By Chris Ruel
New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices program has announced the addition of two composers to its existing roster of nine working on high-profile co-commissions. The newly selected composers are Katherine Balch and Clarice Assad.
Katherine Balch will compose a work co-commissioned by lead orchestras, the New York Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, while Clarice Assad’s composition will be premiered by the lead commissioner, The Saint Paul Orchestra, with further premieres by New York-based American Composers Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Houston’s ROCO.
Balch is a recipient of the 2020-21 Rome Prize and has had works presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Tokyo Symphony, IRCAM ManiFeste, and Tanglewood. Her compositions explore found sounds, playfulness, intimate spaces, and natural processes.
Assad is a Brazilian American and Grammy-nominated composer with a significant presence in many musical genres, from classical to pop and jazz, and as a pianist, vocalist, and educator. Musically, she is known for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range.
“At New Music USA we believe that the programming of more pieces by living composers from a multitude of backgrounds will transform orchestral music for current and future generations,” the organization’s President and CEO, Vanessa Reed, said in a press statement. “It’s encouraging to see the pace at which orchestras are expanding their repertoire. To sustain this momentum, long-term commitments and collaborations are key. That’s why we’re honored to receive new and continued funds through which we’re building on the work facilitated by our founding partners in 2020 to create long-lasting change for composers, orchestras and their audiences.”
The two will join composers Valerie Coleman, Juan Pablo Contreras, Vijay Iyer, Tania León, Jessie Montgomery, Brian Raphael Nabors, Nina Shekhar, Tyshawn Sorey, and Shelley Washington.
Amplifying Voices continues New Music USA’s work to create racial and gender equity in the music industry. The long-term program increases the support and promotion of historically marginalized composers. It creates a space for their artistic planning at major orchestras to transform the classical canon for future generations. The program also asks orchestras to commit to sharing existing repertoire by BIPOC and women composers.