SONiC – Sounds of a New Century – a brand new festival of 21st century music by more than 100 composers age 40 and under, will take over New York from Friday, October 14 through Saturday, October 22, 2011. Events will range from a daylong marathon to a DJ/VJ night, from a free symphony concert at the World Financial Center Winter Garden to collaborations between emerging choreographers and composers. SONiC concerts will take place at ten different venues throughout New York, and will include performances by 16 extraordinary ensembles featuring at least 18 world premieres, eight US premieres, and eight New York premieres. SONiC is co-curated by composer Derek Bermel and pianist Stephen Gosling, and is a production of American Composers Orchestra and The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. SONiC is presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. New York Public Radio’s online radio station, Q2, is the media partner and digital venue.
Of the focus on composers under age 40, co-curator Derek Bermel said, “We wanted to present a snapshot of the younger generation of music-makers, to showcase the richness, vitality, and diversity of the music being created right now – under our very noses here in New York and throughout the world.” He explains, “Emerging composers today have much greater access to different traditions and influences, and we are celebrating that by not restricting the music we present to any one style, movement, or agenda. We want to bring more public awareness to the many directions contemporary music is moving in, and to show everyone that ‘the composer’ is alive and thriving.”
Stephen Gosling adds, “We want SONiC to attract anyone with an interest in the musical zeitgeist – regardless of age, expertise, or aesthetic preferences. Our goal is to produce an objective account of where contemporary music is now and where it might be heading. We hope SONiC will engender a lot of optimism among new music lovers and even more curiosity among those new to new music.”
SONiC also recalls the landmark Ditson Fund festivals of the 1940s and 1950s held at Columbia University, which presented premieres by such icons as Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, Henry Cowell, Paul Hindemith, Randall Thompson, and Samuel Barber. Fred Lerdahl, a composer and board member of the Ditson Fund, explained, “Robert Ward, chair of the Ditson Advisory Committee, recalled the Ditson festivals in his early days and wanted to resume them in some form. It was a natural step to collaborate with the American Composers Orchestra on SONiC. ACO has an impeccable record of supporting emerging composers.”
For ACO, SONiC represents the culmination of seven years of planning, coalescing the work the orchestra does with emerging composers, and creating a dynamic and focused series of events that emphasize the creation of new opportunities for these artists. “We wanted to create a ‘big umbrella’ that would celebrate these composers and bring together the many young innovative ensembles that are doing fantastic work, by collaborating with a wide range of venues and presenters from across New York City,” said ACO Executive Director Michael Geller. Many of the composers featured during SONiC have been discovered through one of ACO’s composer development programs, such as the Underwood New Music Readings for Emerging Composers or EarShot – the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network that ACO has spearheaded in collaboration with symphony orchestras around the country.