Yiheng Yvonne Wu (b.1981, Taiwan) studied composition at the University of California, San Diego (Ph.D., M.A.) and Yale University (B.A.). She has received commissions from the La Jolla Symphony conducted by Steven Schick, Arraymusic, Palimpsest, Michael Mizrahi and the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association, Figmentum, Bonnie Whiting, Jessica Aszodi, Carla Rees, Rachel Beetz, and Dustin Donahue. Wu's music has been performed by MIVOS string quartet and Ensemble SurPlus and featured in the WasteLAnd concert series, the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival, New Music on the Bayou, SoundSCAPE Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and Schloss Solitude Summer Academy. Dreams of a Young Piano, for solo piano with chamber ensemble, was awarded the 2018 Judith Lang Zaimont Prize by the International Alliance for Women in Music. Wu's string quartet, Utterance, released on Carrier Records, won the 5th Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Composition Prize. Wu's primary composition teachers have included Katharina Rosenberger, Kathryn Alexander, John Halle, Sophia Serghi, and Steven Takasugi. She teaches composition and music theory at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.
Three Adaptations “incorporates folk songs from China, Japan, and Taiwan, with the melodies going into and out of focus, as if obfuscated by time and distance. Eschewing a generic, pan-Asian flavor, the setting of the songs is meant to acknowledge the complex relationships that the performers and composer have with their respective Asian ancestries.” This piece was commissioned with funds generously donated by Mr. Sean Hayes and a grant from Susquehanna University.
juantio becenti - fantasy
"Fantasy" (2022) b. 1983 Dinė/Navajo
Juantio Becenti (Diné/Navajo) lives in the four corners area of New Mexico close to his birthplace on the Navajo Nation. He began composing music at a young age and received his first commission from the Moab Music Festival in 1998. He has since received commissions from Dawn Avery (North American Indian Cello Project), Raven Chacon (Native American Composers Apprenticeship Program), Michael Barrett (New York Festival of Song), George Steel (Abrams Curator of Music, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), and others. His compositions have been performed by the Phoenix Chamber Orchestra, Dawn Avery, ETHEL, America’s premier postclassical string quartet, and the Claremont Trio. He has studied at the Walden School for Young Musicians which he attended on full scholarship. He was the recipient of a grant from the First Nations Composers Initiative which he received in order to create original music for the film "Two Sprits", a documentary about the life and murder of Fred Martinez, a transgendered Navajo teenager. Mr. Becenti writes the following about Fantasy: "music is a healing force and a mode of expression that people universally fall back onto for healing and other fundamental human needs...I've selected a Navajo song called Shi Naasha that was composed after the Navajo left Ft. Sumner where they have been imprisoned for numerous years after conflicts with the US, Mexico, and various other Native American tribes aligned with the US. After a period of conflict the Navajo were rounded up in 1864 and forced on a walk from our traditional homelands to an internment camp 300+ miles away. Many Navajo died during that journey and those that survived were imprisoned until 1868 when a treaty was signed. The Navajo homeland is bordered by 4 mountains with the southernmost being called Tsoodzil (turquoise mountain) or Mt. Taylor in New Mexico. When the returning Navajo saw the mountain they were overcome with joy and composed Shi Naasha. It talks about going in beauty and freedom." Mr. Becenti's piece is commissioned with funds generously donated by Tsing Bardin and a grant from Susquehanna University.
Three-time Grammy nominated American composer Miguel del Aguila has established himself among the most distinctive and highly regarded composers of his generation with over 130 works that combine drama, driving rhythms and nostalgic nods to his South American roots. His music, which enjoys over 200 performances annually, has been hailed as “brilliant and witty” (N.Y. Times) and “sonically dazzling” (L.A. Times). He is currently composer-in-residence with Denmark’s Ensemble Storstrøm, following a 2020 residency with Orchestra of the Americas. New and upcoming releases of his works include CDs by Norwegian Radio Orchestra; the Louisiana Philharmonic, Augusta Symphony, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and the Eroica Trio, on Naxos, Albany, Bridge and Centaur. 2020-2021 collaborations include performances by Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Brazil’s Theatro São Pedro orchestra, São Paulo Dance Company, and Stavanger Symphoniorchestrer, Norway. Besides three Grammy nominations, He has received a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Magnum Opus Award, grants from New Music USA/Music Alive, the Copland Foundation and Lancaster Symphony Composer of the Year award. His music, recorded on 52 CDs, has been performed by over 100 orchestras and by thousands of ensembles and soloists worldwide. He graduated from San Francisco Conservatory and Vienna’s Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. His music is published by Peermusic Classical, Theodore presser and self-published.
Michael-Thomas Foumai (b. 1987) is a composer of contemporary concert music and educator with work focusing on storytelling and the history, people and culture of his Hawaiʻi home. His music has been performed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, George Manahan and the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, and in the summer of 2021, the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra presented a festival of his music with over 30 performances conducted by Rei Hotoda, Lidiya Yankovskaya, Sarah Hicks and JoAnn Falletta. Honors for his music have included a Fromm Foundation Grant from Harvard University, the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Award, the Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, and three BMI composer awards. Foumai holds multiple degrees in music composition from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (BM) and the University of Michigan (MM, DMA).
Michael writes "Breath Water Spiritis about identity; the name ancient Hawaiians gave their new home and the name of my home. I hoped to capture this ancient natural spirit of the Hawaiian islands using the melodic contours of Hawaiian chant. These fragments of a chant undergo a tumultuous passage through time that implies, at the start, the undiscovered Hawai'i island, the arrival of the Hawaiians, the ancient battles for unification under Kamehameha I, through the overthrow, and beyond." This piece is commissioned with funds generously donated by Lili and Wilson Ervin.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, performer, conductor and composer, Jean (Rudy) Perrault is a sought-after educator/clinician, composer, performer, and conductor, nationally and internationally. His compositions have been commissioned for, and performed by, world famous musicians and ensembles. His most recent compositions include a work for string orchestra (Sometimes, I Feel…) depicting the events surrounding the George Floyd murder, a Duo for flute and Double Bass entitled “Caged”, and a Piano Trio (We Three Kings) marking the 100th anniversary of the 1920 Duluth lynching. Current projects include a Duo for Violin and Cello (Dialogues for Violin and Cello), a Duo for Cello and Hand Drum (Peze Kafe), a work for 13 Instruments, and an arrangement of Ludovic Lamothe’s Danza #4 for Violin, Cello and Hand Drum. Future projects include a Duo for Cello and Piano, setting to music three poems of world-renown author Edwidge Danticat, and a ballet (Seremoni). For more than a decade, Rudy has been collecting, digitizing, and editing the piano works of Haitian classical composers.
Rudy is Professor of Music, and Director of Orchestras, at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a frequent judge/panelist at festivals and competitions in all corners of the world. He is a founding member of the Kako Foundation (kakofoundation.com), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing music to at-risk youth in the US and Haiti. Rudy makes his home in Duluth, Minnesota.
Fallen addresses the disparities between how black and brown people, versus white people, are treated. It is "dedicated to the unheard, the unseen, the forgotten, the fallen, the oppressed, and all of those forced to live in the fringes of our society." This work is commissioned with funds generously donated by Mary P McKillip Pautz.
Seare Farhat (b. 1996) strives to create music that connects a listener to the visceral imagination, energy, and transformation within narrative forms. Starting out his musical endeavors in Afghan folk music, he later built on these valued experiences in the western classical tradition combined with other interests, such as mathematics. Seare has received commissions from the JACK Quartet, IU New Music Ensemble, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Quintessence Wind Quintet, and the Oberlin Sinfonietta, and served as the young composer-in-residence of the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings in 2019. He has received honors such as FLUX Quartet's 2019 call for scores and being a finalist for Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra's 2019 call for scores. Seare has also held residencies at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in 2022 with percussionist Morgan Sutherland and with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music as a Balhest Eeble Composer Fellow for the 2021-23 cycle with mentors Nathalie Joachim, Charles Overton, and Haruka Fujii. Seare holds a B.M. in Composition and B.A. in Mathematics from Oberlin College and Conservatory, a master’s degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he held the position of Assistant Director of the New Music Ensemble, and is currently pursuing a D.M.A. at Cornell University studying with Elizabeth Ogonek, Kevin Ernste, and Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri.
Seare writes "A Lalo is a lullaby; it's an intimate song, shared and passed down from generation to generation, through mothers to their children. The Lalo is always an intimate connection between generations, but lately it's taken on a new life. In the past 50 years of political turmoil in Afghanistan, women singers have transformed the Lalo into a potent and powerful political statement, urging children to dream of a future of Afghanistan that's not war torn, urging girls to pursue education and to seek out their dreams through careers that might change the world."
Raised in a Chinese-Australian family, Melissa Dunphy moved to the USA in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and acclaimed composer specializing in vocal, political, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention when her large-scale work the Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street Journal and on The Rachel Maddow Show. Dunphy is the recipient of an Opera America Discovery Grant for Alice Tierney, a new opera commission by Oberlin Conservatory premiering in 2023. Recent commissions include works for the BBC Singers, VOCES8, and Mendelssohn Chorus. Dunphy is also a Barrymore Award-nominated theater composer and Director of Music Composition for the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference. Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. from West Chester University and teaches at Rutgers University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Matt; the Dunphys are co-hosts of the popular podcast The Boghouse about their adventures in Philadelphia colonial archaeology.
Melissa writes "Brisbane: Spring of 1987 is a response to Samuel Barber's art song Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which sets a prose poem by James Agee. The text is a snapshot recollection of a summer evening in Agee's hometown when he was six years old; the following year Agee's father died in a car accident, which led to chaos in his family. I grew up in Brisbane, Australia, and in late spring of 1987, when I was seven years old, my mother had her first major episode of bipolar disorder, which led to a lot of chaos in my family. Interjecting themselves in the piece are Cantonese nursery rhyme melodies which my mother would play for me on cassette tapes. My mother was a refugee from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and her traumatic experiences probably contributed to her mental illness. The nursery rhymes at first seem very innocent and light, but they quickly overlap and become manic. So, there's always a mixture of light and dark going on in this piece."
Taiwanese-American composer, Chihchun Chi-Sun Lee’s works are described as “eye-openingly, befittingly, complex, but rather arresting to hear” by Boston Globe, and “exploring a variety of offbeat textures and unusual techniques” by Gramophone. The winner of the 1st Biennial Brandenburg Symphony International Composition Competition in Germany and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, Dr. Lee is originally from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She has received numerous honors including commissions and grants from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the 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 and the Theodore Front Prize from International Alliance for Women in Music, among others. In 2017, she was honored with an Alumni Achievement Award in Music in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Music at Ohio University’s 100th anniversary of music department. She has composed over forty works for traditional Chinese/Korean/Japanese instruments, and performances of her works have been performed extensively on the international stage and broadcast worldwide. Chihchun writes: "2020 to 2021 has been a very unique time for American minorities. My new commission is specifically tailored to address the awareness of unfortunate Asian Hate Crimes that continue since COVID started. By incorporating traditional folk songs and children’s songs from their originating Asian countries, I hope people can gain understanding, appreciation and respect towards our Asian-American heritages." This work is partially funded by a grant from Susquehanna University.
ivette herryman rodriguez - emigrado
"Emigrado" (March 2024) b. 1982 Cuban
Born in 1982, Ivette grew up in Cuba and studied piano, music theory and composition. She holds a B.M in Music Composition from the Instituto Superior de Artes, in Havana, a M.M in Music Composition from Baylor University, and a M.M in Music Theory and D.M.A in Music Composition from Michigan State University. Her composition teachers include Juan Piñera, Scott McAllister, Ricardo Lorenz and Zhou Tian. Ivette’s music has been described as “absolutely exquisite” and “breathtakingly beautiful” (Kevin Noe-Artistic Director of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and Director of Orchestras and Professor of Conducting at the UMKC Conservatory of Music). She is the composer of a bestseller piece for SSAA choir, and the winner, among other awards, of the 2023 President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities at SUNY Potsdam, a Chamber Music America grant (2021), the Illinois State Music Teachers Association (ISMTA) Composer Commissioning program (2019), a Brandon Fradd Fellowship in Music Composition (2015), and a Cubadisco Special Award for her zarzuela Cerca del Río (2010). She has been a fellow composer in three different programs with the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. She has been Artist in Residency in Mexico, funded by The National Endowment for Culture and Arts (FONCA), and Artist in Residence with the Opera of El Salvador (OPES).
Her recent commissions include new pieces for the Bardin-Niskala Duo, ConTempus String Quartet, HAVEN Trio, Lantana Brass Trio, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, All-State Florida Symphony Orchestra, and Michigan State University Symphonic Band. Recent prominent performances of her music include the performances of her Danzón a mi manera by the Youth Orchestra of LA (YOLA) and the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl respectively, under conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Ivette’s music is featured in the CD/DVD Cerca del Río, produced by Colibrí Productions, the CD Sonidos Cubanos 2, produced by Neuma Records, the CD Crossing Barriers-New Music for Brass Trio by the Lantana Trio and MSR Classics, and the CD This Prismasonic Rock I Stand by the University of North Florida Wind Symphony and Mark Records label. Currently, Ivette is Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.
Ivette writes the following about her new piece that she is working on: "The idea I am using is rooted in the word Emigrado (emigrant). I am considered an emigrant when I return to Cuba to visit my family. In that context, that means that I have lost my rights as a person born there and I am treated as a tourist. Musically, I am using the letters of the word in its Spanish spelling to generate pitches. E sounds in Spanish as the termination of the solfege syllable re. So that's my first pitch. MI is solfege mi (or scale degree 3). That's my second note. GRA provides the notes: sol, re, la with solfege or scale degrees 5, 2, 6 in any scale. DO gives solfege syllable do, or scale degree 1 of any scale."
A versatile and highly imaginative collaborator, performer, and composer, Michi Wiancko has been commissioned by artists and ensembles throughout the country, and both her creative and organizational work prioritize not only artistic discovery, but community resilience and social change. Recent commissions and projects include works for Boston Chamber Music Society, Parker Quartet, Ensemble Connect, SPCO, Aizuri Quartet, Jupiter Quartet, American Ballet Theater, Anne Akiko Meyers, Cleveland Lyric Theater, and Experiments in Opera, among many others. Michi performed her violin solo debuts with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and her recital debut in Weill Hall. She released her solo album, Planetary Candidate on New Amsterdam Records, and the solo violin works of Émile Sauret on Naxos. A passionate collaborator and advocate for new music, Michi has worked with Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli, Vijay Iyer, Judd Greenstein, William Brittelle, Qasim Naqvi, Jessie Montgomery, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, Emmanuel Ax, Silkroad, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, The Knights, A Far Cry, Alarm Will Sound, and International Contemporary Ensemble. Her mentors include Donald Weilerstein and the late violinist and composer Robert Mann. Michi is the director of Antenna Cloud Farm, a festival, retreat, and community organization, and she recently launched The Experimental Institute in collaboration with Mazz Swift and PaviElle French.
About her new work, Michi writes "In 1942, U.S. Executive Order 9066 called for the forced imprisonment of 110,000 of Japanese descent, including children, the elderly, and the sick, for the duration of the war. Often referred to as “relocation,” the government stole from these families their homes, personal property, businesses, and livelihoods, and moved them into internment camps in remote inland locales. 70,000 of the incarcerated people were full American citizens, born and raised in the U.S., with zero charges of disloyalty amongst them. My piece for The Bardin-Niskala Duo is inspired by this community of folks who faced and endured this unimaginably painful time of fear, racism, violence, and injustice with courage and grace, and who found solace and resilience in their families and in their own cultural heritage. The musical work will be accompanied by a visual backdrop expressing images of art, beauty, and inspiration from this otherwise shameful time in U.S. history." This work is partially funded by a grant from Susquehanna University.
Victor Márquez-Barrios - La bestia: the train of death
"La Bestia (The Beast): The Train of Death" (November 2023) b. 1977 Venezuelan www.marquezbarrios.com
Venezuelan composer and guitarist Victor E. Márquez-Barrios, holds an extended catalog of works that includes compositions for a variety of solo instruments, numerous chamber ensembles, mixed choir, electronics, symphonic band, and symphony orchestra. His music has been performed, published, and recorded by soloists and ensembles from Latin America (Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, enCayapa Ensemble), the U.S. (H2 Quartet, Oberlin Orchestra), and Europe (Proxima Centauri, Guitar Duo Montes-Kircher). Works by Márquez-Barrios have received performances at numerous international music festivals, such as the Latin American Music Festival (Venezuela), Festival of Contemporary Music of Havana (Cuba), Festival Internacional de la Clarinette (Martinique), Hollywood Fringe Festival (Los Angeles), the World Saxophone Congress, and ClarinetFest, among others.
An enthusiastic collaborator, Márquez-Barrios regularly works directly with performers and conductors, as well as with artists from a variety of disciplines beyond music. He has been awarded fellowships at some of the most prestigious artist residencies in the U.S. (MacDowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson, Virginia Center for The Creative Arts), and has received grants and commissions from prominent institutions such as New Music U.S.A., the McKnight Foundation, the International Double Reed Society, and American Composers Forum. Márquez-Barrios holds M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in Composition from Michigan State University, as well as a Master’s degree in Music Theory Pedagogy from MSU. He has served on the faculty at Michigan State, Kalamazoo College, Grand Valley State University, Alma College, and St. Lawrence University. Since 2015 and in parallel to his active career as a composer and guest lecturer, Victor Márquez-Barrios teaches music theory and composition as part of the faculty at Truman State University, where he is also the founding director of Uncommon Practice, the University’s contemporary-music ensemble. During the summer, Márquez-Barrios teaches at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan.
About La Bestia: The Train of Death, Victor writes "As of February 2023, more than 7 million people (around 25% of the country's population) have left Venezuela since 2014, which makes it the largest-ever refugee crisis in Latin American. While the majority of displaced Venezuelans went to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, a significant amount of migrants have come to the U.S., through the dangerous Darién Gap between Colombia and Panamá, and eventually climbing aboard a freight train known as "La Bestia," or "The Beast." In recent years I have been both shocked and saddened to hear Venezuelan voices in. numerous interviews and news reports about the migrant crisis at the U.S. border. Of those, the ones that strike me the most are the voices of children, traveling north by themselves or with their families. This composition is both an attempt to raise awareness about this humanitarian crisis, and a lullaby for those children, my personal way of encouraging them to keep dreaming despite the challenges, and to try and convince them (and myself) that the storm will pass, and that there will be calm and better days ahead for all."