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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

Seven Emerging Composers Chosen for 2019 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute

Composers will travel to Minneapolis for Orchestra’s acclaimed professional training program, directed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts and co-presented with the American Composers Forum

Institute runs from January 14 to 18, 2019, culminating in a Minnesota Orchestra concert conducted by Osmo Vänskä

Seven emerging composers have been selected as participants in the Minnesota Orchestra’s 16th annual Composer Institute, Institute Director Kevin Puts announced today. The selected composers, whose works encompass a variety of musical styles, were chosen from a pool of 123 candidates through a highly competitive process. Applications were submitted from all across the United States, as well as from Australia and Mexico. The selected composers will be in Minneapolis from January 14 to 18, 2019, for rehearsals, seminars and mentoring sessions, culminating in a public “Future Classics” performance of their works on Friday, January 18, with Music Director Osmo Vänskä conducting the Minnesota Orchestra. Rui Du, the Orchestra’s assistant concertmaster, and 20-year-old Malaysian pianist Tengku Irfan will each be featured soloists in works on this program.

The 16th annual Composer Institute participants are TJ Cole of Lawrenceville, Georgia; Viet Cuong of Marietta, Georgia; Jonathan Cziner of New York City; Will Healy of Pelham, New York; Matthew Ricketts of New York City; Connor Elias Way of Lilburn, Georgia; and Alyssa Weinberg of Dix Hills, New York.

“This year's winners were chosen from an incredibly deep pool of talented composers. All seven write for the orchestra with great confidence and imagination,” said Composer Institute director Kevin Puts. “I look forward to next January when Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra will interpret their music with their own special brand of exuberance and technical brilliance!”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Puts chaired the Institute’s selection committee, which included British-American composer Oscar Bettison, whose recent works have included commissions by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, musikFabrik and the Tanglewood Music Center; Michigan-based composer Kristin Kuster, the recipient of an OPERA America Discovery Grant for female composers which supported work on her 2017 opera Kept: a ghost story; and 2012 Arts and Letters Award awardee Dan Welcher, whose work Haleakala: How Maui Snared the Sun, for narrator and orchestra, has been performed on Minnesota Orchestra Young People’s concerts.

In addition to the seven composers chosen to participate in the Composer Institute, the panel named the following two composers as alternates: Ryan Chase and Jules Pegram. 15 composers were designated as runners-up: Bret Bohman, Saunder Choi, William Cooper, Rachel Epperly, Paul Frucht, Eli Greenhoe, Ross Griffey, Douglas Hertz, Shuying Li, Tim Mauthe, Chris Rogerson, Nathan Thatcher, Guang Yang, Hangrui Zhang and Daniel Zlatkin. Cited for honorable mention are: Jacob Bancks, Alejandro Basulto, Thomas Dougherty, Baldwin Giang, Piyawat Louilarpprasert, Patrick O’Malley, William Stackpole, Dale Trumbore and Yiguo Yan.

Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute
The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, widely recognized as a leading professional training program for emerging symphonic composers, is co-presented by the Minnesota Orchestra and the American Composers Forum. Now in its fifth year under the direction of Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, the Institute was founded in 2002 as an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s Perfect Pitch program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers launched during the 1995-96 season. Many of the 134 composers who have previously taken part in Perfect Pitch and the Composer Institute have gone on to receive major commissions, awards, grants and additional performances of their works; most recently, 2016 Composer Institute participant Michael Gilbertson and 2008 Composer Institute participant Ted Hearne were the two finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music. Composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who was the Pulitzer Prize recipient in 1998, was the Composer Institute’s founder and directed it for 11 seasons.

Minnesota Orchestra American Composers Festival

Friday, January 18, 2019, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Kevin Puts, Composer Institute director
Rui Du, violin
Tengku Irfan, piano 

TJ COLE                                               Nightscape
VIET CUONG                                      Moxie
JONATHAN CZINER                        Resonant Bells
WILL HEALY                                     Kolmanskop
MATTHEW RICKETTS                    Melodia, for Piano and Orchestra
CONNOR ELIAS WAY                      Over Collapsing Cities of Steel
ALYSSA WEINBERG                        in somnis


Individual tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling 612-371-5656 or 800-292-4141. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Orchestra Hall Box Office, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (Stage door ticketing is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Box Office ticketing begins two hours before all ticketed performances); and at the Skyway-accessible Minnesota Orchestra Administrative Office, International Centre, 5th floor, 920 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For more information, call 612-371-5656, or visit

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.

The January 2019 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is generously supported by The Amphion Foundation, the American Composers Forum, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Hella Mears Hueg, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant,
thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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Communications Office

Minnesota Orchestra
1111 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone: 612.371.5600
Fax: 612.371.7170

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