K-12 New Music Project

Photo by David Andrews

National Orchestral Institute + Festival Expands Initiative to Increase Representation in K-12 Orchestral Repertoire

Eight historically excluded composers to be commissioned for K-12 orchestral works


Know our “Why”

The K-12 New Music Project seeks to diversify the pool of composers who write for young players by commissioning works by historically excluded composers to write music for elementary, middle, high school and youth orchestras. As part of this project, these composers will work directly with instrumental teachers and students at secondary schools in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and two youth orchestras, DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) and Hawaii Youth Symphony (HYS), building on NOI+Fʼs existing partnerships with these institutions. Ultimately, schools across the nation will have access to these new works through our publishing partner, American Composers Alliance (ACA).

"The National Orchestral Institute + Festival has pledged to amplify creative voices that have been unfairly silenced in the orchestral ecosystem due to systemic racism. While professional orchestras have begun commissioning projects to increase representation in their repertoire, this project takes aim at the often overlooked music played by schools and youth orchestras around the country.”

— Richard Scerbo, Director of NOI+F 

History of the Project

A pilot phase of the K-12 New Music Project was held from 2019 to 2020 under the curatorial leadership of NOI+F Sphinx Orchestral Futurist Fellow Camille Jones ’20. Jones, who is now a violin performance graduate student at the University of Michigan, coordinated commissions by composers Erica Telisnor and Carlos Simon for six PGCPS schools—three middle schools and three high schools. Throughout Spring 2020, Jones and NOI+F worked closely with PGCPS to collect feedback and written evaluations that will strengthen the K-12 New Music Project going forward. “This project will increase the available repertoire and diversify the pool of composers K-12 students are taught in the classroom,” says Jones. Jones now serves on the selection committee for the project. 

After the pilot year, the project was awarded a $30,000 grant from The League of American Orchestra’s Futures Fund to help further the efforts. This grant supports orchestral organizations that implement innovative ways in which to grow audiences and increase their relevance. With new funding and a larger scale to the project, Lauren Floyd was brought on as project manager. 

In this new phase, the K12 New Music Project and its partners will commission eight historically excluded composers- two each for elementary, middle school, high school and youth orchestra. 

At the conclusion of the two rounds of premieres, NOI+F will make the first round of commissions available at no cost to launch partners and for purchase to schools and youth orchestras across the country. The new commissions will be integrated into PGCPS instrumental music curricula and DCYOP and HYS programming throughout the 2021-22 and 2022-2023 academic years. The commissioned repertoire will also be accompanied by visits from the composers so that the students can interact and ask questions, a unique experience they may have never had.

“This will be an exciting and immersive experience for our students—the cultural and musical connections from this project will leave a lasting impression on our young performers.”

— Lionel Harrell, PGCPS Instrumental Music Supervisor

Interested in Programming this Repertoire?

All pieces associated with the project, excluding Carlos Simon’s, can be found on ACA’s website here.

Carlos Simon’s works are published by Bill Holab Music. You can access his piece, Journey, here.

If you program any of these pieces, please contact us and let us know at noi@umd.edu!


“The dynamism of young orchestral musicians provides an incredible opportunity to explore, celebrate and champion equity and diversity. We are thrilled to be working alongside partners from DCYOP, PGCPS and NOI+F to bring forward these conversations and to share in the universal joy of music."

— Randy Wong HYS President


Meet our Commissioned Composers




Meet our Partners



Our Advisory Committee

The K-12 New Music Project's advisory committee includes representatives from each partner organization who collaborate in the selection process of composers. In addition, they work closely with composers in the creation of pedagogically appropriate music.

Robert Gibson
American Composers Alliance

Camille Jones
NOI+F Sphinx Futurist Fellow

Jennifer Murray
Prince George's County Public Schools

Richard Scerbo
National Orchestral Institute + Festival

Chad Uyehara
Hawaii Youth Symphony

Kenneth Whitley
DC Youth Orchestra Program

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