The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s Perfect Pitch program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for emerging composers launched during the 1995-96 season in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. These sessions, initially for Minnesota composers only, were later opened to composers from surrounding states. By 2001 the reading sessions developed into a much more extensive program, now called the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute and open to talented emerging composers throughout the country. New Music USA—previously the American Music Center—joined as a program partner to offer participants its invaluable legal and business seminars for composers. Composer Aaron Jay Kernis directed the Institute for its first 11 seasons.
In December 2006 the Orchestra added a public concert of the composers' new works, titled Future Classics and conducted for six seasons by Music Director Osmo Vänskä. Besides preparing for the concert, participating composers attend a week of intensive professional development workshops with orchestral administrators and other national experts in the field, along with advanced musical seminars with the Minnesota Orchestra’s musicians, music director and Composer Institute director—all intended to advance the careers and musical experience of those attending.
Information on past Composer Institutes, including links to biographies, program notes, composer websites, blog postings and Minnesota Public Radio features, is provided below. Click here to view a complete list (PDF) of Composer Institute and Perfect Pitch participants since the program’s inception.
2017 Composer Institute Participants
Katherine Balch writes music that explores drama and lyricism through textural soundscapes. Her work has been commissioned and performed in the United States and abroad by ensembles including the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble, FLUX quartet, the New York Virtusoso Singers, AleaIII, and wildUp in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weiner Konzerthaus, and Disney Hall. She has received fellowships from Aspen, Norfolk, and Fontainebleau music festivals, IRCAM’s Manifeste and the LA Phil’s National Composer’s Intensive. Recent recognitions include grand prize in the International Society of Bassists composition competition, two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, Fontainebleau’s Prix du Composition, Yale’s Alumni Associate Prize and the Woods Chandler Memorial Prize. Upcoming projects include new works for the Tokyo Symphony and the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and a residency and new work for the MANCA Festival in Nice, France. She is an alumna of the Tufts University/ New England Conservatory double degree program, where she studied history and political science at Tufts and music composition at NEC. She recently completed her master’s degree at Yale School of Music, where her teachers were David Lang, Aaron Kernis, and Chris Theofanidis, and began her doctoral degree at Columbia University, studying with Georg Haas. She is a faculty member of the Walden School in Dublin, NH. More: katherinebalch.com.
Judy Bozone enjoys writing for large ensembles and is currently composing a new orchestra piece for the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra to be premiered in March 2017. She looks forward to future wind ensemble versions of her orchestral works. A native to Texas, she completed her degrees in music composition at Baylor University (2005) and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance (2008, 2011). She has been a fellow at the Bang on A Can, Aspen Music Festival and Thailand International Composition Festival and has enjoyed many opportunities working alongside today’s multi-faceted generation of performers and composers in the United States, Thailand, China, Italy, Cambodia and Korea. Her music actively explores texture, tonality and space while maintaining a strong sonic perspective. She is currently chair of the composition and theory department at Mahidol University College of Music and enjoys following her love of music while reaching out for new experiences. More: judybozonemusic.com.
Composer and violist Michael Boyman is always searching for the perfect balance of form and expression. His music often tells a story, whether from literature, visual art or personal experience, and he aims to present that story in the most vivid and emotionally intense way. He is the recipient of the BMI William Schuman Award and the Brian M. Israel Award. Upcoming projects include a Viola Concerto for the Chelsea Symphony and a Sonata for two pianos to be premiered at NYU. An alumnus of the New York Youth Symphony, he served as principal violist of the orchestra and was a member of Making Score, the organization's composition program. Michael is a graduate of New York University, where he studied political science and music composition, studying privately with Justin Dello Joio. He received a master's degree in composition from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied privately with Richard Danielpour. He is currently the Operations Coordinator at Carnegie Hall. More: soundcloud.com/mike-boyman
Michael-Thomas Foumai's music is inspired by story and focuses on creating cinematic musical narratives. His works draw inspiration from film, literature and his native Hawaii, among others. He has been the recipient of a Fromm Foundation Commission, 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, three BMI composer awards and was named 2013-14 Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year. His works for orchestra have been performed by the orchestras of Albany, Aspen, Buffalo, Cabrillo, Castleton, Milwaukee, New England, Portland, Sioux City, the American Composers Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Michael holds degrees in composition from the Universities of Hawaii and Michigan. His primary teachers have been Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Syd Hodkinson, Paul Schoenfeld, Erik Santos, Peter Askim, Byron K. Yasui, Donald Reid Womack, Takeo Kudo, Thomas Osborne, and he has worked closely with Derek Bermel. He currently serves on the faculty of the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he teaches composition and theory. More: michaelfoumai.com.
Tonia Ko's music strives to capture the poetics behind small details in everyday life. For the 2016-17 season, she is a guest composer at Clarion Concerts in Columbia County and The Process Series at UNC Chapel Hill. In addition to several new commissions, her music has been performed across the United States as well as in Asia and Europe, by ensembles such as New York Youth Symphony, Volti, Flux Quartet, orkest de ereprijs, Eastman Wind Ensemble, and New Morse Code. Festivals that have featured her music include nief-norf, Aspen, Tanglewood, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She has received awards and recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Copland House, BMI, Composers Now, and International Alliance for Women in Music. Tonia is currently represented by Young Concert Artists, Inc., as a 2015-2017 Composer-in-Residence. Tonia is currently a doctoral candidate at Cornell University where she studied with Steven Stucky and Kevin Ernste. She has also received degrees from Indiana University and the Eastman School of Music. More: toniako.com.
Phil Taylor writes music that explores ideas about gesture, transformation and dialogue. His works are often inspired by phenomena in linguistics, literature, visual art, and nature. Upcoming projects include collaborations with Ensemble Échappé, Ensemble Dal Niente, Alia Musica Pittsburgh, Latitude 49, the Flux Quartet at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and a multimedia project with violinist and visual artist Michiko Theurer. He has earned three BMI Student Composer Awards, including the William Schuman prize for best score, as well as fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival and Wellesley Composers Conference. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago, where his teachers included Augusta Read Thomas and Shulamit Ran. More: philtaylor.xyz.
Conrad Winslow’s buoyant, hard-edged, and deeply architectural music, “remains tautly controlled and coherent, but bursts with variety both harmonic and gestural” (Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia…). Raised in Homer, Alaska, Conrad began making things from scratch by watching his parents chop down trees and build a log cabin home in the woods. Childhood road-trips across the United States & Canada and a residential stint in Hawai’i have taught him to look wide. The result has been called “compelling” (New York Times) and described as a “scenic, boisterous and bumpy ride” (Albany Times Union). His instrumental music has been commissioned by Alarm Will Sound, Carnegie Hall, the American Composers Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, the Juilliard Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Gaudete Brass Quintet, and Bala Brass, among many others. Awards and support have come from ASCAP, The Jerome Fund, New York Youth Symphony, Yale Glee Club, The Juilliard School and New Music USA. Gaudete Brass quintet recorded his Record of a Lost Tribe for the Cedille record label, to be released in winter 2017. Current projects releasing a debut album of chamber music with Cadillac Moon Ensemble and producer/guitarist Aaron Roche, and directing Wild Shore New Music in Southcentral Alaska. More: conradwinslow.com.
2015-16 Composer Institute: January 25 to 30, 2016
|KIRSTEN BROBERG||Celestial Dawning|
|MATTHEW BROWNE||Barnstorming Season|
|EMILY COOLEY||Scroll of the Air|
||Sinfonia After Vivaldi|
2014-15 Composer Institute: January 12 to 16, 2015
|KATI AGÓCS||Perpetual Summer|
|LOREN LOIACONO||Stalks, Hounds
|EVAN MEIER||Fire Music
|MICHAEL SCHACHTER||Freylekhe Tanzen|
Article by Composer Institute participant Eugene Birman
Read composer Eugene Birman's reflections on the 2015 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute on NewMusicBox.org.
2011-12 Composer Institute: January 2 to 7, 2012
|BRIAN CIACH||Collective Uncommon, Seven Orchestral Studies on Medical Oddities|
|MICHAEL R. HOLLOWAY||Rhythm: Theta Beta Theta|
|HANNAH LASH||God Music Bug Music|
|SHEN YIWEN||First Orchestral Essay|
2010-11 Composer Institute: October 24 to 30, 2010
|TAYLOR BRIZENDINE||Mandragora Officinarum|
|WANG JIE||Symphony No. 1|
|POLINA NAZAYKINSKAYA||Winter Bells|
|CLINT NEEDHAM||The Body Electric|
|BEN PHELPS||Overture Maximus|
|DAVID WEAVER||Mutatis Mutandis|
Composer Institute participant Taylor Brizendine's blog
Read composer Taylor Brizendine's daily blog reports from the 2010-11 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Introduction | Days 1 & 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Days 5 & 6
2009-10 Composer Institute: November 17 to 22, 2009
|ANGEL LAM||In Search of Seasons|
|KATHRYN SALFELDER||Dessin No. 1|
|CARL SCHIMMEL||Woolgatherer’s Chapbook|
|GEOFF KNORR||Shadows of the Infinite|
Composer Institute participant Spencer Topel's blog
Read composer Spencer Topel's daily blog reports from the 2009-10 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Introduction Part 1 & Part 2 | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
2008-09 Composer Institute: November 1 to 8, 2008
|ANTONIO CARLOS DeFEO||Four Portraits: por los ojos de los niños|
|JUSTIN MERRITT||River of Blood|
Composer Institute participant Justin Merritt's blog
Read composer Justin Merritt's daily blog reports from the 2008-09 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Introduction | Post 1 | Post 2 | Post 3 | Post 4
2007-08 Composer Institute: October 20 to 27, 2007
|TREVOR GURECKIS||Very Large Array|
|ELLIOTT MILES McKINLEY||Four Moments for Grand Orchestra: A "Pocket" Symphony|
|XI WANG|| Above Light—a conversation with Toru Takemitsu
Minnesota Public Radio feature
Click here for Melissa Ousley’s Composer Institute coverage throughout the week. See four audio links on the right side for features with hosts Steve Staruch and John Birge.
Composer Institute participant Jacob Cooper's blog
Read composer Jacob Cooper's daily blog reports from the 2007-08 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Days 1 & 2 | Day 3 | Days 4 & 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
2006-07 Composer Institute: November 26 to December 2, 2006
|These Worlds in Us|
|...At the end of the tunnel|
|La tristesse durera|
|Toccata for Orchestra|
|Tango Loops 2B|
Minnesota Public Radio feature
Click here to listen to Tom Crann's interview of Nov-Dec 2006 Composer Institute participant Ashley Nail, featured on All Things Considered.
Composer Institute participant Missy Mazzoli's blog
Read composer Missy Mazzoli's daily blog reports from the 2006-07 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Days 4 & 5 | Final Posting
2005-06 Composer Institute: May 6-11, 2006
|Hubble Space Telescope Views|
|The Palace of Nine Perfections|
Composer Institute participant Sean Shepherd's blog
Read composer Sean Shepherd's daily blog reports from the 2005-06 Composer Institute, posted on NewMusicBox.org.
Introduction | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Final Posting
2004-05 Composer Institute: October 27-30, 2004
JOHN CHRISTIAN ORFE
|Classical Walpurgis Night
|Subtle Electric Fire
Minnesota Public Radio feature
Click here to listen to Minnesota Public Radio's 2004 radio documentary about the Composer Institute by Chris Roberts, featured on All Things Considered and State of the Arts.
2003-04 Composer Institute: May 1-4, 2004
|Symphony No. 1
WILLIAM A. WARE
|Das Juengste Kind|
|Voyage to the Sun
2002-03 Composer Institute: October 25-31, 2002
|Rhapsody No. 1, Dance of the Dragon|
|Subtleties Lost, Prelude and Fugue for Orchestra|
2001-02 Composer Institute: March 9-14, 2002
|Symphony No. 1|
|The Whispering Wind
|Garden Varieties, Four Dance Vignettes|
|Canter into Black|
Click here to view a complete list (PDF) of Composer Institute and Perfect Pitch participants since the program's inception.