Since the founding of our Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program in 2005, Classical Movements has commissioned composers from some 25 different countries to create more than 65 new works. Alumni include both choral and orchestral, male and female voices: John Corigliano, Joan Tower (twice), Christopher Rouse, Caroline Shaw, Michael Gordon and the late Stephen Paulus, as well as Paquito D’Riviera, Tania León, Bright Sheng (twice, too), Piret Rips-Laul, Oscar Escalada and Mokale Koapeng (both twice, yet again). Premiered everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Kennedy Center to the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Helms-commissioned composers have won Grammys, Pulitzers, Grawemeyers, as well as an Oscar and MacArthur. Named after Neeta Helms’ late father, the Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program is yet another way Classical Movements demonstrates its commitment to both its clients, as cutting-edge artists, and to the wider world of classical music—promoting the creation of fresh, exciting work that encourages international collaboration.

Notes for Women & Ode to Joy

Honoring the centennial of perhaps the most momentous achievement during the struggle for women’s rights in American history—the ratification of the 19th Amendment—Classical Movements is proud to announce Notes for Women: New Music for 100 Years of Suffrage.

With the adoption of Amendment XIX to the Constitution of the United States of America on Sunday, August 8, 1920, American suffragettes won a hard-fought and decisive victory, forever cementing “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

For Notes for Women: New Music for 100 Years of Suffrage, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program will commission female-identifying composers to write a collection of new orchestral and choral works that reflect upon the history of the women’s suffrage movement—acknowledging, too, how much further America, herself, still has to go towards full enfranchisement. The latest in our ongoing, conscious efforts to amend the canon, the world over, by giving voice to composers too long excluded from the repertoire, two Notes for Women commissions will receive their premieres at Classical Movements’ own 2020 Serenade! Washington, D.C. and Ihlombe! South African Choral Festivals.

Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the most revered figures in the Western classical canon, Classical Movements proudly announces Ode to Joy: The Beethoven 2020 Project, honoring the legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) through new music commissions that re-imagine his most beloved masterpieces in ways that cross social and cultural boundaries.

For Ode to Joy: The Beethoven 2020 Project, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program will commission nine brand-new works—both orchestral and choral, from male and female composers—inspired by some of the best-known works in the classical repertoire. Drawing upon musical and literary themes (such as Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy), our unique series will focus particularly on engaging local communities and traditions all over the globe. Emerging and established composers, representing a true diversity of backgrounds, will create a distinct collection of collaborative works, each one reflecting Beethoven’s own continuing influence.

Enlivened by the composer’s entire oeuvre—nine symphonies, 16 string quartets, 32 piano sonatas, as well as the Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, Mass in C, Op. 86, Missa Solemnis, Op. 123 and his only opera, Fidelio—our first Beethoven 2020 Project commission takes its inspiration from the Violin Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24. Known as the “Spring Sonata,” this composition will premiere during Classical Movements’ sixth annual Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival.

Discussions are underway, and interested composers and ensembles should write to Adam Jackson, Artistic Planning & Executive Assistant to the President:


Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program alumni include…

Kinan Azmeh | John Corigliano | David Del Tredici | Paquito D’Rivera | Oscar Escalada | Ēriks Ešenvalds | Reena Esmail | Michael Gordon | Sydney Guillaume | Mokale Koapeng | Lori Laitman | Libby Larsen | Tania León | Stephen Paulus | Christopher Rouse | Greg Sandow | Caroline Shaw | Bright Sheng | Christopher Theofanidis | André J. Thomas | Joan Tower | Therese B. Ulvo | Bernat Vivancos

View All Our Composers and Works

2018: Norwegian Therese B. Ulvo – I am I am I am (“Wild of Spring,” “My Heart,” “Rest Now, Heart,” “My Cradle”)

  • For Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, in honor of Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson’s 22nd and final season
  • World premiere: Thursday, June 28, 2018 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church (Pasadena, California); Anne Tomlinson, conductor

10 works for the Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival’s “Mandela at 100: Songs of Hope, Justice & Unity” in June-July

  • Syrian Kinan Azmeh – Ibn Arabi Recitation for Serenade! mass choir and clarinet
  • South African Qinisela Sibisi – Let the New Age Dawn for Serenade! mass choir
  • Indians Vedanth Bharadwaj and Manjula Ponnapalli  நம்ம பாடு for Chennai Children’s Choir
  • Madagascan Talike GelléHeagnen-Tsy Tratse for Tiharea
  • Canadian Hussein Janmohamed – Rise Children, Let’s Rise to Peace for Nai Syrian Children’s Choir
  • Canadian Aaron JensenLong Road to Freedom for Countermeasure
  • Dutch Anne-Maartje LemereisA Requiem in Quotes for Olga Vocal Ensemble
  • Venezuelan Betsayda MachadoArriba Mandela for Parranda El Clavo
  • Dutch Carlijn MetselaarWell, Actually for Olga Vocal Ensemble
  • Tuvan Choduraa Tumat – Дагын катап дарлатпас бис for Ensemble Tyva Kyzy

American Greg Sandow – The Remembered Song

  • For Prague Summer Nights String Quartet (Cindy Lin, violin; John Lee, violin; John Petrey, viola; Sonya Nanos, cello)
  • World premiere: Wednesday, July 4, 2018 at the Rudolfinum (Prague, Czech Republic)


2 works for the Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival’s “Mandela at 100: Songs of Hope, Freedom & Unity” in July

  • South African Phelelani Mnomiya – It’s In Your Hands Now for Ihlombe! mass choir
  • South African Sibusiso Njeza – Uthando Nomculo (Love and Music) for Ihlombe! mass choir

South African Bongani Ndodana-Breen – Harmonia Ubuntu

  • For the Minnesota Orchestra‘s historic tour to South Africa
  • World premiere: Saturday, July 21, 2018 at Orchestra Hall (Minneapolis, Minnesota); Osmo Vänskä, conductor and Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano

American Julian Wachner – An Alleluia Flourish!

  • For Encore Chorale
  • World premiere: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.); Jeanne Kelly, conductor

2017: Syrian Kinan Azmeh becomes Classical Movements’ first-ever Composer-in-Residence

Argentinian Oscar Escalada – Misa para el Tercer Mundo (Mass for the Third World)

  • For Quinto de Cantares, to perform during Melodia! South American Choral Festival
  • World premiere: July 12, 2017 at Municipalidad de La Plata-Salón Dorado (La Plata, Argentina)

9 works for the Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival: A JFK 100 Celebration in June-July

  • Haitian-American Sydney Guillaume – Ansanm Ansanm
  • Latvian Ēriks Ešenvalds High Flight
  • Spanish Bernat Vivancos – L’ametller (The Almond Tree)
  • Indian Madhup Mudgal – Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (The World is One Family)
  • American Con FullamUnder One Sky
  • Bulgarians Milena Jeliazkova and Milena Roudeva – Orissiya (Destiny)
  • Mongolians Egschiglen – Freedom of the Steppe
  • Zimbabweans Insingizi – Bom Bom Jeys (It is important to know who we are…)
  • Indians Madras Youth ChoirMusical Tribute to JFK

American Billy Childs In Gratitude

  • For Los Angeles Master Chorale, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna
  • World premiere: June 17, 2017 at Chorus America (Los Angeles, California); Grant Gershon, conductor

South African Mokale Koapeng – Wings of Peace and Love: Reflections on Bheki Mseleku

  • For Choir of the College of William and Mary and Botetourt Chamber Singers
  • World premiere: May 19, 2017 at University of Pretoria-Musaion Theatre (Pretoria, South Africa); James Armstrong and Jamie Bartlett, conductors


2016: 10 works by American composers for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 100th anniversary season

  • Kristen Kuster – Moxie (February); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Christopher Rouse – Processional (April); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Joan Tower – Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman #6 (May); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Libby Larsen – Earth (Holst Trope) (May); John Storgårds, conductor
  • James Lee III – Thurgood’s Rhapsody(June); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Caroline Shaw – Baltimore Bomb (September); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Lori Laitman – Unsung (September); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • TJ Cole – Double Play (November); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Jonathan Leshnoff – Dancin’ Blue Crabs (Feb, ‘17); Marin Alsop, conductor
  • Christopher Theofanidis – The Game (June, ‘17); Marin Alsop, conductor

American Andrea Ramsey – The Gift to Sing

  • For Children’s Chorus of Washington, in honor of the retirement of Founding Artistic Director Joan Gregoryk
  • World premiere: May 22, 2016 at George Washington University-Lisner Auditorium (Washington, D.C.); Joan Gregoryk, conductor


2015: American Jim Papoulis – Sounds of a New Generation

  • For Miami Children’s Chorus
  • World premiere: May 2015 at New World Center (Miami, Florida); Timothy Sharp, conductor


5 works for American Choral Directors Association High School Honors Choir at ACDA National Conference (Salt Lake City, Utah) on February 28

  • American André ThomasGloria (Glory to God); André Thomas, conductor
  • Spanish Emilio Solé Sempere Hearts Beat Together; Cristian Grases, conductor
  • Canadian Sarah QuartelWide Open Spaces; Bob Chilcott, conductor
  • English Will ToddGloria; Elena Sharkova, conductor
  • American Jay BroekerPeace Like A River; Angela Broeker, conductor

2014: Estonian Piret Rips-LaulSalve Regina

  • For Choir of the College of William and Mary and Botetourt Chamber Singers
  • World premiere: April 2014 (Williamsburg, Virginia); James Armstrong and Jamie Bartlett, conductors

Eric Daniel Helms (1921-2001)

Learning to sing and play the piano was mandatory in the Helms family, remembers Classical Movements’ Founder and President Neeta Helms: “Eric Daniel Helms, my father, was a ‘natural’ musician. He had a splendid ear, taught himself the piano, studied choral scores and could sight-read and transpose anything. Music was a total joy for him, and if he had been born in any European country or the U.S. or Canada, he would have almost certainly become a musician.”

However, studying or being exposed to what was called Western Classical Music was not easy in India, even while Neeta was growing up during the 1960’s and 70’s. When Neeta started taking piano lessons, at age 4, the only piano teachers in Agra, home to the glorious Taj Mahal, were the nuns in the nearby convent or Miss Schroeder, an Austrian lady who struggled to make a living by teaching piano lessons at a local school and in private homes.

Learn More About Eric

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