Nashville Symphony’s Second Composer Lab and Workshop Brings Four Emerging Composers to Nashville

Public invited to hear ‘classics of the future’ at free open rehearsal on November 14

Nashville, Tenn. (September 20, 2017) – Following a nationwide call for submissions, the Nashville Symphony has selected four promising young composers to participate in the second edition of its Composer Lab and Workshop, an initiative designed to cultivate the next generation of great American composers.

The four composers – Emily Cooley, James Diaz, Liliya Ugay and Shen Yiwen – will be in Nashville on November 13-15 to take part in the comprehensive program, led by Symphony music director Giancarlo Guerrero and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, during which they will showcase their music and learn about every facet of working with a major American orchestra.

The program will culminate with an open rehearsal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, when the GRAMMY®-winning Nashville Symphony will perform works by all four Composer Lab participants at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Admission is free and open to the public.

“This program is an important part of the Symphony’s long-standing commitment to promote the creation of new, forward-thinking American music,” said Guerrero. “Each of these gifted artists represents the vibrancy and diversity of our country today, and each is helping to shape the sound of orchestral music in the 21st century. We’re so thrilled to welcome them to Nashville and to help them take the next step in their careers — and we invite the community to hear what we believe will be the classics of the future.”

Following the highly successful launch of Composer Lab & Workshop in 2015, the Symphony issued a nationwide call for submissions in February of this year for the second edition of the program, open to American-based composers between the ages of 18 and 33. Sixty-five scores were submitted, and the four finalists were selected by Guerrero and Kernis, who serves as the Composer Lab’s workshop director and developed a similar initiative at the Minnesota Orchestra. 

One of the most comprehensive programs of its kind anywhere in the United States. the Composer Lab will immerse the four participants in a hands-on learning experience with workshop sessions covering key aspects of composing, performing and music industry practices, including*:

  • Reading sessions with the Nashville Symphony;
  • Individual mentoring sessions with Giancarlo Guerrero and Aaron Jay Kernis;
  • Meetings with composer Chen Yi, Copland House executive director Michael Boriskin and Nashville Symphony assistant conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez;
  • Group meetings with Nashville Symphony musicians to sharpen instrumental writing;
  • A “Business Essentials for Composers” briefing led by Jim Kendrick of ASCAP, covering copyrights, licenses, contracts and negotiations, commissions, publishing and more.

*Some portions of the Composer Lab and Workshop will be open to members of the media. Contact Dave Felipe at 615.687.6565 or [email protected] to learn more.

As an added enhancement, Guerrero may select one or more of the composers’ works to be performed as part of the Symphony’s 2018/19 Aegis Sciences Classical Series. The inaugural Composer Lab & Fellow, Bay Area native Gabriella Smith, had her original piece Tumblebird Contrails featured during Aegis Sciences Classical Series concerts in October of 2016.


The open rehearsal and performance on November 14 is free and open to the public. Visit for complete information, including bios and photos of all program participants.