New York, NY – Pianist, writer, and producer Sarah Cahill is named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF). The ACF Board of Directors voted to present the award to three outstanding recipients including Cahill; flutist, composer, and educator Nicole Mitchell; and Jim Staley, founder of the music venue Roulette in Brooklyn, NY.
Recently called “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York, Cahill has commissioned more than fifty works for solo and duo piano, including compositions by Pauline Oliveros, Frederic Rzewski, Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Phil Kline, Samuel Carl Adams, Yoko Ono, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Annea Lockwood. John Adams and Ingram Marshall have also dedicated compositions to her.
The awards will be presented at different public ceremonies in the coming months. On July 22, 2018 at Old First Church in San Francisco, Cahill will receive the award during her recital presented by Old First Concerts featuring solo piano pieces that she commissioned or have been dedicated to her.
The Champion of New Music Award was established by the ACF Board of Directors in 2005 as a national mark of recognition to honor individuals or ensembles that have made a significant contribution to the work and livelihoods of contemporary composers. “Living composers are one of our greatest cultural assets”, says John Nuechterlein, ACF President and CEO, “and we want to be sure and thank those who are tireless in their support and promotion of new work. Especially exciting this year is the opportunity to recognize three extraordinary people who have contributed in distinctive and different ways to the field of creative expression.”
Recent recipients of the Award include: Charles Amirkhanian, Donald Nally and The Crossing and the International Alliance for Women in Music (2017); Gilbert Kalish, Nicole Paiement, Alex Ross, and Robert Spano (2016); American Composers Orchestra, Claire Chase, and Michael Morgan (2015); Marin Alsop, Frances Richard, and Steven Schick (2014).
Sarah Cahill, recently called “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Keyboard Magazine writes, “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.”
Cahill enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for each performance. She researched and recorded music by prominent early 20th-century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford, and commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence. For the 80th birthday of composer Terry Riley, Cahill commissioned nine new works for solo piano in his honor and performed them with several of Riley’s own compositions at Le Poisson Rouge and Roulette in New York, MIT, the Bakehouse Arts Center in Miami, the North Dakota Museum of Art, and other venues across the country. Sarah also premiered several of the new pieces at the first New Music Gathering at the San Francisco Conservatory in January 2015, with Terry Riley in attendance. Cahill has worked closely with Riley since 1997, when she commissioned his four-hand piece Cinco de Mayo for an all-piano festival at Cal Performances celebrating Henry Cowell’s 100th birthday – the first of six works she has commissioned from him.
Cahill also had the opportunity to work closely with Lou Harrison, and has championed many of his works for piano. She visited him several times at his home in Aptos, California, and copied rare scores from his collection. In 1997, Cahill was chosen to premiere his Festival Dance for two pianos with Aki Takahashi at the Cooper Union, and worked with Harrison in rehearsals. She was also chosen to perform his Dance for Lisa Karon, discovered only a few years ago and not heard since its premiere in 1938, and has performed his Varied Trio and a number of solo and chamber works in a Lou Harrison festival in Tokyo. In preparing Harrison's Piano Concerto for performances with the La Jolla and Berkeley Symphonies, Cahill worked extensively with several of his colleagues and close collaborators.
Cahill has performed classical and contemporary chamber music with artists and ensembles such as pianists Joseph Kubera, Adam Tendler, and Regina Schaffer; violinists Kate Stenberg and Stuart Canin; the Alexander String Quartet; New Century Chamber Orchestra; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; and many more.
Recent appearances include a concert at San Quentin of the music Henry Cowell wrote while incarcerated there, four performances at the San Francisco Symphony’s Soundbox, a residency at the Noguchi Museum, and concerts at Le Poisson Rouge and the Italian Academy in New York. She performs as a duo with violinist Kate Stenberg and has performed chamber music with the Alexander String Quartet, New Century Chamber Orchestra, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many other chamber groups. Performance highlights for the 2017-18 season include the Interlochen Arts Festival, Mendocino Music Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, concerts in Tokyo and Fukuoka, Terry Riley’s Sri Moonshine series, and New Music Miami.
Sarah Cahill’s discography includes over twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, Pinna, and Irritable Hedgehog labels. Her 2013 release A Sweeter Music (Other Minds) features musical reflections on war which she commissioned from composer-activists. About A Sweeter Music the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Cahill brings her technical assurance and expressive warmth to all the music, making each piece that much more eloquent,” and London’s Financial Times called it “a unique commissioning programme that unites artistic aspirations with moral philosophy.” In 2015, Pinna Records released her two-CD set of Mamoru Fujieda’s Patterns of Plants, a fusion of nature and technology created by identifying the musical patterns in the electrical impulses of plants. Cahill's four-CD box set, Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, was released in 2017 on the Irritable Hedgehog label and features Riley's solo and four-hand works (with Regina Myers and Samuel Carl Adams) and eight world premiere recordings of commissioned works in honor of his 80th birthday.
Cahill’s radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. The program focuses on the relationships between classical music and new music, encompassing interviews with musicians and composers, historical performances, and exciting recordings outside the mainstream. Cahill is on the piano faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory and curates a monthly series of new music concerts at the new Berkeley Art Museum titled “Full,” occurring on the night of each full moon. For more information, visit www.sarahcahill.com.
About the American Composers Forum
The American Composers Forum is committed to supporting composers and developing new markets for their music. Through granting, commissioning, and performance programs, ACF provides composers at all stages of their careers with valuable resources for professional and artistic development. By linking communities with co