Four years ago, the Music Academy of the West launched its Alumni Enterprise Awards program to encourage innovation in artistic expression, audience development, education, community engagement, social justice, and technology. Since then, 26 musicians have received awards ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 for a total of $320,000 in support of some of the classical music world’s most distinctive and pioneering initiatives. The program is open to all Music Academy alumni, and it makes an impact on performers and audiences all over the world. In addition to receiving these direct grants, the winners are mentored by MAW Chief Advancement Officer Jonathan Bishop on raising additional funds and cultivating boardmembers and patrons.
The six 2021 winners display a remarkable range of interests and ideas. Camila Barrientos Ossio, clarinet (’11, ’12), and Bruno Luiz Lourensetto, trumpet (’12), have already begun their collaboration on a project called Música para Respirar 24/7. Based in Bolivia and Brazil, the pair have produced more than two thousand free online concerts since August, all of them destined to be heard by COVID-19 patients, their families, and health-care workers in 46 countries thus far. Mezzo-soprano Adanya Dunn (’14, ’15) will be creating socially distant pop-up concerts in unconventional locations throughout the Red Light District in Amsterdam with the goal of eliciting denizens of the district to share their stories after they listen to the music. Cristina Cutts Dougherty, tuba (’20, ’21), pays tribute to 14 women who have broken a path for others in orchestral brass sections by preserving their stories in a book and website called The Resilience Project.
Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with two of the winners who perform primarily as piano accompanists to singers, Rich Coburn (’14) and Christina Giuca Krause (’14, ’17). Both their projects address issues of racial diversity in classical music. Coburn will craft an online library of scores and audio samples from BIPOC composers for voice and orchestra. Using state-of-the-art MIDI technology, he intends to realize a comprehensive guide to what’s available regardless of whether or not it has been previously recorded. Music schools, chamber ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, and individual singers will all benefit from what promises to be an extraordinary and unprecedented resource. Christina Giuca Krause is the Artistic Director of LYNX, a nonprofit based in Chicago that amplifies diverse voices through song. Using commissions, performances, and innovative educational programs, LYNX brings classical music to places where the dominant culture derives from hip-hop. The program for which Giuca Krause received her award is called “Composition of a City” and services young people on Chicago’s South Side. Working alongside soprano Olivia Doig and rapper Aasha Marie, Giuca Krause has developed a new kind of music education that connects hip-hop to the classical tradition through their common elements of melody, rhythm, composition, and performance. “Both forms — rap and the art song — start with the text,” Giuca Krause told me, and thanks in part to the Music Academy’s Alumni Enterprise Awards program, the poetry that inspired composers like Edvard Grieg can now be heard blending with that of Chicago’s own Chief Keef in the classrooms of Edgewood on the South Side of that great musical city. Those interested in learning more about all the 2021 Alumni Enterprise Award winners are invited to join them online on Wednesday, February 10, from 5 to 6 p.m. for a celebration and information session. Details of the event can be found at musicacademy.org.