Foundation donates $300,000 to Signature

The Shen Family Foundation will donate $300,000 to the Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., to help support the creation of new works for musical theater from emerging composers.

Composers Matt Conner, Adam Gwon and Gabriel Kahane will each receive $25,000 commissions to write new musicals for Signature under its Next Generation program. In addition, a performance component of the program will support rehearsals and performances in July 2009.

Signature a.d. Eric Schaeffer says the grant will enable the three up-and-coming composers to develop and present new works. He said the grant also will support two other composers, Peter Foley and Marisa Michelson, for the development of musical ideas in time for next year’s Shen-funded commissions.

Connor helped write Signature’s 2006 musical, “Nevermore,” about Edgar Allen Poe. Gwon’s new musical, “Ordinary Days,” will receive its world premiere at Pennsylvania Centre Stage this summer, while Kahane (“Craigslistlieder”) will debut a new song cycle on poems by Robert Lowell called “For the Union Dead” at this summer’s Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

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