Music critic sets up foundation for new American works

Music critic sets up foundation for new American works


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2014

For those who think critics just sit on their A-flats and carp, here’s one who doesn’t.

Our friend Lawrence Johnson, founder of the Classical Review sites in Bsoston Chicago, South Florida and New York, has spent much of the past year putting together an initiative that will promote performances of American music.

The American Music Project will launch with a Chicago Q Ensemble concert on October 5, featuring works by Charles Ives, David Diamond and Irving Fine, alongside the AMP’s first commission, a piano quintet by Amy Wurtz with the composer as soloist.




‘If, for example, somebody wants to put on a festival of American string quartets, or a cycle of American symphonies, we would provide a check to underwrite some of it,’ says Johnson.

No idea where the money’s coming from, but it’s a necessary initiative and it has cost Larry the greater part of a year’s work.

Three cheers, please, for that music critic.

More information here.


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    This is very interesting and extremely important for bringing American music to audiences. Bravo to Mr.Johnson in this wonderful effort.

  • John Porter says:

    What a great idea…too bad there are other organizations doing essentially the same things, for many years. Just what the world needs: another organization to duplicate the long-term efforts of those by New Music America and others. Personally, I give to some of these organizations, because I know how hard it is for them to do this work year in and year out. So, when another comes along as if what they’re proposing is unique, well, ummm….not.

  • Andrew Patner says:

    Sorry, John Porter. First of all the group you refer to is now New Music USA. Second, what’s your beef? Did Larry hit you up for money? How on earth is offering *additional* presentations and *additional* commissions of new American music “duplicating” anything? And how does it harm the important but necessarily limited work of that very small handful of existing organizations that support new American music? In fact this project *supports and spreads* their work. Or do you propose that we don’t need more than, say, one symphony orchestra or opera company because any others would be “duplicating” the same enterprise? Wouldn’t it be great to have one of these foundations in every state? Hats off to Larry Johnson!

    • Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Quite simply, the more funding sources and conduits for support, the better. There is a great deal of music that needs to be heard, and we need a steady flow of financial support enabling organizations to program American works that should be seen and heard.

  • Lawrence A. Johnson says:

    Thank you, Andrew (and Jeffrey). I would only add that while the American Music Project will selectively commission and present new music by American composers—as with Amy Wurtz’s Piano Quintet—the majority of AMP support will focus on facilitating performances of already existing American repertory, since I feel that is the area most neglected.

    Lawrence A. Johnson

    • Jeffrey Biegel says:

      I agree with you. This is certainly an area which needs to be cultivated. Very often, new works are commissioned, with great effort expended to get them funded and premiered, and then they disappear in many cases. Will you be working directly with the composers and/or their publishers to find opportunities for successive performances? (For example, several works for piano and orchestra commissioned for me by some of the most respected composers in the industry have seen premieres and performances by the commissioning orchestras, but need AMP support to find future performances).