Music historians often refer to jazz as the United States’ classical music. The genre was born out of the African American experience, from Miles Davis’ cool beginnings to the gully free jazz compositions of Alice Coltrane. It took expressive ideas and rhythms and developed those perspectives into authentic US music.
Over several decades, jazz soundtracked history, transcended racial lines, and spoke in unison to and for a country. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco Symphony are now partnering for a major new initiative, developed in partnership with the SFCM President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, that will platform more United States tunesmiths over the next decade.
Earlier this month the two organizations announced a joint venture: The Emerging Black Composers Project, which will commission 10 composers over the next 10 years with $15,000 and artistic mentorship from Oakland Symphony Music Director and SFCM faculty member Michael Morgan, SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater, and leading composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, the San Francisco Symphony’s music director.
Applications are now open to Black American composers who are US citizens or permanent residents and have degrees in music composition or performance (or the equivalent in professional experience.)
Composers have until December 31st to apply and all applications will go through an anonymous review process emulating blind auditions so that gender, age, and other identifying data are concealed to eliminate unintentional bias. Industry leaders Anthony Davis, Carmen Bradford, Joseph Young, Germaine Franco, Elinor Armer, and John Adams join Michael Morgan, Edwin Outwater, and Esa-Pekka Salonen on the review panel, and the announcing committee for the premiere commission that will publish recipients’ names in spring 2021.