New Works Commissioning Program

Since 1999, the New Music Commissioning Program was established to support the creation and presentation of new works by America ’s composers. Established renowned composers and gifted young creators are asked to write pieces that receive their world premiere performances at the Raritan River Music Festival.

The New Music Commissioning Program enriches the ensemble literature with new compositions, and the tangible benefits of this ambitious new venture are already being felt in the community. Outreach programs offered by the composers and performers foster a sense of appreciation and participation in the music’s creation within the community. The composers help demystify their work by sharing in discussions and demonstrations for the Artists-in-the-Community Residency Program.

All premieres have been broadcast on National Public Radio and webcast worldwide on WNYC, America ’s most listened to public radio station. John Schaefer of WNYC-FM / has included all the Raritan River Music commissions on his New Sounds and Soundcheck programs. The new works are now published, presented on worldwide concert tours by The Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo, along with other artists, and will soon be recorded.

Raritan River Music and its commissioning partners have been leaders in supporting American music and sharing the wonders of today’s music with wide audiences. Major sponsors of the New Music initiative have included:

  • Richard S. Bowles
  • The Augustine Foundation
  • The Edward T. Cone Foundation
  • Meet The Composer
  • American Composers Forum

Raritan River Music has commissioned four exciting chamber pieces to date:

  • Sevdalinka (1999) by Dušan Bogdanović (born 1955) (faculty, San Francisco Conservatory of Music)
  • Nocturne-Fantasy, Opus 69 (2000) by Lowell Liebermann (born 1961) (Composer-in-Residence, Dallas Symphony)
  • Caught in the Headlights (2003) by Michael Karmon (born 1969)(PhD, Composition, University of Minnesota )
  • memory:SWELLS (2005) by Augusta Read Thomas (born 1964) (Composer-in-Residence, Chicago Symphony)

Mr. Newman and Ms. Oltman gave the New York premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s ”Nocturne-Fantasy” (Op. 69), an appealing score rich in contrapuntal dialogues and lush harmonies.” The New York Times

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts: the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art . . . but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.” John Ruskin (1819-1900)

New Music Recording

To celebrate the enthusisatic response to Raritan River Music’s New Music Commissioning Program, MSR Classics/Albany Distribution will release a new CD—Music from Raritan River: World Premiere Recordings of New American Music—featuring music commissioned since 1999 by Raritan River Music’s New Music Commissioning Program.

This project will see a reference recording of these works created for posterity and the dissemination of 1,000 CDs to schools and libraries throughout the country. The New Music Commissioning Program will also use the CD as a tool to encourage the support of future commissioning projects and in Community Outreach programs.

In addition to the four Raritan River Music commissions, the CD will be rounded out with two other recent works which received premiere performances by The Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo:

  • Three Hungarian Tributes (1996) by Roberto Sierra (born 1953) (Professor of Composition, Cornell University )
  • Three Songs for Twelve Strings (1997) by Rami Vamos (b. 1976) and Randall Avers (b. 1974)