Since the founding of our Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program in 2005, Classical Movements has commissioned composers from some 20 different countries to create more than 50 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, combined, Helms-commissioned composers have won 5 Grammys, 4 Pulitzers, 2 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.

Alumni of Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program include…

Kinan Azmeh | Derek Bermel | Billy Childs | John Corigliano | David Del Tredici | Paquito D’Rivera | Ēriks Ešenvalds | Michael Gordon | Libby Larsen | Tania León | Stephen Paulus | Christopher Rouse | Caroline Shaw | Bright Sheng | Christopher Theofanidis | André J. Thomas | Joan Tower

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Eric Daniel Helms (1921-2001)

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

However, studying or having exposure to what was called Western Classical Music was not easy in India, even while Neeta was growing up during the 1960s and 70s. 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 Mrs. Schroeder, an Austrian lady who struggled to make a living by giving piano lessons at a local school and in private homes. Neeta recalls Miss Schroeder arriving at the Helms household on her bicycle, “She used to pedal a long way to give lessons to me and my sister.”

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