When asked to identify a successful musician, many people (musicians and nonmusicians alike) will respond with famous names like Bach or Beethoven, often overlooking present-day artists and their work.
Dan Welcher, a professor of composition and director of the New Music Ensemble, wants to change that.
The New Music Ensemble, which is offered as a class in the Butler School of Music, is widely regarded as one of the best student ensembles of its kind in the U.S. It features solo, chamber and large ensemble works by living composers and those of the recent past. The class presents six full-length concerts annually of new chamber music composed primarily during the past 20 years. This unique group consists of a 16-member core ensemble and is made up of the most proficient student instrumentalists and singers in the Butler School of Music.
“The world of music has thousands, literally thousands of masterpieces that no one wants to let go of. The challenge is finding new music that keeps the audience and the players challenged and entertained at the same time,” says Welcher.
Recent visiting composers have included John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Michael Daugherty, David Del Tredici, John Harbison, Christopher Theofanidis, George Tsontakis, Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, Joan Tower and Chen Yi. In addition, works by faculty composers Donald Grantham, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Russell Pinkston and Dan Welcher are performed regularly, as well as music composed by the leading living composers (and most prominent 20th century composers).
In addition to playing establish compositions, one of the hallmarks of the ensemble is the world premiere of a student composition at every concert, giving the composition students a rare and valuable opportunity.
“They keep me on my toes, and they keep me young,” says Welcher.
“These students are wonderfully lively people. They’re very talented, open-minded and eager, and I’ve found that working with them gives me more pleasure than anything else I do in life.”