Three ensembles and five presenters will be recognized with CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming during the 35th Chamber Music America National Conference in New York City. A ceremony will be held at the Westin New York at Times Square on January 20, 2013.
Established jointly by Chamber Music America and ASCAP, the annual awards recognize U.S.-based professional ensembles and presenters for distinctive programming of music composed within the past 25 years. The recipients, chosen by an independent panel of judges, were evaluated on the basis of their programming and innovations in attracting audiences to performances of new music.
The 2013 CMA/ASCAP Awardees are:
Contemporary: SOLI Chamber Ensemble (San Antonio, TX)
Through its commissioning activities, the SOLI Chamber Ensemble has expanded the repertoire for its instrumentation—clarinet, violin, cello, and piano—a combination inspired by Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. The group was cited for an award based on its programming and commissions, which included premieres of works by such composers as Brian Bondari, Xi Wang, Dan Welcher, Doug Balliett, and Paul Moravec, as well as Prelude to the End—created for the group’s 20th anniversary by composer Steven Mackey and video artist Mark DeChiazza.
Jazz: Slumgum (Altadena, CA)
Among the innovations of the jazz ensemble Slumgum is its practice of choosing a single concept, based on which all four band members agree to create at least one new piece. Other recent projects include the creation of a new work for octet (Slumgum musicians plus a chamber ensemble of flute, horn, clarinet, and voice) and performances of original works interpreting the written word, ranging from a passage in Charles Mingus’s autobiography to poems, a Biblical passage, and a Buddhist reading.
Mixed repertory: Radius Ensemble (Concord, MA)
To introduce new music to its classically oriented audience, Radius Ensemble has been offering programs that pair contemporary composers with past masters—Jan Bach and Katherine Hoover with Mozart and Françaix, György Ligeti with Robert Schumann. The ensemble (wind quintet, strings, and piano) was cited for its programming and related audience-engagement activities, including accessible spoken introductions to the works performed, meet-the-artists receptions, podcasts of live recordings, and live streaming of concerts.
LARGE PRESENTERS (10 or more concerts per year)
Contemporary: Miller Theatre at Columbia University (New York, NY)
Columbia University’s Miller Theatre was cited for its many original new music events, in particular its Composer Portraits Series, evening-length programs exploring the catalogs of Tobias Picker, George Lewis, John Zorn, and Hilda Paredes; its Sounds of a New Century (SONiC) Festival, which included a 12-hour marathon curated by the JACK Quartet and eight world premieres; and Pop-Up Concerts, a newly inaugurated free series.
Mixed repertory: Yellow Barn (Putney, VT)
Yellow Barn is being honored for its summer festival programming and for emphasis on new music in its year-round concerts, lectures, and educational offerings. The 2012 festival routinely juxtaposed new music and iconic classical works, and included several works by composer-in-residence Brett Dean. A May open-air performance featured Gérard Grisey’s Le Noir de l’Étoile (for six percussionists surrounding the audience)—a composition inspired by the discovery of pulsars—and included a pre-concert talk with an astrophysicist. An artist residency in public schools, featuring the ensemble Due East, also highlighted the music of today’s composers.
SMALL PRESENTERS (9 concerts or less per year)
Contemporary: Musiqa (Houston, TX)
Musiqa (Houston, TX) is being honored for its wide-ranging commissioning, performance, and educational activities. “Free of the Ground,”—part of Musiqa’s Downtown Series—was an exploration of fellow artists’ influences on composers’ works; a concert in its Loft Series, held in conjunction with Contemporary Art Museum of Houston’s survey of the career of visual artist Donald Moffett, included politically charged works such as Frederic Rzewski’s No More War. Audience-engagement activities include talks by the composers, question-and-answer sessions, and a variety of new music concerts for children.
Jazz: Magic Triangle Jazz Series/UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center (Amherst, MA)
The Magic Triangle Jazz Series at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center is being honored for its programming and associated activities organized by music curator Glenn Siegel. James “Blood” Ulmer, Joshua Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, the Frank Lacy Trio, Shakers ’n’ Bakers, and Steve Coleman and the Elements performed on the series, conducted student workshops, and participated in live radio interviews that were later made available as podcasts.
Mixed repertory: Kyo-Shin-An Arts (New York, NY)
Kyo-Shin-An Arts integrates Japanese instruments into contemporary Western music. A typical collaboration, supported by the Japan Foundation, was titled Kammerraku (Kammer is “chamber” in German, and raku “music” in Japanese) and featured new music performed by the Voxare String Quartet with koto, shakuhachi, and shamisen players. Another partnership, with the Colorado Quartet, featured four works composed for shakuhachi and string quartet, including a commission from Paul Moravec. The works were toured to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the 100th anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
(—from the press release)