Doug Balliett, double bassist, composer

Matthew Aucoin, co-founder

Rhiannon Giddens, composer/musician

John Adams, 2021 Music Director

Samuel Adams, composer

Timo Andres, composer & piano

Dylan Mattingly, composer

Gabriela Ortiz, composer

Carlos Simon, composer

Gabriella Smith, composer

Michael Hersch, Composer

“one of the most fertile musical minds to emerge in the U.S. over the past generation” The Financial Times 


“a natural musical genius who continues to surpass himself” – The Washington Post 


masterly modernist music of implacable seriousness” –The New Yorker


Hersch’s language never hesitates to leap into the abyss – and in ways that, for some listeners, go straight to parts of the soul that few living composers touch.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer


Described by The New York Times as a composer of works “often startling in their complexity, beauty and demonic fury,” Michael Hersch’s music been performed in the U.S. and abroad under conductors including Mariss Jansons, Alan Gilbert, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, Carlos Kalmar, Yuri Temirkanov, Giancarlo Guerrero, and James DePreist; with the major orchestras of Cleveland, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle, and Oregon, among others; and ensembles including the String Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Ensemble Klang, the Kreutzer Quartet, the Blair Quartet, NUNC, and the Network for New Music Ensemble. In recent years he has worked closely with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who has commissioned several works from him, including his Violin Concerto. Hersch has also written for such soloists as Thomas Hampson, Midori, Garrick Ohlsson, Shai Wosner, Miranda Cuckson, Béla Fleck, and Boris Pergamenschikow.

His solo and chamber works have appeared on programs around the globe – from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in the U.S. to Germany’s Schloss Neuhardenberg Festival in Brandenberg and the Philharmonie in Berlin; from the U.K.’s Dartington New Music Festival and British Museum to Italy’s Romaeuropa and Nuova Consonanza Festivals. Performances in the far east include those with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Japan’s Pacific Music Festival.

Recent and upcoming premieres include his Violin Concerto, with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Avanti Festival in Helsinki, and the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland; the NYC premiere of Zwischen Leben und Tod, at the newly established National Sawdust, new productions in Chicago, Washington, and Salt Lake City of his monodrama, On the Threshold of Winter, described by The Baltimore Sun as a work of “great originality, daring, and disturbing power.” The monodrama premiered in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Of the premiere The New York Times noted: “Death casts a long shadow over the recent work of Mr. Hersch … But in On the Threshold of Winter Mr. Hersch has given himself the space to burrow past anger and incomprehension in search of an art fired by empathy and compassion.” Over the past several years, Hersch has also written new works for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, the Library of Congress, and Holland’s Ensemble Klang. Other notable recent events include European performances by the Kreutzer Quartet of Images From a Closed Ward in the U.K. and Sweden, and the premiere of Of Sorrow Born: Seven Elegies, a work for solo violin commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, premiered at the orchestra’s Biennial.

Born in Washington D.C. in 1971, Michael Hersch came to international attention at age twenty-five, when he was awarded First Prize in the Concordia American Composers Awards. The award resulted in a performance of his Elegy, conducted by Marin Alsop in New York’s Alice Tul-ly Hall. Later that year he became one of the youngest recipients ever of a Guggenheim Fellow-ship in Composition. Mr. Hersch has also been the recipient of the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and many other honors.

Also a gifted pianist, Mr. Hersch has appeared around the world including appearances at the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Modern at the Modern Series, the Romaeuropa Festival, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., Cleveland’s Reinberger Chamber Hall, the Festival of Contem-porary Music Nuova Consonanza, the Warhol Museum, the Network for New Music Concert Se-ries, the Left Bank Concert Society, Festa Europea della Musica, St. Louis’ Sheldon Concert Hall, and in New York City at Merkin Concert Hall, the 92nd St. Y Tisch Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, among others. Mr. Hersch currently serves as chair of the composition faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Pauchi Sasaki, Composer

Described by The Wire as an artist “unafraid of working within different disciplines and stylistic constraints”; Pauchi Sasaki’s interdisciplinary approach integrates musical composition with the design of multimedia performances, the application of new technologies, and the development of self-designed instruments seeking the embodiment of electronic music performance. A composer, performer and improviser, her music recreates intimate subjective landscapes through electro-acoustic sonorities mixed with field recordings and synthesis, influenced by improvisational aesthetics and ethnic musical traditions.

An active film scorer, “Pauchi Sasaki’s effective scores” [Variety] are also featured in more than 30 feature and short films that earned her three “Best Original Score” awards from Festival de Cinema Latino Americano di Trieste in Italy (2015); CONACINE, National Film Council of Peru (2013); and Filmocorto (2011). She also received the Ibermúsicas Latin American grant for sound composition with new technologies at CMMAS-México (2015); The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, becoming the protégé of American composer Philip Glass (2016), and the Goethe-Institut’s artist residency at Salvador-Bahia (2017).

Pauchi studied with César Bolaños, Ali Akbar Khan, Maggi Payne, John Bischoff, Fred Frith, Chris Brown, James Fei, Laetitia Sonami, Les Stuck and Pauline Oliveros. She holds a BA degree in Journalism from PUCP in Lima-Perú, and an MFA degree in Recording Media and Experimental Music from Mills College in Oakland, California. She has performed at the Tokyo Experimental Festival, The Mario Testino Museum [MATE], the Art Basel Miami week, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart, The Kitchen, among other venues.

Courtney Bryan, composer

Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, La, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music ranges from solo works to large ensembles in the new music and jazz idioms, film scores, and collaborations with dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors, and is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan’s recent compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation. She performs around the New York area, and is the Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Dr. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and a DMA in music composition from Columbia University of New York, with advisor George Lewis. Bryan has been an instructor at Columbia University and Oberlin Conservatory, and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In the fall of 2016, Bryan will join the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor of Music. She has two independent recordings, “Quest for Freedom” (2007) and “This Little Light of Mine” (2010).

Jen Shyu, performer/composer

jen-shyu-2Born from Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, 2016 Doris Duke Artist Jen Shyu (Chinese name: 徐秋雁) is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Known mostly for her virtuosic singing with saxophonist and 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow Steve Coleman since 2003 and having collaborated with innovators Anthony Braxton, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek, and David Binney to name a few, she has performed her own music around the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, and National Theater of Korea and festivals around the world.

Vijay Iyer

vijay-iyer71st Ojai Music Festival: June 8-11, 2017

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat Magazine‘s Artist of the Year three times – in 2016, 2015 and 2012. Iyer was named Downbeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.

The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a collaboration with Iyer’s “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith, which the Los Angeles Times calls “haunting, meditative and transportive”; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay.

George Lewis, composer


George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 150 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Mivos Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, London Sinfonietta, Spektral Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others.

Lewis has served as Fromm Visiting Professor of Music, Harvard University; Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist in Residence, Brown University. Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself:  The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award; Lewis was elected to Honorary Membership in the Society in 2016.  Lewis is the co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword (2015), commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic.  In 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh.

Read an interview with George Lewis on New Music Box >>
Visit George Lewis’ website >>

Photo credit: Emily Peragine

Tyshawn Sorey, multi-instrumentalist and composer

Tyshawn-Sorey-325Newark-born multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey (b. 1980) is celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity, effortless mastery and memorization of highly complex scores, and extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. He has performed nationally and internationally with his own ensembles, as well as with such artists as John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, Marilyn Crispell, Steve Lehman, Evan Parker, and Myra Melford, among many others.

Benjamin Champion, composer

BenjaminChampionBenjamin Champion (15) is a sophomore, studying composition and piano at Idyllwild International Arts Academy in Idyllwild, CA. Ben began his piano composition studies in 2011 with his parents, Chris and Sandy Champion. He has also studied piano with Dr. John Walker from SDSU and composition with Kevin Michael Sullivan at Idyllwild. Ben currently studies composition with Mark Carlson of UCLA, and piano with Dr. Jeanette Louise Yaryan, and Parvati Mani at Idyllwild. Under Dr. Walker’s instruction, Benjamin won first place in the 2013 Grant Piano competition and the South Dakota Music Teacher’s Association for piano and composition, Junior Division. In the summer of 2014, Benjamin was chosen to study and perform as a Young Artist at the Dakota Sky International Piano Festival. Here he studied piano with Dr. Paul Tuntland Sanchez, Jacob Ertl, Dr. Gregory DeTurck, Adam Golka, Angelina Gadeliya, and Jon Kimura Parker. Benjamin also attended the Idyllwild Summer Music Camp, where he studied with Dr. Jeanette Yaryan, Parvati Mani, and Doug Ashcraft. In the summer of 2015, Ben returned to the Young Artist program at Dakota Sky International Piano Festival. He studied with Dr. Gregory DeTurk from University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Douglas Humpherys from Eastman. Benjamin has written music for piano, string quartet, vocal and chamber ensembles, and orchestra. Benjamin aspires to pursue music composition at the conservatory level.

Phyllis Chen, toy pianist and composer

PhyllisChen351Phyllis Chen is a pianist, toy pianist, and composer whose musical interests have led in numerous directions as a soloist and collaborative artist. In 2007, Chen founded the UnCaged Toy Piano Composition Competition to encourage composers to write new music for the instrument. Since its inception, the call has received over 200 toy piano pieces from composers around the globe. In 2011, she launched the first biennial UnCaged Toy Piano Festival: three days featuring new works for toy piano and a variety of toy piano performers. Each year the festival has been greeted with great enthusiasm, with audience members crossing state borders and oceans to attend.

Robby Good, composer

RobbyGoodRobby Good (15) is a sophomore at Hart High School in Santa Clarita. Robby started his musical journey at age 6 with piano lessons, and is currently studying piano with Richard Parizer. He started playing percussion at age 9 and is currently studying under Matt Cook. At 12 years of age, Robby started taking composition, percussion, and ensemble classes at California Institute of the Arts through the Saturday CAP Program. Robby’s first original percussion composition made its debut at the Cal Arts Spring Concert in 2014. In May of 2014, Robby was recognized by Assemblyman Scott Wilk for his dedication to Music Composition. In 2016, he received an honorable mention in the ACF NextNotes High School Composition Awards. While at Hart High, Robby has had the privilege to be a part of the Hart High marching and jazz bands as well as the acclaimed Wind Ensemble under the musical direction of Anthony Bailey. Robby was selected as a percussionist to the 2015 SCSBOA All-Southern High School Honor Symphonic Band. He received a Superior Rating on marimba from the SCSBOA Solo Ensemble. He was also selected to perform in the William S. Hart High School All District Honor Band as a percussionist and pianist under the direction of Professor Sharon Lavery from USC. Robby is a member of the California Scholarship Federation and the National Jr. Honor Society. He currently studies music composition with Professor Ian Krouse of UCLA.

Sharon Hurvitz, composer

SharonHurvitzSharon Hurvitz (17) has been a Composer Fellow of the LA Philharmonic since 2013. She recently won First Prize in the High School Division of the 2015 Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers, is a Music Composition Honorable Mention Winner (2016) and Merit Winner (2015) of two National YoungArts Foundation Competitions, was a 2014 Finalist in the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and a 2015 Finalist in the National Young Composers Challenge. She also was First Place winner two years in a row at the Music Teacher’s Association of California Composers Today State Contest and has been granted its highest accolade for high school and college-age composers, a five-year (2015-2020) honorary membership in The Young Composers Guild. She also was recently commissioned by the Olympia Philharmonic Society for performance by its Youth Orchestra in June 2016. Sharon is a graduate of Yamaha’s International Junior Original Concert Program, where starting at age ten, she performed her own compositions in four U.S. National Yamaha Junior Original Concerts and two National Association of Music Merchants Conventions, including NAMM’s 2012 opening Breakfast of Champions, while studying composition with Yamaha Music Academy Director, Carlton Liu. Now taking piano repertoire lessons with Mark Richman, she has performed in four Celebration of Young Talent Concerts (2 Concerto, 2 Chamber), and numerous other recitals for solo, chamber and piano 4-hands. Sharon also studied violin for 8 years with Chyi-Yau Lee of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, and took four years of cello at public schools in San Gabriel, California, where she became Principal Cellist with the Advanced Orchestra and recipient of a 2012 U.S. National School Orchestra Award. She then enrolled in the Classical Piano Department of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where she has won its 2014 and 2015 Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Music – Piano, and is also a 2015 College Board AP Scholar with Honor. Sharon is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, having studied at the Chinese School of San Marino for 8 years.

Carla Kihlstedt

carla-kihstedt-325Though Carla Kihlstedt began her journey with music as a classical violinist, she has become equally committed to the craft of singing, songwriting, composing, and improvising. She is a founding member of a wide variety of ensembles, including Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Rabbit Rabbit, The Book of Knots, Minamo, and Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava.

Tania León

Tania León is highly regarded as a composer and conductor, and for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series and co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra. In 2010 she launched the organization “Composers Now” and the month-long Composers Now Festival, celebrating living composers of all genres throughout New York City.

Amin Maalouf, poet

amin-maaloufBorn in Beirut in 1949, Amin Maalouf has lived in France since 1976. After studying sociology and economics, Maalouf joined the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, for which he travelled the world covering numerous events, from the fall of the Ethiopian monarchy to the last battle of Saigon. Forced to emigrate by the war in Lebanon, he settled in Paris, where he resumed journalism, and from where he started to travel again, from Mozambique to Iran and from Argentina to the Balkans. He became editor of the international edition of An-Nahar, then editor-in-chief of the weekly Jeune Afrique, before giving up all his posts to dedicate himself to literature.

Luca Mendoza, composer

LucaMendozaLuca Mendoza (17) a junior at Crossroads School, studies Jazz piano with Alan Pasqua, classical piano with Rina Dokshitsky and plays in Lee Secard’s Colburn Jazz ensembles and Evan Avery’s Crossroads A Band. Luca is the 2016 National YoungArts Finalist for Jazz piano and Merit Jazz composition winner. Also this year, Luca won the Jazz performance LA Music Center Spotlight Award after being the Honorable Mention Spotlight recipient in 2015. He received an Outstanding Solo Award at the Monterey NextGen Jazz Festival and four Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards for composition. He has been chosen for the 2016 Monterey NextGen Jazz Orchestra, and was a participant in the Vail Jazz Workshop and Brubeck Jazz Colony. Luca has also been a part of the Colburn Musical Encounters for five years, fostering music education throughout Los Angeles inner city schools. His other awards include first or honorable mentions in the Southwest Youth Music Festival and Glendale classical competitions as well as a solo award and first place in the Fullerton Jazz Festival. He has also recently performed at the Panama Jazz Festival and chamber music with the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute during a live radio broadcast.