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America's contemporary composers are being honored this week across the United States and in 12 other countries, during the fifth annual American Music Week (through Nov. 10). From Fairbanks, Alaska, to Miami, they and their music are being heard in concerts halls and on the broadcast media. Participating in record numbers this year are professional orchestras, chamber groups, colleges and universities, cable TV networks, and radio stations.

Contemporary music ``is a much easier sell than it used to be,'' says Deborah Steinglass, director of American Music Week, which is sponsored by the American Music Center in New York. ``More people are interested in trying new programming.''

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According to Miss Steinglass, the biggest change this year is increased radio programming, making the music available to more listeners. Broadcasts (check local listings) include:

``American Composers Features.'' Fifteen short segments on 15 contemporary composers of diverse musical styles, such as John Adams, Tina Davidson, John Harbison, and Joan La Barbara. Produced by WDUQ-FM in Pittsburgh; distributed by National Public Radio.

``The Talking Violin.'' A series of jazz-oriented programs looks at improvising violinists from the 1930s to the present, and hosted by Dr. Billy Taylor. Produced by the Improvised Music Collective and Murray Street Enterprise; distributed by NPR.

American Composers Orchestra concerts. A series of four one-hour programs assembled from recent Carnegie Hall performances (most conducted by Dennis Russell Davies). Works by Lou Harrison, Elliott Carter, William Bolcom, and others. On American Public Radio.

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