2011-08-25, Composers and Schools in Concert Launches; Fosters Collaborations between High School Music Ensembles and Renowned Composers

Sacramento, CA  ‐‐ New non‐profit organization Composers and Schools in Concert (CSIC) has a mission: Help revive gutted music programs and develop the next generation of American artists, by bringing acclaimed composers into schools for musical collaborations. “I launched Composers and Schools in Concert because I was concerned about diminishing support for school music programs, and I was likewise enthused by the idea of creating opportunities for composers of new American classical and jazz music,” says Lisa Oman, Founder and Executive Director of the organization. “I wanted to establish a way for composers and schools to easily connect with each other, and to support them with grants and revenue‐generating opportunities, and to foster collaborations between them.” To engender these collaborations, CSIC offers networking tools, a membership program, grant programs, and sponsorship of musical events at which high school ensembles premiere commissioned works by professional composers.

Composers and Schools in Concert has quickly garnered a following among denizens of professional and educational music circles, and the launch of the organization has been a labor of love for all involved. Steve Horowitz, the Grammy award‐winning San Francisco‐based composer, (his credits include the soundtrack for “Super Size Me,”), and one of the first professional composers to sign on, says, “I love CSIC, why? Because in these trying times, it is rare to find such a focused organization that is helping to improve music education in the U.S. with forward‐thinking and direct actions.” Horowitz continues, “In a world where all we hear about everyday is the shrinking economy, and state and federal cutbacks in education and the arts, it is no surprise that high school music programs all over the country have been downsized, or in many cases eliminated altogether. CSIC has figured out a way to help reverse this damaging trend and revitalize high school music programs.” CSIC has paired Horowitz with his alma mater, Berkeley High, and he is currently composing a piece for an ensemble of young performers from that school, to be joined onstage by the musician and avant‐garde performer Fred Frith, in the role of guest soloist.

Meanwhile, CSIC has paired Omar Thomas, the award‐winning Boston‐based composer, Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, and leader of the Omar Thomas Big Band Ensemble, with Rio Americano High School of Carmichael, CA. Thomas is currently composing a piece for Rio Americano’s award‐winning Jazz Band. Christopher Caliendo, Vaticancommissioned composer of over five hundred classical and world music works, is simultaneously creating an original work for Rio Americano’s Concert Band. Josh Murray and Max Kiesner are the Band Directors at Rio Americano High, and they were among the first educators to get involved with CSIC. “I’m always looking for opportunities for my students to experience and perform new music in professional situations,” says Murray. “In addition, the concert will generate revenue for our program, which is a huge benefit as all music programs struggle to stay afloat financially. We are thrilled to be a part of this program.” CSIC is well on its way as a community of professional composers, music educators, music organizations, and school music programs who connect, collaborate and support music education and the creation of new music. Visit www.composersandschools.com to learn more about these collaborations, and for more information about Composers and Schools in Concert .