2016 Women Composers Readings and Commissions Program
Congratulations to 2016 commission recipients Chen-Hui Jen, Wang Jie, and Hannah Lash, each receiving orchestral commissions of $15,000.
The League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Readings and Commissions program is administered with the American Composers Orchestra and EarShot and supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
About the Program
Through the League's Women Composers Readings and Commissions program, twenty women composers benefitted from career development via EarShot Readings, and seven composers have now received commissions, with two (premieres by Julia Adolphe and Melody Eötvös) completed.
This year’s program featured career development workshops as well as mentoring opportunities with, among others, composers Derek Bermel (American Composers Orchestra Artistic Director), Robert Beaser, Margaret Brouwer, John Corigliano, Anthony Davis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Stephen Hartke, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Chen Yi, as well as composer/arranger Vincent Mendoza.
The Women Composers Readings and Commissions program is embedded in EarShot, an initiative of American Composers Orchestra (ACO) in collaboration with American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. Earshot is the nation’s first ongoing, systematic program for identifying emerging orchestral composers. ACO’s artistic and administrative staff works with participating orchestras, assisting with planning and identifying composers through its extensive nationwide calls, as well as program design and execution. EarShot offers participants career development in the form of mentorships, counsel, and industry exposure with orchestras. Each year, orchestras host readings across the country. This year’s readings took place with Columbus Symphony (October 27-29, 2015), Naples Philharmonic (Jazz Composers Orchestra Readings, May 25-27, 2016), EOS Repertoire Orchestra in Beijing (May 28-31, 2016), and American Composers Orchestra (Underwood New Music Readings, June 13-15, 2016 and Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings, June 14-17, 2016).
This year marks an expansion: for the first time since the program was launched in 2014, three commissions have been awarded, rather than two. Additionally the program has been renewed for 2017 and will continue in its current expanded form.
2016 Commission Recipients
Chen-Hui Jen is a composer whose music presents an imaginative, spiritual, and poetic space with subtlety and sophistication. She earned a Ph.D. degree in Composition at the University of California, San Diego, where her mentor was Chinary Ung.
Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Chen-Hui Jen received her M.F.A. in composition at the Graduate School of Music at the Taipei National University of the Arts and B.F.A. in composition at the Music Department of the National Sun Yet-San University, under the instruction of Prof. Hwang-Long Pan and Dr. Tzyy-Sheng Lee. She began studying piano at age four, under the instruction of professors including Aleck Karis and Ming-Fen Hsu.
Chen-Hui Jen writes music for music for orchestra, chamber, and solo, for both Western and Chinese instruments, and vocal and choral works as well as works with computer and electronics. Chen-Hui Jen's works have been performed at multiple new music festivals and concerts, including the ISCM World Music Days, SEAMUS, Acanthes Music Festival, ACL Music Festival, EarShot San Diego Workshop, New Music Miami Season, Taipei International New Music Festival, WOCMA T, and Contemporary Sizhu Music Festival. Chen-Hui Jen's works have won numerous prizes in the Taiwan Literature and Fine Arts Composition Competition for chamber, choral, and solo works, the Formosa Composition Competition for violin concerto, the International Tsang-Houei Hsu Music Composition Competition for Chinese chamber music, the International Taiwan Music Center Composition Competition, and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Composition Competition. She has also received multiple commissions from the Palimpsest Ensemble, Accordant Commons, The Living Earth Show, Ensemble ISCM-Taiwan, Taipei Chamber Singers, Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, Ching-Yun Chorus, Kaohsiung Chamber Choir, and Muller Choir, as well as multiple grants from the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Taiwan National and Arts Foundation.
Since 2010, Dr. Jen has performed piano in a duo with her husband, composer/computer musician Jacob David Sudol. Together they've played many distinguished venues such as the Taipei National Recital Hall, Taiwan National Chiao Tung University, the Spectrum in New York City, Center for New Music in San Francisco, ISCM New Music Miami Festival, Root Signal Festival, Miami Bakehouse Art Complex, University of California at San Diego, Mills College, California Institute of Arts, Chapman University, and Florida International University. She is currently also a pianist in the NODUS Ensemble and the White Ibis Ensemble.
Part cartoon character, part virtuoso, musical whiz kid Wang Jie has been nudging serious music and its concert audiences into spectacular frontiers over the past few seasons. Her From New York, With Love transformed a classic percussionist into a dervish-like rock star. Her chamber opera Flown dramatized the end of a rocky love affair by having the two pianists attack each other and their shared instrument. Despite having the worst title in the history of music, Oboe Concerto For The Genuine Heart Of Sadness channeled the power of Liang Wang, the principle oboist of the New York Philharmonic, and the League of Composers Orchestra into an orgiastic whirlwind. An unexpected collaboration with comedy writer Paul Simms inspired a song cycle titled Lord? Please Don't Let Me Die in a Funny Way, coaxing belly laughs from an otherwise sedate Opera America audience. Not one to let herself off the hook at her Carnegie Hall debut with the American Composers Orchestra, she shape-shifted into a monkey god swiveling on stage between three keyboards during a performance of her concert opera From The Other Sky.
One day she spins a few notes into large symphonic forms, the next she calls Zodiac animals to the opera stage. It is no accident that Ms. Wang's stylistic versatility is a rare trait in today's composers. There is a mile-long dossier on Jie's outside-the-box incidents. It begins with a thrilling escape from a Chinese military-run kindergarten at the age of four. Behind a touch of glorious madness to Jie's music, the skill, theatricality, and method that once facilitated her youthful escape are now the engines for her appetite to "Engage • Explore • Play." Jie credits her mentors at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and NYU's PhD program for all the music mischief she didn't think was possible.
Most recently, her Symphony No. 2, commissioned and premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, was streamed live to a worldwide audience. Upcoming, Symphonic Overture 'America, The Beautiful' will be premiered by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Chamber opera Rated R For Rat will receive a premiere production by Festival Opera, and her Symphony No.2 is on the bill at the Buffalo Philharmonic. Wang Jie is currently creating Phoenix Fallen, a prison opera. Supported by the McKnight Foundation, Jie will spend a year as a resident composer at the Shakopee Correctional Facility in Minnesota, where she will conduct field work and opera workshops in collaboration with the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra and the Shakopee prison choir.
For more information on Wang Jie, please visit her website.
Hailed by the New York Times as "striking and resourceful...handsomely brooding," Hannah Lash's music has been commissioned by The Fromm Foundation, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Columbia University's Miller Theatre, The Naumburg Foundation, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Colorado and Aspen Music Festivals, among many others.
Lash has received numerous honors and prizes, including the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, a Charles lves Scholarship (2011) and Fellowship (2016) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Foundation Commission, the Naumburg Prize in Composition, the Barnard Rogers Prize in Composition, and the Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize in Composition, among others.
In addition to performances of her music in the U.S.A., Lash's music is well known internationally. In April of 2008, her string quartet Four Still was performed in Kyev in the Ukraine's largest international new music festival, "Musical Premieres of the Season," curated by Carson Cooman. In 2016, her chamber orchestra work This Ease was selected as "audience favorite" in performances by the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz, conducted by Hermann Baumer.
Recent premieres include Three Shades Without Angles, for flute, viola and harp, by the Boston Symphony Chamber Players; Two Movements for violin and piano, commissioned by the Library of Congress for Ensemble lntercontemporain; a new chamber opera, Beowulf, for Guerilla Opera; and new orchestral works for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as well as two concerti for harp premiered by the American Composers Orchestra and the Colorado Music Festival, both with Lash as soloist. In 2016, Lash was honored with a Composer Portraits Concert at Columbia University's Miller Theatre. In the 2016-2017 season, Lash receives the premiere of her Requiem with the Yale Choral Artists as well as the debut of The Voynich Symphony, a major large-scale orchestral work, with the New Haven Symphony.
Lash obtained her Ph.D in Composition from Harvard University in 2010. She has held teaching positions at Harvard University (Teaching Fellow), at Alfred University (Guest Professor of Composition), and currently serves on the composition faculty at Yale University School of Music.
For more information on Hannah Lash, please visit her website.