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Teddy Abrams & Louisville Orchestra Announce Resident Composers for 2023-24 and 2024-25 Creators Corps

Left to right: Nkeiru Okoye (photo: HV Digital Arts), Tanner Porter (photo: Titilayo Ayangade), Alex Berko (photo: courtesy of Louisville Orchestra)

Oswald Huỳnh (photo: Allison Davis), Baldwin Giang (photo: Max Orenstein), Brittany Green (photo: Shanita Dixon)

“A pioneering force in new music.”

Billboard on the Louisville Orchestra

(June 2023) — Building on the success of the inaugural year of the Louisville Orchestra (LO) Creators Corps, the LO is pleased to announce the appointment of Creators through the 2024-25 season. The 2023-24 Creators are Alex Berko, Nkeiru Okoye and Tanner Porter, and the 2024-25 Creators will be Baldwin Giang, Brittany J. Green and Oswald Huỳnh.

A first-of-its-kind program that deeply integrates artists in the city of Louisville and with the orchestra, the Creators Corps selects three Creators each year to move to Louisville for the upcoming season and live in the Shelby Park neighborhood for at least 30 weeks. The Creators serve as LO staff members, receiving an annual salary, health insurance, housing, and custom-built studio workspaces. Throughout their residencies, the Creators compose new works to be performed by the orchestra, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and become active, engaged citizens of Louisville.

The Creators Corps initiative builds on the Louisville Orchestra’s earliest history and personality as an institution. Starting in 1947, the orchestra began an ambitious and unprecedented project of commissioning new orchestral works from composers worldwide. At a time when even the most prestigious orchestras were offering few pieces by living composers, the Louisville Orchestra commissioned and premiered 21 works in just three seasons. With the launch of First Edition Records in 1955, the LO became the first American orchestra to own a recording label when it received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers. Known as a pioneer in new music ever since, the orchestra has commissioned more than 150 works from luminary composers, including Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Ibert, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and a host of others. From 1947 to the 1977-78 season, no other orchestra equaled the impact of the Louisville Orchestra in bringing to life the works of contemporary composers.

Conceived as a successor project to First Edition Records, the Creators Corps also represents a giant leap forward. The initiative asks the three invited Creators to act as artist-leaders, developing meaningful relationships with neighborhood residents and embodying the orchestra’s conviction that music is a fundamental part of civic life.

As in the 2022-23 season of the Creators Corps program, original works by the composers will be presented throughout the season in the LO Classics Series and in the “Music Without Borders” and “Once Upon An Orchestra” concerts of the orchestra’s Education and Community Partnership initiatives. The 2023-24 season will conclude in May 2024 with a festival of music showcasing world premieres by the Creators Corps that have been composed for the Louisville Orchestra and inspired by their residency in Louisville.

Louisville Orchestra Chief Executive Graham Parker explains:

“Since our founding in 1937 and continuing with our ground-breaking First Edition Commissions and Recordings, the Louisville Orchestra has been singular in its dedication to the support of composers and the creation of new music. Therefore, building from the success of our first year of the Creators Corps, we are so excited to be able to announce the next two classes of Creators who will expand our legacy. These six distinct voices in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 classes will bring unique perspectives to the Louisville community, inspiring us all to be the most creative city we could imagine.”

The Creators Corps program has been funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation and from the generous support of additional individual donors locally and nationally.

About the 2023-24 Creators Corps

Alex Berko

The “stirring” (New York Times) and “intoxicating” (Philadelphia Inquirer) music of American composer Alex Berko is characterized by a balance of intimacy and power, a keen sense of lyricism and emotional sensitivity, and a love of narrative. Berko’s music often poses questions about our personal environments and relationships to one another, and he is interested in weaving listeners through intimate stories and perspectives with universal values.

Berko’s music has been widely performed throughout the U.S. and abroad by orchestras, choirs, and chamber ensembles. He has received two consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Awards for his orchestral and choral music (2021 and 2022) and earned a regional Emmy Award for a recent collaboration with composer Daniel Bayot and the LeBron James Family Foundation. Berko’s Lincoln was included on The Crossing’s album, Rising w/ The Crossing released by New Focus Records. The album was met with critical acclaim: it was nominated for a 2022 Grammy for Best Choral Performance, as well as being included in the “25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020” by the New York Times and NPR’s “A Diary of Classical Albums For A Troubled 2020.”

Berko holds an MM in composition from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he was a Brown Fellow. He received his BM in composition, an outside concentration in piano, and a certificate in entrepreneurship from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Originally from Cleveland, Berko received extensive training at the Cleveland Institute of Music preparatory division. Berko currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his partner, Laura, and his puppy, Riley.

Nkeiru Okoye

Nkeiru Okoye is an American-born composer of African American and Nigerian ancestry. She was born in New York, NY and raised on Long Island.  After studying composition, music theory, piano, conducting, and Africana Studies at Oberlin Conservatory, she pursued graduate studies at Rutgers University and became one of the leading African American women composers. An activist through the arts, Dr. Okoye creates a body of work that welcomes and affirms both traditional and new audiences. Hailed as “gripping” and “evocative” by the New York Times, her works have been commissioned, performed and presented by the Detroit Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Opera North UK, Houston Grand Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project and many others.

Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship, writing for Your Classical Music on Minnesota Public Radio, wrote, “Composer Nkeiru Okoye doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of classical category. Her compositions showcase her genius by incorporating different types of musical styles that help create a sound that’s uniquely hers.”


Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the inaugural International Florence Price Festival award for composition, a Beneva Foundation Award, composer grants from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, many awards from ASCAP, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

An educator, Dr. Okoye has taught masterclasses and composition classes in colleges and universities throughout the U.S., including University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory, University of Denver and others. She has been a featured composer at panels for Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Composers Now, Gateways Music Festival, the Conductors Guild, and Opera America. In 2007, She gave the keynote address at Coppin State University’s Inaugural Celebration of Student Excellence. In 2017, she was the keynote speaker at the Harriet Tubman Conference in Cambridge, Maryland.


Dr. Okoye’s music has been recorded on labels such as Albany Records, MSR Classics, and Rising Sun Music. Her works are published by Theodore Presser Music and Carl Fischer Music. They are available throughout the world.

Tanner Porter

Tanner Porter is a composer-performer and songwriter. In her “original art songs that are by turns seductive and confessional” (New Yorker), Porter explores her passion for storytelling, often framing her work within the imagery of the California coast she grew up on. Porter’s orchestral music, described as “drop-dead gorgeous” (Broadway World), has been commissioned by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, and Nu Deco Ensemble, among others.

Music as a vehicle for the mingling of multiple artistic mediums is at the heart of Porter’s work, stemming from a reverence for theatrical productions and a deep love of song arrangement. She is thrilled to have collaborated with choreographer Claudia Schreier on two new ballets: Slipstream, for the Boston Ballet, and Kin, commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet and hailed as “a total-stage spectacle” (San Francisco Chronicle). Porter’s short opera Boughs was recently commissioned and premiered by Barnard College and Columbia University’s New Opera Workshop. As an arranger, Porter orchestrated Grammy award-winning songwriter Aoife O’Donovan’s America, Come for its premiere with the Orlando Philharmonic, and co-arranged Holst’s The Planets for the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Dance Heginbotham with music direction by Eric Jacobsen.

She was a 2022 Early Career Musician in Residence at Dumbarton Oaks, and has been a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Next Festival of Emerging Artists. Her works have been presented at Carnegie Hall, the New World Symphony’s New World Center, and the American Composers Orchestras Connecting ACO Community virtual series, among others. She was a 2019 recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Scholarship. Her most recent album of songs, The Summer Sinks, was recorded with LA-based studio Oak House Recording and can be heard on all streaming platforms.

Porter holds degrees in composition from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance (BM) and the Yale School of Music (MM) and is a member of the ANTiCX collective.

About the 2024-25 Creators Corps

Baldwin Giang

Baldwin Giang is an internationally performed composer, pianist, interdisciplinary creator, and educator whose music aims to empower communities of audiences and performers by creating concert experiences that are opportunities for collective wonder and judgment. He won the Samuel Barber Rome Prize and will be in residence as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 2023-24. Giang is currently a 2022-23 Fulbright fellow in Taiwan, developing an intermedia project for pipa, ensemble, and video. He was a nominee/finalist for the 2022 Gaudeamus Award, the most prestigious international prize for composers under 35. Described as “taut and cohesive…challenging and rewarding” (Cacophony), Giang’s music has been performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, and Château de Fontainebleau. He has received commissions from the National Sawdust Ensemble, Metropolis Ensemble, New York Youth Symphony, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, among many others.

Giang is a graduate of Yale University, earning a BA with Honors in both Music and Political Science, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, earning a MA as a Regents Fellow. His composition roses for sinfonietta won a 2022 ASCAP Morton Gould Award as well as the Leo Kaplan Award for the top piece submitted out of 500+ entries that year. As a winner of the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music Prize, Giang won a commission for a new work premiered in Carnegie Hall in May 2019. He is also a laureate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Orchestra Composers Project, which commissioned him to write a piece that was premiered at Chicago’s Symphony Center. His music has been published by PARMA as a winner of their composer competition.

Giang is currently a PhD student and Division of Humanities Fellow at the University of Chicago where he studies with Augusta Read Thomas, Sam Pluta, Anthony Cheung, Hans Thomalla, Courtney Bryan, and Felipe Lara. He has studied with Bright Sheng, Christopher Theofanidis, Yehudi Wyner, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and many others. Recent and upcoming projects in 2022-23 include a new commission from Loadbang; a Susan and Ford Schumann composer fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival; and new collaborations with Ekmeles vocal ensemble, Sandbox Percussion, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Ensemble Garage (Germany), Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.

Brittany Green

Brittany J. Green is a North Carolina-based composer, performer, and educator. Described as “a creative force of attention-seizing versatility” (Washington Post) and “cinematic in the best sense” (Chicago Classical Review), Green’s music works to facilitate collaborative, intimate musical spaces that ignite visceral responses. The intersections between sound, video, movement, and text serve as the focal point of these musical spaces, often questioning and redefining the relationships between these four elements. Recent works engage sonification and Black feminist theory as tools for sonic world-building, exploring the construction, displacement, and rupture of systems.

Green’s research and creative interests include contextualizing the work of Julius Eastman through the lens of queer and critical race theory. Her music has been featured at concerts and festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Switzerland including the Boulanger Initiative’s WoCo Fest, the Society of Composers National Conference, New York City Electronic Music Festival, SPLICE Institute, and Experimental Sound Studio. She has presented research at the North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference, East Carolina University’s Research and Creative Arts Week, and the Darkwater Women in Music Festival. Her music has been commissioned and performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Transient Canvas, and the Emory University Symphony Orchestra. She has held residencies with Copland House, TimeSlips, and the Young Composers Project. Current projects include commissions by Castle of our Skins, Jack Thorpe, and Wachovia Winds Youth Wind Ensemble, and Black Echoes//Brick Ripples, an audio-visual interactive installation created in collaboration with media artist Kate Alexandrite.

Green’s music has been awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Charles Ives Scholarship (2022), ASCAP Foundation’s Morton Gould Award (2021), and New Music USA’s Creator Development Grant (2021). She holds a BM in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and an MM in Music Composition and Theory from East Carolina University. She is currently in residence at Duke University, pursuing a PhD in Music Composition as a Deans Graduate Fellow. In her free time, Green enjoys learning about aviation, traveling, reading poetry, line dancing, video games, being in community with others, and spending time in front of the bonfire.

Oswald Huỳnh

Oswald Huỳnh is a composer whose works navigate Vietnamese aesthetics and tradition, language and translation, and the relationship between heritage and identity. Huỳnh writes music that explores timbre and texture to create evocative soundscapes rooted in storytelling, culture, and memory.

As a composer, Huỳnh has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by artists such as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Alarm Will Sound, American Composers Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Pacific Chamber Orchestra, and Akropolis Reed Quintet, among many others. Huỳnh’s music has been presented at the Copland House, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, International Composition Institute of Thailand, Ear Taxi Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, and Wintergreen Music Festival, among others. He is the winner of the Musiqa Emerging Composer Commission (2022), IPO Classical Evolve Composer Competition (2022), Black Bayou Composition Award (2022), Rena J. Ratte Memorial Award (2019), and has received recognition from the American Composers Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Society of Composers, and Pacific Chamber Orchestra. Huỳnh will serve as the Composer-in-Residence with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for their 2023-24 season.

Huỳnh holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark College and a Master of Music from the University of Missouri. His principal teachers include Texu Kim, Stefan Freund, Carolina Heredia, and Michael Johanson.

About the Louisville Orchestra

Established in 1937 through the combined efforts of businessman Dann C. Byck, and conductor Robert Whitney, the Louisville Orchestra (LO) is a cornerstone of the Louisville arts community. An audacious plan by Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley launched the Louisville Orchestra First Edition Records in 1947 and the LO became the first American orchestra to own a recording label. Six years later it received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers, thereby earning a place on the international circuit. In 2001, the Louisville Orchestra received the Leonard Bernstein Award for Excellence in Educational Programming, presented annually to a North American orchestra. Continuing its commitment to new music, the Louisville Orchestra has earned 19 ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music and was also awarded large grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the National Endowment for the Arts, both for the purpose of producing, manufacturing and marketing its historic First Edition Recordings collections. Over the years, the orchestra has performed for prestigious events at the White House, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and on tour in Mexico City, and their last two albums for the Decca Gold label, All In (2017) and The Order of Nature (2019) – the latter launched with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – both topped the Billboard Classical and Crossover charts. The feature-length, Gramophone Award-winning documentary Music Makes a City (2010) chronicles the Louisville Orchestra’s founding years, and, in spring 2018, Music Director Teddy Abrams and the orchestra were profiled on the popular television program CBS Sunday Morning.

The 2022-23 season has seen further innovation from the orchestra, not only through the Creators Corps initiative, but also a historic concert premiering Abrams’s composition Mammoth in Mammoth Cave featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the launching of the state-wide “In Harmony” tour throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky, made possible through a partnership with the Kentucky General Assembly in conjunction with the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet.

High-resolution photos are available here.

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© 21C Media Group, June 2023


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