New Commissioning Program for American Music Established

A total of $950,000 has been earmarked for a new Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, a development that takes the National Endowment for the Arts out of the commissioning business and makes the new program the largest of its kind in the nation.

Frank Hodsoll, National Endowment for the Arts chairman, contends that the program, which will be announced today in New York, "will have a dramatic impact on the music field."

The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund has provided a three-year grant of $750,000, and the National Endowment for the Arts contributed a $200,000 matching grant for the program, which will be administered by Meet the Composer.

"Through these commissions, we may be uncovering the true lasting works of our time," Meet the Composer president John Duffy said.

The program--which was also designed by Meet the Composer, a 14-year-old arts corporation best known for funding composer residencies with major symphony orchestras--replaces the NEA's own commissioning program, according to William Vickery, the new director of the music program at the endowment.

Grants will be awarded in seven music categories, ranging from symphony orchestras to jazz groups. Program requirements include consortium and touring arrangements to ensure that commissioned compositions will be performed for widespread audiences. The application deadline for the first round of commissions is April 1.

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