American Composers Orchestra (ACO) has awarded composer Carlos Simon its 2016 Underwood Commission, bringing him $15,000 for a work that will be given its world premiere performance by ACO on May 23, 2017 at Symphony Space in New York City. Chosen from seven finalists during ACO’s 25th Underwood New Music Readings on June 13-14, 2016, Simon won the top prize with his work Plagues of Egypt.
Composer, arranger and performer Carlos Simon combines the inﬂuences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism in his music. Simon was named the winner of the 2015 Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, he has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. Simon is currently earning his Doctorate Degree at the University of Michigan, where he has studied with Michael Daugherty and Evan Chambers. He received his Master’s Degree at Georgia State University studying with Nickitas Demos and earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Morehouse College studying with Robert Tanner. In 2011, he was on faculty at Morehouse College, teaching music theory. For the 2015-2016 season, Carlos Simon served as the young composer-in-residence for the Detroit Chamber Strings and Winds.
Upon winning the Underwood commission, Carlos Simon said, “I am extremely grateful to be chosen for this prestigious opportunity. As a composer, there is no greater honor than to express my gifts through such amazingly talented musicians. I can’t wait to work with Maestro Manahan and ACO.” ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel added, “Carlos Simon’s score was rich, colorful, and bold, brimming with dramatic urgency.”
In addition, for the seventh year, audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings had a chance to make their voices heard through the Audience Choice Award. The winner this year was composer Paul Frucht, for his piece Dawn, written for his middle school assistant principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in 2012’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. As the winner, Frucht will compose an original mobile phone an original mobile phone ringtone which will be available to everyone who voted, free of charge.
(—from the press release)