Guest Speakers

Cultivating Creative Communities in a Digital World
Melissa Ngan
Friday, October 8
9:00–9:55 a.m. EDT
Grand Lilac Ballroom North, Riverside Convention Center

As Founder of Fifth House Ensemble and President and CEO of the American Composers Orchestra, Melissa Ngan has led two organizations that thrive on creative acts and the relentless pursuit of discovery. In this keynote, she shares projects both pre-pandemic and present day that engage the digital world as a feature, not a bug - and create unexpected spaces for authentic connection through interactivity. Spanning collaborations with composers to generate adventurous works that engage Dolby Atmos spatial audio in their creation, virtual Deep Listening residencies in social service settings, boundary-breaking interactive video game performances, and training programs for emerging artists, these experiences demonstrate the indispensable role that technology can play in fostering a more connected and creative world.

* Attendees will have an opportunity to meet and interact with Melissa Ngan during a facilitated Q&A forum following her lecture, from 11:00–11:55 am.

Melissa NganMelissa Ngan cultivates personal and organizational growth through creative acts and collaborative practices. She currently serves as President and CEO of the American Composer’s Orchestra. Melissa is also the founder of Fifth House Ensemble, whose projects promote social justice through civic practice and storytelling, engage young learners and at-risk populations through arts integration, and develop emerging arts leaders through partnerships with higher education institutions nationwide. She has consulted with major arts institutions as they develop bold new directions in emerging artist training, civic engagement, and arts-integrated educational programming. Recent partners include The Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Opera.

Awadagin Pratt: Black in America
Awadagin Pratt
Saturday, October 9
3:00–3:55 p.m. EDT
Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music

Awadagin discusses his ‘interactions’ with the police across the country in a narrative combining spoken work, music and film.

Following this lecture, all attendees are invited to participate in moderated breakout discussions in various spaces on the Eastman campus themed around “Change Leadership.”

Awadagin Pratt

Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras.

Born in Pittsburgh, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano at the age of six. Three years later, having moved to Normal, Illinois with his family, he also began studying violin. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas – piano, violin and conducting.

In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Mr. Pratt received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins as well as an honorary doctorate from Illinois Wesleyan University after delivering the commencement address in 2012.

Mr. Pratt is currently Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He also served as the Artistic Director of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati and the Next Generation Festival and is currently President and Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano Festival in Cincinnati. In recognition of his achievements in the field of classical music, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins University as well as honorary doctorates from Illinois Wesleyan and Susquehanna Universities. He has delivered commencement addresses at those institutions as well as at Peabody Conservatory.