1977 (age 41)
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is an American orchestra, founded in 1975 by Francis Thorne and Dennis Russell Davies, and gave its debut performance in 1977. ACO is based in New York City and is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO is extending its mission, making the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through its concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today's brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent, as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras, and as an advocate for American composers and their music.
To date, ACO has performed music by 500 American composers, including 150 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra's innovative programs have been Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a festival and long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; Playing it UNsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and, of course, Orchestra Underground, ACO's entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations.
Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra's outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 30 times, singling out ACO as "the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States," and most recently awarding ACO the 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. ACO received the inaugural METLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records, and www.InstantEncore.com/AmericanComposers. More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at www.americancomposers.org.
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