Today, Chamber Music America announces the 2024 recipients of its renown Classical Commissioning program, which supports professional U.S.-based ensembles and presenters, whose programming includes Western European and/or non-Western classical and contemporary music, in the creation of new work. Grants are provided for the commissioning and performance of new works by American composers.

Since the Classical Commissioning program began in 1983, CMA has supported the creation of more than 280 new works in a broad range of sounds and styles. This year, three grants, totaling $40,500, are awarded to ensembles Kodachrome, Ekmeles and the Mivos Quartet, as well as the Sheffield Chamber Players. These grantees were selected among more than 130 applications through a four-day panel by four classical/contemporary composers from the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

“In the face of staggering funding cuts from outside foundations, I, on behalf of Chamber Music America, am proud to see the continuation of our Classical Commissioning program, a bedrock of this institution,” says CEO Kevin Kwan Loucks. “Supporting the creation of new music is essential to our mission, and essential to the careers of so many ensembles and composers. Many of the commissions from the past 40 years have become mainstays in the cannon. We are dedicated to not only preserving this program but continuing to build on its success. I congratulate the 2024 cohort and look forward to the finished works.”

The list of 2024 awardees and composers, along with brief descriptions of the commissioned works follows. The 2024 Classical Commissioning program is funded by Chamber Music America, with additional program support provided by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Amphion Foundation, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the CMA Endowment Fund.

Grantee:  Kodachrome (Phoenix, AZ)
Composer: Julie Zhu
Instrumentation: Soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones 

The new work for Kodachrome, which will feature video as well as live and fixed electronics, is inspired by the shape of the saxophone and continuing in the composer’s research of anthropomorphizing and sonifying elements of our natural world. Kodachrome was the winner of the 2023 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition Gold Medal and received First Prize awards at the 10th Plowman Chamber Music Competition and the 10th Coltman Chamber Music Competition. 

Composer, artist, and carillonist Julie Zhu creates conceptual and transdisciplinary work that operates on an expansive definition of algorithm. Creative and ethical use of A.I. and machine learning in the arts is one of her research interests and the focus of her Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan. 

Grantee: Ekmeles with the Mivos Quartet (New York, NY)
Composer: Evan Johnson
Instrumentation: Soprano, mezzo soprano, countertenor, tenor, baritone, bass, and guest string quartet (two violins, viola, cello) 

Composed by Evan Johnson for Ekmeles vocal ensemble with Mivos string quartet, the new work O Maria, sets to music a combination of texts, including fragments from the extended Marian antiphon O Maria salvatoris Mater (with fragmentary reference to the famous setting from the Eton Choirbook by John Browne) and from hieratic, repetitive parareligious writings of Robert Grosseteste, Giordano Bruno, and John Dee.  

Both Ekmeles and the Mivos Quartet are past Classical Commissioning grantees. Ekmeles received support for End Words by Christopher Trapani and Mouthpiece 32 by Erin Gee, and the Mivos Quartet commissioned Eric Wubbels for the work being time.

Composer Evan Johnson’s music focuses on extremes of density and of reticence, of difficulty and of sparsity, and on hiding itself. His music has been performed throughout North America, Europe, and beyond by leading ensembles such as Musikfabrik, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Trio Accanto, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Riot Ensemble, EXAUDI, and many others, as well as a wide variety of international soloists. 

Grantee: Sheffield Chamber Players (Jamaica Plain, MA) 
Composer: Kian Ravaei 
Instrumentation: Two violins, viola, cello   

The Sheffield Chamber Players, founded in 2014, specializes in intimate concerts of string-based chamber music. In 2021, they began a five-year commissioning project with the intent of presenting annual premieres by some of the country’s rising composers, including Juantio Becenti, Kenji Bunch, Jessie Montgomery, and Kevin Day.

Composer Kian Ravaei takes tone painting to a new level, synthesizing diverse inspirations ranging from the Iranian music of his ancestral heritage to the pulsating electronic music of a nightclub. He has collaborated with sought-after artists such as Lara Downes, Tessa Lark, and Anthony McGill, and has received a Copland House CULTIVATE Fellowship, a Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Composer Teaching Artist Fellowship, a Chamber Music Northwest Protégé Project Residency Award, a New Music USA Creator Fund Award, and a Barlow Endowment Commission. This fall, he will begin a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship at The Juilliard School. 

Chamber Music America, the national network of ensemble music professionals, was founded in 1977 to develop, strengthen, and support the chamber music community. With a membership including musicians, ensembles, presenters, artists’ managers, educators, music businesses, and advocates of ensemble music, CMA welcomes members representing a wide range of musical styles and traditions. In addition to its funding programs, CMA provides its members with consulting services, access to instrument and other insurances, conferences, seminars, and its quarterly publication, Chamber Music magazine.