"For the past 30 years, Composers Concordance has been a booster for local composers, through both its concerts across the city and a record label." -The Wall Street Journal. "Enterprising new music organization" -The New York Times. "The Composers Concordance folks are unpredictable and at times refreshingly irreverent in a reverent sort of way….ingenious fun” - Classical-Modern Music Review. “Edgy…boisterous…demanding our attention” - San Diego Story. "These men and women are creating exciting music with elements of jazz, world music and many experimental techniques blended with equal parts classical tradition and playing techniques." - Music Notes: Classical music evolves, By Carlton Wilkinson
Our story: Composers Concordance is a presenting organization for contemporary music with a 32-year history of producing concerts in NYC, plus a record label, CCR, distributed by Naxos. The organization was established in 1984 by Patrick Hardish and Joseph Pehrson, advised by Otto Luening. With an application prepared by Brenda Hochberg of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Composers Concordance was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and has received grants from New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA) since 1986.
Composers Concordance has presented hundreds of concerts at venues including the Museum of Natural History, Austrian Cultural Forum, Barnard College, Bohemian National Hall, Chelsea Art Museum, Cutting Room, Dimenna Center, Drom NYC, Goddard Riverside Community Center, Kosciuszko Foundation, Le Poisson Rouge, MC Gallery, Miller Theater, The New School, 92nd St Y, NYU Loewe Theatre, Shapeshifter Lab, Carnegie Hall - Weill Recital Hall, annual concerts at William Paterson University as part of its New Music Series, and The New School, among others. Directors Gene Pritsker and Dan Cooper co-curate the programs, and lead the CompCord Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra, and Big Band. Associate directors are Milica Paranosic, Peter Jarvis, Svjetlana Bukvich, and Melissa Grey.
Our overriding vision is to see contemporary music, composers, and new works as a rightful and respected part of society. We aim to present music in innovative ways, often with an emphasis on thematic programming. Examples include our 'Legends' events, emphasizing the influence of Native American and African American music and culture on contemporary composers; our 'Composers Play Composers Marathon,' focusing attention on composers who perform their own music; our 'Contrasts' concerts, which highlight contrasting instrumentations; and our annual 'Generations' concerts, bringing together composers young and old. (We believe it significant that newmusicbox identified our organization as having the only competition, out of some 400 surveyed, to call rightful attention to composers age 65 and older.)
The catalog of Composers Concordance Records features an eclectic variety of music, including contemporary chamber, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, opera, and beyond. As Raul d'Gama Rose wrote, "(These) composers are breaking barriers between genres and idioms...modern pieces that run the gamut of tonal color and timbral experimentation with definitive skill and absolute mastery."
In the past, Composers Concordance has been fortunate to receive funding from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Virgil Thomson Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation, BMI Foundation, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, among others. Composers Concordance's frugal ways, organic growth, and steadfast commitment to contemporary music has garnered a good deal of private support as well, often from established composers and performers and their families and friends.
We're eclectics, interested in bringing diverse artists and audiences together. We seek to challenge assumptions about concert programming, and to avoid potentially-staid paradigms of production. Staying in rotation for thirty years requires not only diligence and cognizance of achievements of the past, but also an ethic of keeping one's ear to the ground for emerging stylistic and technological developments, as well as talented new composers on the scene. Conveying a message of continued exploration and renewal helps foster collaborations which even seasoned Gothamites have not witnessed before, helping to intrigue new listeners and create momentum for the future.
The 2013-14 season included a festival entitled 'Timbre Tantrum.' This focused on specific musical timbres and trailblazing musicians. For example, the all-piano concert featured the acclaimed virtuoso Taka Kigawa. Other featured artists included four-time-Grammy-winner Glen Velez, Lukas Ligeti, and Peter Jarvis. Additionally, the festival included a 'Fretathon' (fretted-strings marathon,) an electronics concert, and a string orchestra concert in tribute to Afrika Bambaataa and his Universal Zulu Nation. Not only did this string orchestra program, with contributions by composers Dave Soldier and Randy Woolf, transcend facile categorizations of cultivated, indigenous, and vernacular music, the audience itself was a hybrid of upper-west-side classical fans together with a contingent of some of the founding artists of the hip-hop movement, including some of The Bronx's original DJs and breakdancers. Several members of the Zulu Nation took to the pulpit to accept the award we commissioned from sculptor Gorazd Poposki, and spoke of music's ability to transcend superficial divisions.
Much of Composers Concordance's funds have gone directly to the extraordinary performers, whose interpretations breathe life into the notes on the printed page. This helps ensure that the composers are happy, and that the overall presentation remains at the highest level. We have been fortunate indeed to include in recent seasons such world-class artists as accordionist Bill Schimmel, flutists Robert Dick and Valerie Coleman, guitarist Arthur Kampela, oboist Keve Wilson, pianists Kathleen Supové, and Taka Kigawa, trombonist David Taylor, violinists Lara St. John and Lynn Bechtold, and vocalists Charles Coleman and Melanie Mitrano. In addition, non-classical instruments as drumset, electric guitar and bass, keyboards, laptops and tablets, Latin percussion, melodica, organ saw, shakuhachi, sitar, steelpan, and Theremin are often featured, as we perceive these instruments and others to be potent ingredients within the eclectic mix of American Music.
A relatively recent addition, the Comp Cord Ensemble is a mixed chamber band made up of composers / performers. The four core members are: Milica Paranosic - voice and keys, Gene Pritsker - guitar, Dan Cooper - bass, and Peter Jarvis - percussion. The group is augmented by other composers and performers for each individual project. Acclaimed musicians who have joined the band include: Robert Dick - flute, John Clark - horn, Chanda Rule - voice, and William Schimmel - accordion. In recent years, the ensemble, in its various forms, has performed at The American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, Shapeshifter Lab, Turtle Bay Music School, Queens New Music Festival, and The Cutting Room, among others. Since 2010.
Education initiatives continue at 92nd St Y, with the original music composition syllabus entitled 'Composing with Composers.' Bringing distinctive music to the public via concerts, recordings, and classes gives insight into the compositional process; helps introduce emerging composers and performers to new audiences; fosters cultural understanding across a broad range of musical styles and influences; and shows by example that eclecticism, inclusiveness, and collaboration in the performing arts can pave the way for society at large in difficult times. Moving forward with renewed vigor, we are most grateful for your support!
-Dan Cooper & Gene Pritsker (Co-Directors)