May 17, 2021
Associate Director, Institute for New Music. Ben Bolter made his orchestral conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at age 25, with the Washington Post praising his performance: “Bolter spotlighted the showiest aspects...and made it look easy.” As part of Chicago's acclaimed Ear Taxi Festival, his world premiere of Drew Baker's NOX was named Chicago's Best Classical Music Performance of 2016 by the Third Coast Review. John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune remarked: "[Drew Baker's] NOX made an altogether striking close to an absorbing, eclectic program, quite the best of the Ear Taxi events..." Bolter has also served as an assistant conductor with the Indianapolis Symphony and has been a frequent guest at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
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. In fall 2018, he led the Grossman Ensemble in their inaugural performance as part of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition at University of Chicago and gave world premieres by composers Shulamit Ran, Sam Pluta, Tonia Ko, and David Rakowski. He has also given premieres by acclaimed composers Marcos Balter, Anthony Cheung, Drew Baker, Matthew Peterson, and Clint Needham among others and has worked closely with composers such as Steve Reich, John Luther Adams, David Lang, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ashley Fure, Hans Thomalla ,and Andrew Norman.
Bolter has also been recognized for his work with youth orchestras. For six years, he served as Music Director of the Conservatory Orchestras at the Merit School of Music, where his Philharmonic Orchestra was regularly featured live on WFMT and in Chicago Symphony Center. He is also the former Artistic Director of The People’s Music School Youth Orchestras and former Music Director of the New England Conservatory Youth Festival Orchestra. Additionally, he has worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's annual Chicago Youth in Music Festival, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Oakland Youth Orchestras, and the 2014 MMEA Senior District Orchestra Festival in Boston.
Bolter holds a Bachelor of Music in oboe performance from the New England Conservatory. He received a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from Indiana University, where he also served as adjunct faculty for four years. In addition to his work as a conductor, he is also an active keyboardist and songwriter and has performed in original and cover bands throughout the Midwest.
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