Copland House has recently announced that five composers have been selected to receive 2020 Residency Awards, a year curtailed by the COVID pandemic. Ranging in age from 28 to 74 and coming from four states and varied artistic and personal backgrounds, these composers have pursued diverse creative interests and idioms, ranging from concert music to jazz, acoustic to electronic, and socially-engaged to abstract. The five composers are: Theo Chandler, 28 (Houston, TX); Flannery Cunningham, 28 (Philadelphia, PA); Tamar Diesendruck, 74 (Arlington, MA); Meg Okura, 47 (New York, NY); and Keane Southard, 33 (Rochester, NY). Chandler and Cunningham were previously Fellows in CULTIVATE, Copland House’s acclaimed emerging composers institute, and Diesendruck was a 2007 Resident.
In addition, six previously-announced 2019 Residents from five states, whose stays at Copland House were postponed because of the pandemic shutdowns, have been rescheduled for this season: Luke Carlson, 35 (Point Lookout, MO), Yihan Chen, 25 (Lawrence Township, NJ), Emily Koh, 33 (Norcross, GA), Pascal LeBoeuf, 32 (Princeton, NJ), Joel Love, 36 (Houston, TX), and Christopher Zuar, 32 (New York, NY).
“We’re very excited about resuming the residencies in early December,” said Copland House Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin. (They were suspended in mid-March, like so many other activities.) “Obviously, none of us is out-of-the-woods yet, and we’re continuously and very carefully monitoring conditions around us. Copland House has always been a pretty nimble entity, and the pandemic has, alas, made us very good at navigating constantly-changing external circumstances on very short notice! Our precautions are based on several things: the fairly-detailed health and safety protocols from New York State, advice from two medical professionals on our Board of Trustees, our common sense, and the strong moral and ethical imperatives we feel in not jeopardizing anyone’s health. Given that our residencies are solitary (with only a composer’s spouse or partner occasionally on premises), Copland House is probably about the best place to isolate! Specifically Copland House is deep-cleaned and sanitized before and after each Residency, there’s a gap of at least 48- to 72-hours between Residencies, constantly-replenished supplies of PPE are on-hand and available (we even have a special cleaning fluid for piano keys!), delivery or curbside pick-up is available from local supermarkets, each composer must attest (in a questionnaire) to their personal health upon arrival here, and we are requiring COVID testing, pre- and post-arrival here. That all said, if conditions change, we are fully prepared to suspend and reschedule the residencies.”
In the Zoom-overdosed environment we have all found ourselves in over the course of the last eight and a half months, the ability to participate in such a residency which Boriskin has described in the press release as “an idyllic haven” and “the perfect place to escape for uninterrupted work” still seems like a dream. It certainly is an activity for which there couldn’t be any kind of viable non-corporeal digital simulacrum. As Boriskin further explained, “Since the whole point of this residency is specifically to take composers out of their usual environments, and offer them the opportunity to retreat into Copland’s quiet, bucolic world on a hilltop surrounded by woods, and have the run of his longtime home, it’s hard to see how this can happen virtually. That almost seems like an oxymoron!”