Past Events at the Institute


Contemporary Music Ensemble

Works by Podgursky, Muhly, and Murail

Friday, October 20, 2017
Galvin Recital Hall

Steve ReichSteve Reich

As part of his residency week, Reich will attend rehearsals and classes with students and faculty. On Wednesday night the School's Percussion Ensemble will perform a selection of his works, followed by a concert on Thursday night with performances by the Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble.

NU Percussion Ensemble - Music of Steve Reich
Wednesday, November 15, 7:30 p.m. 
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

CME & BCE - Music of Steve Reich
Thursday, November 16, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Works by Kirsten, Cheung, and Birtwistle

Friday, February 9, 2018
Galvin Recital Hall

The Bienen School’s two new-music ensembles come together for an eclectic concert featuring the music of Shawn Jaeger, Sofia Gubaidulina, and a world premiere by student composer Sam Scranton.

Dal NienteEnsemble Dal Niente

The acclaimed new music ensemble will return to the Bienen School to work with both music performance and composition students. The residency will conclude with a performance of eight new works by current composition students written for the groups.

Ensemble Dal Niente - New Composition by Bienen School Composers
Tuesday, March 6, 7:30 p.m.
Ryan Opera Theater


Music of Shawn Jaeger and Sofia Gubaidulina

Friday, March 9, 2018
Galvin Recital Hall

The CrossingThe Crossing

Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble The Crossing will share their passion for contemporary choral music in a weeklong residency that includes a seminar with conducting students, open rehearsals, and a collaboration in concert with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble,

The Crossing & BCE - Michael Gordon's Anonymous Man
Friday, March 16, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall

Current Voices

Lectures and concerts by some of the leading artists in the field. 

  • Eva Zöllner  - Thursday, October 12, 2017, 5 p.m. RCMA Room L-121
  • Wang Lu  - Thursday, January 11, 2018, 5 p.m. RCMA Room L-121
  • Christian Wolff - Thursday, January 18, 2018, 12:30 p.m. RCMA Room 1-168
  • Lucy Dhegrae - Thursday, February 8, 2018, 5 p.m. RCMA Room L-121
  • Shawn Jaeger - Thursday March 8, 2018 5 p.m. RCMA Room L-121
  • Michael Gordon - Thursday March 15, 2018 5 p.m. RCMA Room L-121

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra: Zappa and Varèse

Sunday May 28, 6:30 p.m.
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Alan Pierson, Ben Bolter, and Taichi Fukumura, conductors

Composer Edgard Varèse’s emphasis on timbre, rhythm, and emerging technologies inspired a multitude of musicians who came of age during the 1960s and ’70s, among them guitarist and composer Frank Zappa. The Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble celebrate the spirit of experimentation that united the two composers with a program featuring Zappa as a “virtual emcee” in recordings discussing his Varèse experiences. The Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble is featured in Varèse’s Ionisation.

Frank Zappa, Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat and Pedro’s Dowry: yes, that’s right 
Edgard Varèse, Ionisation, Intégrales, and Amériques

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BCEBienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Friday, May 26, 10:00 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall
Donald Nally and Kevin Vondrak, conductors

Music by Kevin Puts and Arvo Pärt as well as John Tavener’s prayerful Svyati for cello and choir.

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Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, May 26, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
Victor Yampolsky, Alan Pierson, and Ben Bolter, conductors; Taimur Sullivan, saxophone

Augusta Read Thomas, Hemke Concerto: Prisms of Light for saxophone and orchestra
Edgard Varèse, Amériques 
Frank Zappa, Pedro’s Dowry: yes, that’s right 

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FonemaFonema Consort

Wednesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

The group’s program features works composed by Bienen School students. Admission is free.

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Flute studentContemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall
Alan Pierson and Taichi Fukumura, conductors

Joon Park, new work
Tyler Kramlich, new work
Frank Zappa, Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat 
Edgard Varèse, Intégrales 

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Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble

Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall
Donald Nally and Benjamin Bolter, conductors

The two ensembles collaborate in the second of a series of concerts commemorating the late composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. In his 2010 Song/Play/Company, simplicity emerges out of seeming chaos as the English Renaissance composer John Dowland’s “Flow, My Tears” slowly comes into focus. In the masterful Ad Cor (To the Heart)—Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s last major work, written for conductor Donald Nally—individual movements address the wounded heart, the joyful heart, and the mocking heart before the three perspectives come together in the organic finale.

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Claire Chase

Claire Chase

Thursday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Flutist and new music entrepreneur Claire Chase will be on campus for her third year as an artist in residence at the Institute for New Music. Chase will coach student ensembles and composers, jointly teach a course with Hans Thomalla and perform the newest installment of her Density 2036 project.

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Spektral Quartet

Spektral Quartet

Sunday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

The quartet will offer a performance of new works by Bienen School student composers Jose Arellano, Nicholas Cline, Sam Scranton, Luis Fernando Amaya Muoz, Ethan David Boxley, Liza Sobel, Craig Davis Pinson, and  Austin Joseph Busch.

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Eighth BlackbirdEighth Blackbird Lecture/Demonstration

Thursday, April 6, 4:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

The Chicago-based, four-time Grammy-winning ensemble performs and speaks about their music. Admission is free.

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student showcaseStudent New Music Showcase

Tuesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

The Institute for New Music presents its annual showcase, giving Bienen School performance majors an opportunity to present contemporary solo and chamber works in a concert setting. An diverse program featuring Bienen students performing the music of Murail, Sciarrino, Messiaen, Mazzoli, Fuentes,Thomalla, Larsen and more!

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Tony ArnoldContemporary Music Ensemble: Tony Arnold

Thursday, March 2, 7:30 p.m.
Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater

Renowned new music vocalist Tony Arnold will be a visiting artist in winter quarter, coaching vocal students, working with student composers, and performing works by Georges Aperghis with the Bienen School’s Contemporary Music Ensemble.

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Steve Reich at the Bienen School

Steve Reich Residency

Steve Reich, winner of Northwestern University’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, will attend music rehearsals, discussions with students and faculty and a performance of his work when he visits the Bienen School of Music Feb. 7-9, 2017.

Steve Reich, Alan Pierson and Hans Thomalla

Steve Reich in Conversation

Tuesday, February 7, 5:00-6:30 p.m. 
McClintock Choral and Recital Room

Joining Steve Reich in discussion will be Alan Pierson, lecturer of conducting and co-director, Contemporary Music Ensemble; and Hans Thomalla, associate professor of composition and Director of the Institute for New Music. This event is open to all Bienen School students, faculty and staff. Due to limited seating, early arrival is highly recommended.

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble: The Music of Steve Reich


Thursday, February 9, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

Steve Reich, City Life
Steve Reich, Clapping Music
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians

Following intermission, Steve Reich will provide reflections and remarks in a conversation with conductor Alan Pierson.

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MusicNOW: Steve Reich's 80th Birthday Celebration

Monday, Nov 21, 7:00 p.m.
Harris Theater at Millennium Park
205 E. Randolph Drive
Chicago, IL 60601

Alan Pierson, conductor 

Reich Different Trains
Reich Proverb
Reich Double Sextet

The CSO’s MusicNOW series pays tribute to Steve Reich's unrivaled musical contribution with a diverse program of works that highlights the breadth and invention of his existing work. Students from the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble will perform Proverb

More information and tickets

Andrew Norman

Contemporary Music Ensemble: Andrew Norman

Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall
Alan Pierson and Ben Bolter, conductors; Andrew Norman, guest composer

Andrew Norman, Try
Alex Mincek, Chamber Concert
Helmut Lachenmann, Mouvement

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Spektral QuartetSpektral Quartet with Winston Choi, piano

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Samuel Adams - Quartet Movement
George Lewis - String Quartet 1.5: Experiments in Living
Mikel Kuehn - String Quartet No. 1 "If on a winter's night..."
Tomeka Reid - Prospective Dwellers

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Contemporary Music Ensemble

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall
Ben Bolter and Taichi Fukumura, conductors

Hans Thomalla, Wonderblock 
Marcos Balter, Growth 
Kaija Saariaho, Io 
Hunter Hanson, new work  

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Ear Taxi Festival: Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 7:30pm
Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph Street, Chicago
Donald Nally and Ben Bolter, conductors

Hans Thomalla, Wonderblock (Chicago Premiere)
Ted Hearne, Consent (Chicago Premiere)

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[See also: Ear Taxi Festival to showcase Bienen faculty, students and alumni]

Current Voices in Composition: Lecture Series

The Institute for New Music presents a series of composers speaking about their work, techniques, and compositional influences. All events take place at 5 p.m. in RCMA LL-121 and are free and open to the public.

Andrew Norman

Andrew Norman

Friday, November 18

Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and notational practices from both the avant-garde and classical traditions. He is increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from other time-based media might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive, often fragmented and highly energetic voice has been cited in the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the L.A. Times for its “audacious” spirit and “Chaplinesque” wit.

Enno Poppe

Enno Poppe

Thursday, December 1

Enno Poppe was born on December 30, 1969, in Hemer, Germany. He studied conducting and composition at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin with Friedrich Goldmann and Gösta Neuwirth, among others. Additionally, he studied sound synthesis and algorithmic composition at the Technische Universität Berlin and at the ZKM Karlsruhe. As a conductor, Enno Poppe regularly performs with Klangforum Wien, Ensemble musikFabrik and Ensemble Resonanz. Since 1998 he also is the chief conductor of ensemble mosaik. Enno Poppe taught composition at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, at Darmstädter Ferienkursen für Neue Musik and at Impuls Akademie (Graz).

Stacy Garrop

Stacy Garrop

Tuesday, January 10

Stacy Garrop’s music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling. The sharing of stories is a defining element of our humanity; we strive to share with others the experiences and concepts that we find compelling. Stacy shares stories by taking audiences on sonic journeys – some simple and beautiful, while others are complicated and dark – depending on the needs and dramatic shape of the story.

Stacy is currently on a journey that is redefining her personal narrative. After teaching composition full-time at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University from 2000-2016, she stepped down from her position to become a freelance composer. As she makes this transition, she will be collaborating with a number of performers and organizations, including Anima Singers, Boston Choral Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, Gaudete Brass Quintet, and the Carthage College Wind Ensemble. She will also be composing a new viola concerto for Michael Hall and both the Bandung Philharmonic (Indonesia) and Baroque on Beaver Music Festival, as well as writing a new work for tenor saxophone and piano for a consortium of fifteen saxophonists.

Stacy has received numerous awards and grants including a Fromm Music Foundation Grant, three Barlow Endowment commissions, Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, Boston Choral Ensemble Competition Contest, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize, Sorel Medallion Choral Composition Competition, and competitions sponsored by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, and the New England Philharmonic. She has participated in reading session programs sponsored by the American Composers Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra (the Composers Institute), and Dale Warland Singers.

Sam Pluta

Sam Pluta

Tuesday, February 14

Sam Pluta is a New York City-based composer, laptop improviser, electronics performer, and sound artist. Though his work has a wide breadth, his central focus is on the laptop as a performance instrument capable of sharing the stage with groups ranging from new music ensembles to world-class instrumental improvisers. By creating unique interactions of electronics, instruments, and sonic spaces, Pluta's vibrant musical universe fuses the traditionally separate sound worlds of acoustic instruments and electronics, creating sonic spaces which envelop the audience and resulting in a music focused on visceral interaction of instrumental performers with reactive computerized sound worlds.

Seung-WonSeung-Won Oh

Tuesday, February 21

Seung-Won (Seung-Ah) Oh, a native of Korea, is an acclaimed composer who was described as "a name to remember" in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant. The same publication described her music as "exciting in which you can experience a great variety of timbre and organic development", and "refined and sharply cut."

The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, Oh's music has been performed throughout Europe, North America and Asia by ensembles including Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea, Omnibus Ensemble (Uzbekistan), Ensemble Aleph (France), Ensemble Chronophonie (Germany), Nederlands Vocaal Laboratorium, Doelen Ensemble, the Atlas ensemble, the Nieuw Ensemble, Hexnut Ensemble, Orkest de Ereprijs, Orkest de Volharding (The Netherlands), New York New Music Ensemble, Empyrean Ensemble, the Lydian String Quartet and Flexible Music among others.

Oh's awards include the Toonzetters award for best contemporary music in the Netherlands, both first prize and the audience prize at the 3rd Seoul International Competition for Composers, the prestigious creative arts residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy given by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is also a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship by John Simon Guggenheim Memorial foundation and the Barlow endowment for music composition.

Oh studied at Ewha Womans University (BA, MM), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (doctoral study), Brandeis University (MA, PhD) and The Royal Conservatory of the Hague (MM). She has previously taught at Brandeis University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Florida at Gainesville and Oberlin conservatory of Music and joined DePaul's faculty as Assistant Professor of Composition, in fall 2011.

Alex Mincek

Alex Mincek

Tuesday, March 28

Alex Mincek (b. 1975) is a New York-based composer and performer. He studied composition with Tristan Murail and Fred Lerdahl at Columbia University (DMA) and with Nils Vigeland at the Manhattan School of Music (MA). He is currently the saxophonist, bass clarinetist, and artistic director of the Wet Ink Ensemble, a group dedicated to contemporary music, which he founded in 1998. Mincek's music has been programmed at venues and international festivals including Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, the Strasbourg Musica Festival, Festival Présences of Radio France, Festival Archipel in Geneve, Voix Nouvelles at the Abbaye de Royaumont in Paris, Festival des Musiques Démesurées in Clermont-Ferrand, the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD), Unerhörte Musik in Berlin, the Contempuls Festival in Prague, and the Ostrava New Music Days.

Joshua FinebergJoshua Fineberg

Tuesday, April 4

American composer Joshua Fineberg began his musical studies at the age of five; they have included – in addition to composition – violin, guitar, piano, harpsichord and conducting. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory with Morris Moshe Cotel where he won first prize in the bi-annual Virginia Carty de Lillo Composition Competition. In 1991, he moved to Paris and studied with Tristan Murail. The following year he was selected by the IRCAM/Ensemble InterContemporain reading panel for the course in composition and musical technologies. He worked for several years as a free-lance composer in Europe and as a consultant researcher at IRCAM, then, in the Fall of 1997, he returned to the US to pursue a doctorate in musical composition at Columbia University, which he completed in May 1999. After teaching at Columbia for a year, he went to Harvard University where he taught for seven years and was the John L. Loeb Associate Professor for the Humanities. In September 2007, Fineberg left Harvard to assume a professorship in composition and the directorship of the electronic music studios at Boston University. In 2012 he became the founding director of the Boston University Center for New Music. Beginning in 2015 he has shared his time between Berlin and the United States. He has won numerous national and international prizes and scholarships and is published by Editions Max Eschig and Gérard Billaudot Editeur.

In 2011, Fineberg was named an Artist Fellow of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and in 2016 he was named a Chévalier de l’ordre des arts et lettres by France. Fineberg’s works are widely performed in the US, Europe and Asia. A monographic CD of his music recorded by the Ensemble Court-Circuit was released in 2002 as a part of Unviersal France’s Accord/Una Corda collection, another CD recorded by the Ensemble FA was released by Mode Records in June 2009 and in 2012 a CD with his complete works for Piano, performed by Marilyn Nonken, was released by Divine Art/Métier. A new CD of his works is currently being prepared for release in 2017, also by Divine Art/Métier. Major projects include an ‘imaginary opera’ based on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for actor, dancers, video, ensemble and electronics realized in collaboration with JOJI; Speaking in Tongues, a concerto written for Les Percussions de Strasbourg’s 50th anniversary tour, Objets trouvé written for the ensemble Court-circuit and La Quintina for sting quartet and electronics written for the Arditti Quartet and premiered at the Ultraschall festival in Berlin that marked the first co-realization between the ExperimentalStudio in Freiburg and IRCAM in Paris. He is currently writing and evening length immersive musical theater work for Chicago’s Dal Niente Ensemble which will be premiered in June 2017.

Besides his compositional and pedagogical activities, Joshua Fineberg actively collaborates with music psychologists and computer scientists in music perception research and helps develop tools for computer assisted composition, acoustic analysis and sound modification. He has been involved in working with performing ensembles and as producer for recordings of many ensembles and soloists. Joshua Fineberg is also the issue editor for two issues of The Contemporary Music Review on “Spectral Music” (Vol. 19 pt. 2 & 3) and for a double-issue featuring the collected writings of Tristan Murail in English (Vol. 24 pt. 2&3). From 2003-2009, he served as the US Editor for The Contemporary Music Review, where he still serves on the editorial board. His book Classical Music, Why Bother? was published by Routledge Press in 2006.

Joshua Fineberg’s music has been described as a music of paradoxes: at once turbulent and contemplative, simultaneously active and reflective. The sound world is colorful and seemingly decorative, yet rigorously constructed and the consequence of careful acoustic observation and research. Fineberg belongs to the second generation of composers influenced by the so-called ‘spectral’ school of Frenchmen Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail. In his music, however, the relationship between acoustical models and the resultant music is more elusive and sophisticated. Fineberg considers the use of models fundamental to his entire compositional approach. They may be poetic models as much as concrete technical ones – indeed the two may be directly related to each other.

2015-2016 Events

Student Composers' Concert

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 7:30pm
Regenstein Master Class Room

An evening of original student compositions. Admission is free.

Student New Music Showcase

Thursday May 26, 2016 - 7:30pm
McClintock Choral and Recital Room
Admission is free


Tre Poemi (1986)
For horn and piano

1. Lamento
2. Danza
3. La Gondola Funebre

Russell Rybicki, horn 
Daniel Brottman, piano

Volker David Kirchner (1942- )

Trois Strophes sur le nom de Sacher (1982)
for solo cello

Brannon Cho, cello

Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)

A Tale for Two Violins (2014)

1. Introduction / Over the Plateau
2. Kef / Festivities (Loy Loy)
6. Escape (Nehavent Longa) 

Emily Oing, violin
Lena Vidulich, violin

Kristapor Najarian (1991- )

Paris Skies & An Dassa Choof! (2015)
for violin and bass

Hannah Christiansen, violin
Casey Karr, bass   

Nicholas Walker  (1972- )

Quintet for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass (2002)

1. Moderato
2. Adagio
3. "Scherzo" (Presto-Trio-Presto)
4. Largo
5. "Finale" Allegro Vivo

Allison Rye, oboe
Elena Murphy, clarinet
Anna Vosbigian, violin
Christina Paton, viola
Antonio Escobedo, bass

David Anderson (1962- )

In Memory (2002)                                                                                       
for string quartet

Zafa Quartet
Lena Vidulich, violin
Hannah Christiansen, violin
Katya Checkovich, viola
Chris Bennett, cello

Joan Tower (1932-  )

Moz-Art (1978)  
for 2 violins

Luisa de Castro, violin
Tomaz Soares, violin

Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)

Quartet da Do (2007)

Rodrigo Orviz, clarinet 
Brandon Quarles, sax
Eric R. Singh, guitar 
Waichi Tang, bongo
Chris Wild, conductor

Juan Trigos (1965-  )

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, May 20, 2016 - 7:30pm
Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater

Timo Andres, Checkered Shade
Nicholas Cline, water-witching (world premiere)
Louis Andriessen, Workers Union
Simon Steen-Andersen, Chambered Music

Alan Pierson, Vincent Povázsay, and Benjamin Bolter, conductors

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Third Coast Percussion

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Chicago-based percussion group prepares, rehearses, and records percussion pieces with students, in addition to coaching them on writing for percussion. 

Ensemble Linea: April 17-21

Ensemble Linea

The French ensemble will be in residency at the Institute for New Music at the Bienen School, working with composition students, coaching performance students in contemporary music, and playing two concerts.

Concert 1:
Monday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Raphaël Cendo, Rokh I 
Aurélien Dumont, fiocchi di silenzio 
Yair Klartag, new work for Ensemble Linea
Marco Momi, Iconica 
Pascal Dusapin, Indeed for trombone
Frédéric Durieux, etudes en alternance 1, 2, and 3 (first performance of No. 3)

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Concert 2:
Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

In the second of its Institute for New Music visting-artist concerts, the ensemble performs music by Bienen School composition students.

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Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble

Bienen vocal ensemble

Premiere of David Lang commissioned work

Meet the Composer event:
Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 3:00pm  
David and Carol McClintock Choral and Recital Room

Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 4:00pm

Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Two Bienen School ensembles come together for an all-Lang program featuring a new composition by the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner: a half-hour unaccompanied work, conducted by Donald Nally, commissioned by the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble to celebrate the opening of the new Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. The program also includes Lang’s beautiful setting of text from the Book of Ruth, where you go, as well as the chamber orchestral works Increase and Forced March, conducted by Alan Pierson.

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Claire Chase and guests present Salvatore Sciarrino’s “Cutting the Circle of Sounds"
for 104 Flutes (Chicago Premiere)

Claire Chase

Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen School visiting artist Claire Chase will be joined by three Bienen School graduate student soloists, along with 100 flute “migranti” – migrating flutists who will move throughout the recital hall – to perform Salvatore Sciarrino's monumental Il cerchio tagliato dei suoni (Cutting the Circle of Sounds). Flutists from the People's Music School and Merit School of Music, members of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and additional Chicago-area flutists will make up the migrating ensemble.

Chase participated in the work's US premiere at the Guggenheim Museum in 2012 and led its critically acclaimed West Coast premiere in 2015 at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall. Marveling that the performance turned the concert hall into "an enormous lung" the Los Angeles Times declared that "it was unlike anything anyone had surely heard before or even ever imagined.

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Contemporary Music Ensemble: Georg Friedrich Haas’ In Vain

Thursday, March 10, 2016 – 7:30pm
Ryan Opera Theater

Program includes a performance of Georg Friedrich Haas’ seminal work with members of Ensemble Dal Niente and Witold Lutoslawski's Chain 1, conducted by Vincent Povázsay.

Please join us for a free presentation and talk prior to this concert at 6:30pm at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive. The program will begin with a performance by international cello improviser Deborah Walker, followed by a discussion from Block Museum curator Corinne Granof of Moorman’s Bomb Cello (c.1965), an instrument fashioned from military practice bomb.

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Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Saturday, February 20, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Hearne and Ratniece on the National Stage

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Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Saturday, February 20, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Hearne and Ratniece on the National Stage

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Northwestern University Composer/Performer Project: An Evening of World Premieres

Claire Chase, Institute for New Music, and Ben Bolter, Associate Director of Institute for New Music

Tuesday Feb 16, 2016 at 7:30pm
Galvin Recital Hall

Music by Hunter Hanson, Liza Sobel, Riona Ryan, Nick Cline, Austin Busch, Luis Fernando Amaya and Wilson Tanner Smith

Symphonic Wind Ensemble

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

Premiere of Joel Puckett commissioned work Ship of Theseus

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Contemporary Music Ensemble

Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Matthew Peterson, guest composer

Alex Mincek, Poco a poco
Luis Fernando Amaya en mi caminar en el desierto  (world premiere)
Matthew Peterson Tumult and Flood (world premiere)
Julia Wolfe Tell Me Everything

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Third Coast Percussion

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Chicago-based percussion group prepares, rehearses, and records percussion pieces with students, in addition to coaching them on writing for percussion. 

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: Sound in Architecture

Sunday, January 10, 2016 - 4:00pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Guillaume Dufay’s Nuper rosarum flores (Recently garlands… adorned this temple) and Morton Feldman’s 1971 Rothko Chapel.

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Contemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, December 4, 2015 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Anton Webern’s Five Pieces for Orchestra and Steve Reich’s City Life More Information

Ursula Oppens with Jerome Lowenthal

Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

The four-time Grammy nominee performs music of Frederic Rzewski and Elliott Carter. More Information

Claire Chase: Density 2036 - Part III

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 7:30pm
Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall

Flutist Claire Chase returns for a week-long residency November 9-15 and concert. More Information


Northwestern University New Music Conference 2

Friday–Sunday, November 6–8, 2015

The Institute for New Music’s second conference and festival for composers, performers, theorists, and musicologists specializing in new music took place in November 2015. Guest artists included Ensemble Dal Niente, Third Coast Percussion, and composers Ted Hearne, Donnacha Dennehy, Kate Soper, Ann Cleare, and Rick Burkhardt. Bienen School faculty participants included composer Hans Thomalla, saxophonist Taimur Sullivan, director of choral organizations Donald Nally, musicologist Ryan Dohoney, and composer Jay Alan Yim. 

Mark Barden, composition colloquium

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 5:00-6:20 p.m.
Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, Room 121

Mark Barden's compositional works have won numerous international prizes, including a Scholarship Prize from the Darmstadt Summer Courses, a composer residency at the Berlin Academy of the Arts, and a Composer's Prize from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. His concert works have been performed by leading ensembles such as Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Recherche, Mivos Quartet, KNM Berlin, and Ensemble Mosaik at renowned festivals for contemporary music such as the Donaueschingen Festival, Wien Modern, and the Witten Festival for New Chamber Music.

This event is part of Sexing Sound: Gender Sound Music, a three-day event presented through a partnership between Experimental Sound Studio, the Goethe-Institut, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago.

Sila: The Breath of the World (Midwest premiere)

Friday and Saturday, September 25-26, 2015

Shimmering harmonic clouds hover and gently transform in John Luther Adams’s Sila (2014) for 80 musicians, performed by members of the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. Presented on the Arts Green with Lake Michigan, the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, and the Chicago skyline as backdrop, Sila explores the composer’s deep concern with the interactions between humans and the environment. In this mystical work, inspired by natural harmonic overtones, performers move to the rhythm of their own long, beautiful exhalations.

More Information and Video

2014-2015 Events

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen

2014 Winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition 

Residency I: May 13-18
Salonen is principal conductor and artistic advisor for London's Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as music director from 1992 until 2009.

Monday, May 18, 7:30 p.m., Pick-Staiger Concert Hall 
Performance of Salonen's work featuring the Contemporary Music Ensemble, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, and more. Salonen will be in attendance.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble

Lost Objects

Friday, May 1, 7:30 p.m., Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
Sunday, May 24, 6:30 p.m., Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Chicago

Performance of the 2001 work by David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe. Admission is free.

Programming New Music: Strategies, Successes, Challenges

Friday, April 17, 2015, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Lutkin Hall
Admission is free.

A one-day symposium focusing on recent developments and challenges in programming new music. Performers, producers, and scholars discuss the fast-changing landscape of concerts featuring new music, and its difficulties as well as its promises.

Keynote speaker:

  • Claire Chase, Visiting Artist, Institute for New Music; executive director of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble)

Additional participants include leading figures from Chicago's new music scene:

  • Doyle Armbrust and Austin Wulliman (Spektral Quartet)
  • Amy Iwano (University of Chicago)
  • Peter Margasak (Constellation)
  • Peter Taub (Museum of Contemporary Art)
  • Hamza Walker (Renaissance Society)
  • Ryan Dohoney, Donald Nally, and Hans Thomalla (Bienen School of Music faculty)

Claire Chase Residency III: April 12-17

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Alice Millar Chapel 
Concert featuring Chase and students from the Bienen School flute studio in contemporary works for flute.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: Contemporary Latvia--Esenvalds and Ratniece

Friday, March 6, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
Donald Nally, conductor
Midwest premieres of Eriks Esenvalds's Seneca's Zodiac and Santa Ratniece's Horo horo hata hata offer contrasting views of the extraordinary choral colors and textures of contemporary Latvian composers.

Claire Chase Residency II: March 1-5

Claire Chase with flutes

Thursday, March 5, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Pick-Staiger Concert Hall  
Contemporary Music Ensemble concert featuring Chase as soloist 
Benjamin Bolter, conductor; Claire Chase, flute
Frederic Rzewski, Coming Together
Kaija Saariaho, Terrestre
Pierre Boulez, Mémoriale

International Contemporary Ensemble Residency (February 2015)

International Contemporary Ensemble

With a modular makeup of 33 leading instrumentalists, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) functions as performer, presenter, and educator. The group's residency February 1-5, 2015, included an opening concert, composition colloquium, education workshop with local teachers, walk-in sessions for performance students, and a concert with the Bienen School's Contemporary Music Ensemble, featuring performances of student compositions. 

NUNC! 2014

The Institute for New Music's first biannual conference and festival of new music. Featured guests included composer Brian Ferneyhough, pianist Nicolas Hodges, Ensemble Dal Niente, and the Mivos Quartet. Bienen School faculty participants included Timothy McAllister, Donald Nally, Lee Hyla, Hans Thomalla, Jay Alan Yim, and Ryan Dohoney.

2013-2014 Events

David Lang Residency (January 2014)

Musical America's 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall's Debs Composer's Chair for 2013-2014, David Lang is one of America's most performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.

Lang visited Northwestern January 25 and 26 and worked with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble as they prepared to perform his Pulitzer Prize-winning work The Little Match Girl Passion.

Ensemble Recherche Residency (November 2013)

Ensemble RechercheSince its founding in 1985, the Freiburg, Germany-based Ensemble Recherche has had an enormous impact on composition and performance practice in the world of new music. The group has premiered over 500 works by such composers as Wolfgang Rihm, Hèctor Parra, Brice Pauset, and Gérard Pesson. Ensemble members have taught workshops in Europe, Asia, and South America and have led numerous summer courses for new music, including the Darmstadt Summer Courses, Japan’s Takefu Courses, and their own Ensemble Academy in Freiburg. In this residency, members of the ensemble coached young performers in contemporary instrumental techniques, in both ensemble and individual settings. The ensemble concluded their residency with a performance of student compositions.

This residency was supported by a grant from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Alan Pierson Residency (October 2013)

Conductor Alan Pierson visited the Northwestern campus for several days in October, working with Bienen students. His visit culminated with a concert on October 31, with Pierson leading Northwestern's Contemporary Music Ensemble in a program that included John Adam’s Chamber Symphony, compositions by Aphex Twin, and two player piano pieces for ensemble by Conlon Nancarrow.

Ned@90: A Tribute to Ned Rorem (October 2013)

The Institute for New Music started off its second season of programming with a celebration of the 90th birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, author, and Northwestern alumnus Ned Rorem. Hailed by TIME Magazine as “the world’s best composer of art songs,” Rorem has also composed three symphonies, four piano concertos, and numerous orchestral, Ned Roremchamber, and choral works. He is the recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, and an ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award.

Faculty and guest performers included Donald Nally with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, clarinetists Steven Cohen and J. Lawrie Bloom, saxophonist Timothy McAllister, flutist John Thorne, baritone W. Stephen Smith, trumpet player Robert Sullivan, pianists James Giles and Kathryn Goodson, and the Civitas Ensemble. Performances feature Rorem’s Ariel, Picnic on the Marne, Nine Episodes for Four Players, Four Prayers, Aftermath, Cries and Whispers, and more.

2012-2013 Events

Robert Henke Residency (May 2013)

Robert Henke is a computer music composer and founding member of the electronic music project Monolake. He pairs archaic concepts with computer science in order to explore new aesthetic territories between composition, performance and installation. The creation of his own instruments and tools and the results of using them are two sides of the same artistic process. Henke’s interest in the combination of art and Robert Henketechnology is further evident in his contributions to the development of the music software 'Ableton Live'. For more than a decade since Ableton’s founding in 1999, he has been central to the development of Live, which became the standard tool for electronic music production and completely redefined the performance practice of electronic music.

Henke also writes and lectures about sound and the creative use of computers, and holds a professorship in sound design at the Berlin University of Arts. For 2013 he has been selected as Mohr Visiting Artist at the music department of Stanford University, where he will be teaching a class in computer music composition and performance.

Henke made two public appearances during his residency: a lecture titled "Audiovisual Machines," and a concert at Lutkin Hall, titled "Dust."

Ensemble dal Niente Residency (April 2013)

"Dal Niente is a model of what contemporary music needs, but seldom gets, to reach and engage a wider public."
—John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

Ensemble Dal Niente is a Chicago-based contemporary music ensemble dedicated to the promotion and advancement of contemporary music through concerts, commissions and educational activities. Through innovative programming, Dal Niente explores the wealth and diversity of music composed in the past century—from the European avant-garde, to American high modernism, to styles influenced by popular music and jazz. Dal Niente was founded by composer Kirsten Broberg in 2004 at Northwestern University and has become one of the country's leading new music organizations.

The ensemble has collaborated with such world-class composers as Kaija Saariaho, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Lee Hyla, and Alvin Lucier.

TEnsemble dal Nientehe ensemble has received significant support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ernst v. Siemens Foundation, as well as major commissioning awards from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University and Meet The Composer. Dal Niente won a Stipendienpreis during the 45th Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany, having participated in the ENSEMBLE 2010 program. In 2012 the Ensemble was awarded the Kranichsteinpreis at Darmstadt, one of the most renowned awards for contemporary music performance, given for the first time to an entire ensemble.

Ensemble dal Niente was on campus working with our students in April 2013. Their residency culminated in a free concert at the Regenstein Recital Hall.

Graeme Jennings Residency (February/March 2013)

Graeme Jennings with Composition students Chris Fischer-Lochhead and Pablo ChinGraeme Jennings is one of the worldwide leading performers of contemporary music for violin. He was a member of the Arditti Quartet from 1994-2005, a time during which he premiered over 300 works by composers such as Boulez, Carter, Kurtág, Lachenmann, Rihm, Scelsi, Wuorinen, and Xenakis. Among the prestigious awards the quartet received during that time is the 1999 Ernst v. Siemens Music Prize. He has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, and his chamber music partners have included members of the Alban Berg Quartet, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Marc-André Hamelin, Ursula Oppens and Stefan Litwin. He served on the Faculties of Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Mills College and lives now in Brisbane, in his native Australia, where he is senior lecturer in violin and viola at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

The acclaimed new music violinist was in residency at the Institute for New Music in February 2013, working with performance and composition students. He performed a concert of student compositions and important pieces from the 20th- and 21st-century repertoire for solo violin at Vail Chapel on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University.

Cage Festival (November 2012)

In November 2012, the Institute for New Music held its inaugural event, a festival celebrating the 100th birthday of composer John Cage. Events included colloquia and concerts. Here are some images from the festival as well as quotes from reviews.

Stephen Drury




"Such was Drury's superhuman mastery of Cage's virtually unplayable opus that I hung on, wondering where the jagged aggregates of pitches would lead."
-- John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"The evening opened with a luminous performance of Hymns and Variations.... Donald Nally, NU's director of choral organizations, deftly conducted the 12 student singers from the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble." [...] "Drury is a distinguished Cage pianist, and his performance of all five works had great clarity of line and beauty of tone." 
-- Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Classical Review 

"Interpreting Cage" Symposium Video

Cage Lecture: Haskins   Extending Cage's Legacy
Rob Haskins, Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire
Cage Lecture: Robinson   Cagean Performativity: Legacies for Current Artistic Practice
Julia Robinson, Assistant Professor of Art History, New York University
Cage Lecture: Nicholls   Performing Cage and Cage Performing
David Nicholls, Professor of Music, University of Southampton
Cage Lecture: Junkerman   Practicing Promiscuous Receptivity to Whatever Comes: From Concord to Cage
Charles Junkerman, Associate Provost and Dean, Stanford University
Cage Lecture: Drury   “At least she could have used chance operations”: Indeterminacy in the Etudes Australes 
Stephen Drury, pianist and conductor, New England Conservatory
Cage Lecture: Sliwinsky   Performing Revolution: John Cage as Great Composer
Adam Sliwinski, Sō Percussion
Cage Lecture: Brodsky   Cage and Current Contemporary Music
Seth Brodsky, Assistant Professor of Musicology, University of Chicago
Cage Lecture: Campana   Happy New Ears! The State of Research on John Cage
Deborah Campana, Conservatory Librarian, Oberlin Conservatory