Sunderman alum named 2020 Call for Scores winner by New England Philharmonic

The New England Philharmonic named Sunderman Conservatory’s own Diego Rocha ’19 the winner of its 2020 Call for Scores. The committee selected Rocha’s score from more than a hundred submissions worldwide. The winning score, Replier, will be performed during the orchestra’s 2020-2021 season.

The New England Philharmonic has a long tradition of supporting new music, including a composer-in-residence program and an annual call-for-scores established in 1985. The acclaimed orchestra has received recognition and national awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for its adventurous music programming.

Rocha, a Wagnild Scholar, studied composition with Music Prof. Avner Dorman at Gettysburg College through the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. In addition, he performed with the Sunderman Wind Symphony, Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble. His music was performed by many Sunderman students as well as the Sunderman Wind Quintet.

“My most sizable debt is to the encouragement I received from many faculty members to experiment—aesthetically, technically, conceptually,” Rocha said of his education at the Conservatory. “I doubt very much that I would have written this piece—or one like it—without the support I received to explore early in my compositional progress.”

Headshot of Diego Rocha

Upon graduating from the Conservatory with a Bachelor of Arts in music with honors, he began pursuing a master’s degree in composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, where he currently studies under renowned composers, including composers, including Yotam Haber, Zhou Long, Paul Rudy, and Chen Yi. Rocha, a Chancellor scholar and recipient of the Elsberry and Gonder Families Endowed Scholarship, was also the composer-in-residence for UMKC Conservatory’s Graduate.

Before receiving the Call for Scores honor, Tenebrae New Music Ensemble and the ASCAP also recognized Rocha for other works. He has performed with various ensembles as a trombonist, including wind ensembles, symphony orchestras, and jazz groups in addition to solo performances.

“I appreciate being a recipient of this award,” said Rocha, whose music has previously received honors from ASCAP, the American Composer’s Orchestra/EarShot, Tenebrae New Music Ensemble, and the Original Music/New Ideas (OM/NI) Competition. He describes his process as a pursuit to create “music of uncompromising emotional intensity while exploring cognition, randomness, rhythm, and counterpoint within post-tonal frameworks.

The Sunderman Conservatory of Music prepares the next generation of music scholars, performers, and educators with programming and multi-disciplinary music training taught by exceptional faculty.

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By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos courtesy of Stephen Brown ’17 and Diego Rocha ’19
Posted: 08/27/20