Current Composition Students

Luis Fernando AmayaLuis Fernando Amaya

3rd year PhD • LFAmaya@u.northwestern.edu • website

Born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Luis Fernando Amaya is a composer and percussionist. His music has been performed by artists such as the Arditti Quartet, Yuko Yoshikawa, Mauricio Náder, and Ensemble Dal Niente. As a performer, he is a member of the Latin American traditional music band Los Molotes and the improvisation quartet Barahúnda, Cuarteto; both based in Mexico City. Luis Fernando is currently a doctoral student in composition at Northwestern University studying with Hans Thomalla. 

José Miguel ArellanoJosé Miguel Arellano

4th year DMA • jmarellano@u.northwestern.edu • website

Chilean composer born in 1985. His music has been performed in different countries like Chile, US, Italy, Canada and Spain. Arellano is currently working on his DMA with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim.

Mathew ArrellinMathew Arrellin

2nd Year PhD • MathewArrellin2020@u.northwestern.edu • website

Mathew Arrellin’s music has been performed by chamber ensembles and soloists from across the US and Mexico, with premieres in the US, Mexico, and Spain. Additionally, he has collaborated with contemporary dancers and choreographers, and his pieces have been included in several choreography showcases. Arrellin holds a bachelor’s degree in music theory, composition, and cello performance from the University of New Mexico, where his primary composition teacher was José-Luis Hurtado. He is currently a doctoral student in composition at Northwestern University where he studies with Jay Alan Yim. 

Niki CharlaftiNiki Charlafti

2nd year PhD • NikiCharlafti2023@u.northwestern.edu • website

Niki Charlafti is a Greek composer pursuing her PhD in Music Composition at the Bienen School of Music. She is currently in the studio of Alex Mincek and previously studied with Hans Thomalla. Ms. Charlafti holds a M.M. in Composition and Theory from New England Conservatory of Music (Boston), where she studied with Efstratios Minakakis and Anthony Coleman. Her works have been performed in Chicago, New York, Boston, Greece, the U.K., France, Germany and the Netherlands. Her upcoming collaborations include new works for Ensemble Dal Niente, guitarist Ruben Mattia Santorsa (Italy), ~Nois saxophone quartet (Chicago), as well as interdisciplinary projects with painters and choreographers in Germany (Berlin) and Mexico (Aguascalientes). Her recent collaborations and performances include ECCE (FR), CNMF and loadbang, June in Buffalo Festival and more. Musically, she is currently exploring the physicality of sound, the performing body and its musical dramaturgy, improvisation, extended vocal techniques and language, instrumental narrativity, as well as live electronics. Aesthetically, she is interested in contradiction. Her work balances between extreme sensitivity and violence, comedy and drama, sense and the nonsensical, reality, illusion and their common denominators.

Nicholas ClineNicholas Cline

DMA candidate • ngcline@gmail.com • website

Nicholas Cline writes electro-acoustic music often drawing on sensuous as well as intellectual experiences of nature with the belief that music should reveal, challenge, and shape the listener’s understanding of the world. His music has been presented at festivals in the US and in Europe. He is featured on the SEAMUS electroacoustic miniatures recording series: Re-Caged and is a High Concept Labs sponsored artist. He holds degrees from Columbia College Chicago and Indiana University. He is completing a DMA at Northwestern University.

Daniel DehaanDaniel Dehaan

DMA candidate • daniel.dehaan@northwestern.edu • website

Daniel Dehaan is a composer, performer, and educator currently based in Chicago. He is a doctoral student at Northwestern University studying music composition with a focus on digital music creation and performance. His principal composition teachers have included Jay Alan Yim, Hans Thomalla, Chris Mercer, and Marcos Balter. Daniel regularly creates and performs music designed to be site and system specific, crafting unique experiences for each performance. His works emphasize the physical presence of the audience and utilize specially designed multi-channel speaker installations to envelop his audiences in the sonic experience. From the KROME Gallery in Berlin, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to the Centro Cultural de España in Costa Rica, Daniel’s music has been performed at a variety of venues all over of the world. He has had the privilege of collaborating with many talented musicians, ensembles, and artists such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Dal Niente, GPS-Trans, Fonema Consort, and The Industry of the Ordinary. His work has been discussed by many publications including TIME Magazine, New Music Box, the Chicago Reader, BuzzFeed, and Business Insider. Recordings of Daniel’s music have been released on Navona Records and Parlour Tapes+, with plans for a new full length release in 2016. Daniel is currently the Digital Music Lab Manager at Columbia College Chicago where he teaches classes and private lessons in digital music composition, production and performance.

Noah JenkinsNoah Jenkins

3rd year PhD • noahfjenkins@gmail.com • website

Noah Jenkins is a composer and violinist from Oregon now living in Chicago. Much of his recent music takes an experimental approach to the exploration of audible processes, acoustic phenomena, and thresholds of perception. Noah’s music has recently been performed by Ensemble Linea, ~Nois, Fonema Consort, and pianist Jonathan Hannau. He holds degrees in composition and violin performance from the University of Oregon and is currently a PhD student at Northwestern University studying composition with Alex Mincek, Jay Alan Yim, Hans Thomalla, and Chris Mercer. 

Michael Raymond MassoudMichal Raymond Massoud

DMA candidate • RaymondMassoud2012@u.northwestern.edu • website

Michal Raymond Massoud is a composer, a conductor, and a teacher. Born in Beirut, he has studied composition at McGill University with Chris Paul Harman, Jean Lesage and Brian Cherney, at Boston University with Joshua Fineberg and Richard Cornell, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, studying with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim. Through his music, Michal attempts to address a schism in his personality between his Levantine origins and his Western, French upbringing. This has led him to compose works that tackle issues such as exoticism, improvisation, dramatization, and the aesthetic of fluidity. He is currently working on a quintet that uses new approaches to improvisation, as well as a theater opera that incorporates technology – earphones, specifically – in an important and radical way. 

Craig Davis PinsonCraig Davis Pinson

DMA candidate • craigdavispinson2014@u.northwestern.edu • website

Born and raised in Mexico City, Craig Davis Pinson is a composer interested in the relationship between abstract structural experimentation and intuitive musical impulse. Performance locations include London, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Maine, Mexico, and Italy, by ensembles such as International Contemporary Ensemble, Ludovico Ensemble, The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble, Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, Quartetto Maurice. Readings have included artists such as Irvine Arditti and Parker Quartet. Davis Pinson was the winner of The Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble Composition Competition 2013-2014, his music has been featured in the online publication Boing Boing and in the Atlantic Music Festival, Fresh Inc, and highSCORE festivals. He has participated in masterclasses with Esa-Pekka Salonen, Christopher Theofanidis, and Hilda Paredes. Davis Pinson holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from The Boston Conservatory. 

Liza SobelLiza Sobel

3rd year DMA • lizasobel2018@u.northwestern.edu  website

Liza Sobel is a composer and singer whose work has been performed at Carnegie Hall; Le Poisson Rouge; Symphony Space; Aldeburgh Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme; Brevard Music Institute; Bowdoin’s International Music Festival; nief-norf Summer Festival; and Chamber Music Institute. Performers that have played her music include: Cygnus Ensemble; Third Coast Percussion; Creviston-Fader Duo; Nouveau Classical Project; Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble; West Point Woodwind Quintet; New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra; Skyros String Quartet; Helix; and Joseph Lin of the Juilliard String Quartet. Liza’s Requiem won the American Prize in the choral division and was a finalist in the BMI Young Composers Award. Her orchestra piece Tocsin was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Award. Other awards Liza has won include a Fulbright scholarship, and Cornell’s endorsed candidate and/or finalist for the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and Keasbey scholarships. She previously studied at Rutgers University’ Mason Gross Conservatory (MA); Cornell University (BA), and Manhattan School of Music (exchange student). She currently studies composition with Jay Alan Yim. As a singer, Liza regularly performs both new and standard repertoire, as well as her own music. Liza frequently performs music by living emerging composers, and many composers have written pieces specifically for her.

Ben ZuckerBen Zucker 

1st Year PhD • BenjaminZucker2022@u.northwestern.edu • website

Ben Zucker is a composer, improviser, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, using the voice, percussion, piano, brass instruments, synthesizers and programming, and movement and performance art to create constellations of conceptual and stylistic relations. His work crosses and intentionally plays with genre and discipline; it has been performed by artists including the Mivos Quartet, Apartment House, New York Virtuoso Singers, Distractfold Ensemble, and Rinde Eckert. He was recognized as a "New Composer Talent" by the International Audio Branding Academy, and his work has won awards from the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, C4 Collective, San Francisco Choral Artists, and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Additionally, he maintains an active career as a vocalist, trumpeter, pianist, and percussionist performing jazz, new music, and improvisations solo and with ensembles around the world, including performances with Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford, Notes Inegales, Luciano Chessa, as a founding member of The Improviser’s Choir, electro-salsa collective Arcadio, and the Apres-Garde Ensemble, and on solo records released on Not Art Records and Verz Imprint. Ben received a BA in music and critical theory at Wesleyan University, and recently completed postgraduate studies at Brunel University London with Jennifer Walshe and Christopher Fox.