7 to 8 pm ET

Americas Society
680 Park Avenue
New York


Earth Works: Music for Our Planet

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s returns to Music of the Americas with a program of new music by young composers.

7 to 8 pm ET

Americas Society
680 Park Avenue
New York



On March 11, we will host this concert in-person, and tickets are free.
We are sold out, but don't miss the upcoming broadcast and follow us to hear about more exciting performances!

In compliance with New York City’s Emergency Executive Order 239, Americas Society will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination for anyone entering our building. All guests will be required to wear masks.

On April 8 at 7 p.m. ET we will publish the video on this page.

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s is back on our stage, as part of its annual Five-Borough Tour. OSL performs chamber music by a group of living composers who write with wonderment about the earth and its origins, concern for its survival, and hope and purpose for its future. This program is connected to a movement initiated by the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, featuring composers from this community who “message a future that is just and green, again and again, to hasten cultural acceptance of the hard realities facing us all.”


  • Christine Delphine Hedden, Luisne for violin and cello
  • Michael-Thomas Foumai, Bang! for flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, viola, and cello
  • Akshaya Tucker, In Whose Mouth, the Stars for string trio
  • Gabriela Lena Frank, “Canto de la Hoja” from Suite Mestiza for violin
  • Gabriela Lena Frank, “Zapatos de Chincha” from Hilos for clarinet and cello
  • Iman Habibi, Âhūye Kūhī for violin and cello
  • Nicolas Lell Benavides, Recyclate for flute, oboe, bass clarinet, violin, viola, and cello


John Romeri - flute
Melanie Feld - oboe
Kristina Teuschler - clarinet
Maximilian Morel - trumpet
Alexander Fortes - violin
Louise Schulman - viola
Daire FitzGerald - cello

Program Notes

Christine Delphine Hedden
Luisne for violin and cello

While hopefully awaiting reunion with a loved one, I came across the Irish word ‘luisne’ in the writing of John O’Donohue: meaning blush or glow, he was describing the color of the sky just before dawn. This image and the subtle intimacy of the word seemed to reflect my experience in these final moments of anticipation: hope, fear, waiting for overwhelming joy. Recording of the premiere by Johnny Gandelsman (violin) and Joshua Roman (cello) in Boonville, CA. This work was created under the aegis of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, with much gratitude and love.

Michael-Thomas Foumai
Bang! for flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, viola, and cello

The theory of the origin of the universe beginning at a single point, known as the big bang, is the inspiration behind this work. In the case of universal expansion, the work is a gradual expansion of the smallest interval into larger ones. In the course of the work, more definitive gestures or even melodies may arise, just as planets and galaxies take form.

Akshaya Avril Tucker
In Whose Mouth, the Stars for string trio

The story goes that when Krishna, the legendary incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was a child, he once was caught eating sand. Concerned, his mother Yashoda scolded him and pried his mouth open. There, instead of dirt, she beheld the entire universe and beyond, with all its galaxies, with every element of the earth, the weather, the human mind and its senses, her own village and she herself. This piece was inspired by that fascinating moment, told in the Bhagavata Purana. I imagined it through in different melodic placements of Raag Charukeshi—a raag that holds longing, tension, transcendence—with help from the wonderful variety of timbres and ranges that these instruments produces. My goal in retelling this story, sonically, involved the manipulation of sound “perspective,” the extremes of near and far—holding both illusion and imagination. I wanted to play that narrative game, Krishna’s leela, showing how small our conflicts really are, in the grand scheme of the Universe: even smaller than sand.

Gabriela Lena Frank
“Canto de la Hoja” from Suite Mestiza for violin

Inspired by the mixed-race cultures of Andean South America, Suite Mestiza for solo violin draws directly on sights and sounds from trips to Perú taken with my mother as traveling companion. As joint personal journeys of remembrance and identity (my mother as a Peruvian born Chinese-Indian-Spanish “costeña” or coastal native who would emigrate to the States upon marrying my father; and me as the American-born Latina), experiences that might be deemed rather ordinary instead have a miraculous cast for us. Some of these are portrayed in the following movements of this violin suite composed for my friend and colleague, Movses Pogossian, a musician of infinite skill and humanity. 

“Zapatos de Chincha” from Hilos for clarinet and cello

This light-footed movement is inspired by Chincha, a southern coastal town known for its afro-peruano music and dance (including a unique brand of tap). The cello part is especially reminiscent of the cajon, a wooden box that percussionists sit on and strike with hands and feet, extracting a remarkable array of sounds and rhythms.

Iman Habibi
Âhūye Kūhī for violin and cello

A concern for the destruction of the environment has been present in the arts for centuries. Poetry is at the heart of the Iranian culture, and much to my surprise, I discovered that one of the oldest known verses of Farsi poetry in Arabic rhythm, written by the 8th century poet Abu Hafs, expresses concern regarding the displacement of animals (at least at a literal level), asking how a mountain gazelle (Âhūye Kūhī) may be expected to survive on a plain, away from its home and companions. This piece explores the idea of displacement, the shrinking, and destruction of one’s habitat, one of the most concerning effects of climate change, which often results in extinction. And what will remain of the human race, when our planet becomes uninhabitable?

Nick Lell Benavides
Recyclate for flute, oboe, bass clarinet, violin, viola, and cello

Hovor II is a 15 foot by 15 foot “tapestry” created by El Anatsui, a Ghanian artist living in Nigeria. El Anatsui is particularly intrigued by recycled materials, and this monumental work served as a basis for Recyclate. From a distance, the work appears to be frozen in a state of motion, one that is hard to capture with a two-dimensional photograph. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious that each individual unit is actually a piece of foil from a liquor bottle. The style of weaving is inspired by kente, a traditional Asante or Ewe cloth. El Anatsui insists that this isn’t necessarily African art, it’s human art, as geographically based genres box in the potential impact of a work. Consumption and obsolescence are common to all cultures. I decided to recycle fragments and sounds that have been bouncing around in my head for years. Highly rhythmic, the work is a dance that glitters and turns on a dime, revealing the different styles and composers that have had the biggest impact on me.


Aly Stoffo is an environmental educator, forager, and the owner of Glam Gardener NYC. She holds a Master’s degree in Sustainability Solutions from Arizona State University. She’s worked in various initiatives through her roles with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City of Tempe Recycling Services, Aramark Foods, Arizona State University, and one of NYC’s largest green energy consulting firms. At the start of the pandemic, she returned to the roots of what truly motivated her: her love for the outdoors and her community. She started an Instagram page (@glamgardenernyc) designed to be a free resource and space for connection with other city-bound nature-lovers. She shared free information about gardening, local environmental advocacy, and wild edible plants like dandelion and mugwort. Almost 2 years later, Glam Gardener NYC has evolved into a business that offers herbal products crafted with wild plants, education, and art under one roof. Glam Gardener NYC herbal products are designed to offer options for herbal enthusiasts, with hyper-local ingredients including NYC-made honey and regionally state harvested plants. Aly creates educational workshops around nature and crafting for kids and adults. She leads local foraging tours in Staten Island, to teach others how to identify and use wild plants as medicinal remedies and food.

Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (OPERA NEWS). He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, MassOpera, Friction Quartet, Khemia Ensemble, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. He was a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nicolas was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at The Glimmerglass Festival. Upcoming premieres include an opera with librettist Laura Barati as part of MassOpera’s New Opera Workshop with support from Opera America, a premiere of Tres Minutos with librettist Marella Martin Koch through Music of Remembrance and support from the NEA, and a new commission through West Edge Opera’s Aperture to develop a full-length work about civil rights icon Dolores Huerta. Other projects include On Trac|< for The Glimmerglass Festival, Little Cloud for Khemia Ensemble, a new album featuring Canto Caló, and a new orchestra work for Gabriela Lena Frank’s Composing Earth initiative.

Iman Habibi, D.M.A. (Michigan), is an Iranian-Canadian composer and pianist, and a founding member of the piano duo ensemble, Piano Pinnacle. Hailed as “a giant in talent” (the Penticton Herald), “whose technical mastery is matched by his musical and cultural literacy” (Hudson-Housatonic Arts), Dr. Habibi has been commissioned by The Boston Symphony, The Philadelphia, and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s and The Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and has been programmed by The Carnegie Hall, The Tanglewood Music Festival, and The Canadian Opera Company, among others. He is a 2022 laureate of the Azrieli Music Prizes, and has received multiple SOCAN Foundation Awards, The International Composers’ Award at the Esoterics’ POLYPHONOS (2012), The Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards for Emerging Artist in Music (2011), Brehm Prize in Choral Music (2016), as well as numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, BC and Ontario Arts Councils.

Akshaya Avril Tucker is a composer who draws inspiration from the music and dance traditions of South Asia, having trained as a cellist and Odissi dancer from a young age. She explores meditative, gestural and effervescent soundscapes, often rooted in collaboration with South Asian-trained musicians and dancers. Her work has been performed by Hindustani vocalist Saili Oak, A Far Cry, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Salastina Music Society, Duo Cortona, Third Coast Chamber Collective, and many others. Upcoming commissions include a new work for Brooklyn Rider in the ’22-’23 season. Her recent commissions include projects with Lucia Lin, Johnny Gandelsman, Boston Opera Collaborative, Payton MacDonald, WindSync, Englewinds, invoke string quartet and Thalea String Quartet. Her work has been performed at La Jolla Music Society, Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, String Theory (TN), and National Sawdust. In 2019, she won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Akshaya is currently based in Los Angeles where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in Composition at the University of Southern California. She holds an M.M. in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Music from Brown University. She is an alumna from the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music (2017—2018).

Michael-Thomas Foumai is a composer of contemporary concert music, arranger, and educator whose work spans the avant-garde to the commercial. His concert music focuses on storytelling and the history, people, and culture of his Hawai‘i home. Foumai’s orchestral works have been conducted and performed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Lina Gonzalez Granados with the National Symphony Orchestra, George Manahan with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and Osmo Vänskä with the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2021, the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra presented a summer festival of his music conducted by Rei Hotoda, Lidiya Yankovskaya, Sarah Hicks, and JoAnn Falletta. In addition, he is the HSO program notes annotator for the Masterworks and summer Starlight series and arranger for guest artists. Honors for his music have included a Fromm Foundation Grant from Harvard University, the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Award, the Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, and three BMI composer awards. Foumai is currently on faculty at the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu and holds degrees in music composition from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (BM) and the University of Michigan (MM, DMA).

For Boston-based artist Christine Delphine Hedden, songwriting was the beginning of her musical journey. Hailing from the highlands of western Connecticut, Christine’s first footsteps fell in the fields of her grandfather’s Christmas tree farm, singing Tolkien’s poetry to melodies of her own composition on childhood fantasy adventures. Today, Christine’s creative practice is still rooted in these fields: connection with nature and a magically spiritual sense of the world form the foundations of her work. She is a composer of classical music, traditional tunes, and folk-style songs, as well as a performer of Irish traditional fiddle/viola, percussive dance, and a storyteller through song. In May 2019, Christine released her debut solo album, “When the Aster Blooms,” through the support of Club Passim’s Iguana Music Fund. The album is a collection of original tunes and songs inspired by her native New England folk music and her love of Irish traditional music. Christine has performed at Club Passim, the Boston Celtic Music Festival, opened for The Burren Backroom Series, and has played live on Brian O’Donovan’s, “A Celtic Sojourn.” Gabriela Lena Frank Gabriela currently serves as Composer-in-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra and is included in the Washington Post’s list of the 35 most significant women composers in history.

Identity has always been at the center of composer/pianist Gabriela Lena Frank’s music. Born in 1972 to a mother of Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela explores her multicultural American heritage through her compositions. In 2017, Gabriela founded the award-winning Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, a non-profit training institution held on her two rural properties in Boonville, CA for emerging composers from a broad array of demographics and aesthetics. Civic outreach is an essential part of Gabriela’s work. She has volunteered extensively in hospitals and prisons, with her current focus on developing the music school program at Anderson Valley High School, a rural public school of modest means with a large Latino population in Boonville, CA. In the 2022-23 season, she will see the premiere of her first opera, El último sueño de Frida y Diego with Pulitzer playwright Nilo Cruz, co-commissioned by San Diego Opera and San Francisco Opera.

Called “[New York’s} hometown band” by The New York Times, Orchestra of St. Luke's performs at venues throughout the city including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City Center, Merkin Hall, The Morgan Library and Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and many more. OSL is dedicated to cultivating a lifetime of engagement with classical music and offers free instrumental training and mentorship for students from elementary school through conservatory and beyond; produces guided community and educational performances for thousands of students and families; and owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York City’s only rehearsal, recording, education, and performance facility expressly dedicated to classical music, serving more than 500 ensembles and more than 30,000 musicians each year. OSL has participated in 118 recordings, four of which have won Grammy Awards; has commissioned more than 50 new works; and has given more than 179 world, US, and New York City premieres. Recent guests and collaborators include cellist Alisa Weilerstein, tenor Jonas Kauffman, composer Gabriela Lena-Frank, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, and pianist Jeremy Denk.


The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation. The Spring 2022 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Additional support for this concert comes from the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The Amphion Foundation, Inc.