recording career at age three with a radio commercial; she recorded more than 200 jingles and soundtracks, becoming a first-call studio veteran at age 16. She spent four years on faculty at the Berklee College of Music, where she received a bachelor's degree in jazz composition. Souza earned a master's degree in jazz studies from the New England Conservatory of Music and taught for four years at the Manhattan School of Music. From 2005 to 2010, she was the jazz artist-in-residence with San Francisco Performances.

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Revueltas's Alcancias (Allegro vivo)
London Sinfonietta
RCA Red Seal

About the Program

Welcome to "Border Vanguards," the final installment in our 10th-anniversary celebration of Orchestra Underground—our slightly subversive series that has redefined the symphony orchestra with 70 cutting-edge premieres.

For tonight's program, we feature music that crosses boundaries, both geographical and aesthetic. You'll catch more than a glimpse of Latin-American and jazz influences throughout the evening.

Silvestre Revueltas was one of the most vital and radical of Mexico's early–20th century composers, an utterly original master. His Alcancías defies expectations, juxtaposing often simple Mexican musical elements with imaginative, colorful orchestration. Marcos Balter, a talented young Brazilian-American, uses the favelas ("slums") of Rio de Janeiro as the organizing idea for a "big sonic shantytown," with musical "shacks" that are at once independent from one another, yet interconnected in the world premiere of his first orchestral work. Gabriela Lena Frank's Manchay Tiempo explores her multicultural heritage in music inspired by a recurring childhood nightmare and Latin American folklore and mythology.

Gunther Schuller broke new ground by combining jazz and the classical orchestra in the 1950s. He coined the term "Third Stream" to describe the merging of these two genres. Today, when the press extols the "newfound freedom" of contemporary music embracing multiple genres, it's worth noting that our friend Gunther was doing this more than 50 years ago. Rounding out the program, Brazilian jazz singer and Grammy Award winner Luciana Souza takes the spotlight in the New York premiere  of Mar de Setembro, a composition by ACO's own Artistic Director Derek Bermel, who set poems by the great Portuguese poet Eugénio de Andrade.

Thanks for joining us to cap off our "Underground" season. We encourage you to explore what today's aspiring composers are doing at the Underwood New Music Readings (June 6–7), ACO's 23rd annual roundup of the country's brightest young and emerging composers.

—George Manahan, ACO Music Director, and Michael Geller, ACO President
Program Notes
This performance is part of American Composers Orchestra.