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NCCC group

circa 2005 composers L-R:

Jay Sydeman, Jerry Grant, David Dvorin, Mark Vance, Howard Hersh, Terry Riley Mikail Graham

Nevada County Composers Cooperative, NCCC, was founded as Nevada County Composers Coalition in 1994 to provide rural audiences of the Sierra Foothills with the opportunity to hear live performances of contemporary American music. Focusing originally on the works of the founding composers, Terry Riley, Howard Hersh and William Jay Sydeman. In 1996 the coalition expanded its programing to include a variety of American music as well as international works.


NCCC took a new multifaceted look in 2000 when the artistic board was increased to include Nevada County composers: David Dvorin, Mikail Graham, Ludi Hinrichs, Darcy Reynolds and Mark Vance. With this rich compositional diversity on tap, the “coalition” grew to become the “cooperative”. Hersh and Riley became advisory members and the remaining founder, Sydeman, voted Artistic Director, helped guide NCCC through this transition. NCCC’s Festival of New American Music was born with performances in the American Victorian Museum.


In 2001, Estelle Barber joined the NCCC board as the treasurer and was instrumental in helping the organization become a 501c (3), non-profit. Under Sydeman’s leadership, an annual season was beginning to be fleshed out with the “Festival of New American Music” being the backbone.


By 2003, Vance had stepped forward as Executive Director, composers Jerry Grant and Randy McKean joined the group. With this personnel, Sydeman, Vance, Graham, Grant, Dvorin and McKean and the board officers: Estelle Barber, Julie Cobden, Eric Tomb and Cassandra Wahlstrom, the season blossomed to include:

  • The Meet the Composer Series (held at the Nevada City Winery presented twice a year)

  • The Sound and Vision Festival (featuring music, film, video, art, dance, and performance art)

  • The Festival of New American Music (showcasing music from contemporary American composers)

  • The Fall Benefit Concert (a fundraising house concert with no premieres but specializing in showcasing subsequent performances of newer works)


In 2004, Wet Ink replaced the Festival of New American Music and became an annual summer showcase devoted entirely to brand new music (implying the ink still being wet from composing) and an impetus for composers to write. NCCC used Wet Ink as a collaborating event with Music in the Mountains as part of MIM’s annual Summer Music Festival. This programming combination: Meet the Composer Series, Sound and Vision Festival, Wet Ink and Fall Benefit Concert continued through 2017.


It was during that time (2011) that Brian Buckley joined the board. The board later agreed to expand and include a student board member looking for a younger perspective. Over 12 years, these students included: Phil De Leo, Matisse Geenty, Matthew Drake, Jake Collins, Jesse Haennelt and Toby Thomas-Rose. They were all student composers enrolled in MIM’s Young Composers Project, which Vance taught.


In 2020 presenting quickly came to a halt with Covid, as it did for all presenting groups. Finally in the waning months of the pandemic, NCCC’s current board of directors: Alexis Alrich, Estelle Barber, Brian Buckley, Jesse Haennelt, Durwynne Hsieh, Lou Johnson, Lynn Schugren and Mark Vance (meeting on Zoom) decided to venture out and present the Masked Ball (aptly titled). This concert was held at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley to an enthusiastic, mask-wearing, audience that was thrilled to be “out with peers” attending concerts again.


Since then, NCCC presented Yikes, Friday the 13th, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? in May 2022 with 5 premiers by composers Alrich, Collins, Haennelt, Heish and Vance at the Trabucco Ranch and is currently planning a Fall Concert October 30, 2022 again at the Trabucco Ranch (see flyer here)

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