First Commission

This new program awards young composers with support aimed to encourage artistic potential and creative development. Pre-college aged composers from notable New York music programs (e.g., Luna Composition Lab, New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers) are nominated and reviewed by a jury. Selected composers receive a Composers Now commission and world premiere at the Composers Now Festival Opening Event.

This commissioning initiative is made possible through the generosity of Composers Now board member and composer Michael Minard and Phyllis Ross.

2024 First Commission

world premiere on 01.31.2024 at the 2024 Composers Now Festival Opening Event

@ National Sawdust, 7:30 pm 

Devon Gates

DevonGatesDevon Gates is a bassist, vocalist, and composer from Atlanta, Georgia. Through studying anthropology and jazz performance at Harvard University and Berklee College of Music, she has worked with Terri Lyne Carrington, Linda May Han Oh, Vijay Iyer, Danilo Perez, Claire Chase, and esperanza spalding, and has performed with Social Science, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Susie Ibarra, Michael Mayo, Alexa Tarantino, Immanuel Wilkins, Kenny Werner, and Tia Fuller. In 2020, she released her first EP, "Voice/Bass" on Bandcamp, followed by the release of single "skipped that step" in spring 2023. In 2022 her original composition "Don't Wait" was published in Berklee Press' "New Standards" collection of 101 lead sheets by female jazz composers.

composer mentor: Yosvany Terry

Born into a musical family in Camaguey, Cuba. Yosvany went on to classical music training in Havana at the prestigious National School of Arts (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. After graduating, Yosvany worked with major figures in every realm of Cuban music including pianists Chucho Valdes, and Frank Emilio and the celebrated nueva trova singer/guitarist Silvio Rodriguez. From his earliest days in New York,
Yosvany has been welcomed by a broad range of artists in the jazz and contemporary music community; playing with, Steve Coleman, Rufus Reid, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Avishai Cohen, Baptiste Trotignon, Eddie Palmieri, and Gerald Clayton.

2023 First Commission

Dorian Tabb

Hymn for a Forgotten People (2023)

Bergamot Quartet
Ledah Finck and Sarah Thomas, violins; Amy Tan, viola; and Irène Han, cello


Dorian Tabb (b. 2010) began his piano studies at age four and started composing one year later. A frequent performer of his own compositions and improvisations, in 2020 he was the youngest composer to be featured on "Tokyo to New York: Moments in Time," Thomas Piercy's benefit concert for Covid-19 musicians' relief, with his solo clarinet work, "Exploration," which later received its live premiere at Bargemusic. He currently studies piano with Lora Tchekoratova, conducting with Scott Wiley and is enrolled in the Very Young Composers "Bridge" program at the New York Philharmonic. Previous teachers have included Marc Peloquin, Avner Arad and Max Grafe at the Lucy Moses School. His quintet, The Journey Home, was premiered at David Geffen Hall in Oct. 2022.

Dorian's mentor for this commission is composer and violinist Tamar Muskal. Her music harmonizes the unique cultural aspects of both places in a counterpoint style, carefully structured and with great attention to detail. Recent and future commissions include a double concerto for saxophone and viola for the Williamsport Symphony, a work for percussionist Steve Schick and a digital/interactive sculpture by Daniel Rozin, music for a 50-minute film for the historic, silent, black and white film about the Mexican revolution, a song cycle commissioned by ASCAP and music for a documentary film about finding a cure for blindness (narrated by Robert Redford). Her piece Yellow Wind (2007) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.


2022 First Commission

Ebun Oguntola

Interim for trio and electronics (2022)

New Thread Quartet
Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, soprano saxophone
Erin Rogers, alto saxophone & mentor
Zach Herchen, baritone saxophone

Ebon Oguntola
The recipient of the 2022 Composers Now First Commission Award is Ebun Oguntola. Ebun is a 16-year-old contemporary classical composer, violinist, pianist and saxophonist living in upstate New York. Her music was brought to the attention of Composers Now by the founders of Luna Composition Lab, Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid. With mentorship from composer/saxophonist Erin Rogers, Ebun will create a chamber work for the New Thread Quartet that received its world premiere as part of the Opening Event of the 2022 Composers Now Festival.


2021 First Commission

Paloma Alonso

Darian Donovan Thomas, violin
Shayna Dunkelman, percussion
Angélica Negrón, mentor

Paloma Alonoso

Paloma Alonso is a New York City native. She is 13 years old and attends the Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. Her parents, both classical concert pianists, were her first piano teachers. Alonso cites her Cuban father and Albanian mother as major inspirations for introducing her to music of all styles and genres. She began studying cello six years ago with Juilliard-trained teacher Yves Dharamraj and also pursues her passion for dance at the school of New York Theatre Ballet where she has trained rigorously since the age of four. Alonso joined the New York Philharmonic Young Composers Program in 2017. She commented that "This wonderful program opened a whole new world of expression to me. Composing is another tool that allows me to be expressive in a beautiful and artistic way". In December 2019, on a Young People's Concert, the Philharmonic performed Alonso's Sweating Bullets under the baton of its Music Director Jaap van Zweeden. The orchestral work was scheduled to be performed by the Philharmonic again in April of 2020 but, was unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.


2020 First Commission

Ilaria Loisa Hawley

Quando L'acqua riflette (When the Water Reflects)
Performed by Face The Music
Isabella Caurucci, flute
Yusei Hata, melodica
Oriana Hawley, viola
John Waller, triangle
Vasudevan Panicker, coach 

Ilaria Louisa Hawley

Born in 2009, Ilaria Loisa Hawley is the recipient of a 2019 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and the inaugural recipient of Claire Chase's Pnea Foundation Young Flutist Award. Ilaria's music has been performed by the New York Philharmonic and Face the Music, and she is a composition student of Mathew Fuerst and a flute student of Zara Lawler. She attends PS 314 Muscota New School and enjoys drawing, drama, reading, rock climbing, and making earrings.

video by Nan Melville