Georgia Runoff Commissioning Project
November 16, 2020 - January 4, 2021
Learn More and Submit Your Donation Receipt Here
MEET THE COMPOSERS
SPENCER ARIAS (EAST LANSING, MI)
Spencer Arias (b.1990) is a composer and performer based in East Lansing, Michigan who creates highly evocative music oftentimes represented by lived experiences and social commentary. Having worked with Dancers, Musicians, Visual Artists, and Poets, he thoroughly enjoys collaboration, improvisation and community engagement. His work often reflects on social issues, in particular nature and climate change. He also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, photography, nature, and too much Netflix. He is also the host of the new YouTube cooking show Cooking with Creatives, where he interviews musicians and other creatives while they cook food together. He has had performances throughout the US and Europe having been performed by musicians such as the JACK Quartet, The Columbus Symphony Woodwind Quintet, Quartetto Indaco, the Rogue Trio, The Lotus Trio, The New Thread Quartet, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. He has won numerous awards some of which include the Music Now Competition, The Jere Hutcherson Large Ensemble Competition, and the Most Inspirational Performance Art Award at the 2020 Michigan State University Social Justice Art Festival. He earned a B.M. in Composition at Arizona State and an M.M. in Composition at New York University. Previously he served as an Instructor of Composition at the Seattle Conservatory of Music and is currently a Doctoral Student at Michigan State University and has studied primarily with David Biedenbender, Alexis Bacon, and Lyn Goeringer.
ARMANDO BAYOLO (LAUREL, MD)
Born in 1973 in Santurce, Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, composer Armando Bayolo began musical studies at the age of twelve. At sixteen he went on to study at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where he first began the serious study of composition. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (B.M. 1995), where his teachers were Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner and Christopher Rouse; Yale University (M.M. 1997), where he studied with Roberto Sierra, Jacob Druckman, Ingram Marshall and Martin Bresnick; and the University of Michigan (D.M.A. 2001) where he studied with Michael Daugherty, Bright Sheng and Evan Chambers.
Mr. Bayolo has been hailed for his "suggestive aural imagination" (El Nuevo Día) in works that are "full of lush ideas and a kind of fierce grandeur, (unfolding) with subtle, driving power" (The Washington Post). His "music combines the audacity of popular music, the verve-filled rhythmic language of Latin America, and the pugnacity of postmodern classicism into a heady, formidable concoction" (Sequenza21), and "deserves to be heard many more times, and in many more places. It is new, it is fresh, and it gets its message across" (The Charlotte Observer) "with quite a high degree of poetic expressiveness" (Music-Web International).
Mr. Bayolo's music has been commissioned and performed throughout the world by some of today's most important musicians and ensembles. He is the recipient of important commissions and awards from the Aspen Music Festival, Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the Music Department of the National Gallery of Art, the Arts Councils of the states of Iowa and North Carolina, the Cintas Foundation, the Minnesota Orchestra and American Composers Forum, the Consortium for a Strong Minority Presence, the all-Virginia Intercollegiate Band, and the Festival Interamericano de las Artes.
Besides being active as a composer, Mr. Bayolo is an "adventurous, imaginative and fiercely committed (The Washington Post) advocate for contemporary music in American culture through his activities as Artistic Director and conductor of Great Noise Ensemble (since 2005), curator of the New Music at the Atlas series for the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington (from 2011-14), and as a writer for such publications as Sequenza21 and NewMusicBox. His cello concerto, Orfei Mors and the cantata, Kaddish:Passio:Rothko, were each nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in music. Recordings of his music can be heard on the Sono Luminus, Inova, New Focus and Great Noise labels and is published by his own imprint, Olibel Music and available through his web site.
MARK BULLER (HOUSTON, TX)
Mark Buller, a composer based in Houston, writes music which blends rich lyricism with bold gestures and striking rhythms. A specialist in vocal and choral music, he has also written a large body of instrumental works, from tiny miniatures for solo instruments to works for large orchestra. He has been privileged to write for a number of world-class ensembles and organizations, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Chamber Choir, and ROCO (River Oaks Chamber Orchestra). His flexibility as a composer has led to some unique commissions: three operas for Houston Grand Opera -- including a pastiche opera -- all with libretti by Charles Anthony Silvestri; a series of searingly poignant works also for HGO, setting words by veterans and by Leah Lax; and several dozen very short pieces for various forces, entitled Quarantine Miniatures, which celebrate the community of musicians whose resilience in the face of COVID-19 uncertainty is worth admiration.
In recent years, Mark's comic song cycles have gained some notice, beginning with Tombstone Songs, which sets hilarious epitaphs from the U.S. and U.K.. One-Star Songbook explores terribly sophomoric one-star Amazon reviews of literary masterworks, maintaining the original poor grammar and spelling. And an upcoming cycle, The Beginner's Guide to Conspiracy Theories, once again turns to found texts, setting screeds about the Illuminati, JFK, Goop and other peddlers of pseudoscience, and QAnon.
Upcoming performances include a second work for the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano, The Parallactic Transits, on Spano's final concert as artistic director; String Quartet No. 5 with the Houston New Arts Movement; a large-scale Mass in Exile with Leah Lax; and a choral work with Silvesti celebrating the 25th anniversary of Houston Chamber Choir.
Originally from Maryland, Mark studied as a pianist before earning his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Houston, where he studied with Marcus Maroney and Rob Smith. He currently teaches at Lone Star College and is Director of Education and Chair of Composition Studies at AFA.
ALEX BURTZOS (NYC, NY/ORLANDO, FL)
Alex Burtzos is an American composer and conductor based in New York City and Orlando, FL. His music has been performed across four continents by some of the world's foremost contemporary musicians and ensembles, including JACK Quartet, Yarn/Wire, loadbang, Contemporaneous, ETHEL, Jenny Lin, RighteousGIRLS, and many others. Alex is the founder and artistic director of ICEBERG New Music, a New York-based composers' collective, and conductor of the hip-hop/classical chamber orchestra ShoutHouse.
As a composer, Alex is committed to pursuing artistic expression unconstrained by boundaries of school or style. His work often incorporates elements of the 20th Century avant-garde, jazz, rock, metal, and hip-hop alongside or against classical/preclassical structures and sounds, justifying these juxtapositions with a great depth of musical ideas and extra-musical knowledge. Alex’s music takes as its basis and provides commentary on a diverse array of subject matter, from early colonial history to recent events, from Shakespeare’s tragedies to naughty text messages. His unique approach has earned him accolades and awards from organizations around the world.
As Artistic Director of ICEBERG New Music, Alex leads one of the most adventurous and dynamic composers’ collectives active today. Since 2016, the ten members of ICEBERG have produced concerts and delivered lectures across North America, and engaged in educational outreach in schools in New York and Tennessee. ICEBERG’s debut album, with Pianist Jenny Lin, has been praised by Gramophone and I Care If You Listen. ICEBERG also awards scholarships to young composers from under-represented backgrounds and, in 2020, debuted a Summer composition Institute in Vienna Austria. Learn more here.
Alex exclusively conducts contemporary repertoire, and has given over 40 world and regional premieres by emerging and established composers. As conductor of ShoutHouse, he blends elements of jazz and classical conducting styles to cultivate a unified, engaging sound that's "incomparable to anything existing." Watch a video here.
Alex holds a DMA from Manhattan School of Music, where his primary teachers were Reiko Fueting and Mark Stambaugh. He is the Endowed Chair of Composition Studies at the University of Central Florida, where he teaches composition, orchestration, film scoring, video game scoring, and music technology. His music is published by Just a Theory Press, NewMusicShelf, and others.
IAN CALLEN (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
Ian Callen is a composer, percussionist, and educator that earned his bachelor’s degree from Anderson University where he studied composition with Dr. Jonathan Brooks and Dr. Caroline Ahn. Recently, he graduated with an M.M. from Butler University where he studied composition with Dr. Michael Schelle and Dr. Frank Felice. Callen’s works vary in character from serious, austere, and highly-emotional to light-hearted, fun, and even silly. It is important to Callen that his music is approachable and enjoyable by anyone all the way from professionals and academics to amateurs and non-musicians.
Currently Callen is working both as a percussion instructor at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis and as a teaching fellow in the Butler Community Arts School’s Music Production and Sound Design class. Future plans include a continued life of music-making and a pursuit of a doctoral education in composition.
JESSICA T. CARTER (SOUTH BEND, IN)
Jessica T. Carter (b. 1992) is an African American composer, violinist, mezzo-soprano, and voice from South Bend, IN who is swiftly making a name for herself. Described as 'evocative' and 'lyrical' by Aspire Magazine, Jessica first discovered her passion for music at the age of 5, became involved in musical theatre in high school, but it was not until college that she began professional study in music, violin, and voice.
As a composer, Jessica aspires to exude the message of hope to marginalized children in exemplifying their seat at the table of music. My work is a testament against the cultural stereotypes that constantly trap children from achieving their full potential. It is a representation of hope, freedom, and love through God and the human experience. Jessica finished her first work, “Our Lady’s Son” for Trumpet and Orchestra in 2011. Specializing in concert music, musical theatre and film scoring, Jessica’s notable compositions have included but are not excluded to "Oh, Israel" for TTBB Voices, String Quartet No. 1, Op. 3, "Memories" Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 5, and "Why Does She Love Me?" A Song Cycle for Tenor and Piano. In both 2018 and 2019, Jessica Carter was the recipient of the Craig and Carol Kapson Bicentennial Scholarship in Music through Indiana University South Bend. In 2020, she was the grand prize winner of the Indiana University Symphonic Composition Competition with the work, "Rancor and Triumph", Concerto for cello and orchestra. Beyond concert music, Jessica serves the theater community as a music director, voice coach, and stage technician for various productions. In 2014, she completed her first full-length musical, "Filthy," which went on to win an award for Best Original Song in a regional competition the following year. In her graduate career, Jessica was published four times, including once for her ground-breaking research, "Concert Music of the Civil Rights Movement: Uncovering the Erasure of Black American Composers in the United States."
Currently, Jessica is a member of the South Bend Chamber Singers, the Indiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and she serves as a Music Teacher and Choir Director in the South Bend Community School Corporation. Additionally, her performance credits include several appearances in various operas and musical theatre productions. Jessica Carter is an active traveling artist and has been invited to several festivals such as the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, the Atlantic Music Festival, and the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. She has had the privilege of working with several prolific composers and ensembles including Billy Childs, David Ludwig, and Marilyn Shrude; as well as Trio Fibonacci and the Euclid Quartet. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Bethel University and a Master of Music in Music Composition under the tutelage of Dr. Jorge Muniz from Indiana University South Bend.
MICHELLE MCQUADE DEWHIRST (Green Bay, WI)
Michelle McQuade Dewhirst received a Bachelor's degree in music education and horn performance from Ithaca College and completed her master's and doctoral degrees in music composition at the University of Chicago. As Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she teaches courses in music theory, music history, composition, horn, and popular music. Her music has been performed across the country by such ensembles as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Pacifica String Quartet, eighth blackbird and Transient Canvas, as well as acclaimed performers Michael Hall, Holly Roadfeldt, Megan Ihnen and Allen Theisen presents…, and Juxtatonal. She is a founding member of a very small consortium, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of “miniatures” that last one minute or less or that consist of one hundred or fewer notes.
In September of 2014, Michelle was a finalist in the Iron Composer competition, in which she placed second and took home the “Audience Choice” award. In September of 2015, she embarked on the Piano Per Diem project, for which she composed one new work for piano each day for 30 days. A new interest in silent films has yielded two projects so far: scores for Metropolis (1927) and Man with a Movie Camera (1929).
An active and versatile horn player, Michelle is currently Principal Horn with the Weidner Philharmonic and the Manitowoc Symphony, as well as a horn player and occasional vocalist with Vic Ferrari’s Symphony on the Rocks (a rock orchestra).
GALA FLAGELLO (Ann Arbor, MI)
The music of composer Gala Flagello (b. 1994) “is both flesh and spirit, intensely psychological without sacrificing concrete musical enjoyment” (Lana Norris, I Care If You Listen). She is also the Festival Director and co-founder of the nonprofit contemporary music festival Connecticut Summerfest. Gala is a recipient of the Edward Diemente Prize for Excellence in Creative Activity (The Hartt School), the Artist Scholarship (Artists for World Peace), and the Dorothy Greenwald Graduate Fellowship (University of Michigan). She is the winner of the 2020 Sinta Quartet Composition Competition, 2020 Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Prize, and the 2017 Dulciana Vocal Ensemble (Dublin, Ireland) Call for New Works.
Gala is enthusiastic about collaborating with performers, educators, and artists of all kinds. She has received two EXCEL Enterprise Grants for her projects Educational New Music for Developing Voices (2017) and The Contemporary Solo Horn (2018). Her piece Self-Talk, which was premiered at National Sawdust in August 2018, will be featured on Vanguard Reed Quintet’s debut album, Red Leaf Collection (release: June 2020). Gala is also a three-time collaborator of DAMET Percussion, writing Precious Metals and Fragile Goods for Natural Beauty, a multimedia touring show that aims to demonstrate humans' impact on our environment.
Gala holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree from The Hartt School, a Master of Music in Composition degree from the University of Michigan, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Michigan. Her major composition teachers have included Michael Daugherty, Kristin Kuster, Evan Chambers, and Robert Carl, and she has studied horn with Susan Spaulding and David Wakefield. Gala's works are self-published, with select works published by independent, eco-friendly publisher Just a Theory Press.
Gala pronounces her name GAL-uh Flah-JEL-oh.
WES FLINN (MORRIS, MN)
J. Wesley (“Wes”) Flinn is Associate Professor of Music and Assistant Chair of the Division of the Humanities at the University of Minnesota Morris. A native of Pinhook, IN (pop. 19), he holds the BM degree in Music Theory/Composition from Morehead [KY] State University and the MM in Composition and PhD in Music Theory (with a cognate in Wind Conducting) from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His composition teachers include Frederick Mueller, Christopher Gallaher, Allen Sapp, Darrell Handel, John McCabe, Marta Ptaszynska, and Samuel Adler. Before joining the faculty at UMM in 2012, he held positions in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Georgia. He remains active as a euphoniumist and trombonist, playing principal euphonium with the quartet Four on the Floor and principal trombone with the Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, Roberta Flack, Aaron Neville, and the Temptations.
His compositions have been heard all over the US and Europe, and he has won the Cincinnati Camerata Composers' Competition and received an Honorable Mention from the College Orchestra Directors' Association Composition Competition (for Rational Exuberance for orchestra). His short opera Bedtime Story (after a 55-word short story by Jeffrey Whitmore) has been performed in Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Springfield, MO. Current projects include a concerto for piano and band for pianist John Clodfelter, a trombone quartet, and a larger opera.
Wes lives in Morris, MN with his wife Amanda and three cats who are currently asking why they're not getting fed right now.
BRITTANY J. GREEN (RALEIGH, NC)
Brittany J. Green (b. 1991) is a North Carolina-based composer, creative, and educator. Described as “cinematic in the best sense” and “searing” (Chicago Classical Review), Brittany’s music is centered around facilitating collaborative, intimate musical spaces that ignite visceral responses. The intersection between sound, movement, and text serves as the focal point of these musical spaces, often questioning and redefining the relationships between these three elements.
Her research and creative interests include mapping aural gestures to gestural recognition technology and exploring virtual reality platforms as a tool for experiencing immersive, intimate musical moments. Her music has been featured at concerts and festivals throughout the United States and Canada, including the Society of Composers National Conference, New York City Electronic Music Festival, SPLICE Institute, the West Fork New Music Festival, Music by Women Festival, and Electroacoustic Barn Dance Festival. She has presented research at the North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference, East Carolina University’s Research and Creative Arts Week, Darkwater Women in Music Festival, and the Intersection@ Art and Science Symposium. From 2018-2019, Brittany served as composer-in-residence for the PCS/ECU Young Composers Project. Current projects include commissions from the JACK Quartet as an inaugural member of JACK Studio Artists and Mind on Fire, along with an artist residency with TimeSlips.
Brittany holds a BM in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a MM in Music Composition and Theory from East Carolina University. She is currently in residence at Duke University, pursuing a Ph.D in Music Composition as a Deans Graduate Fellow.
ROBERT GROSS (ANDERSON, IN)
Dr. Robert Gross received his DMA in music composition at University of Southern California where he also received a graduate certificate in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television. He also received an MA in Music for Film, Television and Theatre from the University of Bristol in England; an MM in Music Composition from Rice University; and a BM in Music Composition from Oberlin Conservatory. He has taught graduate and undergraduate level music theory at Rice University.
He was half of Blind Labyrinth, with the late Kenneth Downey, an experimental electroacoustic music duo, whose CD Blasted Light was released on the Beauport Classical label in 2014.
He has presented papers at the national Society for Music Theory conference, the Texas Society for Music Theory Conference, the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, and both national and regional chapters of Society of Composers, Inc. His post-tonal analyses have been published in Perspectives of New Music and Journal of Schenkerian Studies.
He is a Board Certified Music Therapist, with an MA in Music Therapy from Texas Woman’s University. His music therapy articles have been published in Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy and in Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy.
DAYTON HARE (OYANNOX, FRANCE)
Dayton Hare (b. 1996) is a composer and writer living in Oyonnax, France. A Colorado native, Dayton spent the greater part of his childhood in Georgia before leaving as a high schooler to study composition at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He subsequently attended the University of Michigan, from which he holds bachelor's degrees in both Music Composition and Honors English Language & Literature, with a minor in French. While at Michigan his primary composition teachers included Evan Chambers, Kristin Kuster, Roshanne Etezady, Bright Sheng, and Paul Schoenfeld.
Dayton’s music has been performed in the United States and Europe, by musicians such as the UM University Philharmonia Orchestra, the Converge String Quartet, Front Porch, uncsaX Saxophone Ensemble, Katerina Shapochaka, and others. In his work Dayton is drawn to themes of nature and exploring gradual change, with particular attention given to variations in sonic texture. He has additionally been a participant in a variety of summer music festivals, including New Music on the Point, highSCORE, Walden Creative Musicians Retreat, the European American Musical Alliance, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Prior to its cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in the summer of 2020 he was to study at Fontainebleau.
Outside of music, Dayton has worked extensively as a journalist covering the arts. In 2018 he was the Managing Editor of the Michigan Daily, the only remaining daily print newspaper in Ann Arbor, where he previously worked as a Senior Arts Editor and Classical Music Columnist. He continues to freelance, covering music and books. He is currently living abroad teaching English to high school students as part of the TAPIF program.
CHING-CHU HU (NEWARK, OH)
Ching-chu Hu is an award-winning composer whose music has been performed nationally and internationally, with reviews describing his music as “breathtaking,”(allmusic) “richly textured” (Charleston Post and Currier), and “incredible” (The Columbus Dispatch). The Strad Magazine writes of his “tender luminous harmonies,” and the American Record Guide describes his music as “meditative and solemn...the best work [on the CD Violinguistics].”
Honors include being named the Aaron Copland Fellow at the MacDowell Colony for the Arts, composer-in-residence at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, guest composer at the American Music Week Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, and winner of various competitions, including the 2018 American Prize for Chamber Music, the 2nd Annual Secret Opera competition, Fifteen Minutes of Fame Competition, and inclusion on ERM Media’s “Masterworks of the New Era” CD series. His Violin Concerto No. 3: Water Spirit received the citation “Exceptional Concerto” from the American Prize. He has received performances at international festivals and venues, including the Alternativa Festival (Center “DOM”) in Moscow, London’s Wigmore Hall, Chicago Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has been a composition Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Millay Banff, Ragdale, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Brush Creek artist colonies.
Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Ching-chu Hu studied at Yale University, Freiburg Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany, The University of Iowa, and the University of Michigan. He is active as a pianist and conductor, and wrote the scores for several short award-winning films. Recent projects include a live soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin’s 1925 version of The Gold Rush for symphony orchestra and soundtrack to Loose Film’s award-winning Among Other Things.
Ching-chu Hu is the Chair of the Music Department and Professor of Music at Denison University.
FELIX JARRAR (BROOKLYN, NY)
25-year-old Felix Jarrar is a composer/pianist whose list of accomplishments includes performances at diverse venues such as Symphony Space, (le) poisson rouge, BAM's Fisher Hillman Studio and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. His works have been performed internationally by artists from the Metropolitan Opera, the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, and the duo Unassisted Fold. At the forefront of Jarrar’s compositional output are his works for voice. Amongst his approximately 118 works, he has written over 100 art songs, 9 operas, two string quartets, and a cantata. Jarrar completed his Bachelor of Arts from Marlboro College with Highest Honors in Music Composition and Piano Performance. He received his Masters of Music degree from Brooklyn College with the Graduate Dean’s Award in Music Composition on the Eleanor Kilcoyne, Cerf Music, and Chancey Memorial Scholarships while holding the prestigious graduate fellowship for assisting ConTempo, the contemporary ensemble in the conservatory.
Photo Credit: Steph Gross
CLOCKWORK JONES (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
Clockwork Jones, founder & artistic director for Clockwork Music, is a classically trained Oboist, producer, teacher, vocalist, composer and bass player. Studying patterns such as maps, star charts, or viral spread, rhythms of the natural world become inspiration for algorithmic framework in which they compose and craft structures for improvisation. Clockwork blends Contemporary Instrumental Makeup, Jazz Modality, and Hip-Hop Motion, Married Harmoniously. They channel much of their creative energy through playing the oboe and organizing musical systems for building sustainable creative communities. Clockwork Jones' music can be found on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.
Clockwork Jones is the co-founder of “Clockwork: a Multimedia Concert Created in 24 Hours”, an emergent social practice event focused on community-building across art-forms and genres. This event was an Award of Awesomness nominee in the 2020 Spirt & Place Festival.
MATTHEW KENNEDY (TAMPA, FL)
The music of Matthew Kennedy (b. 1987) has been performed across the country and internationally on five continents by members of The Florida Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Boston Musica Viva, Indianapolis Opera Young Artists, bassist Robert Black, Opera on Tap, His work has been performed at festivals such as Northwestern University New Music Conference, Fresh Inc. Festival, Dynamic Music Festival at NYU, and the North American Saxophone Alliance International Conference, as well as residencies at Marble House Project (VT), Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL), Hambidge Center (GA), Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology (MI), The Horned Dorset Artist Colony (NY), and the Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities (CT).
Recent activities include performances and lecture presentations at New Music Gathering (Bowling Green State University and Boston Conservatory), Duke University, Constantinides New Music Ensemble (LSU), Florida Flute Association, University of Virginia, and Tampa Homegrown Concert Series. His work has been published by Just a Theory Press and NewMusicShelf, amongst others. Recordings of his work have been published by Parma Recordings, Soundset Recordings, and Ink & Coda Journal.
Matthew holds degrees from The Hartt School, Butler University, and Anderson University. His primary teachers have been Michael Schelle, Robert Carl, Elizabeth Brown, Manuel Sosa, and Jennifer Higdon. Matthew has taught composition and theory at University of South Florida and The Hartt School. He currently resides in Tampa, FL with his wife, studio artist Erin Kennedy, and three children, where he is a NIA-funded Research Instructor with the Cognitive Aging Lab at University of South Florida.
DAYTON KINNEY (RALEIGH, NC)
Dayton Kinney creates music that has won and has been recognized for numerous competitions. Inspired by Paul Hindemith’s A Composer’s World, Dayton’s music concentrates on the ambiguous idea of “transforming the circle… into a spiral.” Through this notion, Dayton explores and creates in order to discover the limits of ambiguity in thematic material, accessibility, harmony, and form with the goal of striking a balance between the certainty of a circle and the ambiguity of a spiral. Each work unfolds either through a narrative established at the outset, or through a suggested stream-of-consciousness arrangement of materials. Through this unfolding, the eclectic musical material is often organized in delineated sections or more dreamlike, kaleidoscopic arrangements.
Dayton’s music has been commissioned and performed in the U.S. and abroad with notable performances that have included ICE, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, Deviant Septet, HYPERCUBE, F-Plus, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Zodiac Trio, The Grey Matter Ensemble, Frisson Duo, Space City Performing Arts Ensemble, and at Pittsburgh Opera.
Dayton is currently a doctoral candidate for a Ph.D. in Music - Composition at Duke University. Dayton earned her Master of Music in Composition at Carnegie Mellon University and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda. Dayton also holds a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude with Honors in Music from Smith College.
CHICHUN CHI-SUN LEE (SEOUL, KOREA)
Taiwanese-American composer, CHIHCHUN CHI-SUN LEE’s works were described as “eye-openingly, befittingly, complex, but rather arresting to hear” by Boston Globe, “exploring a variety of offbeat textures and unusual techniques” by Gramophone and “eastern techniques blended with sophisticated modern writing style” by “Amadeus” Il mensile della grande musica. The winner of the 1st Biennial Brandenburg Symphony International Composition Competition in Germany and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, is originally from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She has received numerous honors; these include commissions from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (the 1st Taiwanese and the 4th Asian composer), Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University (2018 & 2001), Barlow Endowment, the Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation, Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (NTSO), National Orchestra of Korea (NOK) and Taiwan National Chinese Orchestra, Theodore Front Prize from International Alliance for Women in Music, ISCM/ League of Composers Competition, International Festival of Women Composers Composition Prize, Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, Gugak Fellowship, and the Golden Melody Awards nomination for “best composer” (2019 & 2009). In 2017, she is honored with Alumni Achievement Award in Music in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Music at Ohio University’s 100th anniversary of music department.
Lee has written more than 40 compositions for traditional Chinese/Korean/Japanese instruments. Some of her most significant performances have included Carnegie Hall and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, Muzički Biennale Zagreb, Svensk Musikvår – Festivalen för Svensk Konstmusik, Tage Für Aktuelle Musik, ISCM-Musicarama, Randfestspiele, INTERCICLOS Festival Internacional de Música Nueva en Querétaro, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Daegu International Contemporary Music Festival, ARKO Contemporary Orchestra Music Festival and Shanghai New Music Week, as well as with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Förderverein Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Philharmonia Bulgalica, Kiev Philharmonic, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Czech), Limeira Symphony Orchestra (Brazil), Korean Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, NeoQuartet and Kwartludium (Poland), Les Temps Modernes (France), Ensemble Phorminx (Germany), Keuris Quartet (the Netherlands), Duo Harpverk (Iceland), Pacific Quartet Vienna (Austria), just to name a few. In addition, her music has had numerous performances and broadcasts worldwide in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, and around the continental United States (including Hawaii).
SKY MACKLAY (CHICAGO, IL)
Sky Macklay (b. 1988) is a composer, oboist, and installation artist currently living in Chicago. Her music is conceptual yet expressive, exploring extreme contrasts, audible processes, humor, and the physicality of sound. She has been commissioned by Chamber Music America (with Splinter Reeds), the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (with Ensemble Dal Niente), the Barlow Endowment (with andPlay), and The Jerome Fund for New Music (with ICE saxophonist Ryan Muncy). Sky’s work has also been recognized with awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, The International Alliance for Women in Music, and Civitella Ranieri. Recent projects include an opera set in a uterus and three interactive installations of harmonica-playing inflatable sculptures. Sky completed her D.M.A. at Columbia University and her music is published by C. F. Peters. She will spend much of 2021 living in Paris as a fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination.
STEVEN RICE (STATE COLLEGE, PA)
Described as "evocative" and "surreal" music "to bewilder, amuse, and provoke", the works of composer Steven Rice have won great acclaim and inspired intense debate. Rice received a 2009 ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer Award and took 1st Prize in the 2005 Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award. His music has been championed internationally by soloists and ensembles such as the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra (Marin Alsop, director), the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Brave New Works, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Juventas in venues such as The Stone (NYC), the Krannert Center (Urbana, IL), and Harris Hall (Aspen Music Festival and School).
JESSICA RUGANI (SAN FRANCISCO, CA)
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, composer Jessica Rugani traces her musical development from an early interest in piano, to a focus in clarinet, and finally to composition. She earned degrees in music composition from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford (D.M.A. 2018), New England Conservatory (M.M. 2011), and California State University East Bay (B.A. 2006).
Rugani has written for varying ensembles, from the unusual bowed piano ensemble to the more traditional full orchestra. In 2012, she was commissioned by the Petit Family Foundation to compose Elegy in memory of Jennifer, Hayley, and Michaela Petit, and in 2013, her work To Laugh Often and Much, commissioned by Dr. Mary Matthews, was premiered at the National Flute Association Convention in New Orleans. True to her appreciation of humor, Jessica incorporated many (terrible) jokes and puns in her TPIAJ (This Piece is a Joke), commissioned and premiered by Frisson Duo in 2019. Her works have been premiered on new music concerts in Jordan Hall and other venues in Boston, and performed in several states, including Connecticut, California, and Washington, as well as in Canada.
Jessica has worked with members of the San Francisco Symphony and the Kronos Quartet, and studied composition with Robert Carl, Michael Gandolfi, Rafael Hernandez, and Kurt Rohde. She currently resides in the Bay Area with her family.
MIHO SASAKI (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
From Chiba City, Japan, Miho Sasaki came to the United States in 2000 to study English and music at Indiana University. Following additional language studies and collegiate course work in Boston, she continued her music studies in the US, earning an M.M. from Butler University's School of Music in Indianapolis. Ms. Sasaki has studied piano with Hiromi Iwadate (Japan), Anna Yow Briscoe, Andrew Russo, and music composition with Hifumi Shimoyama, Elliott Schwartz, Michael Schelle and Elvis Costello.
Ms. Sasaki recently returned from a two-week concert tour of China as soloist with the South Shore Orchestra (Chicago) for Michael Schelle’s Wright Flight, a work that is recorded on Albany Records. Ms. Sasaki has also recently performed concertos with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Albuquerque Youth Symphony, the District 99 Orchestra (Chicago), the Aberdeen Symphony Orchestra (2013) and the Fort Smith (AR) Symphony Orchestra (2012). In 2010 and 2013 Ms. Sasaki was the featured guest artist for a recital of new American piano music at Aichi Prefectural University of Music and Fine Arts and Nagoya Imperial Univesity in Nagoya, Japan.
Miho Sasaki’s own original compositions have been commissioned and performed by the American Pianists Association, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra (NYC), Japanese flutist Hiroko Senoo (Tokyo), Japanese pianist Nana Omori, American saxophonist Gail Levinsky, and featured during the 2010 Finger Lakes Summer Chamber Music Festival (upstate New York) and as Guest Composer for the 28th NOW New Music Festival (2014) at Capital University (Columbus, OH) and the 7th Annual Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival (2015) in Portland, Maine. She has recently completed new commissions from the Forth Smith (AR) Symphony Orchestra, The Generous Ensemble (Hartford, CT), the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (NYC), the Capital University Conservatory of Music, and the Butler University Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Current commissions in progress include new symphonic wind ensemble works for the University of Connecticut (for November 2019) and Trinity University (for May 2020, San Antonio, TX).
In April, 2017 Ms. Sasaki was awarded the prestigious "Creative Renewal Fellowship" ($10,000) from the Arts Council of Indianapolis - a highly competitive program, only a dozen grants (out of 400+ applications, across all arts disciplines) are awarded. A 2-year grant supporting various creative activities through 2019, Miho's activities include learning (for performance and composition) accordion and bayan, and creating a "serious music" accordion culture in central Indiana.
MICHAEL SCHELLE (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
MICHAEL SCHELLE (b. 1950 in Philadelphia) was raised in northern New Jersey and graduated from NHR High School where, as Captain of the track team, he held the all-state distance records in the javelin, shot put and hammer for three years running. Now, 30+ years running as Composer in Residence and founder / director of the notorious JCA Composers Orchestra (new music ensemble) at Butler University in Indianapolis, he has been 2X nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, a finalist for the International Humour in Poetry Competition (Paris), a published author (film music book), and restaurant critic.
Michael Schelle's music has been commissioned and / or performed by over 350 orchestras, symphonic bands and professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad including the Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, the major orchestras of Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Portland (OR), Dayton, Nashville, Kansas City, Arizona, Honolulu and Springfield (MA), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, XTET (Los Angeles), Urban Quartet (Phoenix), Voices of Change (Dallas), the Chicago Ensemble ... and internationally by Warsaw Opera, UMFC Modern Ensemb;e (Warsaw), Kammerorchester Basel (Switzerland), the St. Petersburg (Russia) Chamber Orchestra, the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (Moscow), Czestochowa Philharmonic (Poland), Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional (Costa Rica), Koenig Ensemble of London, the Banff Centre (Canada), CoMET (Tokyo), Firenza New Music Festival (Italy), Beijing (China) Opera House, Zimbabwe Arts Festival, and the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
He has received composition prizes, grants and awards from over 30 prestigious national arts organizations including the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, American Symphony Orchestra League (NYC), American Pianists Association, National Band Association (2012 Revelli Composition Prize), the Welsh Arts Council (Cardiff), the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Arts Council, Arts Midwest, the Great Lakes Arts Alliance, Pi Kappa Lambda Board of Regents 2020 commission, and ArtsFest 2015. He has held extended composition residencies at dozens of leading American universities, conservatories and new music festivals, and at Spoleto USA, Wolf Trap, the MacDowell Colony (NH), and many extended residencies abroad - including the Czech Republic, Austria, Amsterdam, Costa Rica, Poland (Warsaw and Krakow, 2016, 2019), Japan (X3 - Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima) and China. Schelle holds degrees from Villanova University (theatre), the Hartt School of Music (CT), the Trinity College of Music, London, UK, (diploma), and a Ph.D. from University of Minnesota. His composition teachers have included Aaron Copland, Arnold Franchetti, Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento. During the summers of 1998 – 2005, Schelle lived in Los Angeles, writing a film music book (The Score, published in 2000 by Silman-James Press, LA, and translated / published in Korea in 2013) - and working on the original scores for such Hollywood blockbusters (?) as The Mummy, G Men from Hell and Bikini Prison.
JOSEPH SOWA (BOSTON, MA)
Whether it’s cartooning, linguistics, natural history, or pop culture, Joseph Sowa draws from diverse influences to create music with detailed textures and vivid colors that speaks to mind, body, and heart. His music has been performed by professionals and amateurs alike, including groups such as Collage New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Genesis Chamber Singers, Hub New Music, the Ludovico Ensemble, the PRISM Quartet, and middle and high schools across North America. He has received awards from ASCAP, the American Prize, and the Barlow Endowment and holds a PhD in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University.
SAMUEL STEERE (SPRINGFIELD, IL)
Sam Steere (b. 1988) is a composer, songwriter, teacher, and performer based in the midwest. He has collaborated with lyricists across the country, including multiple works featured by Hexagon (Washington’s Only Original Political Satire Musical Comedy Review). His work (“Merry Christmas, I Guess”) was most recently featured in a cabaret performance hosted by Under the Arch Incubator in St. Louis, MO. Sam loves a good story song, has dabbled in opera, likes a bit of jazz in his coffee, and generally enjoys the alchemy of lyrics and music.
Sam welcomes commissioners that wish to submit original lyrics for a musical setting. Short works will be composed for piano and voice. While longer works will be arranged as a lead sheet (lyrics, melody, and chords). Donors of larger amounts may request a full piano accompaniment for longer works in consultation with the composer.
Sam’s favorite audience review is this: “Ooh. I really liked that one, Daddy!” — James Steere, 5 years old.
KYLE WERNKE (ROLLA, MO)
Kyle Wernke is a composer of thrilling modern music that has been performed at home and abroad. Wernke has had performances by some of the finest ensembles in new music including Ensemble Signal (Trio in Memoriam David Macbride, 2019), Members of the Mivos Quartet (Quintet, 2016), Hypercube (Midnight Oil, 2018), and The Hartt School’s Foot in the Door Ensemble (Idols, 2015). An avid composer of music for large ensemble, Wernke’s music has been finding a home with orchestras across the globe. His 2017 work for orchestra, Burst, has been recorded by the Brno Philharmonic for Ablaze Record’s album “Orchestral Masters, Vol. 6” as well as having performances by the Tampa Bay Symphony (November, 2019) and the Musique en Seine Orchestre in Paris, France (February, 2020).
Recent commissions include the Butler Symphony, Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Fort Smith Symphony, Missouri University of Science and Technology, the R3EDS Duo, and violist Lauren Perala.
2016 saw the completion of his first opera, also his Doctoral Dissertation, a work in four acts based on Stephen King's novel The Wind Through the Keyhole. In 2016 Wernke also guest conducted the Willimantic Orchestra in Willimantic, CT. In 2017 Wernke was named the Director of Orchestras at Missouri S&T, a post he still holds and cherishes. In addition to his responsibilities with the orchestra, Wernke teaches courses in composition, theory, film music, and leads S&T’s two big bands. Wernke earned his DMA in Composition from the University of Hartford - Hartt School (West Hartford, CT) and his MM in Orchestral Conducting from Butler University (Indianapolis, IN).
He currently lives in Rolla, MO with his wife, violist Lauren Perala, their two dogs Luna and Toby, and their three cats Nubbins, Sawadee, and Willow.