2014/2015 First Music Commissions

2014/2015 First Music Commissions


April 22, 2014 –  Through its First Music program, the New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has selected seven of America’s emerging orchestra, chamber music, and jazz composers under age 30 to write commissions for the NYYS’ 52nd Season. The works will be premiered by NYYS student musicians on their performances at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Called "invaluable" by The New York Times, First Music has been widely acknowledged as one of the leading forces in the United States for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention for the past 31 years.

The First Music commissions for the 2014/2015 Season are:


Cindy Giron: November 24, 2014
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

Jonas Tarm: March 8, 2015
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

Molly Joyce:  May 24, 2015
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

Chamber Music

Edward Hamel: May 4, 2015
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall


Erica Seguine: December 8, 2014
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Scott Ninmer: March 16, 2015
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Marcus Wilcher: May 18, 2015
The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center

This year’s Chamber Music/Orchestra Jury was chaired by past First Music Composer Julia Wolfe, and included Andy Akiho, Vicky Chow, Joshua Gersen, Annie Gosfield, and Ted Hearne. The Jazz Jury was chaired by Rufus Reid, a leading string bass player with over 250 recordings in his discography, and included Chris Byars, Alexis Cuadrado, Matt Holman, and Earl McIntyre.

With over 150 applicants and only seven commissions, the following composers were selected for honorable mentions for their submissions:

Chamber and Orchestra:  David Biedenbender, Erik DeLuca, Brendan Faegre, Luke Gullickson, Sky Macklay, Brendon Randall-Myers and Nina C. Young
Jazz: Eric Allen and David von Kampen

First Music Applications are accepted annually between September and December. Past recipients of the First Music commission include David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, Kevin Puts, and Derek Bermel, among others. First Music composers have gone on to receive a total of 12 Rome Prizes, 16 Guggenheim Fellowships, the Grawemeyer Award, and 3 Pulitzer Prizes. Additional information about First Music can be found at the New York Youth Symphony’s web site at http://www.nyys.org/programs/first-music

About the NYYS:

The New York Youth Symphony is internationally recognized for its award-winning and innovative educational programs for talented young musicians. Founded in 1963 as an orchestra to showcase the metropolitan area’s most gifted musicians, ages 12-22, its programs have since grown to include Chamber Music groups, Jazz, Composition, Apprentice Conducting, and the First Music and First Art commissioning programs.

The remaining First Music commissions to be premiered in the 2013/2014 Season include:

May 1, 2014: Brian Petuch: If You See Something Say Something at Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall
May 19, 2014: Nate Kimball: KarmaI at The Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center
May 25, 2014: Conrad Winslow: All Decays at Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall

First Music is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and New York State Council on the Arts.

Commissioner’s Biographies:

Edward Hamel graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College Chicago receiving a Bachelors of Music in Composition under the guidance of Marcos Balter. Currently, he is acquiring a Master of Arts in Composition at the University of California, San Diego under the guidance of Lei Liang. Mr. Hamel takes inspiration from the perceptive control one has in a medium such as painting. All of the information of a work is provided within a static, non-temporal frame. Viewers have the ability to stay with a work for an indefinite amount of time admiring various facets of the piece at will. With a temporal medium such as music, listeners do not have this luxury - most of the work is perceived retrospectively. Mr. Hamel was commissioned to write a new work for the MATA 2014 Festival to be played by Talea Ensemble. In 2012, he received Honorable Mention at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek for his work Countenance. Mr. Hamel has been fortunate enough to work with such groups as Ensemble Dal Niente, Sigma Project, loadbang, Anubis Quartet, Color Field Ensemble, Insomnio, saxophonist Ryan Muncy, cellist Seth Woods, and Leah Asher of the Bodø Sinfonietta.

Cindy Giron was born in Boston, MA and began her musical studies at age five at New England Conservatory's Preparatory School.  Enrolled in the Certificate program, she participated in eurhythmics, piano, chamber, orchestra, choir, and theory lessons. Her piano teachers were Fredericka King and Valentina Lass.  As the orchestral pianist and celesta player, Ms. Giron toured Brazil and Venezuela with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra under maestro Benjamin Zander.  Heavily influenced by the romantic and impressionist composers, she began her compositional studies at age 14 with Alla Cohen.   With the compositional guidance of Nils Vigeland and Reiko Fueting, Ms. Giron received a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition from Manhattan School of Music in 2010.  Studying a semester abroad, she continued her studies with Gilius van Bergeik and Yiannis Kyriadis at Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag, Netherlands.  Upon returning to the US, Ms. Giron studied with Morton Subotnick at NYU and received a Masters in Music Theory and Composition in 2012.  This summer, she will be studying at the International Music Institute in Darmstadt, Germany. Ms. Giron resides in Massachusetts where she composes and is teaching at the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest and the North End Performing Arts Center. 

Molly Joyce is a composer originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work has recently been described as written in an “emotionally appealing twenty-first century style” (Fanfare Magazine), and “vibrant, inventive music that communicates straight from the heart” (Prufrock’s Dilemma). Ms. Joyce’s music has been performed by notable ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Decoda and Contemporaneous. As a performer, she often performs on her vintage Magnus electric chord organ solo and on keyboard, performing with beat-boxer Shaun Barlow and at venues such as DROM NYC. An active participant in other aspects of the music industry, Ms. Joyce is currently the Digital Content Manager for both New Amsterdam Presents/Records and Roomful of Teeth. She also currently serves as an assistant to composer Missy Mazzoli, singer/songwriter Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, and jazz artist Darcy James Argue. Ms. Joyce is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music at The Juilliard School studying with Samuel Adler.

Scott Ninmer is an established composer in both jazz and classical mediums.  He has won many prestigious awards for his work, including the “2 Agosto” International Composing Competition, the Detroit Jazz Festival Arranging Competition, the Jazz Education Network Student Composition Showcase, the Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards, the New York Youth Symphony First Music Composition Competition, the United States Air Force Sammy Nestico Award, and the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards.  Additional honors include being selected as a participant in the 2013 Metropole Orkest Arrangers Workshop in Hilversum, The Netherlands, and serving as the lead trombonist in the 2010 Disney All-American College Band in Anaheim, CA. A graduate of the University of Illinois in jazz performance, Mr. Ninmer recently completed a Master’s degree in jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music.  His music can be heard on the University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band's album "Free Play" and the Cal State Long Beach Concert Jazz Orchestra’s album “High & Mighty”.   Mr. Ninmer also has several compositions and arrangements published through UNC Jazz Press, and many more can be found online at www.scottninmer.com.

Erica Seguine is a composer, arranger, pianist, and teacher in the New York City area. There, she co-leads an 18-musician big band, the Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra, on a monthly gig at InsaniTea in Montclair, NJ, as well as performances in other venues in the NYC area. The original music, written by the leaders, fuses many genres and colors together, linked together by large story-arcs. In 2012, Ms. Seguine was selected for the Metropole Orchestra's Arrangers Workshop, led by Vince Mendoza, where she had the opportunity to arrange "Time to Say Goodbye" for Kurt Elling and the orchestra. She was the winner of the 2013 ArtEZ International Composition Contest, the 2013 BMI Charlie Parker Composition Competition/Manny Albam Commission, the 2009 Zurich Jazz Orchestra Composition Competition, and a recipient of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award in 2011 and 2014. In addition to her own jazz orchestra, Ms. Seguine’s works and arrangements have been performed by: The Metropole Orchestra, Millenium Jazz Orchestra, Zurich Jazz Orchestra, Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Studio Orchestra, the BMI-NY Jazz Orchestra, the Empire State Youth Jazz Ensemble, amongst others. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (BM) and William Paterson University (MM). Ms. Seguine has studied composition with Jim McNeely, Bill Dobbins, and Rich DeRosa. More information can be found at www.ericaseguine.com

Jonas Tarm has received national and international attention for his compositions. Among his awards include the National YoungArts Foundation Award, American Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Composition Contest and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Morton Gould Competition and several others. Mr. Tarm’s compositions have been performed throughout the Chicago area, New York, Boston, Miami, California, Germany and Estonia. His music has been commissioned by Chicago Beethoven Festival, Music Institute of Chicago Estonian Composer’s Union, New York Virtuoso Singers and more. Mr. Tarm’s violin playing and compositions have been featured multiple times on Chicago's classical music radio station 98.7 WFMT. He was born in Tallinn, Estonia and at the age of seven, he started violin studies at the Tallinn Old Town Music School. At the age of ten, he moved to Chicago, USA. Mr. Tarm graduated as a scholarship recipient of the Music Institute of Chicago's Academy program where he studied composition with MIC's Dr. Matthew Hagle, Dr. Mischa Zupko and violin with Northwestern University Professor Gerardo Ribeiro. He currently is studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston with composer John Mallia and conducting with Sean Newhouse. Mr. Tarm also has taken lessons with composer Richard Danielpour, whom he considers an important mentor.

Marcus Wilcher is a composer, arranger, saxophonist, and current Doctoral candidate at the University of Texas-Austin.  Born in Los Angeles, CA in 1985 to Michael and Gwendolyn Wilcher, he grew up listening to Soul and Hip-Hop music.  Mr. Wilcher began showing interest in jazz at age ten after hearing the Miles Davis album Birth of the Cool; however, several years would pass before jazz became his focus, and he developed a passion for composition.  Mr. Wilcher started writing in September 2003 with the intent of pursuing a professional career in music.  His studies have included jazz saxophone at Riverside City College in Riverside, CA with Jeff Ellwood and jazz composition/saxophone at the University of Texas-Austin with Dr. John R. Mills. Currently living in Austin, Mr. Wilcher maintains working relationships as a composer and performer with many groups throughout Texas including: Centerpeace (a sextet led by pianist and educator Dr. James Polk), the Andre Hayward Quintet, the Concept Jazz Orchestra, The University of Texas Jazz Orchestra, and the Urban Achievers Brass Band.  He also leads two groups dedicated to his original compositions:  The Marcus Wilcher X-tet (a jazz band of indeterminate size), and 5th Protocol (a groove-based quintet).