Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra receives 2020 New Music USA Project Grant

New Music USA

UPDATE: On August 7, 2020, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra made the decision to decline the grant awarded from New Music USA. “We are deeply sorry that our recent grant application to New Music USA did not fully represent our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We got it wrong and we welcome the constructive feedback that we have received. We have declined the current grant and it’s our immediate goal to take the time needed to have meaningful conversations in our community to create something that everyone can be proud of in the future. We will get this right.” -The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra


The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is pleased to announce that we have been selected by New Music USA alongside 109 other projects involving 392 creators and artists for the tenth round of New Music USA Project Grants. The piece supported by this grant is Lev Zhurbin’s Pulse, a memorial, which will have its World Premiere with the Orlando Philharmonic in our FAIRWINDS Classics Series during the 2020–2021 Season.

Totaling $502,700 in funding, this year’s grants support new American music projects in 26 states. The 110 awarded projects include a wide range of activities and events involving new music as a central element; these projects involve collaborations in dance, theater, opera, and the visual arts. 54% of the 2020 Project Grant participants are people of color and 58% are women.

“We’re inspired and humbled to be reminded of the resilience and imagination of the new music community through this bold list of projects planned for 2021 and beyond. In spite of the challenges faced over the past four months, this year’s Project Grant recipients are determined to keep planning ahead, with many sustaining their focus on the creation of new work and positioning social justice at the heart of their creative practice. I look forward to experiencing the music of the diverse artists and practitioners involved and to following the realization of these projects next year throughout the United States,” said Vanessa Reed, New Music USA’s CEO & President.

Since New Music USA’s Project Grants launched in October 2013, the organization has distributed $3,906,648 in support of 805 projects. Of these projects, 58% were for the creation of new work.

To read the full Press Release from New Music USA, and view all 2020 award recipients, click here.

Overview of Pulse, a memorial

As part of our commitment to reflect the diverse stories and needs of our Central Florida community through music, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will present the world premiere of Lev Zhurbin’s Pulse, a memorial as a feature of our 2020–2021 Season.

On June 12, 2016, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was the scene of the second-worst mass shooting in U.S. history. 49 lives were taken, another 68 were injured, and the lives of countless survivors, first responders, family, and friends would never be the same. The tragedy rocked the entire nation, but here in Central Florida, the immense grief and devastation were immeasurable. Our community was changed forever. Under the banner of “Orlando Strong,” our Central Florida community has demonstrated tremendous solidarity and resilience in the wake of the tragedy. However, there is still a deep need for continued healing, and we feel that music is a powerful tool to support that healing.

To honor each of the lives lost, Pulse, a memorial is framed in 49 “ideas”, divided into seven sections of seven ideas each. Some of these “ideas” reappear throughout the piece– for example, each section is begun by the solitary heartbeat in the glockenspiel and concluded by the somber bells. The sections include fragmented melodies, some vibrant and others more reserved. In creating the piece, Lev Zhurbin sought “to write something to comfort the victims, their families, and their community.”

In the earliest days following the tragedy, Orlando Philharmonic musicians were drawn to play at the makeshift memorial– expressing their own grief and trying to help others heal through the transformative power of music. We hope that the premiere of Pulse, a memorial will honor the 49 lives lost, foster continued healing, and encourage ongoing conversation and unity.

To amplify the community impact of this world premiere performance, the Orlando Philharmonic plans to implement a series of education and community engagement events surrounding the concerts. The Orlando Philharmonic intends to partner with local organizations that work with PULSE survivors and families, the LGBT community, and others affected by the tragedy.


Pulse, a memorial was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Howard Gilman Foundation, Anonymous.