Composer Ty Alan Emerson has been presenting music in Cleveland since 2000. Following two terms as president of the Cleveland Composers’ Guild, he is currently Director and Conductor of the Cleveland Chamber Collective. Notable commissions include the Collective, No Exit, and ASSEM3LY. In 2021 the Chamber Collective, in partnership with Inlet Dance Theatre (Director Bill Wade), premiered Emerson’s dance work Caliban Ascendant. In 2020 his works Love and Other Missed-Spellings and Cast Thy Nighted Colour Off, featuring saxophonist Gabriel Pique, were premiered at The Bop Stop in Cleveland as part of the Chamber Collective’s “Music of America” program. Other notable performances have
included ensembles such as The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, No Exit New Music Ensemble, Zeitgeist, ASSEM3LY, VERB Ballets, The Cleveland Duo with James Umble, and Quorum New Music Ensemble.
His work has been featured at music festivals from Bowling Green, OH to Huddersfield, England. Awards include: the ASCAP Morton Gould Award, the Searle McCullum Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, two Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council (2009 and 2014) and the MTNA/OMTA Composer of the Year. Emerson can be heard on the radio in Cleveland on WCLV radio’s Fresh Innovations, hosted by Mark Satola.
In addition to his work for the concert hall, Emerson has composed and arranged works for the stage with The Musical Theater Project in Cleveland, including Deconstructing Kurt Weill and Bernstein on Broadway. Emerson can also be found conducting concert and theatrical works around Cleveland, including the premiere of Remember the Pines, by composer Nicholas Underhill. He has done commercial work for the State of Ohio, and in 2019 arranged the music for the welcome trailer for the Cleveland International Film Festival.
This artist was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award
for 2009 and 2014.
A Note from the Artist...
I write music because I can’t not.
An Italian opera fan once challenged me with, “You composers think you can get away with anything.” I told him I can write whatever I thought he wanted to hear, but I would be lying to him. Would he rather all composers sing with the same voice, or would he rather we be honest? Art is about connection and sharing. Being vulnerable, being intimate. There are times I want to share joy, pain, or grief. It is about speaking truth with a genuine voice. Sometimes what I need to communicate is hard to hear, like stories about colonization and residential schools. But that doesn’t make it not worth hearing.
Sometimes I use twelve-tone techniques, sometimes I create slow-moving tonal landscapes, and sometimes I throw it all away and start again. For me, it is not about an “ism.” Painting my voice with a technique isn’t authentic. It’s like an actor playing an attitude rather than digging deeper for meaning in the text. Ultimately, each piece has its own identity. There should always be a musical burr, inviting the listener back. When I do my job as a craftsperson, it holds together from the inside out. And when I operate in this way, whatever the emotion or message, the piece resonates.