American Composers Orchestra

aka American Composers Orchestra   |   New York, NY   |  www.americancomposers.org

Mission

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, K-12 education programs and emerging composer development programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders. ACO identifies and develops talent, champions established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, ethnic, geographic, stylistic, and age diversity. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works.

Ruling year info

1976

President & CEO

Ms. Melissa Ngan

Main address

494 Eighth Avenue suite 503

New York, NY 10001 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

13-2838450

NTEE code info

Symphony Orchestras (A69)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (A01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

American Composers Orchestra’s mission is dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and celebration of music by American composers. We address the needs of both emerging and established American composers, with a specific emphasis on supporting groups that are underrepresented in the orchestral music world, including women, non-binary people, and people of color. We also serve the needs of audiences who seek out innovative and contemporary new music.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Concerts

ACO performances are exceptional, unexpected and always unforgettable. New music, top musicians, extraordinary venues and a community of curious, open-minded music lovers. Our goal is to bring the composer, music and audience together in a timeless experience where rules are suspended. We create opportunities to experience new music in a variety of ways from traditional concert settings at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to unexpected venues throughout New York City. We pioneer new experiences with novel artistic collaborations, unusual venues and shared journeys with composers. You will often experience ACO working with opera, dance, fine art, film and spoken narrative. Each ACO performance is a thrilling moment in music history, a contribution to the new future of music.

SPECIAL EVENTS AND COLLABORATIONS
Apart from our signature performances, we have special events including our Annual Gala, performances for our Commission Club members, and student performances from our education programs. In addition, we are in constant discussion with diverse arts organizations, philanthropies and venues about creating innovative to radically new experiences that push arts performances to the next level.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers
Adults

ACO Sonic Spark programs help students fulfill their potential through engagement with the creative arts and performing music. In schools, in collaboration with some of New York’s most impactful arts programs, and in private group study, we make composition into a platform for creativity, and creativity is a platform for achievement in all areas. Programs include Sonic Spark Lab, Sonic Spark Ensembles, and Compose Yourself!

Sonic Spark's mission is to use composition as a platform to unlock students’ creativity, producing opportunities for achievements in the arts as well as academic and social advancement.

For 40 years, we have worked with over 25 schools and reach an estimated 2,000 students annually. Our mission is to develop creative minds and open a pathway to creative careers with an emphasis on all groups and voices that are essential to the American story.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children and youth

Our most important work is enabling American composers to create new orchestral music. Early, mid-career and accomplished composers have a home at ACO. We seek diverse voices, visions and talents from all musical genres. We champion artists with bold and imaginative visions. We bring in top musicians and partners to give every piece world class attention. If you have a desire to compose for a chamber or symphonic orchestra or want to make your existing composition performance-ready, we have an opportunity for you.

ACO EARSHOT
ACO EarShot is an ongoing, systematic program for identifying emerging orchestral composers. It is a nationwide network of new music readings and composer development programs that provide professional level working experience with orchestras from every region of the country.

Emerging composers have their new orchestral pieces workshopped with a prominent world-class orchestra in a major city. They meet with artistic leadership, learn from group discussions and notes from each section of the orchestra. Mentor composers give individualized feedback to further develop each work. Each score is played by the orchestra and recorded for future study and professional development.

In a standard season, four EarShot Readings take place. One in New York City with ACO's own musicians, Artistic Director Derek Bermel, Music Director and Conductor George Manahan; and three with partner orchestras across the country.

ACO PATHWAYS
This is a multi-year composer fellowship for all creative musical artists who have not previously trained in orchestral writing. It includes personalized mentorship, instrumental writing workshops, readings, collaborations with other arts organizations and paid commissions.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

ACO activates our vision through four key focus areas: Concerts, Emerging Composers, Education, and Diversity. Serving American composers remains the core of our mission. For us, this means serving the full spectrum of composers who want to create and share contemporary American orchestral music that reflects what it means to be American today. We aim to increase awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and age diversity. We serve as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent, as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras, and as an advocate for American composers.

ACO offers a full range of programs that include concerts, educational programs, new music readings, and commissions that help us identify today’s brightest emerging composers.

As part of ACO’s most recently completed strategic plan, we expanded an emerging composer consultant role from a 10 hours per month to a full-time position of Emerging Composers & Diversity Director. This role is focused on increased and holistic new approaches to outreach to underrepresented emerging composers. As a companion to the strategic plan, ACO created a three-year financial plan to stabilize the organization’s financial position. One year into the plan, we are already seeing success with four new trustees added in 2018; new or increased gifts from non-board individuals for FY20 (2019-20 season); and ACO has secured new and increased funding to support our work with emerging composers.

In our 40 years of service, ACO has performed works by 800 composers, including over 350 world premieres and commissions. We keep this legacy alive and thriving through the programs we offer, through our commitment to diversity as shown in our strategic plan, and through expansion of arts education programs that bring the music-creation process into the classroom.

The results we see from our diversity initiatives are promising: the overall number of submissions in each season has drastically increased since hiring a dedicated Emerging Composers and Diversity Director. From 2014-18, we averaged 340 applications per season. In the last two seasons of call for scores we have received 550+ applications annually, which is a 62% increase in scores received. Among these applications, ACO’s EC&D Director has tracked the following increases overall: ALAANA Applicants: up 26%; Cis Women: up 3%; Trans/Nonbinary: up 4%; Indigenous: up 6%; Hispanic/Latinx: up 13%.

By increasing the diversity of the applicant pool, ACO has also seen increases in the diversity of composers selected to participate in Readings from 2018-2020, in comparison to participants from 2009-2018: ALAANA Participants: 60% increase; Cis Women: 2% increase; Trans/Nonbinary: 6% increase; Indigenous: 5% increase; Hispanic/Latinx: 21% increase; Black: 6% increase; East Asian: 17% increase; South Asian: 2% increase.

Financials

American Composers Orchestra
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

American Composers Orchestra

Board of directors
as of 8/11/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Frederick Wertheim

Anthony B. Creamer III

Robert D. Taisey

Robert Beaser

Derek Bermel

Dennis Russell Davies

Philip Glass

Tess Mateo

Geoffroy van Raemdonck

Jesse Rosen

Alvin Singleton

Paul Underwood

Sameera Troesch

Annette McEvoy

Michael Fehrman

Jane Cavalier

Marilyn Go

Jonathan Holland

C. Richard Neu

Michael Russell

Melinda Wagner

Edward Yim

Astrid Baumgardner

Augusta Gross

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No