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Nov 7, 2023


Composer Quenton Xavier Blache will receive $5,000 commission for a new piece to be featured on an upcoming album from Capuçon and premiered by the cellist at Davies Symphony Hall in the 2025–26 season

Blache was anonymously selected by Capuçon from the 2023 Emerging Black Composers Project applications

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), in partnership with the San Francisco Symphony and cellist Gautier Capuçon, announced today that Quenton Xavier Blache, 22, will receive a commissioning prize under the umbrella of the Emerging Black Composers Project (EBCP).

Anonymously selected by Capuçon from the pool of applications for the 2023 Emerging Black Composers Project, Blache will receive a $5,000 commission for a new work for cello and small ensemble that will be featured on an upcoming album by Capuçon, to be released on Warner Erato. Further details on Capuçon’s album will be announced by Warner Erato at a later date. Capuçon will also give the world premiere performance of the work at Davies Symphony Hall on a Great Performers Series concert during the 2025–26 San Francisco Symphony season.

This marks the eighth commission from the Emerging Black Composers Project since it launched in 2020. Most recently, composer Xavier Muzik was awarded the 2023 EBCP Michael Morgan Prize.

“As a cellist myself, Gautier Capuçon has been a huge inspiration to me,” said Blache. “I always loved listening to him play growing up. The first thing I ever heard him play was the Dvořák concerto with Paavo Järvi on YouTube, and I became an instant fan. I’ve also enjoyed tuning into masterclasses and concerts during his Classe D’Excellence de Violoncelle program. To actually compose a piece for him is something that I never would have guessed could happen. I’m so grateful to work with such an icon in the classical music scene and am super excited for what’s to come!”

“Through my close relationship with the San Francisco Symphony, I became aware of their exciting Emerging Black Composers Project with SFCM and the incredibly talented pool of applicants they received each year,” said Capuçon. “An album project I am working on seemed like a perfect opportunity to offer another commission, and I knew when I heard Quenton’s submission that he would write beautifully for the cello. I was thrilled to learn later that he was a cellist himself, and I’m looking forward to working with him on this new piece.”

The Emerging Black Composers Project intends to spotlight early-career Black American composers and their music. It was launched in 2020 with the first-place commission given in June 2021 to Trevor Weston. The winner of the 2022 Emerging Black Composers Project was Jens Ibsen, whose work Drowned in Light receives its world premiere by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony as part of the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music on November 10–12.

Last week, the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Conservatory of Music announced that applications are now open for the fourth annual Emerging Black Composers Project (EBCP) and its Michael Morgan Prize. The winner of the 2024 Michael Morgan Prize will receive a $15,000 award and have a new work commissioned to receive its world premiere with the San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. The winner will also receive mentorship from Salonen, SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater, and Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the resident conductor of engagement and education at SF Symphony and chair of the EBCP selection committee, as well as career support and investment from SFCM faculty and musicians. Applications for the 2024 Emerging Black Composers Project must be submitted by 11:59 PM PT on February 1, 2024. Read the full press release and eligibility requirements.

The Emerging Black Composers Project is underwritten by Michèle and Laurence Corash.

About Quenton Xavier Blache
Quenton Xavier Blache is a cellist and composer based in Los Angeles and a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) Thornton School of Music. He has a bachelor's degree in cello performance and music composition, and a minor in Chinese. He is currently attending USC's master’s program in screen scoring. Blache has performed in Carnegie Hall, South America, Europe, and Asia as a member of Sphinx Virtuosi, a professional string ensemble of Black and Latinx players, and National Youth Orchestra USA. He performed as soloist in the Dvořák Concerto with the Peninsula Symphony in February 2022. In August 2022, he performed in France as a member of the USC Honors Quartet at the Rencontres franco-américaines de Musique de Chambre Festival in collaboration with musicians from the Paris Conservatory. Serving as a cello hand double and background musician actor in the Blumhouse Productions 2020 Amazon Prime movie Nocturne allowed him to merge his love of music and film. He is the 2021 winner of the USC Bach Competition, Undergraduate Division, the 2023 winner of the USC Strings Concerto Competition, and will perform Bloch's Schelomo with the Thornton Symphony in October 2023.

As a composer, Blache has written works for the Little Orchestra Society, North Carolina Chamber Music Institute, MYCO Youth Chamber Orchestra, Sphinx Organization, and more. His most recent string orchestra work Habari Gani will be performed by the Sphinx Virtuosi for their 2023-24 tour, including a New York premiere in Carnegie Hall in October 2023. He is especially passionate about composition for visual media and has scored numerous short films and documentaries. Blache was also the composer for the Resilience Project, a climate change “art-ivist” performance series that is a part of the inaugural USC Arts and Climate Collective. In his spare time, he enjoys playing chess and aspires to be an International Master (IM). Blache has studied composition under Andrew Norman, Veronika Krausas, Ted Hearne, Frank Ticheli, and Nina Young. He has studied cello under Jacob Wenger, co-founder of the North Raleigh School of Music, and Nathaniel Yaffe, recording engineer and cellist of the North Carolina Symphony. He currently studies composition under celebrated composer Donald Crockett and cello under accomplished cellist Andrew Shulman.

About the San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony is among the most adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the United States, celebrated for its artistic excellence, creative performance concepts, active touring, award-winning recordings, and standard-setting education programs. In the 2020–21 season, the San Francisco Symphony welcomed conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen as its 12th Music Director, embarking on a new vision for the present and future of the orchestral landscape. In their inaugural season together, Mr. Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony introduced a groundbreaking artistic leadership model anchored by eight Collaborative Partners from a variety of cultural disciplines: Nicholas Britell, Julia Bullock, Claire Chase, Bryce Dessner, Pekka Kuusisto, Nico Muhly, Carol Reiley, and esperanza spalding. This group of visionary artists, thinkers, and doers, along with Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, have set out to explore and develop new ideas inspired by the Collaborative Partners’ unique areas of expertise, including innovative digital projects, expansive and imaginative performance concepts in a variety of concert formats, commissions of new music, and projects that foster collaboration across artistic and administrative areas. Shaped by the dynamic partnership and shared vision of Mr. Salonen, the Collaborative Partners, and the Orchestra and Chorus, the San Francisco Symphony’s 2023–24 season reflects a spirit of collaboration, experimentation, and renewed dialogue through live music.

About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
SFCM draws on the bold creativity of San Francisco to offer unparalleled training for the 21st century musician. We support students in developing the skills and vision to chart successful careers and advance the human experience through music. We believe a musical education must extend far beyond technical and performance skills. Our commitment to music of enduring quality and importance is the foundation of our innovative curriculum, cultivating critical thinking and business acumen alongside artistic practice, and creating a transformative environment of inquiry, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Our DNA combines a global perspective with the unstoppable energy and imagination of our hometown. Our pioneering programs and partnerships with leading institutions and businesses prepare students to seize opportunities in music and a wide array of the fastest developing sectors today. SFCM is a magnet for exceptional faculty whose ongoing professional experience benefits our students. As the only conservatory partnered with a leading artist management company and recording label, we are able to provide our students unique insight and access to the music industry.

Media contacts:
SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY: Taryn Lott: [email protected]
SFCM: Mark Taylor: [email protected]   

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