Underwood Commission: Jack Hughes

Consortium for Emerging Composers Commission: Jihyun Kim

Audience Choice Commission: Aaron Israel Levin

New York, NY – American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces three commissions for emerging composers Jack Hughes, Jihyun Kim, and Aaron Israel Levin. They were chosen from six participants in ACO’s 28th Underwood New Music Readings, one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States. This year’s Underwood Readings were presented in partnership with NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

Jack Hughes receives the 2019 Underwood Commission for a work to be premiered by ACO in a future season while the new Consortium for Emerging Composers Commission goes to Jihyun Kim. Aaron Israel Levin receives this year’s Audience Choice Commission.

“Jack Hughes’ music was inventive and meticulously crafted, with a true flair for orchestral color and dynamism,” says ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel. “We are excited to see what Jack does with this opportunity to write a brand-new work for us.”

Jack Hughes says, “I am ecstatic to be writing a new piece for ACO. Throughout the Underwood New Music Readings, I got to know the orchestra's sound and personality, and I could feel the connection between the players on stage. Working with this ensemble has been a pleasure, and I am so excited to write a piece that makes full use of what these stellar players have to offer.”

The new Consortium Commission for Emerging Composers – which goes to Jihyun Kim – was created as a way to involve more orchestras in supporting emerging composers and to embed multiple performances into the opportunity. “While it is common now for established names to receive consortium commissions, composers in earlier stages of their careers do not often get multiple performances for a new orchestral work,” explains ACO President Ed Yim. Kim receives a commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO), and American Youth Symphony (AYS) in Los Angeles.

Carlos Izcaray, Music Director of both ASO and AYS says, “One of the biggest challenges for an emerging composer is getting the opportunity to come back to their pieces, edit them, and hear them again in performance. That is why, as Music Director of both the American Youth Symphony and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, I’m thrilled to partner with ACO to launch our inaugural co-commissioning group. This will provide an amazing platform for a very talented new voice to be discovered.”

In addition, for the tenth year, audience members at the Underwood New Music Readings had a chance to make their voices heard through the Audience Choice Commission. The selected composer this year is Aaron Israel Levin, for his piece In Between. As the recipient, Levin also receives a commission from ACO for a composition to be premiered in a future season.

Yim says about the Audience Choice, “I’m delighted that we have begun giving the audience a voice in picking composers with whom ACO will work. There is a crucial energy and balance between listener, performer and composer that should be celebrated, and the Audience Choice commission allows listeners to participate actively in the creation of new musical works. Of course, we feel that all six of the Underwood composers are special and deserve support, but I am not surprised that Aaron’s work had a special place in the hearts of the audience.”

"It was such an incredible and informative experience to take part in the Underwood New Music Readings,” adds Aaron Israel Levin. “I'm honored to have the chance to work with the amazing musicians of ACO once again. Can't wait to get back to work!”

2019 mentor composer Anthony Cheung says of the Readings, “I’m rather astonished at how much ground was covered over such a short amount of time, from talking nuts and bolts of a score to various panels on career advice to the readings themselves and feedback. The sessions were a vivid snapshot into the world of orchestral composition in America today, but more importantly, they introduced six distinctive voices whom I’ll look forward to hearing for years to come.”

Jihyun Kim echoes, “The Underwood New Music Readings with ACO provided the best environment for young composers with the orchestra being so fearless and open-minded to new ideas and aesthetics. All three days were filled with valuable learning experiences, inspiring discussions, and the pure joy of sharing music!


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