American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces the 2012-2013 installment of coLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe, the first and only professional research and development lab to support the creation of cutting-edge new American orchestral music through no-holds-barred experimentation, encouraging composers to do anything but "play it safe." The composers participating in coLABoratory this season are Du Yun, Troy Herion, Raymond J. Lustig, Judith Sainte Croix, and Dan Visconti, selected from a national search for their willingness to experiment and stretch their own musical sensibilities, and their ability to test the limits of the orchestra. coLABoratory grew out of ACO's ongoing mission to commission and perform new music that expands the range of possibilities for – and challenges conventional notions about – orchestral music.
coLABoratory alters the orchestral landscape by treating the creation of a new work as an interactive and collaborative process, rather than just the delivery of a musical "product." This season, coLABoratory will include a unique incubation process of workshops, public readings, collaborative feedback, and laboratory performances of music, open to the public, taking place from November 2012 through April 2013. Each composer's work is developed with the orchestra over the course of the season in a process that includes ACO's Music Director George Manahan, ACO's artistic leadership Robert Beaser and Derek Bermel, mentor composer Morton Subotnick, and members of the orchestra.
Audiences will have their first opportunity to see and hear the composers' works-in-progress at the opening lab workshop, free of charge (reservations recommended, available at www.americancomposers.org/coLABoratory), on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 2pm at Mannes College The New School of Music (150 West 85th St., NYC). Subsequent lab workshops open to the public will take place on Tuesday, December 11 at 2pm, also at Mannes; Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10am and Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 10am at Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing, NY), and Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 2pm at The DiMenna Center (450 W. 37th St., NYC). coLABoratory will culminate on Friday, April 5, 2013 at 7:30pm with a concert featuring all of the new works at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan.
Participants in past installments of ACO's Playing It UNsafe created a concerto for junked car and orchestra (Sean Friar's Clunker Concerto), collaborations with lighting designers (Laura Schwendinger's Shadings), new levels of orchestral improvisation (Henry Threadgill's No Gates, No White Trenches, Butterfly Effect), hybrid orchestration of laptop computers and acoustic instruments (Dan Trueman, silicon/carbon (an anti-Concerto Grosso)), sound paintings for voice, electronics and unorthodox spatial arrangements of the orchestra (Joan La Barbara's In solitude this fear is lived), and multimedia work with live computer illustration, electronics and orchestra (Anna Clyne's TENDER HOOKS).
None of the new pieces developed this season will be conventional or typical orchestral fare. Du Yun's Slow Portraits is an acoustic exploration of "frozen point" of orchestral sound; Troy Herion asks what happens when a composer becomes a filmmaker in his New York City Symphony; in Latency Canons Raymond J. Lustig investigates latency – the slight and often unpredictable delay in audio signal transmission – through musicians playing via videoconferencing; Judith Sainte Croix adds non-orchestral instruments including the electric guitar (played by Oren Fader), pre-Columbian flutes (played by the Sonora Trio), and the synthesizer (played by Sainte Croix) plus visuals (photography by Claudia Miranda with design support from Marcelo Mella) to the orchestra in Vision V; and Dan Visconti creates new instruments from obsolete analog technology such as Speak & Spell toys and vintage recording devices in Glitchscape.
coLABoratory is unusual in that it does away with the expectations often associated with orchestral premieres that can squelch composers' creative impulses – limited rehearsal time, restrictive instrumental possibilities, pre-conceived programmatic or thematic ideas for concerts – and most importantly, the overwhelming pressure on composers to do something "safe."
Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra remains the only orchestra in the world dedicated exclusively to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. To date, ACO has performed music by more than 600 American composers, including more than 200 world premieres and newly commissioned works.