"The most impressive record for championing new music of any ensemble in the United States." -The New York Times
First Music, the New York Youth Symphony’s young composer competition, commissions America’s best emerging orchestra, chamber music, and jazz composers under age 30. It has been acknowledged widely as one of the leading forces in the United States for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention.
First Music was initiated in 1984 by then-music director David Alan Miller (now the music director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra) and former executive director Barry Goldberg. The object was to “wake up” our audiences, the critics, and our own musicians to the currents of music swelling among the emerging composers of the same generation.
"During the last two decades, no youth orchestra in the country has been more relentlessly committed to generating new music than the New York Youth Symphony." -Symphony Magazine
First Music has awarded commissions to 102 of America’s best young composers since 1984. The winner of numerous awards and accolades, this ongoing project introduces traditional audiences, as well as the musicians themselves, to new trends in music. Three awards are given seasonally for orchestral and jazz compositions and one for chamber music:
Three composers will be awarded commissions of $1,000 each and premières in Carnegie Hall. The commissioned works must be previously unpublished and unperformed.
One composer will be awarded a commission of $1,000. The director of the Chamber Music Program in conjunction with the awardee will determine the instrumentation of the commissioned piece. The commissioned work must be previously unpublished and unperformed, and it will be given its première in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall.
Three awards will be given to jazz composers. One composer will be awarded a commission of $1,000 and a première in The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Two selected composers will be awarded a commission of $500 each and their works will be given their premières at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola by the NYYS Jazz. The work must be previously unpublished and unperformed.
Steven Mackey, Professor of Music at Princeton University, succeeded John Corigliano as chair of the First Music Advisory Committee for orchestra and chamber music. Rufus Reid, a leading string bass player with over 250 recordings in his discography, chairs the advisory committee for jazz.
The musicians are principal beneficiaries of First Music. They become partners in the exploration of these new works, growing musically as they rehearse them and giving them life onstage. Audiences, too, learn to appreciate what emerging generations of composers seek to express in their creations.
The deadline for submitting applications for the 2013/2014 First Music has passed. Please check back in September 2013 to apply for the 2014/2015 Season.
First Music is made possible by support from the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation