ASO announces new Composer in Residence program, names Chris Rogerson to post

Date: May 14, 2020

Allentown, PA, May 1, 2020 – The Allentown Symphony Association (ASA) has announced an exciting new initiative – the Composer in Residence program — and names Chris Rogerson as the first artist to fill this post.  Mr. Rogerson’s appointment comes after a selection process spearheaded by a committee led by Music Director Diane Wittry, which included participation by composers from throughout the community and public interview presentations by the finalists.  This two-year position commences with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) 2020-2021 season and includes a broad array of projects including new commissions, community outreach and educational projects, a New Music Chamber concert series, an Online Composer Workshop, and more.  In addition to Mr. Rogerson, finalists for the position included Stephanie Ann Boyd and Harry Stafylakis.

"I am thrilled that we are going to have Chris Rogerson as our Composer in Residence with the Allentown Symphony for the next two seasons,” said Music Director Diane Wittry.  “Chris's music is so well crafted and interesting to listen to – he is one of the rising stars nationally as a young composer.  We are excited that during this residency he will be writing two works for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, one to be premiered in February 2021 and the other to be performed in the Spring of 2022.  Chris has a wonderful way of teaching and inspiring other composers, and he has such an engaging way of communicating with everyone about his music and musical trends that are going on today.  This will be an exciting two years for us at the Allentown Symphony.”

“I am honored to be the Allentown Symphony's new Composer in Residence, and beyond excited to work with Maestro Diane Wittry, the orchestra, and everyone at the organization,” Mr. Rogerson commented.  “I'm so looking forward to being a part of the Allentown community in the coming years! This residency involves many exciting projects, from composing new works for the orchestra to curating new concert series and working with several schools in the area. I am grateful to be a part of all these wonderful new ventures. I can't wait to meet you all soon.”

The Composer in Residence Program is a multifaceted two-year project beginning with the ASO's 2020-2021 season and continuing through 2021-2022. It includes performances, education, and outreach components. A committee of composers from the Lehigh Valley, community partners, and schools worked with Music Director Diane Wittry on the selection. The process included the broader community with an open-to-the-public presentation by the finalists.

Currently in planning are the following activities surrounding the Composer in Residence Program:
New Music Series
The Composer in Residence will curate three New Music chamber concert events to be held in the Rodale Room at Miller Symphony Hall. These concerts will include music of local composition faculty members, university students, and high school students, as well as other music by leading new composers from the Tri-State area.

The ASO has commissioned the Composer in Residence to write three pieces over the course of the two-year residency.  The first new work will be a piece written for the 70th Anniversary of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, to be premiered in February 2021. The second will be written for and with help and input from students of the Allentown Symphony Association's major educational initiative, El Sistema Lehigh Valley. The third piece will be for orchestra and/or chorus and will premiere at the end of the 2021-2022 ASO season.

Online Composer Workshop July 2020
The ASA will present a 3-day online composer's workshop in late July 2020 led by Chris Rogerson and involving composition faculty from area schools and special guests from throughout the USA. This workshop will focus on writing music for film, television, and video games, as well as sessions in orchestration, music notation, music analysis, and career guidance.  Participating composers will have the opportunity to share their current compositions with peers in the region.

Community Engagement
The Composer in Residence will hold talks and community engagement events at various levels –meeting with composing faculty and students at local universities, giving talks at participating high schools in the Lehigh Valley and working with working with middle and high school students from El Sistema Lehigh Valley. The Composer in Residence will continue to work with all composition students throughout the area during the two years, culminating with an informal performance of the student's compositions.

The ASO Composer in Residence program is made possible by a generous grant from The Presser Foundation and support from Daniel and Diane Zirin.

Hailed as a “confident new musical voice” (The New York Times), a “big discovery” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), and a “fully-grown composing talent” (The Washington Post), Chris Rogerson’s music has been praised for its “virtuosic exuberance” and “haunting beauty” (The New York Times). His work has been performed by orchestras across the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s, as well as esteemed artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, Ida Kavafian, Anne-Marie McDermott, and David Shifrin. Rogerson has also collaborated with the Attacca, Brentano, Dover, Escher, Jasper, and JACK Quartets, as well as with distinguished members of the Guarneri and Orion Quartets. His music has been heard at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall in London, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, the Rudolfinum in Prague, and Radio France.

Mr. Rogerson’s busy 2019-2020 season includes new works commissioned from the Bravo! Vail Festival (for Anne-Marie McDermott and the Dover Quartet), the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (for violinists Paul Huang, Danbi Um, and pianist Orion Weiss), a new brass fanfare for the Amarillo Symphony, and a new work for violinist Elena Urioste. In addition, brothers Demarre McGill and Anthony McGill tour his work A Fish Will Rise with pianist Michael McHale, and the Wichita Symphony, Bozeman Symphony, Symphony New Hampshire, and Pacific Youth Symphony perform orchestral works. His work will be performed at several notable venues this season, such as the Musikverein in Vienna, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and Smetana Hall in Prague.

Recently, Rogerson has received several major premieres, including Azaan, a play written for the Oregon Symphony in collaboration with Dipika Guha, Of Simple Grace, written for Yo-Yo Ma, and It Became Dark, commissioned and premiered by the Kansas City Symphony. In addition, violinist Nick Kendall and cellist Efe Baltacigil premiered a new duo commissioned for the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Winter Festival; the Attacca Quartet premiered a new work commissioned by Chamber Music America at the Teatro Litta in Milan, Italy; and the Escher Quartet premiered a new string quartet commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music.

From 2014-2017, Mr. Rogerson held the post of Composer in Residence with the Amarillo Symphony; during this productive residency, he completed The Way Through, a ten-minute work for orchestra, a clarinet concerto for Anthony McGill, and Ancient Souls, a twenty-minute tone poem, in addition to having several existing works performed. He continues to serve as Artistic Advisor for the orchestra. In 2017-2018, he served as the Composer in Residence for the Lake George Music Festival and Guest Composer-Curator with the Pensacola Symphony. Other recent commissions have come from the Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta, and New World Symphony, and his works have been performed in recent seasons by the New Jersey, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, and Charlotte symphony orchestras.

A Theodore Presser Career Grant recipient, Mr. Rogerson has garnered the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Aaron Copland Award, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, two BMI Student Composer Awards, the Aspen Music Festival Jacob Druckman Award, a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, prizes from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, the National Association for Music Education, the New York Art Ensemble, and Third Millennium Ensemble, and grants from Chamber Music America and New Music USA.

Mr. Rogerson has been in residence at Copland House, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Ucross Foundation. He has also been Composer in Residence for the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Seal Bay Festival, the Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival, Protege Composer in Residence at Chamber Music Northwest, Young Composer in Residence at Music from Angel Fire, and a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival, and the Norfolk New Music Workshop.

Born in 1988, Mr. Rogerson studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale School of Music, and Princeton University with Jennifer Higdon, Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, and Steve Mackey. He is represented by Young Concert Artists, Inc. and served as YCA Composer in Residence from 2010-2012. He also is one of two composers on the roster of Manhattan Chamber Players. In 2012, he co-founded Kettle Corn New Music, a new music presenting organization in New York City, and currently serves as its co-artistic director. In 2016, he joined the Musical Studies Faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he lives full-time.

For more information on Chris Rogerson, visit

Operating the Allentown Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and El Sistema Lehigh Valley (ESLV), and owner/operator of Miller Symphony Hall, the ASA is one of the region’s premier arts organizations.

Each year, the ASO performs more than 20 classical, pops, educational, and family concerts.  In 2014 and again in 2017, the orchestra received the national American Prize for “orchestral excellence.”  With passion and finesse, the ASO, led by Music Director & Conductor Diane Wittry, plays time-honored masterworks, newly commissioned world premieres, and intriguing repertoire, including works by prominent new composers.

Exciting world-class artists that have performed with the ASO include Midori, Emanuel Ax, Angela Meade, and Peter Serkin, as well as jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and Broadway vocalist Christiane Noll.  The orchestra’s classically trained musicians include players from the major urban centers of New York, Baltimore-D.C., and Philadelphia.

Music Director Diane Wittry, now in her 25th Season with the ASO, is known for her innovative programming style, using video, dancers, subtitles, and other visuals that give her concerts a sense of occasion.  She has been a stellar advocate for music education outreach for all ages and skill levels.  Lehigh Valley native Ron Demkee serves as the ASO’s Associate/Pops Conductor.  The two previous ASO Music Directors were Donald Voorhees, the distinguished conductor of the studio orchestra for NBC’s Emmy-award-winning “The Bell Telephone Hour,” and William Smith, Assistant Conductor to the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

The ASO has received music commissioning grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, and from the League of American Orchestras in support of its El Sistema-inspired program for at-risk youth.  The ASA also annually hosts the National Schadt String Competition which attracts top young performers from all over the world.

As it has for the last 69 years, the ASO continues its pursuit of excellence with passion, keeping alive the legacy of masterworks while bringing the works of modern masters to the concert stage for the entire community.