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First West Coast Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute At UCLA Held August 7-11; Culminates With Wild Up Concert On August 11


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The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) and Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University (CJS), in cooperation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network, will present the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) from August 7-11, 2012 for the first time on the West Coast at UCLA. JCOI brings together 38 jazz composers at various stages in their careers chosen from a national pool of applicants, to explore the challenges of writing for the symphony orchestra. Composers working in jazz, improvised, and creative music have been selected based on their excellent musicianship, originality, and potential for future growth in orchestral composition. See the end of this post for a complete list of participants.

JCOI is a new development in the jazz field. While many jazz composers seek to write for the symphony orchestra, opportunities for hands-on experience are few. JCOI aims to provide new resources for both jazz and classical music, promoting the emergence of composers trained in both jazz and new orchestral techniques. Participants in JCOI will study with leading composers, conductors and performers in a curriculum designed and led by George Lewis (JCOI Director; Columbia University), Anthony Davis (University of California, San Diego), Anne LeBaron (California Institute of the Arts), Paul Chihara (UCLA), Nicole Mitchell (University of California, Irvine), James Newton (UCLA), Alvin Singleton (ACO advisor, Improvisation), and Derek Bermel (ACO Creative Advisor).

The Center for Jazz Studies received a grant from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Continuing Innovation program to present an expanded version of the Institute, the first phase of which the foundation supported in 2010-11. ACO has received additional funding from The Herb Alpert Foundation for the JCOI Intensive in Los Angeles, along with a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation. The breadth of early support for JCOI is indicative of the high level of commitment to the project from long-time jazz and music funders.

In Los Angeles, JCOI participating composers will attend a series of workshops and seminars topics including study of scores and compositional techniques, contemporary performance practice, orchestration, notation and score preparation, and practical work with the symphony orchestra. Composers will also receive live demonstrations of instrumental techniques from wild Up, an LA-based 24-member experimental classical/contemporary ensemble led by artistic director and conductor Christopher Rountree, known nationally for its performances of new music which often embrace improvisation and cutting-edge new music techniques.

Up to 20 of the composers participating in JCOI this August will go on to put what they have learned into practice by composing a new symphonic work for the second phase of the Institute, the JCOI Readings. Readings will be held in the spring and fall of 2013 with orchestras in California and New York. Each composer will receive coaching from mentor composers and a professional music engraver as they write their new musical works. Once completed, each piece workshopped, rehearsed and performed by one of four host orchestras – American Composers Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony, and one additional orchestra, through EarShot, the national orchestral composition discovery network. During the Readings, the new works will be heard in rehearsal, open public readings, and a public performance. Composers receive an honorarium to cover printing and preparation of orchestral parts; and feedback from orchestra principal musicians, conductors, librarians, and mentor composers.

The first JCOI, which took place in New York during the 2010-2011 season, was the subject of two features on National Public Radio, which reported that what the composers discovered while at the Institute has “the potential to shift the course of concert music.”

JCOI Concert: wild Up on August 11, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 8:00pm; Schoenberg Hall at UCLA | 445 Charles E. Young Drive East | Los Angeles, CA; $12 general admission, $5 for UCLA faculty, staff, and students at 310.825.2101 or tickets.ucla.edu (under Special Events)

The Institute culminates on Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 8pm with a concert performed by wild Up at Schoenberg Hall at UCLA. The program features music by JCOI mentor composers and includes George Lewis’s The Will to Adorn which takes its title from a 1934 essay by Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression;” Anne LeBaron’s Telluris Theoria Sacra (Sacred Theory of the Earth) depicting the chaos that preceded creation and inspired by Thomas Burnet’s 1681 text of the same title; Nicole Mitchell’s “dense, dramatic, and daring” (JazzHouse.org) Before and After (Nuclear War); Alvin Singleton’s Almost a Boogie for string trio, bassoon, horn, and piano; and Derek Bermel’s Three Rivers which combines both notated and improvised music. In addition, wild Up offers selections from its own eclectic repertoire including Art Jarvinen’s Egyptian Two-Step which features harmonica and compressed air cans; Andrew Tholl’s corpus callosom which shines a spotlight on the drum set as a prominent part of the ensemble; Brian Ferneyhough’s L’chute d’lcare inspired by the celebrated painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Breughel; and Tom Johnson’s Narayana’s Cows based on a numerical sequence resulting from a mathematical question cow reproduction posed by Narayana, an Indian mathematician from the 14th century.

“We've created this program – which, by the way, is one of the most burning, intensely difficult, and stylistically varied programs I can imagine – by considering how jazz manifests in new music,” Christopher Rountree explains. “You can make a strong argument that jazz will be the defining influence on classical music going forward. Listeners will hear a groovy, chance-driven jam with serious complexity and wit.”

About the 2012 JCOI Participants

JCOI participants hail from a wide variety of backgrounds and jazz styles, ranging in age from 18 to 66 years old and hailing from cities including Denver, CO; Seattle, WA; New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; San Francisco, CA; San Diego, CA; and Chicago, IL. Participating composers include (see the end of this post for a complete list):

Gregg August, a drummer-turned-bassist whose performances span the jazz, Latin jazz, classical and avant-garde scenes, who returned to New York 10 years ago after a stint as the principal bassist with La Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona in Spain.

Joseph Daley, a composer, educator, and tuba player originally from Harlem, who spent 40 years as a consummate sideman before releasing his own album with his jazz orchestra, the Earth Tones Ensemble, in 2011.

Ingrid Laubrock, a tenor and soprano saxophonist and composer currently based in the German city of Moers, where she is “improviser in residence.” Laubrock’s groups include Sleepthief, the new octet, the New York-based quartet Anti-House and the collaboration Paradoxical Frog with pianist Kris Davis and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.

Daniel Marschak, a graduate student in Composition at UCLA, performing pianist, and recording artist whose latest album, Likewise, was called “adventurous” and “well developed” by film and jazz legend Lalo Schifrin.

Tomeka Reid, a Chicago-based cellist and composer currently performing with the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble, Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble/Strings, Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly, Dee Alexander’s Evolution Ensemble, Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

Sumi Tonooka, a pianist and composer whose career has spanned 20 years, who has played in trios or quartets with such noted jazz stalwarts as bassist Rufus Reid and drummers Akira Tana and Lewis Nash. Tonooka is also a founder of the forward-thinking record label Artists Recording Collective.

Salim Washington, a Harlem-based musician, scholar and composer who plays tenor saxophone, flute and oboe, who earned his undergraduate and doctorate degrees at Harvard. His Ph.D dissertation is titled “Beautiful Nightmare: Coltrane, Jazz, and American Culture.”

2012 JCOI Participating Composers

Steve Allee – Columbus, IN; David Arend – Oakland, CA; Gregg August – Brooklyn, NY; Mariel Austin – Northridge, CA; Adam Bartczak – Denver, CO; Jennifer Bellor – Rochester, NY; Jose Bevia – West New York, NJ; Samantha Boshnack – Seattle, WA; Anita Brown – Nyack, NY; Courtney Bryan – New York, NY; Alan Chan – Santa Monica, CA; Tobin Chodos – Santa Cruz, CA; Joseph Daley – Hawley, PA; Michael Dessen – Irvine, CA; Nicolas Fernandez – Brooklyn, NY; Alex Heitlinger – Austin, TX; Stefan Kac – Valencia, CA; Laura Kahle – Brooklyn, NY; Ingrid Laubrock – Brooklyn, NY & Moers, Germany; James Lewis – Valencia, CA; Daniel Marschak – Los Angeles, CA; Miya Masaoka – New York, NY; Ole Mathisen – New York, NY; Lisa Mezzacappa – San Francisco, CA; Andy Milne – Shohola, PA; Chase Morrin – San Diego, CA; Alon Nechushtan – Jersey City, NJ; Tomeka Reid – Chicago, IL; Randall Reyman – Decatur, IL; Jason Robinson – Amherst, MA; Kevin Robinson – Valencia, CA; Kyle Simpson – Pittsburgh, PA; Richard Sussman – Nyack, NY; Sumi Tonooka – Beacon, NY; Gregory Ward – New York, NY; Salim Washington – New York, NY; Dave Wilson – Studio City, CA; Alon Yavnai – Brooklyn, NY

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