The Institute for New Music functions as the nerve center of all contemporary music activities at the Bienen School of Music.

It presents numerous events over the course of the academic year – from residencies of visiting ensembles and composers to workshops, lectures, and masterclasses, to the biennial Conference/Festival NUNC! Additionally, the Institute provides a platform for new music activities for all areas of the Bienen School.

Several critical assets make Northwestern a logical site for a major new music initiative. These include a corps of talented performance students interested in new music; a strong composition program; the biennial Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, which regularly brings world-renowned composers to campus; the Northwestern Music Library, which contains an unparalleled and internationally renowned archive of printed music composed since 1945; and proximity to Chicago’s vibrant new music scene.

Spring 2019 Events

Contemporary Music Ensemble
April 25, 2019
Works by Rebecca Saunders, Zoe Morfas and Tyondai Braxton, and a US premiere by Philippe Hurel
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David T. Little and Judd Greenstein Residency
April 24-27, 2019
The composers will coach the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, University Chorale, and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in preparation for the Midwest premieres of their two works with origins in Brooklyn. 
Concert April 27, 2019
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Mivos Quartet Residency 
April 29-May 2, 2019
Mivos Quartet – Olivia De Prato and Lauren Cauley, violin; Victor Lowrie Tafoya, viola; and Tyler J. Borden, cello – will coach Bienen School composition and strings students and present a concert of new works.
Concert May 2, 2019
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Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and University Chorale
May 15, 2019
The movements of Kile Smith’s The Waking Sun, an exploration of Seneca’s stoic view of the world, anchor this thought-provoking collaboration between University Chorale and the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble. Interspersed with early music of Bach, Tompkins, and Marenzio, this journey is one of waiting, longing, and hope. The program also features the second performance to date of Ted Hearne’s Fervor.
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Contemporary Music Ensemble
May 24, 2019
Works by Aphex Twin, Philip Glass, George Papajohn and Giacinto Scelsi
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Current Voices Lecture Series
All events take place at 5 p.m. in RCMA LL-121
Zafa Collective, March 14
Josh Modney, April 11
Thesis Machado, April 25

New Music Ensembles

Bienen Contemporary/ Early Vocal Ensemble

This 24-voice ensemble concentrates on music of the 21st century, drawing relationships to its polyphonic roots in early music.

Contemporary Music Ensemble

A one-on-a-part ensemble of approximately 20 players, CME presents exciting concerts of wide-ranging contemporary works.

Expanding educational offerings in modern music

The Institute for New Music organizes an array of major cultural and educational events, including symposia, festivals, workshops and residencies. Each of these activities provides students with opportunities to interact with and learn from prominent figures in the new music world.

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Music Library

The Northwestern University Music Library is internationally renowned for its extensive collection of contemporary scores composed since 1945 as well as its original manuscripts, including the notable John Cage collection.

Explore the Collection