UCLA Library
Fadia Khalil from the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra plays the violin on the roof of her house in Iraq's capital Baghdad. Source: Ayman Henna/AFP

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has collaborated with Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra to create the largest open-access resource for contemporary musical works via the UCLA Library.

Composers from 86 countries have submitted more than 7,800 musical compositions for publication. Of this number, 6,000 scores are now available on eScholarship. This is a repository where all University of California (UC) scholars can share their work with the public.

Kaleidoscope was founded by UCLA alumnus Benjamin Mitchell, who plays the clarinet professionally. Not only did the conductorless orchestra launch the Call for Scores programme in 2015, but it also selects a few outstanding submissions to perform publicly every year.

According to an official UCLA release, composers no longer have to pay a US$30 application fee to submit scores.

“This year, the UCLA Music Library received one-time funds from the library’s Scholarly Communication Services to eliminate the fee and offer composers the opportunity to publish their submitted works in eScholarship’s Contemporary Music Score Collection.”

Published composers will retain the full copyright to their works. At the same time, others will benefit from what is now the largest collection of contemporary scores in the world.

Musicians and students everywhere will now be able to better study and play the work of their peers. It encourages a culture of borderless sharing in music education.

“This collaboration has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about the publishing of music, the role of libraries and the impact and accessibility of music by living composers,” said Matthew Vest, UCLA’s music inquiry and research librarian.

UCLA Library

Members of the orchestra of the Greek National Opera prepares for a concert at the ancient Roman Agora in Athens on July 18, 2020. Source: Aris Messinis/AFP

Pulitzer finalist among music available through UCLA Library

Don’t be surprised if you uncover a few gems through the UCLA Library. After all, the scores include that of Michael Gilbertson, whose Quartet was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music.

The string orchestra for its first movement is called Mother Chords. It starts off with a crystalline sound that captured the attention of fellow musicians, especially since Kaleidoscope premiered Mother Chords in its 2019 season.

According to Gilbertson, this sound symbolises a musical “glass ceiling” — one that is rather poetically shattered through initiatives such as these.

“Composers frequently ask for a perusal of the score to ‘Mother Chords’ to see how the distinctive harmonic colour is achieved at the beginning of the piece. Hopefully, this will make it more accessible to composers who want to study it as a resource and musicians who are interested in performing my music,” he said.

See the score collection here, and explore other OpenUCLA resources here.

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