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October 17, 2019

Five Composers You Need to Hear Right Now


Meet five of America’s luminary young composers, and hear their music live November 1 performed by NYC based yMusic — “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.” (NPR’s Fred Childs)

Missy Mazzoli

1. Missy Mazzoli

Named “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (The New York Times), Missy Mazzoli is the Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is also an active TV and film composer, and recently wrote and performed music for the fictional character Thomas Pembridge on the Amazon TV show Mozart in the Jungle.

In 2018 she made history when she became one of the two first women (along with composer Jeanine Tesori) to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. That year she was also nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Classical Composition” for her work Vespers for Violin, recorded by violinist Olivia De Prato. Take a listen:

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Andrew Norman

2. Andrew Norman

Recently praised as “the leading American composer of his generation” by the Los Angeles Times and the “master of a uniquely dazzling and mercurial style” by the New Yorker, Andrew is fast becoming one of the most sought after voices in American classical music. His work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and performance practices and is deeply influenced by his training as a pianist and violist as well as his lifelong love of architecture.

Andrew Norman’s Difference is a UMS co-commission and will make its world premiere in Ann Arbor on yMusic’s November 1 performance. The ensemble has recorded another noteworthy work by Norman, Music in Circles:

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Shara Nova

3. Shara Nova

Shara Nova is a classically trained vocalist and self-taught multi-instrumentalist who records dazzling, shapeshifting music as My Brightest Diamond. Over the course of four albums, she has resisted the conventions of genre, blending elements of rock, art pop, and chamber music into a sound totally her own. She grew up in a family of traveling evangelicals, and together they crisscrossed the country (eventually settling outside Detroit) — her father leading church choirs and her mother playing organ.

While fiercely independent, she like everyone else, still desires connectedness. This tension is at the core of her new album—A Million And One. Here is its anthemic opener “It’s Me on the Dance Floor”…

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Caroline Shaw

4. Caroline Shaw

Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Caroline has studied at Rice, Yale, and Princeton, currently teaches at NYU, and is a Creative Associate at the Juilliard School.

When describing the power of performing the works on her latest album, Orange, the Attacca Quartet explains that “playing and listening to Caroline Shaw’s music can turn a concert hall into your own peaceful living room. Between rehearsals and performances, we found ourselves marveling in the unassuming honesty of every passage and the profound effect it has on ourselves and our audiences.”

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Gabriela Smith

5. Gabriella Smith

Gabriella Smith is a composer from the San Francisco Bay Area whose music is described as “high-voltage and wildly imaginative” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Her music has been performed throughout the U.S. and internationally by eighth blackbird, Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony, PRISM Quartet, Aizuri Quartet, and yMusic, among others. Recent awards include a BMI Student Composer Award (2018) and the First Place Prize in the 2009 Pacific Musical Society Composition Competition.

One of many commissions she’s received was by the People’s Commissioning Fund for Bang on a Can All-Stars’s Field Recordings project. Her work, “Panitao,” samples field recordings of bird songs from a small Chilean town with her own imaginary birdsongs chirped by the All-Stars.

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About yMusic

yMusic, “six contemporary classical polymaths who playfully overstep the boundaries of musical genres,” (The New Yorker) performs in concert halls, arenas and clubs around the world. Founded in New York City in 2008, yMusic believes in presenting excellent, emotionally communicative music, regardless of style or idiom. Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Paul Simon to Bill T. Jones to Ben Folds—and inspired original works by some of today’s foremost composers.

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