NJSO announces 2015 Cone Institute composers

June 12, 2015


  • Luke Carlson, Brendan Faegre, Shuying Li and Reinaldo Moya selected from international applicant pool
  • Institute includes sessions with Institute Director Steven Mackey, conductor JoAnn Falletta, NJSO musicians and other industry leaders
  • Institute presented in collaboration with the Princeton University Department of Music, funded in part by Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and National Endowment for the Arts

July 12–16 at Princeton University

NEWARK, NJ (June 12, 2015)—The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra announces the four composers of the 2015 NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, a multi-faceted program that promotes new music and emerging composers. The Institute—which runs July 12–16 on the Princeton University campus—is presented in collaboration with the Princeton University Department of Music and generously funded in part by the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Selected from an international applicant pool of 38 university composition students and composers in the early stages of their professional careers, the four composers of the Institute will participate in five days of intense compositional evaluations and consultations. The program will culminate in a world-premiere performance of the participants’ works by the NJSO on Thursday, July 16, at 7:30 pm at the Richardson Auditorium; the concert also includes Urban Ocean by Institute Director and Princeton University Department of Music Chair Steven Mackey.

Luke Carlson

The Philadelphia Inquirer has called the music of composer and conductor Luke Carlson “magical” and “otherworldly;” The New York Times has called Carlson’s work “personal and strong.” His compositions have garnered multiple honors, including first prize in the 2014 MACRO competition and multiple prizes from Network for New Music; he was a composition fellow at the 2013 Aspen Music Festival. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and currently lives in Philadelphia. www.lukecarlsonmusic.com

Carlson’s Institute composition, The Burnished Tide, is the recipient of the 2013 Druckman Prize, a commission from the Aspen Music Festival that premiered in the summer of 2014 under the direction of Robert Spano. Carlson says: “Wanting to compose a work of continuous energy and vibrancy, I took my inspiration from the idea of a visual artist’s excited urgency in attempting to capture an image during the fleeting period of time known as the ‘golden hour,’ the time of day when the setting sun imparts long shadows and rich colors. The work flows in a single arc, consisting of distinct but connected sections of intensity, introspection, playfulness and aggressiveness. Utilizing a variety of orchestral colors and instrumentations, my intent is to project a sense of relentless energy and unbridled excitement.”

Brendan Faegre

Portland, Oregon, native Brendan Faegre is a composer, educator, bandleader and percussionist. His music draws inspiration from jazz and rock drumming, Hindustani classical music and contemporary concert music. Faegre’s works have been performed internationally at festivals including Huddersfield, Gaudeamus, Beijing Modern and Cabrillo. He has received commissions from groups such as the New York Youth Symphony, Debut Orchestra, Slagwerk Den Haag, Ensemble Klang and the David Kweksilber Big Band. www.brendanfaegre.com

Of his Institute composition, Faegre says: “Inspired by the ideas and music of Beck Hansen, Dirt to Gold takes ‘worthless’ sounds and transforms them into powerful, meaningful music. This transformation happens many times throughout the piece, and on many different levels. Abrasive thumps and squeaks crystallize into cool grooves, ever-shifting rhythms gradually settle into clear patterns, and aluminum foil makes several high-profile appearances in the orchestra.”

Shuying Li

The Seattle Times has hailed award-winning composer Shuying Li as “a real talent here waiting to emerge” with her “skillful orchestral writing, very colorful language and huge waves of sound.” Her compositions have been performed by Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Orkest de ereprijs (Netherlands), Avanti! Chamber Orchestra (Finland), ICon Arts Ensemble (Romania), Cecilia Quartet (Canada) and Opera From Scratch (Canada), among others. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, where she will start pursuing a doctorate degree in September. www.shuyingli.com

Li says: “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night was inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poem. However, the music itself was more independently developed. There are two themes—one is introduced in a vague and hidden way and suppressed until the climax arrives; while the other is varied and presented many more times through the work. These two themes finally mingle together. The whole process is also a realization from the dark to the bright.”

Reinaldo Moya

Venezuelan-American composer Reinaldo Moya is the recipient of the 2015 McKnight Composers Fellowship, Van Lier Fellowship from Meet the Composer and Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House. A member of the faculty at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, he graduated from The Juilliard School with both master’s and doctoral degrees, under the tutelage of Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. In conjunction with librettist Mark Campbell, Moya has been commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to write a new work for their Project Opera, to be premiered in 2016. www.reinaldomoya.com

Of his work Siempre Lunes, Siempre Marzo, Moya says: “The title of this work refers to Melquíades, the Gypsy’s room in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. In this room, time passes in a very peculiar way: it is always Monday, and always March. This piece is then based around the figure of Melquíades, who is one of the most intriguing characters in the novel. This orchestral work is not programmatic or narrative. Instead, each movement can be seen as a vignette inspired by the various aspects or episodes related to Melquíades.”

The Institute experience

At the Institute, participating composers will have their work rehearsed and performed by the NJSO and will participate in master classes with Institute Director Steven Mackey, as well as receive feedback from guest conductor JoAnn Falletta and NJSO musicians. The Institute will also provide career-enriching sessions with music-industry leaders, including Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., New Music USA, Subito Music Corporation and WQXR’s online new-music station Q2 Music, as well as executive speech coach, author and Inc.com columnist Sims Wyeth. By the conclusion of this laboratory experience, participants will have gained invaluable musical and practical feedback about writing for orchestra.

Mackey says: “What is truly unique about this Institute is the multifaceted experience the composers receive even beyond the major opportunity to workshop with a professional orchestra. The business of composing goes beyond the creative musical process, and at the Institute, industry leaders will illuminate key elements of publishing, promotion and other important practical issues these composers will encounter as they launch and sustain successful careers.”

Falletta conducts a concert featuring each Institute composer’s work, as well as Mackey’s Urban Ocean, on July 16 at 7:30 pm at Richardson Auditorium. General-admission tickets for “Four: New Orchestral Works” are $15 and are available for purchase online at www.njsymphony.org/events/detail/four-new-orchestral-works or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).

The Orchestra may program Institute composers’ works on future regular-season concerts. After giving the world premiere of 2014 Institute composer Chris Rogerson’s Night and the City at last year’s Institute concert, the NJSO will perform the work on its 2015–16 finale program.

Additional information about the Institute is available at www.njsymphony.org/institute.

Additional concert information is available at www.njsymphony.org/events/detail/four-new-orchestral-works.


Steven Mackey, Institute Director and Princeton University Department of Music Chair

Steven Mackey was born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and opera. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and 90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music, and he regularly performs his own works, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm.

Mackey’s music has been performed by leading musical institutions throughout the world, including the Los Angeles, BBC and New York philharmonics; San Francisco and Chicago symphonies; Philadelphia and Concertgebeouw orchestras and Brentano, Kronos and Arditti string quartets, among others. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award in 2012 for his album “Lonely Motel: Music From Slide.”

JoAnn Falletta, conductor

JoAnn Falletta has a rapidly growing international reputation as a vibrant ambassador for music and as an inspiring artistic leader. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation,” she serves as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Virginia Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and principal guest conductor of the Brevard Music Center.


Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Under the bold leadership of Music Director Jacques Lacombe, the NJSO presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include the three-ensemble NJSO Youth Orchestras, school-time Concerts for Young People performances and multiple offerings—including the El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project)—that provide and promote in-school instrumental instruction as part of the NJSO Academy. The NJSO’s REACH (Resources for Education and Community Harmony) chamber music program annually brings original programs—designed and performed by NJSO musicians—to a variety of settings, reaching as many as 17,000 people in nearly all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.

For more information about the NJSO, visit www.njsymphony.org or email [email protected]. Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors. United is the official airline of the NJSO.


Princeton University’s Department of Music is at the epicenter of a musical culture that is broad and deep, reaching from edge to edge of the campus, from the classroom to the concert hall, into the community and from faculty-led groups to those run exclusively by students.


National & NYC Press Representative:

Dan Dutcher, Dan Dutcher Public Relations | 917.566.8413 | [email protected]

Regional Press Representative:

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