Composers Gather to Celebrate New Music Community

Composers Gather to Celebrate New Music Community

Passing the torch: Next AMC Board President John Kennedy looks aheadPassing the torch: Next AMC Board President John Kennedy looks ahead

On Monday, the American Music Center held its 63rd Annual Board Meeting and 38th Awards ceremony. AMC Executive Director Richard Kessler welcomed the more than 300 AMC member composers and guests who attended the New York City reception. “We come together,” Kessler noted, “to celebrate a field, to celebrate the great accomplishments of individuals, and to simply say thank you and be with good friends.”

Addressing an impressive crowd of composers representing a strikingly diverse range of styles and artistic philosophies, Kessler pointed out that the AMC is devoted to supporting great art and great artists. “It’s about proclaiming to the world that this is great music that you want more people to listen to, to interact with, to create, and be a part of. These are the kinds of things that inform our way of being [at the AMC]. We believe so strongly in these artists, in these composers, and the people who are connected to them, and we want more people to connect with them, to see more art created, and to support this field in a multitude of ways that will continue making it as vibrant and healthy as it is today.”

The main focus of the evening’s proceedings was the presentation of Letters of Distinction to Henry Cowell (in memoriam), Phyllis Curtin, Sylvia Goldstein (in memoriam), Ursula Oppens, and John Schaefer. (See previous NewMusicBox news item for in-depth profiles of the honorees.)

Current Board President John Luther Adams also took a moment at the podium to offer his thanks to outgoing board members Bernadette Speach, Tod Machover, Laura Kaminsky, and Carl Stone, and to welcome newly elected members Jennifer Bilfield, Debra Campana, Corey Field, Dave Douglas, and Brad Lubman. Adams also offered his congratulations to the new class of board leadership—President John Kennedy, Vice Presidents James Undercofler and Phillip Bimstein, and Nick Webster, who will continue as treasurer.

Clockwise from top right: Letter of Distinction presenters Augusta Read Thomas, Jack Beeson, Ned Rorem, and AMC Executive Director Richard Kessler.
Photos by Melissa Richard

Two new initiatives currently in the development stage were also announced during the course of the evening. Board member Larry Larson briefly outlined the AMC’s newest online venture, In order to further enhance new music’s presence on the Internet, the site will offer composer information, scores, and sound samples, becoming for the 21st century what the AMC’s score library was to the 20th.

Richard Teitelbaum, executor of Henry Cowell’s estate, also announced that in accordance with the wishes of Henry and Sydney Cowell, part of the royalties from Cowell’s music will be used to establish an award to support “other experimental composers in which Cowell would have been interested.”

To conclude the meeting, President-Elect John Kennedy shared several personal anecdotes and reminded the audience of composers that at the AMC, “we’re here to help, we’re here to serve, and resonate all the great work you do.”

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