John & June Hechinger
Photo courtesy of June Hechinger
“Focus on American Composers”
I’ve been on the board of the National Symphony for a long time and my husband and I have been subscribers to symphony concerts for over 50 years. In the early 1980s, we read an article in the New York Times Magazine about the need for younger American composers to find support for their music. So we said, something has to be done. The first piece we commissioned was Stephen Albert‘s RiverRun. When he called me up to tell me that it won the Pulitzer Prize, we both cried. Since then, my husband and I have commissioned a total of 37 pieces. And with only one exception, Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen, every composer we have commissioned has been American. As American citizens, we felt it was important to focus on American composers. There is nothing else that has given us so much pleasure.