2018-2019 Events Top

Nemmers Prize Residency: Jennifer Higdon

October 15-20, 2018
During her October residency, Higdon coached Bienen School ensembles and chamber groups, conducted lessons and seminars with composition students, participated in an interdisciplinary panel discussion on the arts and attended performances by Bienen ensembles.

Panel Discussion: LGBTQ+ in the Arts
October 16, 2018
Discussion topics included the relationship of identity to creative output, inclusivity and discrimination within the arts, the role of the LGBTQ+ community in making progress toward equality and the role of arts presenters in representing LGBTQ+ artists and art. 

CME Concert featuring music of Jennifer Higdon
October 18, 2018
Jennifer Higdon, selections from Short Stories for saxophone quartet: "Stomp and Dance," "Summer's Eve," and "Splashing the Canvas"
Jennifer Higdon, Like Clockwork for percussion ensemble
George Lewis, Anthem
Pierre Boulez, Dérive 2

SWE Concert featuring music of Jennifer Higdon
October 19, 2018
Steven Bryant, Radiant Joy
Jennifer Higdon, Mysterium
Jennifer Higdon, Percussion Concerto
Adam Schoenberg, Migration (Symphony No. 2)

NUSO Concert featuring music of Jennifer Higdon
October 20, 2018
Jennifer Higdon, Peachtree Street
Leonard Bernstein, Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”)
Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (“Eroica”)

Video: Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon, winner of the 2018 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, reflects on her first Bienen School residency.

University Chorale + Contemporary Music Ensemble: Pre-Election Concert
November 4, 2018
Johannes Brahms, Nänie
Benjamin C. S. Boyle, Empire of Crystal
Michael Gilbertson, Console Us
Giacomo Carissimi, Historia Jonae
Michael Laurello, Envelope Writings

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: Pre-Election Concert
November 5, 2018
Nicholas Cline, Water Sheds
Lansing McLoskey, Zealot Canticles
William Brooks, in memoriam reducere studemus

Contemporary Music Ensemble
November 29, 2018
Salvatore Sciarrino, Introduzione all’oscuro
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kontra-Punkte
Hunter Chang, From the Shadows
Marcos Balter, meltDown Upshot

Kate Soper Residency
February 7-9, 2019
Kate led a composition masterclass, participated in a colloquium with composition students, and coached the Contemporary Music Ensemble in a performance of her work The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract. The residency culminated with a CME concert on February 9. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble 
February 9, 2019
Matt Marks, A Song for Wade 
Kate Soper, The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract 
John Adams, Chamber Symphony 
Ben Zucker, new work  

New Music Performance Showcase
February 18, 2019
Craig Davis Pinson, No Fat Pig
Michael Fiday, Jim and John 
Ben Zucker, Pilot Mine
Nico Muhly, Drones & Viola
Kevin Puts, Arches
Liza Sobel, Skin
Tim Ferchen, Mallet Quartet
Missy Mazzoli, This World Within Me Is Too Small
Ruud Roelofsen, Nebulae

Contemporary Music Ensemble
March 8, 2019
Works by Charles Wuorinen, Mark Andre, Jay Alan Yim and Michael Gordon

Zafa Collective Residency 
March 12-14, 2019
Performance of student works; round table discussion for performance students about careers in new music
Concert March 14, 2019

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: New Works from Northwestern 
March 15, 2019
Enjoy an evening of exploration as the ensemble workshops four new choral pieces by Bienen School student composers, concluding with a brief final performance.

Current Voices in Composition: Lecture Series
Sky MacKlay, October 11
Jennifer Higdon, October 18
Marcos Balter, November 29
Kate Soper, February 7
Tonya Ko, February 21


2017-2018 Events Top

Contemporary Music Ensemble
October 20, 2017
Jeremy Podgursky, Gonna Get Your Soul Start Dancing
Nico Muhly, By All Means
Tristan Arostegui, The Kedziad
Tristan Murail, Désintégrations

Steve Reich: Nemmers Prize Residency 2

November 15-16, 2017
As part of his residency week, Reich attended rehearsals and classes with students and faculty. On Wednesday night the school's Percussion Ensemble performed 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.

Percussion Ensemble
November 15, 2018
Steve Reich, Music for Pieces of Wood
Steve Reich, Nagoya Marimbas
Steve Reich, Mallet Quartet
Steve Reich, Sextet

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, Contemporary Music Ensemble and Saxophone Ensemble
November 16, 2017
Steve Reich, Radio Rewrite
Steve Reich, Pulse
Steve Reich, New York Counterpoint
Steve Reich, Tehillim

Contemporary Music Ensemble
February 9, 2018
Amy Beth Kirsten, Drink Me
Anthony Cheung, SynchroniCities
Harrison Birtwistle, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum
Tyler Kramlich, world premiere

Ensemble Dal Niente
March 6, 2018
The acclaimed new music ensemble returned to the Bienen School to work with both music performance and composition students. The residency concluded with a performance of eight new works by current composition students written for the groups.

CME and BCE
March 9, 2018
Shawn Jaeger, Letters Made with Gold
Sofia Gubaidulina, Jetzt immer Schnee
Sam Scranton, world premiere

The Crossing and BCE
March 16, 2018
Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble The Crossing shared their passion for contemporary choral music in a weeklong residency that included a seminar with conducting students, open rehearsals, and a collaboration in concert with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, featuring Michael Gordon's Anonymous Man.

Video: The Crossing and BCE

Grammy-winning choral ensemble The Crossing joins the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble in performance.

NUNC! 3: Northwestern University New Music Conference 3
April 20–22, 2018
Featuring dozens of performances of new works along with presentations, master classes, and discussions, the event drew composers, performers, musicologists, theorists, and other participants from across the country and beyond to engage with new works and new discourse on questions of contemporary composition, performance praxis, music aesthetics, and other topics.
Learn more about NUNC! 3

Current Voices in Composition: Lecture Series
Eva Zöllner - October 12, 2017
Wang Lu - January 11, 2018
Christian Wolff - January 18, 2018 
Lucy Dhegrae - February 8, 2018
Shawn Jaeger - March 8, 2018 
Michael Gordon - March 15, 2018


2016-2017 Events Top

Ear Taxi Festival: Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble
October 6, 2016 (Harris Theater, Chicago)
Hans Thomalla, Wonderblock (Chicago Premiere)
Ted Hearne, Consent (Chicago Premiere)

Contemporary Music Ensemble
October 22, 2016
Hans Thomalla, Wonderblock 
Marcos Balter, Growth 
Kaija Saariaho, Io 
Hunter Hanson, new work  

Spektral Quartet with Winston Choi, piano
November 9, 2016
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

Contemporary Music Ensemble: Andrew Norman
November 19, 2016
Andrew Norman, Try
Alex Mincek, Chamber Concerto
Helmut Lachenmann, Mouvement

Video: Mincek - Chamber Concerto

The Contemporary Music Ensemble performs Alex Mincek’s Chamber Concerto, conducted by CME co-director Ben Bolter.

MusicNOW: Steve Reich's 80th Birthday Celebration
November 21, 2016 (Harris Theater, Chicago)
Reich Different Trains
Reich Proverb
Reich Double Sextet
The CSO’s MusicNOW series paid tribute to Steve Reich's unrivaled musical contribution with a diverse program of works that highlighted the breadth and invention of his existing work. Students from the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble performed Proverb

Steve Reich: Nemmers Prize Residency

February 7-9, 2017
Steve Reich, winner of Northwestern University’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, attended music rehearsals, discussions with students and faculty, and a performance of his work when he visited the Bienen School of Music for his first Nemmers Prize Residency

Steve Reich in Conversation
February 7, 2017
Joining Steve Reich in discussion was 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.

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble: The Music of Steve Reich
February 9, 2017
Steve Reich, City Life
Steve Reich, Clapping Music
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians

Video: Steve Reich

Steve Reich, winner of the 2016 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, discusses his first Bienen School residency with conductor Alan Pierson.

Contemporary Music Ensemble: Tony Arnold
March 2, 2017
Renowned new music vocalist Tony Arnold coached vocal students, worked with student composers, and performed works by Georges Aperghis with the Bienen School’s Contemporary Music Ensemble.

Student New Music Showcase
March 14, 2017
The Institute for New Music presented its annual new music showcase, giving Bienen School performance majors an opportunity to present contemporary solo and chamber works in a concert setting. The diverse program featured Bienen students performing the music of Murail, Sciarrino, Messiaen, Mazzoli, Fuentes, Thomalla, Larsen and more.

Eighth Blackbird Lecture/Demonstration
April 6, 2017
The Chicago-based, four-time Grammy-winning ensemble performed and spoke about their music.

Spektral Quartet
April 9, 2017
The quartet offered 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.

Claire Chase
April 13, 2017
Flutist and new music entrepreneur Claire Chase was on campus for her third year as an artist in residence at the Institute for New Music. Chase coached student ensembles and composers, jointly taught a course with Hans Thomalla, and performed the newest installment of her Density 2036 project.

Video: Claire Chase

Bienen School visiting artist Chase Chase performs an excerpt from a work in progress by Northwestern alumnus Marcos Balter.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble
April 22, 2017
The two ensembles collaborated 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.

Contemporary Music Ensemble
May 5, 2017
Joon Park, new work
Tyler Kramlich, new work
Frank Zappa, Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat 
Edgard Varèse, Intégrales 

Fonema Consort
May 17, 2017
The group’s program featureed works composed by Bienen School students. 

Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble
May 26, 2017
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 

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble
May 26, 2017
Music by Kevin Puts and Arvo Pärt as well as John Tavener’s prayerful Svyati for cello and choir.

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra: Zappa and Varèse
May 28, 2017 (Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion)
The Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble celebrated the spirit of experimentation that united these two composers with a program featuring Zappa as a “virtual emcee” in recordings discussing his Varèse experiences. The Northwestern University Percussion Ensemble was 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

Current Voices in Composition: Lecture Series
Andrew Norman, Friday, November 18
Enno Poppe, Thursday, December 1
Stacy Garrop, Tuesday, January 10
Sam Pluta, Tuesday, February 14
Seung-Won Oh, Tuesday, February 21
Alex Mincek, Tuesday, March 28
Joshua Fineberg, Tuesday, April 4


2015-2016 Events Top

Sila: The Breath of the World (Midwest premiere)
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.

Video: Sila

80 Bienen School musicians performed John Luther Adams's "Sila: The Breath of the World" on the Arts Green.

Mark Barden, composition colloquium
October 20, 2015
This event was 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.

NUNC! 2: Northwestern University New Music Conference 2
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. 
Learn more about NUNC! 2

Claire Chase: Density 2036 - Part III
November 10, 2015
Flutist Claire Chase returns for a week-long residency November 9-15 and concert. 

Ursula Oppens with Jerome Lowenthal
November 14, 2015
The four-time Grammy nominee performs music of Frederic Rzewski and Elliott Carter. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
December 4, 2015
Anton Webern’s Five Pieces for Orchestra and Steve Reich’s City Life 

Video: Contemporary Music Ensemble

CME performs works by Webern, Burhans, and Reich in this December 2015 concert.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: Sound in Architecture
January 10, 2016
Guillaume Dufay’s Nuper rosarum flores (Recently garlands… adorned this temple) and Morton Feldman’s 1971 Rothko Chapel.

Third Coast Percussion
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. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
February 4, 2016
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

Symphonic Wind Ensemble
February 5, 2016 
Premiere of Joel Puckett commissioned work Ship of Theseus

Northwestern University Composer/Performer Project: An Evening of World Premieres
Claire Chase and Ben Bolter
February 16, 2016
Music by Hunter Hanson, Liza Sobel, Riona Ryan, Nick Cline, Austin Busch, Luis Fernando Amaya and Wilson Tanner Smith

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble
February 20, 2016
Hearne and Ratniece on the National Stage

Contemporary Music Ensemble: Georg Friedrich Haas’ In Vain
March 10, 2016
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.

Claire Chase and Guests
April 16, 2016
Bienen School visiting artist Claire Chase was joined by three Bienen School graduate student soloists, along with 100 flute “migranti” – migrating flutists who moved throughout the recital hall – to present the Chicago premiere of 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 made up the migrating ensemble. 

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble
Premiere of David Lang commissioned work
April 17, 2016 
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.

Ensemble Linea
April 17-21, 2016
The French ensemble was in residence 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: April 18, 2016
    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)
  • Concert 2: April 21
    In the second of its Institute for New Music visiting-artist concerts, the ensemble performed music by Bienen School composition students.

Third Coast Percussion
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. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
May 20, 2016
Timo Andres, Checkered Shade
Nicholas Cline, water-witching (world premiere)
Louis Andriessen, Workers Union
Simon Steen-Andersen, Chambered Music

Student New Music Showcase
May 26, 2016 

Student Composers' Concert
May 31, 2016
An evening of original student compositions.