The Minnesota Orchestra announced today that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts has been appointed director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, a professional composer training program that the orchestra has offered annually in conjunction with the American Composers Forum. Puts, whose contract extends for three seasons, will begin planning for the next Composer Institute, which will be held in January 2015. He succeeds composer Aaron Jay Kernis, founder and director of the Composer Institute, who resigned in October 2013.
“The Composer Institute, which focuses on emerging symphonic composers, is one of the most important ways that the Minnesota Orchestra supports and advances the work of developing composers,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “Kevin understands the value of mentoring the next generation of composers. Now, following in the footsteps of his distinguished predecessor, Aaron Jay Kernis, I believe he will maintain and further develop this program as a superb and effective way of nurturing composers as they create new American music.”
“Under the leadership of Aaron Jay Kernis, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute earned a reputation of great prestige,” said Puts. “As one of the only comprehensive programs of its kind anywhere, it provides aspiring orchestral composers the exceedingly rare opportunity to hear their works performed by one of the world’s great orchestras. I am delighted and honored to share my own ideas and experience with the Institute.”
Puts, who is a member of the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, has strong ties to musical organizations in Minnesota. His opera Silent Night, which was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music, was commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera, and his Sinfonia Concertante was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and premiered by them in April 2006. His Symphony No. 4 (From Mission San Juan) will be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra this week
Developed from annual new music reading sessions launched by the Minnesota Orchestra in its 1995-96 season, the Composer Institute now encompasses an intensive week-long series of tutorials, rehearsals, and seminars for emerging composers—including a substantial focus on the business side of composition—as well as a public performance that showcases their work. The Minnesota Orchestra’s 12th annual Composer Institute will be held the week of January 12, 2015, and will culminate in a public Future Classics concert on January 16, led by Vänskä.
Each year, approximately seven composers from across the country are selected to participate in the Institute. Many composer alumni of the program have gone on to receive major commissions, prizes, grants, and other opportunities. The composers chosen for the 2013 Composer Institute, which was cancelled due to the orchestra’s labor dispute, have been offered the opportunity to participate in the 2015 program.
(from the press release)