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Top Five Orchestras To Premiere New Works

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American orchestras, already dealing with a difficult financial climate and decreasing ticket sales, also face a constant pressure to commission new works, and support recently written ones. We scanned the League of American Orchestras' list of premieres happening through 2011-12 to find the top five ensembles that will be debuting the most works over the next ten months.

1. American Composers Orchestra (Nine world premieres)

Predictably, the American Composers Orchestra, whose mission statement includes promoting the creation of new music by U.S. composers, tops the list with nine world premieres on its schedule this year. That number doesn’t count the organization’s upcoming Sonic Festival, which will debut another 24 works within its celebration of 21st century music (all of the more than 100 pieces that will be performed were written by composers younger than 40 years old).

2. Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Eight world premieres, one American premiere)

The Seattle Symphony’s new director, Ludovic Morlot, inaugurates his tenure with the ensemble with eight world premieres and one American premiere. Four come within the same program, “Sonic Evolution”, which celebrates the city’s pop, rock and grunge past with new classical works from William Brittelle (Obituary Birthday: A requiem for Kurt Cobain), Vladimir Nikolaev (The Sinewaveland: Homage to Jimi Hendrix), Cuong Vu (ONE, inspired by Quincy Jones) and Phillip A. Peterson (Savana).                               

3. New York Philharmonic (Six world premieres)

The most noteworthy premiere at the New York Philharmonic happened on Sept. 30 with John Corligliano’s One Sweet Morning. Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe sang the song cycle, which commemorates the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Upcoming premieres include pieces by Magnus Lindberg (who’s in his third year as composer-in-residence), Alexandre Lunsqui, Marc Neikrug, Yann Robin and Michael Jarrell, which will all be presented during the institution’s Contact! new music series. (Disclosure: WQXR is a broadcast partner of the Philharmonic.)

4. Los Angeles Philharmonic (Six world premieres)

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s list of world premieres is as notable for the composers it includes as well as the conductors introducing the six new works. One of the highlights of the season features former director Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the premiere of Gerard McBurney's orchestration of Shostakovich’s unfinished satirical opera, Orango. The original was only discovered in 2006. Reinbert de Leeuw will conduct two U.S. premieres of Louis Andriessen works within one concert; John Adams (who’s the LA Phil’s creative chair) premieres an untitled piece by Oscar Bettison; and Gustavo Dudamel will conduct Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Enrico Chapela’s Magnetar.

5. Northwest Symphony Orchestra (Six world premieres)

Based in Burien, Washington, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra has received recognition for promoting new works by local composers. This year, the ensemble celebrates two milestones: its 25th anniversary and playing the 125th work written by a Pacific Northwest composer. To help reach that milestone, it will premiere six works this season (four that it commissioned), and all of which were written by musicians in Oregon and Washington.