Bienen Contemporary Music Ensemble

Northwestern University's Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) presents exciting concerts of wide-ranging works. A sinfonietta-style group, CME trains students to tackle this challenging music in a large chamber setting. The ensemble also provides models for entrepreneurial careers outside of the mainstream orchestra world. Every year, CME collaborates with major composers, plays side-by-side with renowned guest artists, and premieres new work by Northwestern students.

Recently, CME has done side-by-side performances with members from the International Contemporary Ensemble, Dal Niente and has been coached by Ensemble Linea. They have also performed with Flutist and ICE founder, Claire Chase, and have worked with composers Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Lang, Ted Hearne, Donnacha Dennehy and many others

Ben Bolter joined the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music faculty in 2014 as Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble and is the newly appointed Associate Director of the Institute for New Music. He devotes his career to both traditional and new music while constantly exploring new ways to conduct and perform.

At age 25, Ben made his conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim in the Washington Post: “Bolter spotlighted the showiest aspects of Enensco’s Romanian Rhapsody #1 and made it look easy.” He has worked as an assistant conductor with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and is a regular guest at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Additionally, Ben has conducted orchestras at renowned music institutions such as Indiana University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University, the Aspen Music Festival and contemporary music ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Fulcrum Point New Music Project, IU New Music Ensemble, the Holographic New Music Project and regularly collaborates with world-renowned flute soloist and new music activist, Claire Chase. For four years, he served on faculty at IU as a staff conductor and taught courses in graduate conducting. At age 22, Ben was awarded a Fellowship from the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.

Ben has also been widely recognized for his dedication to advancing youth orchestras. He has worked with the Oakland Youth Orchestras, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Roseville Symphony Orchestra (MN) and is currently Music Director of the Conservatory Orchestras at Merit School of Music where his chamber orchestra is annually featured on 98.7 WFMT and has performed in Chicago Symphony Center on multiple occasions. He is the former Artistic Director of the El Sistema inspired Youth Orchestras at The People’s Music School and has been showcased on Channel 7 ABC Chicago and performed at a 2013 TedTalk at Harris Theatre in Millennium Park. Since 2012, Ben has served as conductor of the New England Conservatory summer Festival Youth Orchestra intensive.

Ben completed his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University in 2008 and holds a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance from the New England Conservatory. In addition to his work as a conductor, Ben is also an active keyboardist and songwriter.