Side by side photos of Giancarlo Guerrero and Aaron Jay Kernis
Aaron Jay Kernis to Direct New Nashville Symphony Composer Lab & Workshop

Aaron Jay Kernis to Direct New Nashville Symphony Composer Lab & Workshop

The Nashville Symphony Orchestra's official banner for its new Composer Lab & Workshop

The Nashville Symphony has announced a newly created Composer Lab & Workshop developed and guided by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who will serve as Workshop Director and Chairman of the Selection Panel. The program aims to discover the next generation of outstanding American composers by providing them with the opportunity to develop their talents, gain hands-on experience working with a major American orchestra, and showcase their work for local audiences. Coupled with the announcement is a nationwide call for submissions for its inaugural session.

Kernis seated and wearing a open collared blue shirt

Aaron Jay Kernis, photo by Molly Sheridan

“I am delighted to again be working closely with the terrific Nashville Symphony in my new role as director of its Composer Lab and Workshop. Giancarlo Guerrero and the orchestra show tremendous dedication to and passion for new American orchestral music through their programming and award-winning recordings,” said Kernis. “Now they are taking this next bold step, engaging with musical creativity in America by going to its source—young composers—and creating this program, which will hone young artists’ skills in writing for the most complex and glorious instrument I know: the orchestra. I look forward with pleasure to helping the Nashville Symphony find the most talented composers of the new generation.”

“Creating and promoting new American orchestral music is at the very core of the Nashville Symphony’s artistic mission,” said Guerrero. “What better way to fulfill that mission than with a program that gives the next generation of composers a chance to develop their talents and gain wider exposure? Nashville is already home to a vibrant and diverse music scene, so it is only fitting that we should play host to some of the nation’s best and brightest composers, and we are all incredibly excited to hear the results.”

Giancarlo Guerrero standing and wearing a black shirt

Giancarlo Guerrero, photo courtesy Dworkin Company

Supported by founding sponsor BMI, the initiative is open to U.S. residents between the ages of 18 and 33. Works will be adjudicated by a world-class panel of composers and performers, and participants will be announced by July 1, 2015. The inaugural class of composers will travel to Nashville in October 2015 for performances of their music by the Nashville Symphony. The fellows will also work with Nashville Symphony staff, conductors, principal players, and community partners, learn from nationally recognized music industry professionals, and participate in one-on-one mentoring sessions with Kernis.

Participating composers’ works will potentially be selected for a performance during the Symphony’s 2016-17 Classical Series. The Symphony will provide airfare, hotel accommodations and a $1,000 stipend for all participants. In collaboration with Copland House—the creative center for American music based at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home near New York City—one participating composer may also be selected for a Copland House Residency Award or a fellowship at Copland House’s CULTIVATE emerging composers institute.

The Nashville Symphony is accepting submissions through May 15, 2015. Submitted works must not have received a performance by a major orchestra with an annual budget greater than $3 million, must be no longer than 15 minutes in length and be scored for a standard symphonic complement. Concertos, choral works, works with electronic elements, works with organ, and works solely for strings, winds or brass are ineligible. Compositions must have been written in the last three years and only one composition per applicant may be entered. More information on the Nashville Symphony’s Composer Lab & Workshop, including a full listing of submission guidelines and eligibility requirements, is available on the Nashville Symphony’s website.

(—from the press release)

The video below is from a talk we did with Aaron Jay Kernis last year. Our entire conversation with Kernis is available here.

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