(3:2) 2023 ACF | create Awardees Announcement – 1

2023 ACF | create Awards Announced

American Composers Forum (ACF) is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s ACF | create award, made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation. The awardees of ACF | create are Nava Dunkelman, Eliana Fishbeyn, Clae Lu, Cleo Reed, and Phong Tran. ACF would like to acknowledge the strength of the applications beyond those receiving awards. Specifically, the panel has named gamin as an alternate and has offered honorable mentions to Ashni Davé, treya lam, and Shiuan Chang.

ACF | create is an evolution of the Jerome Fund for New Music (JFund), which began in 1979. The program supports early career artists in the creation, presentation, and subsequent life of a new work. Five awards of $11,000 each include $8,000 toward the commission and $3,000 for production and promotion support. Through this program, ACF has helped support hundreds of new works, such as Mary Prescott’s TIDA, an interdisciplinary music-theater performance. “I have felt so nurtured by the ACF | create program, and am grateful for their personal approach,” Mary expressed. “I feel like I know ACF, and they know me — which is a great feeling as an artist. It is good to know that there will be someone on the other line who knows me and my work personally, and believes in what I am trying to do.”

The panel of curators who selected this year’s awardees included Xuan, Tanner Porter, The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker, and Peter Shin.

“We are grateful to support the development of new work in a collaborative relationship through this program,” said Vanessa Rose, ACF’s Executive Director. “Throughout an artist’s journey this time and investment is needed — and it is especially pivotal when starting to build your body of work. With gratitude for the Jerome Foundation’s longtime partnership, we are excited to follow these artists!”

About the ACF | create Awardees

Nava Dunkelman (she/her)

(Photo by Damien Maloney)

Nava Dunkelman is a percussionist and improviser based in Brooklyn, NY. Born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in a multi-cultural environment by an American father and Indonesian mother. Her musical approach is innovative and dynamic, combining virtuosity and intuition. Meticulous in an intrinsic way, she uses her distinctive sound palette to explore and give life to a vast spectrum of musical possibilities. IMA is the electro-percussion project of electronic sound artist Amma Ateria and percussionist Nava Dunkelman. Through restraint and release, IMA depicts expressionistic noise music of Japanese poetry with the meticulous industrial and serene. Striving for a balance between precision of instrumentation, filmic transitions between silence and densities are driven to brinks of breakage, situated by beautification in between. IMA marches forth with starkness and surrender into the aftermath of destruction, and attempt for transformative regeneration of beauty through catalysts of pleasure.

Eliana Fishbeyn (she/her)

(Photo by John Thorp)

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Eliana comes from an immigrant Russian-Jewish family, where her mother, aunt and grandmother started her musical upbringing at an early age. Having moved between various genres and modes of participation in music making throughout her life and never quite finding a home within their individual frameworks, she aspires to find a creative sphere that merges and transcends the disparate, categorical enclosures she’s engaged with — musically or otherwise. As a composer and pianist, Eliana is interested in exploring the relationship between composition and improvisation, exerting control vs. releasing control, and finite vs. infinite spaces for ensembles of various sizes and mediums. As a researcher, Eliana is interested in the relationship and interaction between music creation and its political economy. More recently, she has also been building homemade synthesizers and processing and sculpting their sounds through Ableton Live. This fall, she will be pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Pennsylvania.

Clae Lu (they/them)

(Photo by Leo X Foo)

Clae Lu (吕皎) is a Queer second-generation Han-Chinese American from Queens, NY (unceded territory of the Lenni-Lenape) working as an artist, designer, cultural worker, and 古筝 (guzheng) musician. Their work explores the power of arts in community to create spaces for conversation, reflection, and action. They have shown work at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, The W.O.W. Project, Wook + Lattuada Gallery, and the Honolulu Museum of Art. They have performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; MoMA PS1; Elsewhere; Brooklyn Museum; Movement Research; Symphony Space; and Abrons Art Center. They most recently opened a solo show at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) as a recipient of The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund.

Cleo Reed (they/them)

(Photo by Jacob Consenstein)

Cleo Reed is a sound composer, performer, and multi-disciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Recently, they developed software instruments for Jon Batiste’s “American Symphony” at Carnegie Hall. Their debut album “Root Cause” has received support from Bandcamp, Vinyl Me, Please, Pitchfork, amongst others. Additionally, Cleo presented “Root Cause” as a self-directed performance art piece titled “Black American Circus” for BRIC’s AIR program. Cleo is a recipient of the 2022 NYC Women’s Fund for Media Music and Theatre, a fellow for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s Jazz is NOW: Curatorial Fellowship, and a composer for the International Contemporary Ensemble’s “Call For ____” Commission Program. Cleo is an alumni of Harlem School of The Arts and a graduate of Berklee College of Music. At 19, Cleo Reed named themselves after Cleophus, their great-grandmother. Whether underground or academic, experimental or popular, they express musicianship guided by their radiance, femininity, and cyclical traumas.

Phong Tran (he/him)

(Photo by Alex SK Brown)

Phong Tran is a Brooklyn-based composer and visual artist primarily working in digital and electronic mediums. His work revolves around emotions and experience in nonphysical spaces. His most recent album, The Computer Room was released on November 19, 2021 through New Amsterdam Records. The album is a “thank you” to the virtual worlds, video games, message boards, and online communities of people he grew up with in the early 2000s. Phong’s work has also been released through people | places | records and slashsound. Notable performances include Bang on a Can’s 2022 Long Play Festival at Public Records, Loud Weekend at MassMOCA, Momentous Festival at The Momentary, and Carnegie Hall with So Percussion. Phong regularly performs and writes in MEDIAQUEER, a collaborative partnership with fellow composer and visual artist Darian Thomas, creating visuals, art pieces, and live performances.


The Jerome Foundation, founded in 1964 by artist and philanthropist Jerome Hill (1905-1972), honors his legacy through multi-year grants to support the creation, development, and presentation of new works by early career artists. The Foundation makes grants to vocational early career artists, and those nonprofit arts organizations that serve them, in all disciplines in the state of Minnesota and the five boroughs of New York City. For further information, visit https://www.jeromefdn.org/


ACF supports and advocates for individuals and groups creating music today by demonstrating the vitality and relevance of their art. We connect artists with collaborators, organizations, audiences, and resources. Through storytelling, publications, recordings, hosted gatherings, and industry leadership, we activate equitable opportunities for artists. We provide direct funding and mentorship to a broad and diverse field of music creators, highlighting those who have been historically excluded from participation.

Founded in 1973 by composers Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the organization continues to invest in its Minnesota home while connecting artists and advocates across the United States, its territories, and beyond. ACF frames our work with a focus on racial equity and includes within that scope, but does not limit it to: diverse gender identities, musical approaches and perspectives, religions, ages, (dis)abilities, cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and broad definitions of “American.” Visit www.composersforum.org for more information.


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