Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s New Music Festival Highlights Original Student Works

The annual event will focus on contemporary classical music with student compositions, ensembles, and world premiere performances.

February 6, 2024

Boston Conservatory at Berklee is pleased to host the school’s 2023–2024 New Music Festival, an annual series of performances that embraces contemporary works on a wide spectrum of modern and emerging styles within classical music. Events will take place from February 7 to February 11 at the Richard Ortner Studio Building, Studio T401, and Boston Conservatory Theater.

This year’s festival highlights new and original compositions from students, an opera, and contemporary classical music by world-class voices of the 20th and 21st centuries. Multiple student-run concerts will feature works from students in Boston Conservatory’s undergraduate composition program, as well as graduate students in the contemporary classical music performance graduate program.

“The New Music Festival is about embracing contemporary classical music, and we are excited to highlight our students and their original compositions in this year’s performances,” said Mischa Salkind-Pearl, chair of Composition, Contemporary Music, and Core Studies and the festival’s artistic director. “The diverse run of offerings, from unique ensembles to modern opera, reflects our dedication to contemporary classical music at the Conservatory in all of its forms.”

The New Music Festival opens with the Composers Recital Series on February 7 at 8:00 p.m. Presented by the Composition, Contemporary Classical Music, and Core Studies departments, this student-run concert celebrates new and original works of composition majors, all composed, rehearsed, coordinated, and performed by students.

The series continues on February 8 at 8:00 p.m. with the Composers Wind Ensemble, presented by the Composition Department. The program features world premieres written by students Erick Pico Canales, Tiffany Hwang, Alonzo Marshall, Sidney O'Gorman, and Luis Salazar Tamayo. The ensemble is directed by assistant professor Vimbayi Kaziboni, recent winner of the prestigious Ditson Conductor’s Award.

The Festival transitions into modern chamber opera with the staging of Voir Dire at Boston Conservatory Theater from February 8 to 10 at 7:30 p.m. and February 11 at 2:30 p.m. Meaning “to speak the truth,” Voir Dire is adapted from court cases witnessed by librettist Jason Zencka during his time as a crime reporter in small-town America, and explores the darker and bizarre world of legal drama through a series of colorful and provocative vignettes. With music by Matthew Peterson, who will be on campus for the performance, libretto by Zencka, stage direction by Associate Professor David Gately, and guest conducting by Viswa Subbaraman, this production embodies the Music Division’s commitment to contemporary works in the genre.

Boston Conservatory’s contemporary classical music ensemble, contraBAND, will perform on February 9 at 8:00 p.m. This show spotlights a world premiere composition by Berklee College of Music faculty member Tamar Diesendruck, featuring saxophone soloist and Conservatory faculty member Philipp Staüdlin. The concert also includes cutting-edge works from the contemporary repertoire of up-and-coming composers Eivind Buene, Aida Shirazi, and Benjamin Scheuer. The ensemble is programmed and conducted by Kaziboni.

The New Music Festival concludes with a performance by guest ensemble Departure Duo on February 10 at 7:00 p.m., who will play original works by composition students created for their unique soprano/double bass combination. Following this concert will be a performance from RE: Duo at 9:00 p.m., a pairing composed of Wilson Poffenberger and violist Elsie Bae Han. Poffenberger and Bae Han are alums of Boston Conservatory’s contemporary classical music performance program.

Composers Recital Series, Composers Wind Ensemble, and contraBAND will be held at the Richard Ortner Studio Building located at 132 Ipswich Street, Boston, on Floor 1–Studio 106. These performances are free and open to the public. The Departure Duo and RE: duo performances will take place at Studio T401, 31 Hemenway Street, Boston, and are also free and open to the public. The Departure Duo concert will be available to view on livestream. The production of Voir Dire will be staged at the Boston Conservatory Theater from February 8-10 at 7:30 p.m. and February 11 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets for general admission seating are $30 in advance and $35 day of show. Discounted admission of $5 in advance and $10 day of show is available for Boston Conservatory at Berklee students.