Aaron Copland Fund Awards $500,000 in Recording Grants

Aaron Copland Fund Awards $500,000 in Recording Grants

Following the tragic collapse of Composers Recordings, Inc. and the suspension of the Mary Flagler Cary Trust Recording Program in the past year, the Aaron Copland Fund Recording Program, administered by the American Music Center, is more crucial than ever for the maintenance of a healthy system of documenting and promoting contemporary American music. This year $500,000 in grants were awarded to 34 organizations comprising performing ensembles, presenters, and recording companies. An independent 5-person panel selected recipients from a pool of 150 applicants requesting over $2 million total in grants. A complete list of winning projects can be found below.

As the US economy continues to sink, money and excessive generosity is becoming more scarce, but Fund president John Harbison affirms the money for the Recording Program is in no danger. “Thanks to the tremendous success of the Copland 100th anniversary year, beautifully prepared and encouraged by the work of his publishers Boosey & Hawkes, the Copland Fund is in a healthy condition even in these difficult financial times,” he commented. “The Trustees remain very gratified by the vigor and diversity represented in this year’s choices by the Recording Program panel. We will continue to nurture the Fund toward the continuation, and hopefully the increase of our activity in this field.”

The Aaron Copland Fund for New Music was established by Aaron Copland who bequeathed to it a large part of his estate. Created with the goal of encouraging and improving public knowledge of contemporary American music, the Fund awards grants annually through the Recording Program, the Performing Ensembles Program, and a Supplemental Program for service organizations and other non-profit institutions.

For Becky Starobin, the director of Bridge Records that received 5 awards totaling $43,000, the Recording Grants are indispensable to her company. “The Fund has generously supported a wide variety of our projects, ranging from jazz to classical music, and has shown a stylistic breadth that is truly impressive,” she notes. “The Copland Fund is a model for proving how one man and his legacy can glorify a nation and its art.”

“The grant…will allow me to finish the project which I have worked on for almost four years now,” adds Jon Nelson, a composer, trumpeter and director of JOMAFIA Records in Buffalo, NY. He received $8000 to complete a recording of music for brass ensembles. “With some 25 musicians involved, it is by far the largest undertaking I have produced yet. It is also an important project, in that it will be a first recording of pieces by such important American composers that include Milton Babbitt, LaMonte Young, Tom Pierson, David Felder, and myself,” he continues. “My hope is that once these pieces are heard by my colleagues in the brass world, they will seek opportunities to play them and present them to more audiences around the world.”

Beth Custer, a composer with her own record label BC Records, will be using her $15,000 grant to record her score to the silent Georgian film comedy My Grandmother. “It’s my best work yet and I’m thrilled to be able to get it out there,” she said. “I was raised in the era of the Cold War and have come to look at this project as small gesture towards peaceful collaborative art between Russia [the former Soviet Union] and the United States.” She, along with Milestone Film and Video are negotiating with Teknovid, the Georgian company that holds the negatives to the rare film, to get this project into production and distribution.

Innovative ideas like Starobin’s, Nelson’s, and Custer’s are reiterated amongst this years recipients, all of whom help promote the 3 major principles that underlie the Recording Program: 1) To document and provide wider exposure for the music of contemporary American composers; 2) To develop audiences for contemporary American music through record distribution and other retail markets; 3) To support the release and dissemination of recordings of previously unreleased contemporary American music and the reissuance of recordings that are no longer available.

The next deadline for submissions is January 15, 2004. See the AMC website for more details about applying.

2003 Aaron Copland Fund Recording Grants
Albany Records Albany, NY Orchestral Music of Robert Rodriguez $3,000
Chamber Music of Elizabeth Brown $8,000
Electronic Music of Alice Shields $5,000
Albany Symphony Orchestra Albany, NY Music of Roy Harris $20,000
Music of Morton Gould $20,000
Mixed Choral Disc $15,000
Alliance for the Arts New York, NY Music of Gerald Busby $8,000
Memento Bittersweet $7,000
BBC Symphony Orchestra London, England Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa” $20,000
BC Records San Francisco, CA Beth Custer’s film score to “My Grandmother” $15,000
Bang on a Can New York, NY Don Byron’s “Eugene” and “Basquiat” $15,000
Boston Modern Orchestra Project Roslindale, MA Music of Gunther Schuller $12,500
Bridge Records New Rochelle, NY Cecil Taylor’s “Algonquin” $5,000
Brass Music of David Dzubay $5,000
Music of Tania León $17,000
Song Cycles of George Crumb $8,000
Music of Milton Babbitt $8,000
Chicago Chamber Musicians Chicago, IL Music of John Harbison $8,000
Cleveland Chamber Symphony Cleveland, OH Diverse American Composers $7,500
Cold Blue Music Venice, CA 3-CD set of reissues of works by 7 composers $10,000
Collage New Music Boston, MA Chamber Music of Donald Sur $15,000
Continuum New York, NY Music of Roberto Sierra $15,000
Dallas Symphony Dallas, TX Music of Joseph Schwantner $20,000
Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble Boston, MA 2-CD set of piano music of Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles $10,000
Extension Ensemble Ensemble New York, NY Music of New York Composers $12,000
Furious Artisans Rye Brook, NY Music of Jonathan Dawe $10,000
Innova Recordings/American Composers Forum St. Paul, MN 2-CD Set of Henry Brant’s “Northern Lights Over the Twin Cities” and “A Plan of the Air” $10,000
JOMAFIA Records Buffalo, NY Music for Large Brass Ensemble $8,000
Kepler String Quartet Fox Point, WI String Quartets of Ben Johnston $14,500
Melodious Accord New York, NY Music of Alice Parker $6,000
Minnesota Orchestra Minneapolis, MN Concertos of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski $20,000
Mode Records New York, NY Music of Morton Subotnick $13,000
Mosaic New York, NY Music of Steven Mackey $10,000
Music From China New York, NY Music of Zhou Long $20,000
The New Professionals Orchestra London, England Music of Lou Harrison $15,500
New World Records New York, NY Music of George Antheil $15,000
Anthony Davis’s “Amistad: An Opera in Two Acts” $20,000
Music of James Tenney $5,000
New York Foundation for the Arts New York, NY Brian Schober’s “Manhattan Impromptus” $5,000
Nine Winds Records Beverly Hills, CA Music of Mel Powell $4,000
Other Minds San Francisco, CA 10+2: 12 American Text Sound Pieces $6,000
Planet Arts Recordings New York, NY Works of Charles Ives interpreted for jazz orchestra by Jack Cooper $10,000
Sequitur New York, NY High Art: Chamber Music for Solo Flute II $8,000
Spectrum Concerts Berlin Berlin, Germany Robert Helps in Berlin $6,000
Zeitgeist St. Paul, MN If Tigers Were Clouds $5,000
Total $500,000