SAN FRANCISCO and MENLO PARK, Calif, — The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce six $75,000 grants for the creation and world premiere of six new works by gifted California composers, created in collaboration with another California artist of their choice. All of the commissioned musical works will have their world premieres in Bay Area public performances between December 2011 and June 2013.

The awards are the last in a three-year $1,350,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations to support fresh, dynamic collaborations in contemporary dance, theater, and music. In 2008, grants were made for choreographer collaborations, and in 2009, for playwright collaborations.

The recipients of the 2010 Composer Collaboration Awards are:

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music – Laura Karpman and independent producers/authors The Kitchen Sisters
The Cabrillo Festival, one of the leading festivals dedicated to contemporary classical music, will premiere a full-evening production from Emmy Award–winning composer Laura Karpman and The Kitchen Sisters, authors and radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson. Their multimedia symphonic collaboration, The Hidden World of Girls, will explore stories of lives shaped by the secrets girls carry with them into adulthood.

Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums – Sarah Wilson and aerial dance company Catch Me Bird
Inspired by the distinguished architecture, landscape, and visual arts collection of the de Young Museum, Off the Walls will be a new jazz composition for aerial dance, performed at varied locations outside, inside, and on the sides of the museum. This evening-length, site-specific work will feature composer Sarah Wilson, aerial dance company Catch Me Bird, and an ensemble of twelve to eighteen Bay Area musicians and dancers.

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF) – Mark Izu and choreographer Kimi Okada
JCCSF’s Eugene and Elinor Friend Center for the Arts, a forum for innovative projects in contemporary and traditional performance, will commission Mu, a multimedia, multicultural, and multidisciplinary work composed by Mark Izu and choreographed by Kimi Okada. Incorporating Korean, African, Indian, Japanese, and Hawaiian traditional music and dance, the piece heralds the end of the Mayan calendar and uses the legend of Mu, an ancient empire of blessings and noble values destroyed by materialism and greed, as a parable for today.

Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose (MACLA) – Guillermo Galindo and chamber ensemble Quinteto Latino
MACLA, a San Jose contemporary arts company grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience, incubates new visual, literary, and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. Guillermo Galindo and Quinteto Latino will create Voces del Desierto, a piece exploring the journeys of unnamed immigrants who cross the Mexico-U.S. border in search of a better life.

San Francisco Girls Chorus – Gabriela Lena Frank and librettist Nilo Cruz
One of the premier girls choruses in the United States, the San Francisco Girls Chorus will commission Gabriela Lena Frank to create a cantata for treble chorus, chamber orchestra, and vocal soloists in collaboration with librettist Nilo Cruz. Marrying the Western classical music tradition with Latin American folk music, Holy Daughters will examine the cultural clash and interchange between the European colonial and indigenous worlds and the roles and perception of women in each.

Z Space Studio – Marcus Shelby and co-creator Margo Hall
Known nationally as a premier performance development lab for artists, Z Space will commission a new work by composer/musician Marcus Shelby and actor/director/singer Margo Hall. The new musical performance piece will explore the journey of a young black woman growing up in Detroit during one of the most exciting times for music and one of the most turbulent for civil rights.

“The Gerbode Foundation is excited to support adventuresome, gifted California composers in their collaborations to create singular new works to pique our curiosity and through which to experience our world,” said Thomas C. Layton, president of the Gerbode Foundation. “These collaborations display a wide-ranging diversity and breadth of imagination—from a multimedia symphonic production about the childhood secrets and experiences that girls carry into their adulthood, to a piece about the complex journeys of immigrants coming to the United States to seek better lives, to a jazz composition performed by an aerial dance company inside, outside, and on an architectural prize–winning museum.”

“Particularly in these difficult economic times, support for the creation of new work is crucial for the continued vitality of Bay Area arts,” said John E. McGuirk, director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program. “With these grants, we’re once again delighted to be supporting some of the most innovative artistic collaborations happening anywhere.”

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

  • Rachel Cooper, director for Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at the Asia Society and expert in presenting traditional and contemporary Asian and Asian American performing arts and developing interdisciplinary programs
  • Hester Furman, independent producer and programmer of innovative classical music programs for wide-ranging audiences, from commercial and public radio broadcasts to concert halls
  • Heather Hitchens, executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts and former president of Meet the Composer, the renowned composer service organization with national grantmaking programs
  • Gordon Knox, director of the Arizona State University Art Museum and specialist in the areas of program design, identification of talent, and international collaboration, especially projects that connect musicians, artists, and writers with scientists and technologists
  • Wayne Wallace, three-time Grammy nominee; accomplished arranger, educator, and composer; and head of Patois Records, his record label dedicated to developing and chronicling the multilingual styles of San Francisco Bay Area music

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 over 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, author of Pulitzer Prize–winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Erika Chong Shuch and Sean Dorsey), composers (including Carla Kihlstedt, John Adams, Paul Dresher, and Tony Williams), 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 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Foundation’s 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 goals are to ensure that exceptional works of art are created, performed, and preserved, and to provide more opportunities for participation in arts experiences. The Program supports artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking to a wide range of high-quality arts organizations in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the country. The Hewlett Foundation currently supports over 200 organizations throughout the San Francisco 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.