Red, White, and Green: This Funder Likes Organizations Supporting American Music

Since its founding, America has struggled to make an aesthetic break with Europe, whether in the fields of literature, visual arts, or music.

Sure, we invented jazz, but as recently as the 1930s, American classical music still found itself looking over its shoulder—if such a thing could be conceptualized—and across the Atlantic to the Motherland.

Aaron Copland changed that.  

Best known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s—including the masterpiece Appalachian Spring—Copland brought a "populist" and accessible approach to classical music. Don't ask us how or why, but his work just sounds more attuned to the "common man." It's sprawling and evocative. Think the Grand Canyon, the mighty Pacific, and amber fields of grain.

His style is distinctly American.

And so the Aaron Copland Fund for Music looks to honor its namesake's legacy by encouraging and improving the public knowledge and appreciation of contemporary American music by living or recently deceased American composers.

Case in point: the fund's Performance Program, a grant program where performing ensembles, presenting organizations, and festivals may seek either general operating or project support for the performance and presentation of contemporary American concert music and contemporary jazz. 

In general, grants range from $1,000 to $20,000. Grant amounts for larger organizations with a "demonstrated extraordinary commitment to contemporary American music" may exceed these amounts at the discretion of the panel. 

A quick look at 2015's Performance Program recipients shows that 112 organizations received a grand total of $610,000. (The big winner, for those keeping track at home, was the Santa Cruz-based Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, which netted $30,000. But is anyone really keeping track at home?)

Eligible organizations include chamber-sized ensembles of any instrumentation, symphonic or other full-sized orchestras, opera companies, dance companies, vocal ensembles, presenters, festivals, and presenter/ensemble hybrids. Now that's American egalitarianism at its finest. 

The application deadline is June 30th. To apply and for a helpful FAQ page, click here.

Lastly, as previously noted here at IP, the fund's Performance Program is only one figurative leg on the funder's grantmaking stool—if such a thing could be conceptualized. The other two legs include its Recording Program which will, among other things, document and provide wider exposure for the music of contemporary American composers, and its Supplemental Program, whose objective is to support nonprofits committed to American music whose needs may not be met by the Performance Program.