VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES:  American Composers Orchestra Announces 2020-2021 Season featuring programming with Derek Bermel, Artistic Director & George Manahan, Music Director

by Patrick D. McCoy

The American Composers Orchestra recently unveiled an inviting virtual season of performances that featuring  virtual world premieres of new commissions.  Live streaming will begin on August 23, August 30, September1 3, and October 4 at 5 PM.  In addition to the performances being offered, professional development seminars for emerging composers and composer-to-composer conversations launch online in September 2020.

JENNIFER KOH – violinist photographed in New York City

ACO and Jennifer Koh at Carnegie Hall | Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 7:30pm

World Premiere by 2019 ACO Underwood New Music Readings Winner Carlos Bandera, plus the New York Premieres of Two Violin Concertos for Jennifer Koh by Lisa Bielawa and Christopher Cerrone.

An Evening of Sound, Voice, Poetry and Healing | Late Spring 2021

The evening will include the New York premiere of “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” by Joel Thompson

Co-Presented by ACO and the Apollo Theater, featuring Music by Joel Thompson, Carlos Simon, and Tania León. The evening will be co-curated and directed by Jonathan McCrory in partnership with National Black Theatre.  An Evening of Sound, Voice, Poetry, and Healing will showcase three musical works written to create space for remembrance, mourning, celebration, and reflection. Directed and co-curated by National Black Theatre Artistic Director Jonathan McCrory, with musical co-curation by ACO’s Derek Bermel, the evening will include the New York premieres of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson.

Carlos Simon, the newly hired faculty member at Georgetown University will have the premiere of his “Amen!” featured on the series.

AMEN! by Carlos Simon, as well as Reflections by Tania León, a setting of poems by Rita Dove. Featuring ACO with additional instrumentalists from Black-led musical organizations and members of community and church choirs from the New York Area, the performance will combine music with spoken word and other rituals. Additional details, including workshops and audience conversation events, will be announced at a later date.

Reflections by Tania León, a setting of poems by Rita Dove.



“The opportunity to collaborate with the historic Apollo Theater allows ACO to project our core values – artistic excellence, community engagement, and showcasing vibrant American voices,” said Derek Bermel. “Our partnership on this project – which features three new and vibrant orchestral works by Tania León, Carlos Simon and Joel Thompson – has been a year in the making, but unfortunately, the themes resonate today more urgently than ever throughout our city, country, and beyond.”


30th ACO EarShot New Music Readings in New York City | June 17 and 18, 2021

ACO’s Pathways Pilot Program supported by League of American Orchestra’s Futures Fund Launches in 2020-2021 with First Pilot Fellow Anjna Swaminathan

ACO Commission Club Continues with Composer Lisa Bielawa

To explore the entire season, visit:

A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and serves on the music faculty of Virginia State University where he teaches applied voice, music appreciation and assist with the University Concert Choir. Visit

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