Eugene Symphony receives $15,000 from National Endowment for the Arts to support commission and residency with Augusta Read Thomas

Posted on June 15, 2017

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National Endowment for the Arts awards more than $82 million for arts projects nationwide, including $15,000 awarded to Eugene Symphony for commission and residency with American composer Augusta Read Thomas.

EUGENE, Ore. (June 15, 2017)—National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $15,000 to Eugene Symphony for a new commissioned work of music and multi-faceted artist residency with composer Augusta Read Thomas in the 2017/18 season. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as Eugene Symphony Association, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

“We are grateful to the NEA for their support of this project that will help us introduce inspiring new music to our patrons,” says Eugene Symphony Executive Director Scott Freck. “It will also bring the power of creative expression to people of all ages and abilities in our community, using music as a guiding light.”

Project Description – “American Encounters: Augusta Read Thomas,” July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018
The latest installment in Eugene Symphony’s longstanding American Encounters initiative, this season-long project includes a commission, performance, and residency with American composer Augusta Read Thomas. The initiative is designed to connect regional audiences to major living American composers and current developments in symphonic music, cultivate and deepen appreciation for contemporary American works, and provide aspiring and pre-professional artists with unique artistic development opportunities. Project activities comprise:

  •    The West Coast premiere of Thomas’ 9-minute orchestral work Aureole (2013) at Eugene Symphony’s subscription concert on September 28 at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts, preceded by a weeklong composer residency. ESA’s newly appointed Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong will lead the performance.
  • The West Coast premiere of a new 30-minute Thomas composition for percussion and orchestra, Sonorous Earth, at Eugene Symphony’s subscription concert on April 19, 2018 at the Hult Center, which will also be led by Lecce-Chong. Co-commissioned by ESA and the Chicago Philharmonic Society, Sonorous Earth builds on Thomas’ 2012 chamber work Resounding Earth, originally commissioned for the Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion by the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Sonorous Earth will incorporate portions of Thomas’ earlier score, which features bells from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods from around the globe along with newly composed material. Inspired by bells as emblems of both diversity (in their range of individual sounds) and commonality (their presence in numerous world societies), Sonorous Earth also explores their ritual uses as markers of celebration, sacrifice, remembrance, and the passage of time. Sonorous Earth will receive its world premiere with the Chicago Philharmonic in fall 2017. ESA’s subsequent performance, a West Coast premiere, will additionally feature Third Coast Percussion and will be preceded by a weeklong, joint ESA residency by the composer and guest artists.
  •  Free Symphony Connect chamber concerts of additional works by Thomas and others selected by the composer. Featuring small ensembles of ESA musicians, these performances will take place in nontraditional music venues across greater Eugene and are designed to broaden community access to high-quality music experiences.
  •    Broadcasts of both subscription concerts on classical music radio KWAX.
  •    Residency activities will serve the public as well as students and faculty at the University of Oregon (UO) School of Music and Dance and area elementary, middle, and high schools. Activities include:
    • Free pre-concert discussions with the composer for ESA patrons and the general public, held prior to each    subscription performance (Hult Center).
    • “Inside the Composer’s Studio” discussion with a chamber performance of Thomas works at Eugene Public Library.
    •   Interactive presentations by Third Coast Percussion for students in Eugene/Springfield elementary/middle schools (schools TBD).
    • A collaboration with one to two area high school bands (TBD) to rehearse and perform Thomas’ 2001 work Magneticfireflies, originally commissioned by a consortium of the nation’s top high school bands/wind ensembles. During her Eugene residencies, Thomas will conduct rehearsal visits and offer additional guidance to participating student ensembles. The project will culminate with a student performance at each school; ESA will seek further opportunities for participants to perform.
    •   Lectures and master classes by the composer and guest artists for undergraduate/graduate music students at the UO School of Music and Dance (Venues TBD).
    •   A collaboration with Oregon Supported Living Program and DanceAbility International to develop a year-long multidisciplinary arts project inspired by Sonorous Earth designed to engage adults with developmental and cognitive disabilities culminating in a gallery showing and performance.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring17. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.

About Eugene Symphony
Now entering its 52nd season, the Eugene Symphony is a nonprofit based in Eugene, Ore. Recognized as a cornerstone of the performing arts in Oregon's southern Willamette Valley, the Eugene Symphony pursues its mission of enriching lives through the power of music by presenting annual classical and pops concerts, as well as music education and community engagement programs, regularly commissioning and premiering new American works, and disseminating its performances via radio broadcasts and recordings. For more information, please visit