For decades, musicians of every stripe have flocked to Nashville to immerse themselves in the city’s unique culture, chase their dreams, and further their careers. Come early October, five promising young composers from across the nation will follow in that storied tradition when they arrive for the Nashville Symphony’s inaugural Composer Lab and Workshop.
Modeled around similar programs at other orchestras but with a few key enhancements, the Workshop was developed by Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, composer Aaron Jay Kernis, and members of the Nashville Symphony staff. Part of the orchestra’s ongoing commitment to American music, the initiative was launched with a simple goal in mind: to discover and develop the next generation of classical composers in the United States.
“Classical music, like any other genre or art form, needs to reinvent itself from time to time to remain relevant and fresh, and new voices must be discovered to expand the repertoire,” says Guerrero. “That’s precisely what we’re doing with this program, which is fitting given our mission of championing American composers, not to mention Nashville’s long history as a hub for the creation of new music.”
The Composer Lab project launched in March, when the Symphony issued a nationwide call for submissions from composers between the ages of 18 and 33, with help from lead sponsor BMI. The response was incredible—nearly 100 scores flooded into the Schermerhorn offices over the next few months, from which Guerrero and Kernis selected five participants.
During the week of October 5, those five composers will be immersed in an intensive program that will give them the opportunity to showcase their music and learn firsthand what it is like to work with a major American orchestra.
In addition to reading sessions and rehearsals with the full Nashville Symphony and individual sessions with Guerrero, each participant will meet with some of the orchestra’s principal players to hone their instrumental writing. They’ll also meet with Symphony sound engineers to learn more about recording techniques, and they’ll be briefed on “Business Essentials for Composers,” which will cover copyrights, licenses, contracts and negotiations, commissions, publishing, and more. By combining artistic elements with an education on the music business, Guerrero says the Workshop will “give the participants knowledge that can help them succeed as modern-day composers.”
The program concludes with an opportunity every budding composer dreams of: all five participants will hear their works performed by the Symphony during a special concert on the evening of October 6. It will be the first time they see their creations brought fully to life in Laura Turner Concert Hall, but it may not be the last. Guerrero is leaving open the possibility of including one or more Composer Lab submissions in the Symphony’s 2016/17 classical series, giving Workshop participants an extra incentive and potentially adding some new names to the list of American composers who have been showcased at the Schermerhorn.
“We could have the next Mozart or Bernstein emerge from this program,” he notes. “If so, it will be pretty cool to be able to say the Nashville Symphony helped them get their start.”
For more information about the Composer Lab and Workshop, please visit www.NashvilleSymphony.org.