American Composers Forum

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The American Composers Forum is an American organization that works for the promotion and assistance of American composers and contemporary classical music. It was founded in 1973 as the Minnesota Composers Forum and is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As of 2000 it was the largest composer-service organization in the country. [1]

Organization social entity (not necessarily commercial) uniting people into a structured group managing shared means to meet some needs, or to pursue collective goals

An organization or organisation is an entity comprising multiple people, such as an institution or an association, that has a particular purpose.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to the period that started in the mid-1970s to early 1990s, which includes modernist, postmodern, neoromantic, and pluralist music. However, the term may also be employed in a broader sense to refer to all post-1945 musical forms.



The Forum was founded as the Minnesota Composers Forum in 1973 by a group of University of Minnesota graduate students — including Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus — with a $400 grant from the University’s Student Club Activities Fund. In 1996, the organization changed its name to the American Composers Forum, and established chapters in New York City, Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California. The group currently acts as a national umbrella organization for locally funded chapters in Minnesota (based in Saint Paul), Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to volunteer-led chapters in New York City and Los Angeles. In 2007 the group, along with the American Music Center, extended membership to current composition students attending six affiliated academic institutions: Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, the New England Conservatory, the San Francisco Conservatory, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Yale University. The Forum's annual budget for fiscal year 2008 was $1.8 million, and as of 2010 had 1700 active members [2] in all 50 states, Canada, and several other countries.

University of Minnesota public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses are approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) apart, and the St. Paul campus is actually in neighboring Falcon Heights. It is the oldest and largest campus within the University of Minnesota system and has the sixth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 50,943 students in 2018-19. The university is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system, and is organized into 19 colleges and schools, with sister campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester.

Libby Larsen American composer and educator

Elizabeth Brown Larsen is a contemporary American classical composer. Along with composer Stephen Paulus, she is a co-founder of the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum.

Stephen Paulus American composer

Stephen Paulus was a Grammy winning American composer, best known for his operas and choral music. His best-known piece is his 1982 opera The Postman Always Rings Twice, one of several operas he composed for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which prompted The New York Times to call him "a young man on the road to big things". His style is essentially tonal, and melodic and romantic by nature. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation and won the prestigious Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize. He was commissioned by such notable organizations as the Minnesota Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, the American Composers Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, the Harvard Glee Club and the New York Choral Society. Paulus was a passionate advocate for the works and careers of his colleagues. He co-founded the American Composers Forum in 1973, the largest composer service organization in the U.S., and served as the Symphony and Concert Representative on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1990 until his death in 2014.

Forum members pay annual dues that are used to fund networking and informational services, such as the Forum's website and bimonthly newsletter, Sounding Board. The Forum also funds national and local commissioning projects, as well as offers programs for individual composers and performers of new music. These projects and programs are funded by grants from government agencies, corporate and private foundations, and individual contributions.

Current Forum programs include Continental Harmony, a national, community-based commissioning program; Faith Partners, a residency program that pairs multiple communities of faith with a composer of their choice; BandQuest, a program that supports the creation of new work for middle-level concert bands by contemporary composers such as Michael Colgrass, Michael Daugherty, Jennifer Higdon, Tania Léon, and Gunther Schuller; Composers Datebook, a daily two-minute radio program looking at contemporary composers in the context of classical music history; and Innova Recordings, [3] a compact disc label that issues more than two dozen releases of new music each year. In co-operation with the American Music Center and the Minnesota Orchestra, the Forum also offers an annual Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, a week-long series of professional workshops and career seminars for new composers, culminating in a public concert of their works performed by the Minnesota Orchestra and its music director, Osmo Vänskä, at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.


BandQuest is a series of band music for middle-level band commissioned and published by the American Composers Forum, a national non-profit composer service organization based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The series is exclusively distributed by Hal Leonard Corporation based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Michael C. Colgrass is an American-born Canadian musician, composer, and educator.

Michael Daugherty American composer, pianist, and teacher

Michael Kevin Daugherty is an American composer, pianist, and teacher. He is influenced by popular culture, Romanticism, and Postmodernism, and is one of the most widely performed American concert music composers of his generation. Daugherty's notable works include his Superman comic book-inspired Metropolis Symphony for Orchestra (1988–93), Dead Elvis for Solo Bassoon and Chamber Ensemble (1993), Jackie O (1997), Niagara Falls for Symphonic Band (1997), UFO for Solo Percussion and Orchestra (1999) and for Symphonic Band (2000), Bells for Stokowski from Philadelphia Stories for Orchestra (2001) and for Symphonic Band (2002), Fire and Blood for Solo Violin and Orchestra (2003) inspired by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Time Machine for Three Conductors and Orchestra (2003), Ghost Ranch for Orchestra (2005), Deus ex Machina for Piano and Orchestra (2007), Labyrinth of Love for Soprano and Chamber Winds (2012), American Gothic for Orchestra (2013), and Tales of Hemingway for Cello and Orchestra (2015). Daugherty has been described by The Times (London) as "a master icon maker" with a "maverick imagination, fearless structural sense and meticulous ear."

First Nations Composer Initiative

In 2006 the Forum launched, with the Ford Foundation, the First Nations Composer Initiative (FNCI), an organization working to promote new music by Native American composers. Based in Saint Paul, the program aims to establish a national infrastructure for American Indian composers and performers, and promote the artists in both Native and non-Native communities. [4]

Ford Foundation private foundation based in New York City

The Ford Foundation is an American private foundation with the mission of advancing human welfare. Created in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford, it was originally funded by a US$25,000 gift from Edsel Ford. By 1947, after the death of the two founders, the foundation owned 90% of the non-voting shares of the Ford Motor Company. Between 1955 and 1974, the foundation sold its Ford Motor Company holdings and now plays no role in the automobile company. Ahead of the foundation selling its Ford Motor Company holdings, in 1949 Henry Ford II created the Ford Motor Company Fund, a separate corporate foundation which to this day serves as the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company and is not associated with the foundation. For years it was the largest, and one of the most influential foundations in the world, with global reach and special interests in economic empowerment, education, human rights, democracy, the creative arts, and Third World development.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Its program director is Georgia Wettlin-Larsen, and its advisors include Louis W. Ballard (deceased), Sharon Burch, Raven Chacon, Brent Michael Davids, Joy Harjo, Jennifer E. Kreisberg, R. Carlos Nakai, Joanne Shenandoah, Dawn Avery, and Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate.

Louis W. Ballard Quapaw-Cherokee composer and artist from Oklahoma

Louis W. Ballard was a Native American composer, educator, author, artist, and journalist.

Sharon Burch of Navajo and German origin is a founding advisor of First Nations Composer Initiative. Sharon Burch is an organizer, composer, teacher of general music, author of educational music-books, singer besides being a recording artist.

Raven Chacon is an American composer and artist. He is known as a composer of chamber music as well as a solo performer of noise music. He is recognized as one of few Native Americans working in either genre.

The organization sponsors the Composer Apprentice National Outreach Endeavor (CANOE), which teaches American Indian young people to compose their own concert music. It also supported the North American Indian Cello Project commissioning and supporting performances of composers including, Brent Michael Davids, Raven Chacon, Tim Archambault, Ron Warren, R. Carlos Nakai, Dawn Avery, Louis W. Ballard, and Tio Becenti.

See also

The American Composers Alliance (ACA) is an American membership organization dedicated to the publishing and promoting of American contemporary classical music. Founded in 1937 by Aaron Copland, Milton Adolphus and others, it is the oldest national organization of its kind, and represents over 200 member composers.

The American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is an American orchestra administratively based in New York City, specialising in contemporary American music. The ACO gives concerts at various concert venues in New York City, including:

Founded in 2001, the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project (NACAP) is an outreach program of the Grand Canyon Music Festival that is dedicated to teaching Native American young people to compose concert music. Each year, young musicians work with a Native American composer and a string quartet in residence in partnership with their school's music program. For the 2011 season, the Sphinx Organization's Catalyst Quartet participated as NACAP's first Fellowship Ensemble.

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In Canada, classical music includes a range of musical styles rooted in the traditions of Western or European classical music that European settlers brought to the country from the 17th century and onwards. As well, it includes musical styles brought by other ethnic communities from the 19th century and onwards, such as Indian classical music and Chinese classical music. Since Canada's emergence as a nation in 1867, the country has produced its own composers, musicians and ensembles. As well, it has developed a music infrastructure that includes training institutions, conservatories, performance halls, and a public radio broadcaster, CBC, which programs a moderate amount of Classical music. There is a high level of public interest in classical music and education.

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Innova Recordings is the independent record label of the non-profit American Composers Forum based in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was founded in 1982 to document the winners of the McKnight Fellowship offered by its parent organization, the Minnesota Composers Forum.

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The New Century Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1992 by cellist, Miriam Perkoff, and violist, Wieslaw Pogorzelski. The goal of the founders was to present classical music in a fresh and unique way in the San Francisco Bay Area. The music director chooses the programs and guides the artistic vision, but the seventeen members of the orchestra perform as part of a conductorless orchestra. Musical decisions are made collaboratively, in the hope of enhancing the level of commitment on the part of the musicians and increasing the precision, passion and power of their playing.

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Dawn Avery is a composer, cellist, vocalist, educator, GRAMMY and NAMA nominated performer. Avery has worked with musical luminaries Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, John Cale, John Cage, R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah. She's toured around the world playing Delta Blues with the Soldier String Quartet, Persian Funk with Sussan Deyhim, and opera with the New York City Opera Company. Her own music spans from orchestral to downtempo.

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  1. Heintze, James R. and Saffle, Michael; eds. (2000). Reflections on American Music: The Twentieth Century and the New Millennium: a Collection of Essays Presented in Honor of the College Music Society, p.330. Pendragon Press. ISBN   9781576470701.
  2. May, Joanne (2010). Music for Homeschoolers: A Guide to Music Instruction for the Homeschooled Child, p.53. ISBN   9781574631579.
  3. Hill, Brad; Carlin, Richard; and Hubbs, Nadine (2005). American Popular Music: Classical, p.7. ISBN   9780816069767.
  4. "American Indian Composers Go Classical", by Felix Contreras, from All Things Considered, January 1, 2009