New Orchestral Works: Orchestral Readings of 11 UChicago Composers' Works

On November 25, 2013, in the performance hall of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, five orchestral works were rehearsed and performed by an all-star professional orchestra under the baton of conductor Cliff Colnot. The orchestra was comprised of members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other stellar Chicago-based musicians.  The entire 6-hour event was recorded by multiple Grammy-winning engineer Chris Willis. These elegantly premiered and recorded new works were beautifully written by composers Iddo Aharony, Alican Camci, Tomas Gueglio, Jae-Goo Lee, and Andrew McManus.

On June 2, 2014, six more UChicago composers will have their works presented in another orchestral reading. This will include new works by Pierce Gradone, Yuan-Chen Li, Timothy M. Page, Katherine Anne Pukinskis, Igor Seiti De Araujo Santos, and Phil Burton Taylor.

Orchestrating for an ensemble this size is no simple undertaking, and the chance to have these pieces performed live doesn't come often for most composers, so it is pivotal when it does. Composition professor and distinguished composer Augusta Read Thomas reflects on this: “Anthony, Marta, Shulamit and I feel strongly about our students being offered the opportunity to write for large ensembles, including orchestra, and are thrilled that eleven of their new orchestral works are being premiered by such stellar musicians. The first time I heard a performance of one of my own orchestral compositions, the inspiring experience changed my life...I was hooked forever and believe that the orchestra is one of the greatest constructs of western civilization.” 

The value of this outstanding opportunity for the students is reflected in their takeaways from the event:

 "Listening to these five new compositions brought to life by this orchestra was an aesthetic pleasure ... it was testimony of an experience that will surely make a difference for of all us in our professional and creative development."
- Iddo Aharony

"It was an invaluable opportunity to be able to see in realtime how what I had imagined was realized by an excellent orchestra" 
- Jae Lee

"As Cliff said when he opened the session, we really had the ‘A team’ on board for this reading. Working with such an accomplished group of professionals was really a privilege, and I ended up with a great recording of what was a very challenging piece.”
- Andrew McManus

Special thanks are in order to many people for making this event possible. Especially: Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Dean Martha T. Roth, and to the previous and current Music Department Chairs that the event has spanned.

Photos by UChicago staff.