The League of Composers, created in 1923, is the nation’s oldest organization devoted to contemporary music. The League draws on a remarkably rich history, including such groundbreaking premieres as Schönberg’s Die Glückliche Hand, Béla Bartók’s Village Scenes, Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata and Anton Webern’s Symphony for Chamber Orchestra. The League also sponsored the American premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du Printemps, many pieces by Aaron Copland, György Ligeti’s Horn Trio, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Harlequin, and many works by former honorary Board Co-Chairs Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt.
The League of Composers/ISCM seeks to have “new music” (20th and 21st-century music) play a more prominent role and obtain a more appreciated place in the lives of the concert music-loving public. The League’s mission is to engage audiences by presenting performances of new music of the highest caliber written by emerging and established living composers in the context of 20th and 21st-century masterpieces.
The Orchestra of the League of Composers presented its debut concert at Miller Theatre six years ago, on June 10, 2009, in a program of music by Elliott Carter, Christopher Dietz, Julia Wolfe, Charles Wuorinen, and Alvin Singleton, conducted by Louis Karchin. Since its founding, the orchestra has commissioned and premiered nine new works, by Alvin Singleton, Jason Treuting, Missy Mazzoli, Arthur Krieger, David Rakowski, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Keith Fitch, Wang Jie, and Suzanne Farrin, and presented six New York, three American and eleven World Premieres.
Although New York City offers an unparalleled array of chamber music concerts throughout the year, there remains a limited number of opportunities to experience new music through the richness of the orchestra. The orchestral works of established living composers are rarely performed, and the works of emerging composers are performed even less. To fill this void, we created the Orchestra of the League of Composers by expanding the Chamber Players of the League/ISCM. At the same time, the League continues to co-sponsor various performers and ensembles during its concert season.