Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek have been selected by Riccardo Muti for the position of CSO Mead Composers-in-Residence. They will begin their three-year terms at the start of the 2015/16 season. 

“After the successful tenures of Mason Bates and Anna Clyne, I wanted to build on their energy and enthusiasm in giving new direction to the MusicNOW series by appointing young composers who have already shown great promise,” Muti said in a statement. “Now in Chicago, Adams and Ogonek will have an opportunity to participate in the life of the orchestra and to contribute to the city’s vibrant cultural community.”

Born and reared in the San Francisco Bay area, Adams specializes in acoustic and electroacoustic music. He studied composition and electroacoustic music at Stanford University while also active as a jazz bassist in and around San Francisco. Before working in New York City between 2010 and 2014, he received a master’s degree in composition from Yale University. Adams has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony and ACJW (The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Institute of Music).

In 2013, Adams was composer-in-residence at the Spoleto Festival USA, where his String Quartet in Five Movements received its premiere by the St. Lawrence String Quartet. The work also had performances at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall. In 2014, his Drift and Providence, a work co-commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, was featured as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s national tour. Future projects include collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, pianist Emanuel Ax, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Post:Ballet.

Originally from Minnesota, Elizabeth Ogonek has resided in New York City since childhood. At age 5, she began her formal music studies at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, concentrating on piano; she began composition studies with Matthew Van Brink during her junior year in high school. Along with Van Brink, her primary composition teachers have included Don Freund, Claude Baker, Michael Gandolfi, Donald Crockett and Stephen Hartke. She is currently a student of Julian Anderson.

Ogonek has received many commissions, including those from members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival for the FLUX Quartet and the London Symphony Orchestra.  She is the recipient of a 2007 Morton Gould Young Composer Award (ASCAP), 2010 and 2011 Morton Gould Young Composer Honorable Mentions (ASCAP), the 2010 Dean’s Prize (Indiana University) and a 2013 Charles Ives Scholarship (American Academy of Arts and Letters). In addition, she was awarded the 2009 Beinecke Brothers Memorial Scholarship and a 2010-2012 Graduate Teaching Assistantship (USC).

She holds degrees from Indiana University (BM, 2009) and the University of Southern California (MM, 2012). In September 2012, she began her doctoral studies at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a 2012-2015 Marshall Scholar.

Throughout their composer-in-residence tenure, Adams and Ogonek will receive commissions for works to be programmed on the CSO’s subscription and MusicNOW series. Muti will lead the CSO in a CSO-commissioned work by Ogonek during the 2015/16 season. Adams’ first commissioned work will be scheduled for the following season.

They also will curate the CSO’s four-concert MusicNOW series, introduced in 1998 to explore today’s contemporary music scene through interactive programs. The dates next season for the Monday-night series are Nov. 23 and March 7, May 9 and June 6, 2016, all presented at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

MusicNOW receives funding through a leadership challenge grant from Irving Harris Foundation/Joan W. Harris. Major support is provided by Cindy Sargent and the Sally Mead Hands Foundation.