MENLO PARK and SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce six $50,000 grants for the creation and world premiere of six major new musical compositions by leading young California composers.

Half of each award will be given as a commission fee to a California composer, aged 35 or younger at the time of application, for a new piece or suite of new works. The remaining $25,000 will go to the nonprofit performing arts organization that nominated the composer, for expenses related to the costs of presenting the world premiere of the composition in the Bay Area. All of the six commissioned works will premiere in the Bay Area, sometime between September 2008 and June 2010.

These grants are part of a three-year $900,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations to support Bay Area performing artists and arts organizations at a time when funding has been increasingly difficult to come by. In 2005 the initiative funded six $50,000 commissions for emerging choreographers and in 2006 funded six $50,000 commissions for emerging playwrights.

The six recipients of the 2007 Emerging Composer Awards are (in alphabetical order by organization):

The Crucible/Dan Cantrell: The Crucible, producer of the annual Fire Arts Festival in Oakland, will commission Oakland composer-musician Dan Cantrell’s “The Rootabaga Opera,” a narrative work with American, Chinese and Eastern European musical influences, inspired by the children’s stories of the great American poet and folk musician Carl Sandburg.

Musical Traditions (Paul Dresher Ensemble)/Ryan Brown: San Francisco’s contemporary creative music organization, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, will underwrite composer and jazz-rock instrumentalist Ryan Brown’s new chamber work for Dresher’s six-piece Electro-Acoustic Band.

Other Minds/Catherine Lamb: The San Francisco new-music presenter Other Minds will commission Catherine Lamb, of Los Angeles, to create “Dilations,” a work in four movements for vocals, clarinets and cellos, which will explore elements of pitch, harmony and timbre.

ROVA Arts/Carla Kihlstedt: San Francisco-based ROVA Saxophone Quartet will commission Oakland composer Carla Kihlstedt to create a half-hour work based on texts about the impact of the Industrial Revolution. The work will be collaboratively developed for saxophones and such industrial “instruments” as zippers, sheet metal and broken glass.

San Francisco Chanticleer, Inc./Mason Bates: The world-famous men’s choral group Chanticleer will commission Oakland-based composer Mason Bates to create a multipart, a cappella choral piece for twelve singers, based on sacred themes drawn from biblical imagery.

San Francisco Jazz Organization (SF Jazz)/Adam Theis: SF Jazz, the producer of the annual SF Jazz Festival, will commission San Francisco composer-performer Adam Theis to create an hour-long suite, merging modern jazz and symphonic instrumentation with hip-hop and electronic music.

The quantity, range and quality of applications for the Emerging Composer Award program illustrate the vitality of the Bay Area’s contemporary music scene and the need to support and encourage it, according to Gerbode Foundation President Thomas Layton. “It is clear that there is a gifted new generation of composers coming up, eager to explore and develop their musical visions,” says Layton. “In the past we have offered major assistance to such leading Bay Area composers as Pablo Ortiz, John Adams, Lou Harrison and Miya Masaoka. This program is a great opportunity to invest in the next wave of Bay Area musical creators and the producing organizations that are nurturing and presenting their work.”

“We are pleased and excited to have the opportunity to support commissions for young artists. This program is helping to make the future of the arts happen in the Bay Area,” says Moy Eng, director of the Performing Arts Program at the Hewlett Foundation.

The Gerbode and Hewlett foundations were assisted in making these grants by an advisory panel composed of the following nationally respected music professionals:

Claire Chase, a New York flutist who runs the respected International Contemporary Ensemble
Paul Chihara, an admired composer for films and dance companies (including the SF Ballet) and a professor of music at the University of California, Los Angeles
Chuck Helm, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts, in Columbus, Ohio
John Kennedy, composer and conductor, and the artistic director of Santa Fe New Music and artistic associate of the Spoleto Festival USA
Tania Leon, a Cuban-American composer, conductor and educator and distinguished professor at City University of New York

About The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is interested in programs and projects offering potential for significant impact. The primary geographical focus is on the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. The Foundation’s interests generally fall under the categories of arts and culture, environment, reproductive rights and health, citizen participation, building communities, inclusiveness, strength of the philanthropic process and the nonprofit sector, and Foundation-initiated special projects.

About the Special Awards Program
For nearly twenty years, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to San Francisco Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works from gifted individual artists: playwrights (including Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Alonzo King and Margaret Jenkins), composers (John Adams, Paul Dresher and Tony Williams among them), as well as visual artists, poets and multimedia artists.

In a time of cultural shifts and fiscal insecurity in the arts, these coveted, nationally respected awards have helped underwrite culturally and aesthetically diverse, acclaimed new works by prominent artists and emerging ones. The grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers; enabled nonprofit local arts groups to develop and debut substantial, original works; and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious new creations.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The Hewlett Foundation makes grants to solve some of the most difficult social and environmental problems facing society. The Performing Arts Program is founded on the premise that the experience, understanding and appreciation of artistic expression give value, meaning and enjoyment to people’s lives. Its mission is to support artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking aimed at supporting high-quality arts organizations. Since 1967, the Hewlett Foundation has awarded nearly 1,500 grants totaling $135 million to performing arts organizations in the Bay Area. Both the scale of funding and the singular nature of multiyear general operating support have made the Hewlett Foundation a key investor in the cultural life of the Bay Area.