The Institute for New Music functions as the nerve center of all contemporary music activities at the Bienen School of Music.

Founded in 2012, the Institute 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! Several critical assets make Northwestern an ideal site for a major new music initiative. These include a corps of talented performance students interested in new music; a strong composition program; the 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.

Fall 2022 Events

A broad range of exciting activities—including composer residencies, guest artist appearances, regional and world premieres, and the biannual new music conference and festival—will mark the Institute for New Music’s 2022-2023 season lineup at Northwestern.

Joan La Barbara Residency: October 21-29, 2022

In celebration of the artist’s 75th birthday

An experimental vocalist, composer, sound artist, and theatrical collaborator, Joan La Barbara has been powerful force in contemporary music for more than five decades. A pioneer in extended vocal techniques, she taken the human voice in vastly new expressive directions and used her abilities as the foundation of rigorous compositional practice. She has also inspired the work of numerous collaborators including Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, and John Cage.

Contemporary Music Ensemble
Saturday, October 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Joan La Barbara’s Awakenings plus works by Elijah Smith and David Lang

Composition Colloquium
Tuesday, October 25, at 5:00 p.m.

Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra
Saturday, October 29, at 7:30 p.m.
Joan La Barbara's In solitude this fear is lived

La Barbara’s visit has been generously sponsored by the Kreeger Wolf Fund, the department of Art Theory and Practice, and the program in Comparative Literary Studies.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble
Sunday, October 23, at 4:00 p.m.
The ensemble’s annual Evensong concert follows the ritual and structure of the ancient liturgy, woven together with contemporary works reflecting issues of our time.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble
Friday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m.
Andrew Megill leads BCE in a brief, yet marvelously varied, program of works ranging from English composer John Dunstable’s music of the early 15th century to French composer Daniel Lesur’s Cantique des cantiques of the mid-20th century.

Christopher Cerrone and Stephanie Fleischmann's In a Grove (Midwest Premiere)
Thursday-Saturday, November 17-19, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 20, at 3:00 p.m.
Based on the short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, the opera is set in 1921 in a ghost forest in the Oregon mountains. Seven witnesses—some of them suspects—provide testimony about events that transpired in a mountain grove, where an aspiring botanist goes missing and her new husband, a schoolteacher, appears to have been murdered. Each performance of In a Grove is paired with François Sarhan’s Hands, a set of short musical-theatrical works exploring how hands represent our various roles in society.

NUNC! 5: Save the Date
April 21-23, 2023


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.

Upcoming Events

Bienen Ensembles

February 3, 2023 7:30pm

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen Ensembles

February 10, 2023 7:30pm

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen Ensembles

February 16, 2023 7:30pm

Saxophone Ensemble

Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen Ensembles

February 18, 2023 7:30pm

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Galvin Recital Hall

Bienen Ensembles

March 10, 2023 7:30pm

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Galvin Recital Hall

Festivals & Series

March 11, 2023 7:30pm


McClintock Choral and Recital Room

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.

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

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