From June 29th through July 10th I had the opportunity to both participate in and act as the Assistant to the Director at the 2009 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium. I have been part of the outreach, planning, and preparation for over a year, and now that it is over I’m both proud to say that I was involved as both a participant and administrative assistant.
More than 80 participants with a wide variety of skills and interests were accepted to this year’s symposium. Composers were, of course, encouraged to apply to have their works performed and read, but composer/performers, performers, and composers were also strongly encouraged to participate in the process as members of ACE, the American Creators Ensemble. A paragraph from the symposium’s website by the Director, Robert Kyr, is copied below:
In these challenging economic times, the future of the new music field is uncertain. Now more than ever, we must work together as a community of composers and performers in order to further develop and strengthen our common artistic values and aspirations, even in the face of financial hardship. We have the power to ensure that the arts survive, and for participants in the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, our efforts in 2009 are focused on the creation, performance, and recording of new music.
This is the inaugural year of the symposium’s American Creators Ensemble (ACE) which is the first national composers/performers ensemble. The membership of the ensemble is all symposium participants who are accepted in categories II (Composer/Performers and Performer/Composers), III (Performers), and IV (Conductors). Robert Kyr is the founder and director of the ensemble.
The symposium was an enormous success. ACE provided both readings and performances of over 60 new musical works in a wide variety of genres and styles, giving participants a taste of the enormous range of music being created by contemporary composers from around the country. One of the final opportunities given to all participants was that of attending the premiere of Sven-David Sandström’s Messiah, commissioned specifically for the 2009 Oregon Bach Festival and performed by an enormous force of instrumentalists and vocalists.
One of the participants hailing from the University of Pittsburgh, Jonghee Kang, has written about her own experience at this year’s symposium on the official blog of the University’s Department of Music.
The positive feedback that we received from the participants was extraordinary, and we hope to further improve the enjoyable and educational experiences that we can provide to participants in the future.