Composer Peeks

Over the next few months, Intersection will take this time to introduce you to some new composers and some new music! You may know some of these folks, and some may be completely new to you! We'll share a little peek – with some interesting info about these composers, some music to listen to, reasons why we're sharing them, and places where you can learn more. Enjoy!  Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly Composer Peek in your inbox.

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Eleanor Alberga

With her 2015 Last Night of the Proms opener ARISE ATHENA! Eleanor Alberga cemented a reputation as a composer of international stature.  Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Chorus and conducted by Marin Alsop, the work was heard and seen by millions.  The emotional range of her language, her structural clarity and a fabulously assured technique as an orchestrator have always drawn high praise.  Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist, though five years later she was already composing works for the piano. Alberga now lives in the Herefordshire countryside with her husband the violinist Thomas Bowes and together they have founded and nurtured an original festival – Arcadia. In 2019 a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award was presented to Eleanor for composition. 

Why we love Eleanor: Like it says on her site:  "Her music is not easy to pigeon-hole.  The musical language of her opera LETTERS OF A LOVE BETRAYED (2009), premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury stage, has drawn comparisons with Berg’s Wozzeck and Debussy’s Pelleas, while her lighter works draw more obviously on her Jamaican heritage and time as a singer with the Jamaican Folk Singers and as a member of an African Dance company."

Learn more at her website.

Courtney Bryan

Courtney Bryan

A native of New Orleans, Courtney is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and Columbia University (DMA) with advisor George Lewis, and completed an appointment as Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Bryan is currently an Assistant Professor of Music in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University and the Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Why we love Courtney:

From Courtney's website - "Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan's compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation."

Learn more at her website.

Chen Yi

As a Distinguished Professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, a prolific composer, and recipient of the Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Dr. Chen Yi blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Her music has reached a wide range of audiences and inspired peoples of different cultural backgrounds throughout the world. She holds a BA and MA in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and a DMA from Columbia University in New York City, studying composition with Wu Zuqiang, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019.

Why we love Chen Yi:

Because of the brilliance and radiance that is so apparent in Chen Yi’s music, it is easy to understand the volume of prestigious awards and fellowships she has received through the years as a composer. In her composition “Suite for Cello and Chamber Winds: II,” Chen Yi demonstrates her mastery of the manipulation of tonality to create a hauntingly fitting work of art.  Chen Yi visited Nashville a few years back to work with Intersection on our program "Dragon Harmony" in collaboration with the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at MTSU. Chen Yi is a strong advocate for new music, supporting the next generation of composers. 

Learn more at this website.

TJ Cole

TJ Cole

TJ Cole is a Curtis-educated composer based in Philadelphia. She composes orchestral and chamber music and has been commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and more. And Intersection has played and commissioned her music, too!

Why we love TJ:

TJ finds the unique capabilities of the ensembles for which she composes and uses them to her advantage. Her works are colorful and inventive. We worked with Nashville in Harmony last season to commission TJ to write "Those Moments." TJ truly intertwined the voices of our Nashville community into her own creative artistic expression. TJ is a collaborative, thoughtful artist with a strong voice.

Take a look back at photos from our world premiere of TJ's "Those Moments," jointly commissioned by Intersection and Nashville in Harmony.

Learn more at this website.

Valerie Coleman

Valerie Coleman

Described as one of the "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music" by critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Valerie Coleman (b. 1970), a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is among the world's most played composers living today. The Boston Globe describes Coleman as a having a “talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations” and the New York Times observes her compositions as “skillfully wrought, buoyant music”. With works that range from flute sonatas that recount the stories of trafficked humans during Middle Passage and orchestral and chamber works based on nomadic Roma tribes, to scherzos about moonshine in the Mississippi Delta region and motifs based from Morse Code, her body of works have been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music. She is the founder, creator, and former flutist of the Grammy®-nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Performance, Chamber Music, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Miami.

Why we love Valerie:
Valerie's music is vibrant and colorful, often with wind instruments taking center stage. In addition to the exciting, playful musical palette, we also love the relevant, varied sources of inspiration in Valerie's music. Whether it is "Phenomenal Women," celebrating women's efforts to overcome adversity, or "Umoja," exploring the Swahili word for "unity," her work connects with the varied facets of our human experience.

Learn more about Valerie at her website.

Alicia Enstrom

Alicia Enstrom is a composer and violinist that toured the world for nearly ten years as the solo violinist/electric violinist for two Cirque du Soleil’s shows. She was also the lead violinist/fiddler, vocalist, pianist, and dancer with the International Violin Show, Barrage. Originally from Kansas, she has been a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.   In 2015, Alicia released her first album, The Monster Speaks. She then released five remixed singles from A monstEr ROARS music collection, collaborating with visual artists from around the globe. She performs this material solo via looping pedals, and sometimes on a hoop.  Alicia released an instrumental EP titled A monstEr via Tone Tree Music in early 2019 and is currently in the process of releasing her latest EP, A Monstrosity. She is also putting the finishing touches on her Concerto for Violin, Electronics, and Orchestra of which the first movement was premiered June 2018 with the Nashville Concerto Orchestra.

In September 2018, Alicia was the Winner of The Ear Classical Composition Competition in New York City.

Why we love Alicia: We love so many things about Alicia!  She is a regular performer with Intersection, always bringing amazing musicianship and a collaborative spirit to her work.   Most of all, we love Alicia's adventurous spirit and embrace of improvisation and exploration in her music.  

Learn more at her website.

Marti Epstein

Marti Epstein (November 25, 1959) started studying composition in 1977 with Professor Robert Beadell at the University of Nebraska. She has degrees from the University of Colorado and Boston University, and her principal teachers were Cecil Effinger, Charles Eakin, Joyce Mekeel, Bunita Marcus, and Bernard Rands. Marti was a fellow in composition at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1986 and 1988 and worked with Oliver Knussen and Hans Werner Henze.  Marti is an active pianist and a devoted teacher. She plays prepared piano with guitarist David Tronzo in the Epstein/Tronzo Duo. She is Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music, where she has taught harmony, counterpoint, and composition since 1991, and is also on the faculty of Boston Conservatory. Marti is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition.

Why we love Marti: In addition to loving Marti's music, we love that she is a mentor to the next generation of composers! Check out these short, amazing videos below from career girls, where Marti shares valuable music career guidance and life advice with girls: How to Get Commissions
A Favorite Composition Story, Composing My Opera

Learn more at her website.

Fang Man

Hailed as “inventive and breathtaking” by the New York Times, Fang Man is a Chinese-born American composer. Her music has been performed worldwide by notable orchestras and ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Group under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Camerata Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mannheimer Philharmoniker, Basel Sinfonietta, American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestre de Lorraine, Minnesota Orchestra, among others. Her newest commission from the San Francisco Symphony and League of American Orchestras will be a large-scale Sheng (Chinese mouth organ) concerto to be premiered by Sheng virtuoso Wu Wei and conducted by SFSO's new director Esa-Pekka Salonen in the 2021-2022 season.  Fang's primary teachers include Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra at Cornell Univ., where she obtained the Master of Fine Arts degree and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree. She was chosen to participate in the one-year Computer Music and Composition courses at IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, where she studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Yan Marez, and Tristan Murail. Fang Man is currently an Associate Professor of Composition at the University of South Carolina.

Why we love Fang Man: We love the way Fang Man combines Chinese traditional instruments, such as the Sheng, with Western instruments and the way that her cultural identity manifests in all of the music she writes.  

Learn more at her website.

inti figgis-vizueta

inti figgis-vizueta (b. 1993) is a New York-based composer whose music focuses on combinations of various notational schemata, disparate and overlaid sonic plans, and collaborative unlearning of dominant vernaculars. inti has been commissioned by JACK Quartet, Crash Ensemble, National Sawdust, Music from Copland House, Amanda Gookin’s Forward Music Project, and cellist Andrew Yee, among others. inti studies with Marcos Balter, with recent private studies with George Lewis and Donnacha Dennehy.  Reviewers say her music constantly toes the line between "all turbulence" and "quietly focused" (National Sawdust Log), and “alternately smooth and serrated melodies” (The New York Times). 

Why we love inti: We love inti's commitment to access and education.   She regularly lectures on her music and champions universal access to contemporary music.  We also love this description from her website: "She often writes magically real musics through the lens of personal identities, braiding a childhood of overlapping immigrant communities and Black-founded Freedom schools—in Chocolate City (DC)--with direct Andean & Irish heritage and a deep connection to the land."

Learn more at her website.

Erin Graham

Erin Graham is a composer of contemporary classical music and an active percussionist.  A second-year PhD student in Composition at UC San Diego, Erin has worked with highly-regarded artists such as King Britt, Amy Williams, Robert Black, Nunc, Deviant Septet, Escape Ten percussion duo, and members of the Houston Symphony.  Erin holds a Master of Music in Composition from Rice University and a Bachelor of Music with distinction in both Composition and Percussion as well as a Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music.

Why we love Erin:

Like it says on her site:  "Erin seeks to explore concepts of visceral energy, unconventional forms, and elements of humor by incorporating abstractions of familiar rhythmic idioms into her music."

Learn more at her website.