Ty Alan Emerson has been presenting music in Cleveland since 2000. Following two terms as president of the Cleveland Composers’ Guild, he is currently the Director and Conductor of the Cleveland Chamber Collective. His most recent works, Shelter-in-Place, and Pan Songs, were premiered in 2023.
In 2022 Emerson’s work, Cast Thy Nighted Colour Off was featured at the New Music on the Bayou New Music Festival. In 2021 the Chamber Collective, in partnership with Inlet Dance Theatre, premiered Emerson’s dance work Caliban Ascendant. A short documentary film following the collaboration between Inlet and Emerson, “The
Ohio Channel Presents-Creating, Community,” was aired that year. In 2020 his work Love and Other Missed-Spellings was premiered at The Bop Stop as part of the 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, as well as soloists Mary Kay Fink, John Sampen, Gary Louie, and Kirsten Taylor.
His work has been featured at The Huddersfield New Music and Arts Festival in Huddersfield, England, New Music on the Bayou in Monroe Louisiana, Music at the Forefront at Bowling Green State University, NEO Sonic New Music Festival in Cleveland, the New Music Festival at Marshall University, CMI/SCI National Conference in San Antonio, New Music Festival at Louisiana State University, and the Resolution 2000 New Music Festival at Indiana State University SE. You can find his works on Sound Cloud and also on WLCV Radio’s “Fresh Innovations” hosted by Mark Satola.
His 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 and the MTNA/OMTA Composer of the Year.
Emerson has written for the stage, including several programs with The Music Theater Project, including his Deconstructing Kurt Weill, and underscoring plays at the Texas Shakespeare Festival. He also enjoyed participating in the creation of the Cleveland International Film Festival’s welcome trailer for their 43rd season.
Look for his latest work, OATH BREAKER, to be premiered April 2024.
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.