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.
 

2019-2020 Institute for New Music Events

Note: Tickets for fall events go on sale in late August.

Contemporary Music Ensemble: Works by Timo Andres, Missy Mazzoli and Felipe Lara
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen Contemporary/Earl Vocal Ensemble Evensong
Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, 5 p.m.
Alice Millar Chapel

“Dog Days” opera (Chicago Premiere) 
Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 21-23, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 24, 3 p.m.
Ryan Opera Theater
The production, which marks the first collaboration between the Bienen School’s opera program and Institute for New Music, will be directed by Joachim Schamberger and conducted by Alan Pierson, conductor of the “Dog Days” world premiere in 2012. Composer David T. Little will be in residence at the Institute for New Music November 19-22 leading up to the Chicago premiere of his work.

Contemporary Music Ensemble presents Hans Abrahamsen’s “Schnee”
Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall

New Music Showcase
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall

Oscar Bettison Residency
Wednesday-Friday, March 4-6, 2020
British-American composer Oscar Bettison will attend rehearsals with the Contemporary Music Ensemble, led a composition masterclass, and present a colloquium during his March residency. CME will present a concert on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ryan Opera Theater.

Ensemble Dal Niente Residency
Monday-Wednesday, March 9-11, 2020
The Chicago-based contemporary classical music ensemble will coach the Contemporary Music Ensemble and work with composition students before presenting a concert of student works Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Galvin Recital Hall. 


NUNC! 4 – Conference/Festival
April 24-26, 2020

One of the leading conferences for new music in the world, NUNC! brings together composers, performing musicians, scholars and other new music advocates for a weekend of workshops, panel discussions and concerts. NUNC! 4 participating artists include the internationally acclaimed Arditti Quartet, Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Bienen School alumna Jennifer Walshe, a leading voice of the aesthetic field merging music composition and performance art.

Learn more about NUNC!


Jennifer Higdon Residency
Monday-Thursday, April 27-30, 2020
Jennifer Higdon returns to campus for her second residency as winner of the Bienen School’s 2018 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. The Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra will perform a series of Higdon concertos featuring faculty soloists on Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Works by Burhans and Zivkovic

Mabel Kwan Residency
Friday-Sunday, May 15-17, 2020
Mabel Kwan, Chicago based pianist and member of Ensemble Dal Niente, will visit campus to work with composition students.

Current Voices (Lecture Series)
TBA

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

Videos

The Crossing and BCE

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Alex Mincek - Chamber Concerto

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Steve Reich: Nemmers Prize Residency

Steve Reich and Alan Pierson

Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble

Marcos Balter - Pan

Claire Chase

Institute for New Music Affiliated Faculty

Director, Institute for New Music

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Hans Thomalla

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Director, Institute for New Music

Hans Thomalla is professor of composition and music technology and director of the Institute for New Music. He has written chamber music as well as orchestral works, and a particular focus of his activity lies in composing for the stage. Thomalla has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, among others the Composers' Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis, the Christoph-Delz-Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

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Associate Director, Institute for New Music

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Ben Bolter

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Associate Director, Institute for New Music

Ben Bolter is co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble and associate director of the Institute for New Music.  Bolter is a regular conductor and collaborator with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He has also worked with contemporary groups and soloists including Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Square Peg Round Hole, Claire Chase, and Tony Arnold.

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Musicology

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Ryan Dohoney

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Musicology

Ryan Dohoney is associate professor of musicology. His historical work is concentrated on U.S. and European experimental music, particularly the lives and work of Morton Feldman and Julius Eastman. Dohoney’s other in-progress research project is focused on the communities of composer-performer-improviser Julius Eastman in New York City, 1968–1984. His research has been supported by a stipendium from the Paul Sacher Stiftung, a Franklin Grant from the American Philosophical Society, and a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

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Composition and Music Technology

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Chris Mercer

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Composition and Music Technology

Christopher Mercer is a composer of electroacoustic music, combining lo-tech analog techniques with extensive digital signal processing. He is a specialist in multi-channel audio and spatialization. Mercer is the author of articles on musical aesthetics and composition and has had residencies at Experimentalstudio SWR in Freiburg, Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf, and Sound Traffic Control in San Francisco.

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Hans Thomalla

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Director, Institute for New Music

Hans Thomalla is professor of composition and music technology and director of the Institute for New Music. He has written chamber music as well as orchestral works, and a particular focus of his activity lies in composing for the stage. Thomalla has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, among others the Composers' Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis, the Christoph-Delz-Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

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Ben Bolter

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Associate Director, Institute for New Music

Ben Bolter is co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble and associate director of the Institute for New Music.  Bolter is a regular conductor and collaborator with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He has also worked with contemporary groups and soloists including Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Square Peg Round Hole, Claire Chase, and Tony Arnold.

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Ryan Dohoney

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Musicology

Ryan Dohoney is associate professor of musicology. His historical work is concentrated on U.S. and European experimental music, particularly the lives and work of Morton Feldman and Julius Eastman. Dohoney’s other in-progress research project is focused on the communities of composer-performer-improviser Julius Eastman in New York City, 1968–1984. His research has been supported by a stipendium from the Paul Sacher Stiftung, a Franklin Grant from the American Philosophical Society, and a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

Read More

Chris Mercer

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Composition and Music Technology

Christopher Mercer is a composer of electroacoustic music, combining lo-tech analog techniques with extensive digital signal processing. He is a specialist in multi-channel audio and spatialization. Mercer is the author of articles on musical aesthetics and composition and has had residencies at Experimentalstudio SWR in Freiburg, Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf, and Sound Traffic Control in San Francisco.

Read More

Composition and Music Technology

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Alex Mincek

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Composition and Music Technology

Alex Mincek is a composer, performer, and co-director of the New York-based Wet Ink Ensemble. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Alpert Award, and multiple awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music has also been recognized through commissions and awards from arts institutions such as the French Ministry of Culture, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, MATA, Radio France, the Barlow Endowment, and the Fromm Music Foundation.

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Director, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

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Donald Nally

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Director, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Donald Nally is the John W. Beattie Chair of Music and director of choral organizations at the Bienen School, where he directs the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble. He is conductor of The Crossing, the Grammy-winning professional chamber choir in Philadelphia focused on new music. He was the 2017 American Composers Forum Champion of New Music and received the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America. He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music. 

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Co-director, Contemporary Music Ensemble

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Alan Pierson

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Co-director, Contemporary Music Ensemble

Alan Pierson is co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the Bienen School. He is the artistic director and conductor of acclaimed ensemble Alarm Will Sound, which has been called "the future of classical music" by the New York Times. Pierson previously served as the artistic director and conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He has appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, and the Steve Reich Ensemble, among other ensembles. 

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Saxophone

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Taimur Sullivan

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Saxophone

Taimur Sullivan is associate professor of saxophone at the Bienen School and a member of the acclaimed PRISM Quartet. His performances have taken him from the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Knitting Factory, to engagements in Russia, China, England, Germany, and throughout Latin America. Sullivan has dedicated much of his career to commissioning new repertoire for the saxophone, and has given the world premieres of over 250 solo and chamber works. 

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Alex Mincek

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Composition and Music Technology

Alex Mincek is a composer, performer, and co-director of the New York-based Wet Ink Ensemble. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Alpert Award, and multiple awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music has also been recognized through commissions and awards from arts institutions such as the French Ministry of Culture, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, MATA, Radio France, the Barlow Endowment, and the Fromm Music Foundation.

Read More

Donald Nally

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Director, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Donald Nally is the John W. Beattie Chair of Music and director of choral organizations at the Bienen School, where he directs the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble. He is conductor of The Crossing, the Grammy-winning professional chamber choir in Philadelphia focused on new music. He was the 2017 American Composers Forum Champion of New Music and received the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America. He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music. 

Read More

Alan Pierson

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Co-director, Contemporary Music Ensemble

Alan Pierson is co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the Bienen School. He is the artistic director and conductor of acclaimed ensemble Alarm Will Sound, which has been called "the future of classical music" by the New York Times. Pierson previously served as the artistic director and conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He has appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, and the Steve Reich Ensemble, among other ensembles. 

Read More

Taimur Sullivan

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Saxophone

Taimur Sullivan is associate professor of saxophone at the Bienen School and a member of the acclaimed PRISM Quartet. His performances have taken him from the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Knitting Factory, to engagements in Russia, China, England, Germany, and throughout Latin America. Sullivan has dedicated much of his career to commissioning new repertoire for the saxophone, and has given the world premieres of over 250 solo and chamber works. 

Read More

Composition and Music Technology

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Jay Alan Yim

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Composition and Music Technology

Jay Alan Yim is associate professor and coordinator of the composition and music technology program. Listed in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, he is an internationally recognized composer with a Kennedy Center/Friedheim award, three BMI and two ASCAP awards, Tanglewood and Aspen fellowships, Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and three Illinois Arts Council fellowships. Other honors include an appointment as a composer/fellow for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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Jay Alan Yim

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Composition and Music Technology

Jay Alan Yim is associate professor and coordinator of the composition and music technology program. Listed in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, he is an internationally recognized composer with a Kennedy Center/Friedheim award, three BMI and two ASCAP awards, Tanglewood and Aspen fellowships, Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and three Illinois Arts Council fellowships. Other honors include an appointment as a composer/fellow for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Read More