The Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival is week-long festival of new and innovative music by some of the biggest names in orchestral music today. Audiences will hear thrilling new works by living American composers as David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony give life to their music for the first time.  

This year’s festival presents 5 days of concerts, and 35 new and recent works by 33 American Composers, including world premieres commissioned by the Albany Symphony and GE Renewable Energy.

Maestro David Alan Miller join us with a preview.


May 11, 2016

  Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui returns to the region to present the final version of a project he has developed around the world and with students at RPI under the instruction of Pauline Oliveros. The group will perform on instruments they have invented to perform music to a hearing-impaired audience.

Atoui has been working in collaboration with Distinguished Research Professor of Music Pauline Oliveros and her students from the New Instrumentation for Performance seminar to think through propositions for new instruments and performance techniques. Several instruments that Atoui has been developing concurrently will be played throughout the public spaces of EMPAC and broadcast into the Concert Hall. The audience will be encouraged to explore the acoustic relationships between individual instruments and the architecture that they inhabit.

The project – Within – will be presented at EMPAC on Friday night at 8PM.

Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are challenging a university decision impacting the 125-year-old Rensselaer Union.

Nate Wooley At EMPAC

Feb 9, 2016

  Trumpeter Nate Wooley will be performing a new composition “For Kenneth Gaburo” on Feb. 12 at the the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (110 8th St., Troy). The show begins at 8 p.m.

Wooley is known for “extended” trumpet techniques that allow him to access a larger scope of sounds. For this project, he will be vocalizing texts written by Kenneth Gaburo through his instrument.

Nate Wooley joins us along with EMPAC’s Music Curator Argeo Ascani.



The “fourth wall” is the imaginary barrier that separates the actors from the audience in a traditional theater production. When it’s broken, the audience is shocked into an awareness of the role they play in supporting the spectacle at hand.

In British artist Ant Hampton’s new production, The Extra People, the fourth wall is so thin as to be nearly imperceptible, with the line between performer and audience equally unclear. The Extra People was commissioned by EMPAC and will premiere in the space where it was developed via the artist-in-residence program.

The piece will begin at 7 pm tomorrow and cycle on the half hour until 10 pm. Ant Hampton joins us to tell us more.

      Andrea Reinkemeyer  is a free-lance composer and an Assistant Professor of Music at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. She will be presenting the world premiere of her latest work: NaamJai (Liquid Heart) for Orchestra at the grand finale of this weekend’s event - the Festival Orchestra Concert, taking place on Saturday night, May 16th at 7:30 in EMPAC’s Concert Hall.

Also premiering a new work is composer Clint Needham who currently serves as Composer-in-Residence/Assistant Professor of Music at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. He is also the Andrew W. Mellon Composer/Educator-in-Residence at The Albany Symphony. The new work that the ASO is premiering is entitled We Are All From Somewhere Else

  The role of a development director is vitally important to an organization like the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The ASO’s Development Director, Rachel Jason, is here to tell us about her duties. When Rachel isn’t here with us at EMPAC – she is working to develop and implement a strategic plan to raise vital funds for the ASO in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Rachel is chiefly responsible for bringing in revenue streams to the orchestra from grants, donations, special events.

David Alan Miller also joins the conversation.


  The Albany Symphony American Music Festival’s Reading Session will take place tonight at 7:30pm in the Concert Hall at EMPAC.

The Reading Session is a one-of-a-kind sneak peek into the world of music today, as up-and-coming composers -- chosen from a competitive national selection process -- have their works played by an orchestra early in the piece’s development.

Composers will receive feedback from Maestro David Alan Miller and the audience as well as from orchestra members who will weigh in on their work.

The composers are: Justin Ralls who composed Tree Ride, Michael Lee who composed Amped and Baljinder Sekon, the composer of Civil Variations.

  David Alan Miller has established a reputation as one of the leading American conductors of his generation. As Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra -- a position he has held since 1992 -- he has proven himself a creative and compelling orchestra builder.

Through exploration of unusual repertoire, educational programming, community outreach and recording initiatives, he has reaffirmed the Albany Symphony’s reputation as the nation’s leading champion of American symphonic music and one of its most innovative orchestras.

He joins us to talk about this year's American Music Festival at EMPAC.

Ellie Ga At EMPAC

May 5, 2015

  Ellie Ga is closing out the Spring EMPAC season on May 7 and 8. Ellie Ga's multimedia essays are part field dispatch, part artist’s notebook, part home-movie, part poem.

On Thursday, May 7, at 8PM, Ga will perform The Fortunetellers, a narrative performance inspired by her six-month residency on the Tara, a research boat drifting near the North Pole to gather scientific data.

On Friday, May 8, at 8PM, she will perform Eureka, a lighthouse play - Commissioned by EMPAC, Eureka centers on the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria and recounts Ga’s journey, beginning in 2012 when she joined a marine archaeology program at Alexandria University in pursuit of the lighthouse.

Ellie Ga joins us now along with Victoria Brooks, a Curator at EMPAC.

Kris Qua

  Situated on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact.

We are joined this morning by EMPAC’s associate music curator, Argeo Ascani who will tell us about upcoming musical presentations at the venue and sound artist Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon whose new work The Only Thing that Makes Life Possible is Not Knowing What Comes Next is opening at EMPAC on Friday. Her work integrates audio technologies into sculptural forms to question relationships of affect to an environment. She is a 2014 Artist in Residence at EMPAC.

    Legendary science fiction author William Gibson will read from his work on Sunday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. in EMPAC Concert Hall.

Gibson is a visionary author of speculative fiction whose work explores the future implications of contemporary human technologies. His 1984 novel, Neuromancer, winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick awards, introduced the term "cyberspace" and have helped to define the popular culture of the Computer Age.

Gibson’s latest novel, The Peripheral, is about drones, drugs, outsourcing, telepresence, trailer parks, kleptocracy, and 3D fabbing.

Joan Tower

May 15, 2014


  Composer Joan Tower, began writing music in 1956 at the age of 18. Orchestras around the world have played her works. She is currently Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972.

Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. She has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC.

She also has worked with amazing soloists, including: Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, John Browning and Dame Evelyn Glennie who will be performing Tower’s Strike Zones for Percussion and Orchestra for Saturday night’s festival concert.

  We broadcast today from EMPAC which is, of course, part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Our next guest, Dr. Mary Simoni was named dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in October 2011. Previously she served as associate dean for research and community engagement and professor in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at the University of Michigan.

Last year Simoni published a book that serves as a guide for musicians and composers learning to use algorithms to create music, a field in which she is an expert. Simoni is an accomplished pianist and has performed at EMPAC several times since joining the Rensselaer faculty. She also sits on the EMPAC steering committee and she joins us this morning.

    Brown’s has been crafting dependable ales & lagers in the Northern Hudson Valley since 1993. From their 19th Century warehouse brewery on the Eastern shore of the mighty Hudson River, they brew a bountiful variety of well-made traditional styles with a sense of pride and dutiful conviction.

Joining us now to discuss Brown’s, their growth and amazing food and drink, we welcome co-owner Kelly Brown and Brown’s VP Gregg Stacy.

    The Arts Center of the Capital Region engages people in the creative experience. They are the region’s preeminent proponent of the arts and creative education, expression, and appreciation, serving people of all ages, abilities, and economic and cultural backgrounds.

The Arts Center of the Capital Region is a private, not-for-profit corporation that began life as the Rensselaer County Council for the Arts in 1962. In its early years, it was located in a brownstone mansion on Troy’s Washington Park. Art classes were offered for the first time there in 1965, with the mansion‚ converted ballroom and formal dining rooms serving as an art gallery.

Orion Weiss

May 28, 2013

    The Albany Symphony will welcome American pianist, Orion Weiss, who marks his third performance with the orchestra as the centerpiece of their American Music Festival Orchestra Concert on Saturday night at 7:30 PM.

Weiss joins the orchestra for Christopher Rouse's "Seeing," an extraordinary piano concerto commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for Emmanuel Ax in 1999. "Seeing" is a powerful, poignant statement on the nature of mental illness.

One of the most sought-after pianists of his generation, Orion Weiss has performed with most of America's major orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic.

    The Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival’s Reading Sessions offer a one-of-a-kind sneak peek into the world of music today as up-and-coming composers from a competitive national selection process have their works read by an orchestra for the very first time.

Two of this year’s composers are William Gardiner and Katherine Balch

Ted Hearne

May 28, 2013

    This Friday at 10pm, The Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival will host R WE WHO R WE - an ongoing collaboration by composer-performers Ted Hearne and Philip White. A tribute and commentary to both classic and ephemeral artists of the pop landscape, R WE WHO R WE uses pop music like graffiti uses public space, exploiting the tension between theft and tribute.

Composer, conductor, and performer Ted Hearne joins us. He attended Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music, and has studied with Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, Nils Vigeland and Julia Wolfe.

    The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, named a National Historic Landmark in 1989, is in use over 100 days a year. Since it opened its doors in 1875, the Hall has hosted performances by numerous world-renowned artists, including Marion Anderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Pete Seeger, Ella Fitzgerald, Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, Vladimir Horowitz, Yehudi Menuhin, and Arthur Rubenstein, among many others.

Another regular tenant is the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The hall is known far and wide for the perfect acoustics of the second floor performing space. We welcome their Executive Director, JonElbaum.

    RPI has a strong program and deep history of music and arts education. In addition to being the home of EMPAC - where we sit today - their School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences provides an imaginative and distinctive approach to Rensselaer’s 200-year old founding mission "to apply science to the common purposes of life." Alan - RPI also has numerous music, dance, and arts clubs - including but not limited to - ballroom dance, street dance, choir, a cappella, improv comedy, sketch comedy, orchestra, pep band, graphic design and public speaking!

    We begin our broadcast from the Albany Symphony's American Music Festival by speaking with David Alan Miller.

David Alan Miller has established a reputation as one of the leading American conductors of his generation. As Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra -- a position he has held since 1992 -- he has proven himself a creative and compelling orchestra builder.

Through exploration of unusual repertoire, educational programming, community outreach and recording initiatives, he has reaffirmed the Albany Symphony’s reputation as the nation’s leading champion of American symphonic music and one of its most innovative orchestras.


  The Peter Evans Quintet has been performing since 2009, and has played in New York, as well as toured internationally.

Taking jazz ensembles into the 21st century, the Peter Evans Quintet uses real-time sound processing and traditional instruments to create their sound. The live electronics permit the group to change their sound from smooth and melodious to sharp and rattling to cacophonous reverberation. The quintet draws on traditional jazz as source material and contorts them into something resembling classical European avant-garde.

The ensemble arrived at EMPAC in Troy on Tuesday to begin their EMPAC recording residency and they are performing this Friday night.

Peter Evans and EMPAC music curator, Argeo Ascani join us.

    Inspired by meditations on horror films, the work of Antonin Artaud, and Ardunio open-source electronics, Radiohole’s Inflatable Frankenstein is a visually and sonically driven performance based on Mary Shelley’s early life and her novel Frankenstein.

Arising from a world of gods and monsters (and thousands of Walmart and Price Chopper grocery bags) is a desecration too terrible to behold and too beautiful to turn away from, leading to an improbable question: what is it like to be a metaphor for everything?

The project was supported by a 2012 EMPAC production residency.

   Neil Rolnick, professor of music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will present a concert of music for violin, piano, and computer at 7:30 PM Wednesday night at EMPAC at Rensselaer in Troy. The concert features a selection of his most recent compositions from 2003 to the present.

Rolnick’s program showcases solo and duo works (plus computer) he has written in the past decade, a departure from the works for large ensembles that have made up the bulk of his recent work.