News in Brief 12/31/04

2004 is closing out with a bang not a whimper, news-wise at least. Among the headlines of note…

After ten years on the NYC music scene, the EOS Orchestra has announced it will be closing up shop. No concerts are planned for 2005. Under the baton of conductor Jonathan Sheffer, the orchestra was known for presenting unconventional classical concert experiences, efforts which received their share of praise and criticism.

Sheffer is also the artistic director of a similarly unconventional ensemble, Red {an orchestra} in Cleveland.

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The Bang on a Can All-Stars have been named Ensemble of the Year for 2005 by Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts. Other winners included Arvo Pärt, Composer of the Year; Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska, Conductor of the Year; Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, Musician of the Year; Christian Tetzlaff, Instrumentalist of the Year; and Joseph Polisi, president of the Juilliard School, as Educator of the Year. The awards were presented December 6 in New York City.

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Craigslist.org, that indispensable cyber bulletin board for those seeking a new apartment or a slightly worn coffee table, now has something else to offer composers. This posting went up on Dec. 10:

New Classical Music Label Seeks composers’ original compositions!

Volitional Music, a new classical music label, is looking for contemporary composers. The objective of the label is to rediscover the aesthetic philosophies of the past, not in order to repeat or copy its product, but in order to create original, exultant music.

We welcome you to submit recordings of your own original works for consideration. The craigslist email system will not deliver an attachment of the size of an MP3, so email us first stating your interest and we will send you our email address and postal address. You may then either submit your recording electronically or send a CD or cassette tape to our postal address. (We are based out of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States of America.)

The quality of the *recording* is of zero importance. The quality of the *music* is.

Unlike most record companies, we publish composers on a per-opus basis, as opposed to a per-album basis. This helps you maintain your creative freedom by not having to commit to future releases, while enabling us to market your music online through a series of singles before committing to album production.

The startup label stresses that it’s looking for new classical works in the classical or romantic aesthetic (as opposed to the new age or postmodern classical). Interested parties can email Jared Rhoads at vm@volitionalmusic.com.

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Osvaldo Golijov and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are teaming up for a two-year performance and recording project. Plans include two recordings with Deutsche Grammophon, tentatively scheduled for release in 2006. Recordings of Oceana and Last Round were made in November. Ainadamar, a one-act opera depicting the last days of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, will be recorded in November of 2005, along with Three Songs, featuring Dawn Upshaw.

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Boosey & Hawkes has signed an agreement to provide classical ringtones to distributor The Music Solution. TMS will convert the music into formats compatible with over 1900 models of mobile phones, and will manage the selling and distribution of the ringtones, with a royalty payable to Boosey & Hawkes. Deals are already in place with network providers in the USA and Europe.

Though the list includes “several hundred musical excerpts suitable for ringtones,” as of this writing, no living composers will be included.

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Just in time for the holidays, the Hyperscore technology—developed by the MIT Media Laboratory and used in Tod Machover’s Toy Symphony project—has been incorporated into a new Fischer-Price toy. Symphony Painter is a musical composition software program for use with the Color Pixter (a handheld toy PDA marketed to kids, stocked with puzzles, games, etc.). The software enables children without any previous musical training to draw music and have it played through the toy, in essence composing a piece of music by drawing colored lines on a screen. The Hyperscore program then translates the drawing into color-coded musical materials such as chords, melodies, and other sounds to create a full composition.

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The first ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Foundation Song Cycle Competition has been announced. Only composers under the age of thirty writing for voice will be eligible. First Prize will be a $3,500 commission for a song cycle for voice and piano, publication by E.C. Schirmer of the completed work, and performances of the song cycle in three major American cities, including New York. Second Prize ($1,000) and Third Prize ($500) will be awarded to commission two new songs for voice and piano. The deadline for entries is September 15, 2005. Guidelines and application can be found at www.ascap.com/concert/lottelehmann.

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New Music for Young Ensembles recently celebrated its 30th-anniversary. Founded by Claire Rosengarten in 1974, the organization’s mission is to promote accessible new music to a wider audience with an emphasis on short, intermediate-level compositions scored for three to five players. Ezra Laderman’s Cadence was NMYE’s first commissioned work. Their anniversary concert, held earlier this month at Weill Recital Hall, included a performance of that work, as well as pieces by Ned Rorem, David Tcimpidis, and Joe Ambrosio.

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The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts has awarded the $20,000 biennial John Cage Award for Music to New York composer/artist David Behrman. Behrman toured as composer/performer with the Cunningham Dance Company from 1970 through 1976. During that period he assisted John Cage with several projects. Merce Cunningham commissioned him to compose music for Company repertory pieces in 1968, 1976, and 1984.

Foundation grants of $10,000 each went to ten additional artists, including composer Marc Mellits. An additional sum of $41,000 was divided among 32 arts organizations, primarily in the New York area, including Artists Space, BOMB Magazine, The Drawing Center, Independent Curators International, and White Columns.