Gerbode Foundation Awards Six $50,000 Commissions for Composers
New Compositions Representing “today’s most influential composers” will Premiere for Bay Area Audiences
For Immediate Release:
February 1, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of six $50,000 grants to support the creation and production of new music by California composers.
The works will be commissioned and premiered by Bay Area nonprofit organizations. Each organization will receive a $50,000 grant that will be used for a commissioning fee of $12,500 or more to each composer, with the remaining funds going to the presenting organization for expenses related to the creation and premiere of the pieces. The resulting new music works will have their world premiere public performances in the San Francisco Bay Area between December 2017 and June 2019. The grants are made in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also provided funding for the commissions.
The recipients of the 2016 Music Composition Awards are (in alphabetical order by organization):
Cultural Odyssey / Idris Ackamoor
WE LIVE HERE! will be an evening long musical theater production composed by Cultural Odyssey’s founding Executive/Co-Director and resident composer, Idris Ackamoor. The score is inspired by the musical movements that made San Francisco a welcoming and nurturing world destination for musicians, tourists, and fans. WE LIVE HERE! will premiere in the Spring of 2019 as part of Cultural Odyssey’s 40th Anniversary Season.
Kitka, Inc. / Janet Kutulas
Iron Shoes, a contemporary, neo-feminist folk opera, will transform source material drawn from Eastern European fairytales into a contemporary performance experience. Even after over 20 years of performing and composing music for Kitka, Iron Shoes will be Janet Kutulas’s first large-scale composed work. Iron Shoes will premiere in the Spring of 2018.
Kularts / Florante Aguilar
Utom is a contemporary composition in five movements inspired by a mythical story of the deity Boi Henwu and is informed by musical traditions and indigenous instruments of the T’boli people of the Philippines. This work is an important continuation for musician and composer Florante Aguilar to develop and build upon his “new found” genre and musical voice. Utom will premiere in the Fall of 2018.
Other Minds / Brian Baumbusch
The Pressure will be a concert-length multimedia work based on themes of early German expressionism that accompanied the rise of fascism. The scores will be performed by a mixed ensemble including the Friction String Quartet and The Lightbulb Ensemble, a trailblazing group of twelve percussionists that performs on a set of instruments that Brian Baumbusch designed and built, and that were inspired by Indonesian gamelan instruments. The Pressure will premiere in the Spring of 2018.
San Francisco Girls Chorus / Fred Frith
Fred Frith’s unique compositional process with the 45-member SF Girls chorus will result in a new 20-minute work. Members of the chorus will participate in a series of workshops led by Frith and Bay Area instrumentalists well versed in improvised and scored musical performance practices. The new composition will take form and be developed based on a process of interaction, suggestion, and creative collaboration. The premiere will take place in the Spring of 2019.
Women’s Audio Mission / Real Vocal String Quartet
Culture Kin is an innovative and cross-cultural musical suite that the Real Vocal String Quartet will create with artists from San Francisco’s international sister cities. Culture Kin will explore the intersection of classical and world musical traditions while using Women’s Audio Mission professional recordings as a creative “instrument” in this new compositional process. Culture Kin will premiere in the Spring of 2019.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue to support projects that promote and advance the work of innovative California composers and presenters in this challenging fiscal environment,” said Stacie Ma’a, the president of the Gerbode Foundation. “This year’s recipients represent some of the most unique and ambitious processes for creating new musical works and include some of today’s most influential composers.”
“These grant recipients will create new music that challenges and inspires diverse audiences around the Bay Area,” said John E. McGuirk, director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program, which provided funding for the grants. “We are pleased to support these composers and organizations creating new work that is essential to maintaining a vibrant arts community.”
The Gerbode Foundation was assisted in making these grants by an advisory panel composed of the following nationally respected music experts:
Kate Dumbleton is the Artistic and Executive Director for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the MA program in Arts Administration and Policy. Kate joined the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and SAIC in the fall 2012 from the position of Executive Director of the critically acclaimed Chicago Jazz Ensemble, resident at Columbia College since 1965. Her work in jazz, improvised music and performance spans nearly two decades.
Kate's experience includes music direction for jazz clubs and festivals; curatorial direction of artist residencies; direction of interdisciplinary projects in music, dance, theater, visual art, film; venue and record label management; administrative direction; and artist management. She owned and operated a successful performance, exhibition space/wine bar in the Bay Area from 2000-2006. Kate’s current affiliations include the Advisory Council for the Chicago Artists Resource and ChicagoMusic.org; Board of Directors for the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS); Board of Directors for Rova Arts (SF).
Walter Kitundu is an artist who creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, develops public works, builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while researching and documenting the natural world. He is the inventor of a family of Phonoharps, multi-stringed instruments made from record players that rely on the turntable’s sensitivity to vibration. Kitundu has created hand-built record players driven by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. In 2008 he received a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition his work in this field. His eclectic art practice includes receiving a major public art commission, creating a complex site-specific installation in a small-town museum, developing wildly imaginative instruments for a string quartet, composing for dance and theatrical production, teaching sculpture at the university level, engaging in fieldwork with wild birds of prey, and heading the design and fabrication of environments for learning at a prominent science institution.
Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. Learn more about ALJA here: http://www.afrolatinjazz.org. As a composer, he has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, The Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Arturo’s well-reviewed and highly praised Afro-Latin Jazz Suite from the current album CUBA: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) took the 2016 Grammy Award (his fourth) for Best Instrumental Composition. He is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and director of Jazz Studies at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music.
About the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is interested in programs and projects offering potential for significant impact. The primary geographical focus is on the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. The Foundation’s interests generally fall under the categories of arts and culture, environment, reproductive rights and health, citizen participation, building communities, inclusiveness, strength of the philanthropic process and the nonprofit sector, and foundation-initiated special projects.
About the Special Awards Program
For more than twenty-five years, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works from choreographers, playwrights, and composers. The Special Awards Program has also supported visual artists, poets, and multimedia artists.
In a time of cultural shifts and fiscal insecurity in the arts, these coveted, nationally respected awards have helped underwrite culturally and aesthetically diverse, acclaimed new works by prominent artists and emerging ones. These grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers; enabled nonprofit local arts groups to develop and debut substantial, original works; and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers, and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious new creations.
About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective.
The foundation’s Performing Arts Program makes grants to sustain artistic expression and encourage public engagement in the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, to give California students equal access to an education rich in the arts, and to provide necessary resources to help organizations and artists be effective in their work.