Performance Friday, October 23, 2015 | 7:30 PM

American Composers Orchestra

Orchestra Underground: 21st Firsts

Zankel Hall
Concerts by the American Composers Orchestra “are always fascinating … frequently exhilarating forays into recent music—or music that was written decades ago but is still fresh” (Newsday). The standard-bearing new-music orchestra presents world premieres—two commissioned by Carnegie Hall—composed by visionary young artists.


  • American Composers Orchestra
    George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
  • Caroline Shaw, Voice
  • Hannah Lash, Harp
  • Paul Lieber, Projections


  • MICHAEL-THOMAS FOUMAI The Spider Thread (World Premiere)
  • MELODY EÖTVÖS Red Dirt | Silver Rain (World Premiere)
  • HANNAH LASH Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orchestra (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall with support from The Cheswatyr Foundation)
  • JUDAH ADASHI Sestina for Voice and Orchestra (World Premiere)
  • CONRAD WINSLOW Joint Account for Orchestra and Video (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

Event Duration

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

About the Program

Welcome. Tonight’s performance is the culmination of our second SONiC: Sounds of a New Century, a festival devoted to new music written in the 21st century by composers age 40 and under. Entitled “21st Firsts,” this is an exceptional program even by ACO standards, with five world premieres.

In the last nine days, SONiC has brought together some 80 composers in performances throughout New York City. Along the way, there have been a total of 20 world premieres. Events have ranged from a marathon concert to musical robots, from a free symphony concert at the Winter Garden to collaborations between emerging choreographers and composers, experiments with video, jazz-classical hybrids, and much more.

Tonight’s composers are as diverse as they are interesting. They’re all exceptionally mature in terms of the clarity of their artistic voice, though none of them are past their mid-30s. Interestingly, four of them cut their teeth (at least in terms of orchestra music) in one of ACO’s composer development programs, either in our Underwood Emerging Composers Readings or in EarShot, ACO’s national orchestral composition discovery network.

So, what’s in store for this grand finale? Conrad Winslow, along with visual collaborator Paul Lieber, creates a multimedia essay built on Baroque techniques described by 18th-century theorist Johann Mattheson. Melody Eötvös relives childhood memories, making the earth and sky of her Australian upbringing feel palpable in her music. Hannah Lash, as both composer and soloist, presents music in which the harp stands in contrast to the orchestra—alone and an outsider. And Michael-Thomas Foumai, inspired by a Japanese tale of morality, recounts a rapturous and frantic dash for spiritual salvation—an orchestral high-wire climb—before the thread snaps.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of what a new generation of composers is creating in our still-young century. And we hope you’ll agree that today is the perfect day to tune in to the music of our time.

—Derek Bermel, ACO Artistic Director, and George Manahan, ACO Music Director 

Program Notes
For more information about the American Composers Orchestra and 21st century music by composers age 40 and under, visit SONiC: Sounds of a New Century Festival.


Major support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with the SONiC: Sounds of a New Century Festival
This performance is part of Fast Forward.

Part of