Press Room

American Composers Orchestra Invites the Houston Symphony to Participate in EarShot Composers Residency

HOUSTON (Oct. 31, 2019) – At the invitation of the American Composers Orchestra, the Houston Symphony is taking part in an EarShot Composers Residency in May 2020. EarShot is a project designed to support new and emerging orchestral composers from underrepresented demographics in today’s classical music scene.

An initiative of the American Composers Orchestra in partnership with the American Composers Forum, the League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA, EarShot is the nation’s first ongoing program for identifying and promoting the most promising composers on the national stage. The program accomplishes this via a national network of new music readings and composer-development programs.

Each EarShot residency is tailored to its host orchestra’s aesthetic, demographic, community and educational interests. So the Houston Symphony, in keeping with its commitment to diversity, has put out a call for scores from Latinx composers. Scheduled May 5 through 7, 2020, the Houston Symphony’s EarShot residency includes mentorship from accomplished orchestral composers, orchestra readings, and musician and conductor feedback sessions. The mentor composers for this EarShot Composers Residency include Derek Bermel and former Houston Symphony Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank.

“The Houston Symphony is wholly committed to both ensuring that our orchestra and art form reflect the diversity of the Houston community,” said Houston Symphony Executive Director, CEO, and holder of the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair John Mangum, “and encouraging new composers to keep growing the orchestral repertoire with new music. EarShot helps us to do both, and it’s an honor to be selected to participate.”

To date, more than sixty composers have been selected for prior residencies and new music readings with orchestras including, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and the San Diego Symphony.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2019–20 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its sixth season with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring, and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $35.2 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 1,000 community-based performances each year at various schools, community centers, hospitals, and churches reaching nearly 200,000 people in Greater Houston annually.

The Grammy Award-winning Houston Symphony has recorded under various prestigious labels, including Naxos, Koch International Classics, Telarc, RCA Red Seal, Virgin Classics and, most recently, Dutch recording label Pentatone. In 2017, the Houston Symphony was awarded an ECHO Klassik award for the live recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The orchestra earned its first Grammy nomination and Grammy Award at the 60th annual ceremony for the same recording in the Best Opera Recording category.

About American Composers Orchestra
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, K-12 education programs, and emerging composer development programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

ACO identifies and develops talent, performs established composers, champions those who are lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, ethnic, geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records,, and iTunes.

Through the Underwood New Music Readings each year, ACO selects up to six emerging composers to travel to New York City to meet with artistic staff, orchestra members — including the conductor and mentor composers — and spend three days working with the orchestra. At the program’s conclusion, two composers are awarded commissions to write new works to be performed by ACO in a future season. Nationally, EarShot enables orchestras across the country to identify talented young composers. With guidance from ACO, partner orchestras – such as the Detroit Symphony, the Sarasota (FL) Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra – undertake readings, residencies, performances and composer-development programs that speak directly to their communities and leverage local resources.

For nearly two decades, ACO has brought composers and musical teaching artists into New York City public schools through Music Factory. Students in Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, work directly with professional composers to create and perform original music. ACO also offers the intensive Compose Yourself seminars, during which high school composers will participate in hands-on composition classes, culminating in a performance of student compositions played by ACO’s professional musicians. More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at

About the League of American Orchestras
The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit

About the American Composers Forum
The American Composers Forum (ACF) enriches lives by nurturing the creative spirit of composers and communities. Through commissions, grants, mentorships, performances, publications, residencies, and hosted gatherings, we provide innovative opportunities for composers and their music to flourish, and we link communities and composers through creation, connection, and engagement. ACF facilitates an ecosystem that reflects the diversity of our world, and we partner with a variety of creative musicians and organizations to develop the next generation of new music creators, performers, and advocates. Visit for more information.

Eric Skelly: 713.337.8560,
Mireya Reyna: 713.337.8557,


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