Composing Inclusion Commissioning Project Begins

Thursday, Nov 11, 2021
Juilliard Journal
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Horn players in orchestra

Commissioning Collaboration Announced

An exciting new Juilliard Preparatory Division commissioning collaboration with the New York Philharmonic and the American Composers Forum (ACF) was announced November 10; it will be funded by a $100,000 grant from the Sphinx Venture Fund. The program, Composing Inclusion, will commission nine composers who identify as Black and/or Latinx to create “flexible” or adaptable scores that allow young and seasoned musicians to perform together seamlessly. The nine commissions will all receive New York side-by-side premieres—the first time that Prep students will have performed with the Philharmonic musicians.

Weston Sprott, dean of the Juilliard Preparatory Division, who initiated the collaboration, noted that it will “establish a paradigm for intergenerational collaboration that centers inclusion and artistic excellence.”

The composers, who will be selected and supported in collaboration with the ACF, will create the new works for a variety of ensemble types, resulting in five orchestral pieces, one string quartet, one woodwind and one brass quintet, and one percussion ensemble piece. As part of the creative process, students from the Prep Division and the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers Program, an afterschool initiative, will be able to contribute their ideas to the composers.

“We are excited about the impact this initiative will have on the Philharmonic and the many young, talented musicians with whom we collaborate each season,” said Gary Padmore, the Philharmonic’s director of education and community engagement. Afa S. Dworkin, the president and artistic director of Sphinx, which is providing the funding, praised “the ethos and energy behind this collective effort to evolve the classical American canon.” The Sphinx Organization is a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

The American Composers Forum will oversee the selection of composers; support the commissioning and creative process; and promote the music, the model, and the learnings from the collaboration to its network of artists, educators, administrators, and community leaders. “We are looking forward to being a part of a collaborative process that centers living Black and Latinx composers and includes different perspectives on what is—and who creates—Western classical music,” said Vanessa Rose, ACF’s president and CEO. The hope is that the flexibility of the works will allow them to be used widely in settings that encourage the development of young classical musicians from an array of backgrounds.

“I extend my sincere thanks to Sphinx and our partners for their commitment to the success of this project in the years to come,” Sprott said. “We can’t wait to get started!”