The first cycle of the Ford Made in America program provided 65 small American orchestras — at least one from each state — the opportunity to pool resources to commission a major work from Joan Tower, the first composer to participate in the collaboration.
Schwantner's new piece will receive its world premiere from the Reno Chamber Orchestra in the autumn of 2008; it will then be performed in communities throughout the nation.
Schwantner remarked, "I am delighted to be selected as the commissioned composer for round two of this illustrious program. As one who participated in Meet The Composer's original Orchestral Residency Program with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra back in the early 1980s, I have experienced first hand the power of composers and orchestras working together to connect new music with audiences."
Newly commissioned works rarely receive multiple repeat performances; however, according to the ASOL, the project made Joan Tower the most frequently performed living American composer in the 2005-06 season. By the end of the current season, Tower's Made in America will reportedly have received more than 80 performances within a twenty-month period since its world premiere in Glens Falls, New York in October 2005.
Born in Chicago in 1943, Schwantner received his musical and academic training at the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University. He has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music and the Yale School of Music. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his orchestral composition Aftertones of Infinity and several Grammy nominations. The New York Philharmonic commissioned his Percussion Concerto for its 150th anniversary season.
Schwantner's most recent work, Morning's Embrace, was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in February 2006. Another recent project was the world premiere by the chamber group eighth blackbird in October 2006 of Rhiannon's Blackbirds; upcoming projects include a new flute quartet for the 25th anniversary season of Flute Force in 2006-07, a new concerto for three percussionists and orchestra, and a concerto for oboe, flute, bassoon and string orchestra.
Meet The Composer, a national organization, was founded in 1974 to encourage and assist composers and facilitate performances of their music.