Walter Bitner

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2017 Composer Lab & Workshop

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Next month, the Nashville Symphony will host our second Composer Lab & Workshop, an unique opportunity for young composers to hear their music performed by the Nashville Symphony and receive mentoring and feedback from orchestra professionals.

Four young composers had been selected for this year’s three day event from November 13 – 15, one of whom may potentially earn a performance of their work on the Nashville Symphony’s 2018/19 Classical Series.

FREE tickets are available now! to a performance on November 14 at which the Nashville Symphony, under the baton of Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, will conduct the selected work by each of this year’s Composer Lab Fellows.

Four promising young composers were selected following a nationwide call for submissions and an intensive evaluation process:

Emily Cooley is a Philadelphia-based composer of orchestral, chamber and vocal music.




Currently based in New York City, James Diaz is one of Colombia’s most promising composers.




Born in the USSR in what is now modern-day Uzbekistan and raised in a Russian-Korean musical family, Liliya Ugay is an award-winning composer and pianist.


Dr. Shen Yiwen is a Chinese composer, conductor and pianist whose music has been performed on six continents.



Learn more about this year’s Composer Lab Fellows and their works to be performed on November 14 here – and follow the link for each composer above to go to their individual websites.


Composer Lab & Workshop is led by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Pulitzer Prize- winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who serves as Workshop Director.  This program to identify and celebrate emerging talent is among the most comprehensive of its kind anywhere in the United States.

During their visit, all four Composer Lab fellows will participate in a hands-on learning experience with workshop sessions covering key aspects of composing, performing and music industry practices, including:

  • Reading sessions with the Nashville Symphony
  • Individual mentoring sessions with Giancarlo Guerrero and Aaron Jay Kernis
  • Meetings with composer Chen Yi, composer Conni Ellisor, Copland House executive director Michael Boriskin and Nashville Symphony assistant conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez
  • Group meetings with Nashville Symphony musicians to sharpen instrumental writing
  • A “Business Essentials for Composers” briefing led by Jim Kendrick of ASCAP, covering copyrights, licenses, contracts and negotiations, commissions, publishing and more


Composer Lab & Workshop 2015: (l to r) composers Jacob Bancks, Gabriela Smith, Sonnet Swire, Daniel Schlosberg, and Michael Laurello (with microphone), with Vinay Parameswaran, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Giancarlo Guerrero. Gabriela Smith’s composition Tumblebird Contrails was selected from the 2015 workshop and was performed by the Nashville Symphony on our 2016-17 Classical Series. (click photos to enlarge) ~ photo by Sally Bebawy

Learn more about the 2015 Composer Lab & Workshop here.


This program is an important part of the Symphony’s long-standing commitment to promote the creation of new, forward-thinking American music. Each of these gifted artists represents the vibrancy and diversity of our country today, and each is helping to shape the sound of orchestral music in the 21st century. We’re so thrilled to welcome them to Nashville and to help them take the next step in their careers — and we invite the community to hear what we believe will be the classics of the future.

Giancarlo Guerrero

The Composer Lab & Workshop community event on November 14 at 7 pm will feature the following works performed by the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero in Laura Turner Hall at Schermerhorn Symphony Center:

Emily Cooley – Argo
James Diaz – Mirrors in the Void
Liliya Ugay – Oblivion
Shen Yiwen – Reminiscence and Oblivion

This event is free and open to the public, but you must have a ticket to attend. Reserve your seats here.

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