It is an honor to write for Min Kwon and to have such illustrious colleagues. I have previously written a longer work based on “America, the Beautiful” with elements of 23 other iconic American songs. This piece for symphonic winds, “An American Song,” was selected as the official Bicentennial piece for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in 2001. It is moving to return to the idea of exploring many layers of meaning in “America, the Beautiful,” in this time, when the idea of America is so challenged, while its promise is needed as never before.
Alan Fletcher, one of this country's most accomplished music administrators and respected composers, was born in 1956 in Riverside, New Jersey, and earned his baccalaureate at Princeton University (1978) and his master's degree (1979) and doctorate (1983) at Juilliard. He studied composition with Roger Sessions, Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone, and Paul Lansky and piano with Jacob Lateiner and Robert Helps. In 1985, Fletcher was appointed to the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, teaching composition and theory and serving successively during his 16-year tenure at the school as Dean, Provost, and Senior Vice President. From 2001 to 2006, he was Professor of Music and Head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, after which he assumed his current position as president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School. Fletcher has lectured nationally and internationally on music and music administration and served on many boards, panels, juries, seminars and committees, including the board of the Aspen Institute and the Pittsburgh Opera. He has also contributed articles and op-ed pieces to the Huffington Post, BBC Magazine, The Guardian, Symphony magazine, Gramophone magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Sonus: Journal of Global Music, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Baltimore Sun, the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others. Fletcher has won numerous composing awards and received commissions from the National Dance Institute, the Pittsburgh Symphony (2008, 2011, and 2015), Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Nashua Symphony, National Gallery of Art, Boston Celebrity Series, Duquesne University, New York Camerata, and other noted ensembles, organizations, and soloists. Mr. Fletcher’s Piano Concerto, written for pianist Inon Barnatan, premiered in the summer of 2017 at the Aspen Music Festival and School and Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Hollywood Bowl. He chaired the 1997 Salzburg Seminar Music for a New Millenium: The Classical Genre in Contemporary Society.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon