“The American Composers Orchestra gave classical conventions the cold shoulder on Friday at Zankel Hall with a program called ‘Phenomenal Women,’ ” featuring two world premieres, writes Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in Monday’s (11/5) New York Times. “This orchestra, led by the indefatigable George Manahan, has run a robust and diverse commissioning program for years; by happy accident, almost exclusively female composers are featured this season…. Friday evening opened with a birthday celebration for the composer Joan Tower, who turned 80 in September. In a humorous onstage interview, she chafed at the idea of being framed as the ‘traditionalist’ on this occasion, alongside [Valerie] Coleman, born in 1970, and Alex Temple, 35…. But there was nothing staid about her ‘Chamber Dance’ from 2006 … an infectious piece of orchestral writing. Ms. Coleman’s ‘Phenomenal Women’ is a six-part concerto grosso for wind quintet, written for the ensemble Imani Winds…. The juxtaposition of instrumental solos, chamber ensemble and orchestral textures created moments of memorable freshness and color…. The evening ended with Ms. Temple’s brilliant and zany ‘Three Principles of Noir,’ a kind of cabaret cantata,” with Meaghan Burke as vocalist. “Ms. Temple’s music zooms across time, blending Prohibition-era cheek with recorded electronics that evoke mid-20th-century sci-fi.”

Posted November 9, 2018

In photo, left to right: composers Joan Tower, Valerie Coleman, Alex Temple