Young American Composer-in-Residence

Announcement: New 2017-2020 Young American Composer-in-Residence

Emulating the widely-adopted blind assessment process in use by other leading orchestras for musicians, we reformed the selection process to ensure composer’s application materials would be considered without bias to age, race, or gender. All résumés, musical scores, and recordings were submitted entirely online. The selected composer had to pass three blind assessment rounds. For more on the review process for the Young American Composer-in-Residence, read Executive Director Aubrey Bergauer’s blog post here.

Among the California Symphony’s most unique programs is its Young American Composer-In-Residence program. Renowned among composers and conductors across the US, this intensely competitive residency provides an American composer with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with Maestro Cabrera and the California Symphony over three consecutive years to create, rehearse, premiere, and record three major orchestra compositions, one each season.

Since the residency was established in 1991, seven talented Americans have completed the program:

Dan Visconti 2014–2017
2015 Winner–Koussevitsky Commission Award
Past Winner–Rome Prize
Past Winner–Berlin Prize
Past Winner–Bearns Prize from Columbia University
Past Winner–Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing Arts
Past Winner–Barlow Prize
Past Winner–Cleveland Arts Prize
Awards–BMI, ASCAP, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Society of Composers, and the Naumburg Foundation
D. J. Sparr 2011–2014
BMIFoundation/Boudleaux Bryant Fund commission (for Eighth Blackbird) 2000
BMIStudent Composer Awards 1995, 2000
BMG/Williams CollegeNational Young Composers Competition, Grand Prize 1997
Howard Hanson Large Ensemble Prize (Eastman School of Music) 1997
Howard Hanson Orchestra Prize (Eastman School of Music) 1996
League of Composers/ISCM Composers’ Competition Winner 2009
Richmond SymphonyComposer-in-Residence 2009-2011
Mason Bates 2007–2010
Past winner—Rome Prize in Composition
Chicago Symphony—Composer in Residence 2010–2015
Kennedy Center—Composer in Residence 2015–2016
Kevin Beavers 2002–2005
2001 First Prize– Philadelphia Orchestra Centennial Composition Competition
2000 First Prize–ASCAP Nissim Prize
Pierre Jalbert 1999–2002
2001 winner—International Masterprize in Composition
2002–2005 Composer in Residence—Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Past winner—Rome Prize in Composition
2007 winner—Stoeger Prize from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
2010 winner American Academy of Arts and Letter in Composition
Kevin Puts 1996–1999
2012 winner—Pulitzer Prize for Music
Past winner—Rome Prize in Composition
Christopher Theofanidis 1994–1996
2003 winner—International Masterprize in Composition
Past winner—Rome Prize in Composition
Kamran Ince 1991–1992
Past winner—Rome Prize in Composition

Dan ViscontiDan Visconti
2014–2017 Young American Composer-in-Residence

In June 2014, Dan Visconti (b. 1982), was announced as the California Symphony’s eighth YACR, rising to the top among a pool of over 80 candidates from across the country. Visconti’s compositions have been honored with the Rome Prize and Berlin Prize fellowships, the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing Arts, and the Barlow Prize, along with awards from BMI, ASCAP, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Visconti's music is infused with the directness of expression and maverick spirit of the American vernacular. His compositions often explore the rough timbres, propulsive rhythms, and improvisational energy characteristic of jazz, bluegrass, and rock—elements that collide in surprising ways with classical orchestral traditions. In great demand across the country, Mr. Visconti has already been commissioned by the Jupiter Quartet, the American Composers Orchestra, cellist Joshua Roman and pianist Helen Huang, soprano Lucy Shelton and the Da Capo Chamber Players, Kronos Quartet, and many other, internationally recognized ensembles. 

Dan's newest commission for the California Symphony will be premiered on our season finale concert in May.


Katherine BlachKatherine Balch
2017–2020 Young American Composer-in-Residence

In a record year for applications to this program, California Symphony and Music Director Donato Cabrera are thrilled to announce the selection of the 2017-2020 Young American Composer-in-Residence, Katherine Balch.

Katherine Balch (b.1991), writes music that seeks to capture the intimate details of existence through sound. Often influenced by the extra-musical arts, literature, and philosophy, she pursues a heterogeneous yet formally cohesive aesthetic characterized by gestural lyricism. Her music has been commissioned and performed by symphony orchestras from coast to coast and internationally. Katherine completed her B.A./B.M. in the Tufts University/ New England Conservatory joint-degree program, where she double majored in history and political science at Tufts and studied composition at NEC and an M.M. from Yale School of Music, where she studied with Aaron Kernis, Christopher Theofanidis (a former California Symphony Young American Composer-in-Residence), and David Lang. She recently began her D.M.A. at Columbia University, studying with Georg Haas. She is also a faculty member of Bard College-Conservatory’s preparatory division and the Walden School.

“Katherine’s music has a depth of emotion and sense of assuredness that is immediately audible from the moment you begin listening to one of her pieces.”
— Music Director Donato Cabrera.