New Music USA has announced that over thirty orchestras have signed on to its Amplifying Voices program, which aims to co-commission and provide premieres for new orchestral works. The program focuses particularly on composers from marginalized groups, such as women and BIPOC.
According to statistics from the Composer Diversity Institute, only 16% of the music featured on orchestral programs is by a living composer, with just 6% of that share being taken up by BIPOC composers.
This problem intersects with another issue faced by composers of new music. It is often much easier for composers to a premiere performance than it is to get a second performance — making it hard to get the work established as part of the symphonic canon.
With funding from the Sphinx Organization, among other funding partners, the Amplifying Voices program addresses these issues by co-commissioning new repertoire and sharing existing works within its networks.
This year, some of the composers whose works will be performed include Valerie Coleman, Juan Pablo Contreras, Vijay Iyer, Tania León, Jessie Montgomery, Brian Raphael Nabors, Nina Shekhar, Tyshawn Sorey, and Shelley Washington. Each piece will receive at least four performances by different orchestras.
"The orchestras participating in Amplifying Voices are programming new music by some of the most talented composers in the US while recognizing that our musical canon will only evolve if these pieces are played more than once," said Vanessa Reed, New Music America's President and CEO.
"I’m so pleased that this program gives more audiences across the country a chance to discover the power of these composers’ work as we all strive towards a more open and equitable future for classical music," she added.
You can read more about the program here.