The American Composers Forum has announced the 2020 recipients of its ACF | create program (formerly JFund – Jerome Fund for New Music). Composers receive funding to both underwrite the commissioning fee as well as support performance production and promotion to help the project reach its maximum potential. Five projects totaling $55,000 were funded this year. Each composer is awarded $11,000 for their project ($8,000 in commissioning funds and $3,000 in production and promotion support).
The five composers, their project partners, and their winning projects are:
Maiorana will compose 30 minutes of music for chamber choir Aliro Voices, setting portions of a 1936 speech defending New Deal principles given by Harry Hopkins, who was Secretary of Commerce under FDR and director of the Works Progress Administration. According to the composer, Hopkins’s words, are “immediately relevant today with current crises of healthcare, affordable housing, and livable wages.”
listen to the rain is a meditative chamber opera about the era of humanity’s geological agency – the anthropocene – which approaches listening as performative and performance as meditative. The string quartet is simultaneously a vocal quartet, implemented by a fifth performer on voice & n’goni. The piece, which builds upon the theory of the five elements, seeks aesthetic epiphany towards ethical re-examination, hopefully bringing insight to this ideological crisis of our times.
Tida is an evening-length interdisciplinary piece featuring 4 performers about intergenerational cultural identity through a Thai-American woman’s maternal lineage. Integrating music, movement, word and music (performed on piano, voice, traditional Thai instruments and electronics), Prescott investigates her mother’s undocumented Thai ancestry and experience as a Southeast Asian immigrant raising biracial children in America.
Confetti Palace tells the story of a pair of separated lovers who meet to discuss their split and transpose their conflict by taking turns recounting a fable about the Meidosems, a mysterious troupe of creatures on a mission to escape a city of sugar. A performative text by Prajna Desai inspired by the French verse of Henri Michaux, forms the basis of a score by Sears for sung and spoken voice, piano, viola, cello, and percussion with alternates between classical chamber music and small combo jazz.
According to Vendil, Moving Imprints (working title), a duo for violinist Natalie Calma and clarinetist Kevin Pierce, “came from thinking about the way I walk around to get from place to place (left forearm guarding my torso; lightning speed, to avoid catcalls; eyes at half mast; stone-faced; ready to defend myself, all subconsciously). The smallest interaction can hold residue from a past experience, learned behaviors, or fodder from the day.”
The panelists for this grant round of ACF | create were composers Nicolas Lell Benavides (Los Angeles, CA), Theron Brown (Akron, OH), and Lisa Renée Coons (Kalamazoo, MI).