Ensemble Dal Niente
"It would be difficult to find a festival that more thoroughly showcases the vitality of Chicago's musicians, ensembles, and composers. This gathering honors it's artists and audiences by showcasing work that is deeply interconnected to our community and our world."
- Ben Melsky
Ensemble Dal Niente is an artist-driven ensemble dedicated to interpreting and promoting contemporary music through public performances, collaborative projects, recordings, and outreach. Its programming challenges convention to re-define the listening experience and advance the art form. By bringing new music to new audiences in new venues through fearless, engaging, and imaginative concerts, Dal Niente pushes the limits of its performers and broadens the perspective of its listeners.
With a roster of 22 young virtuosos, its flexible instrumentation makes possible limitless sonic combinations; the ensemble presents music for solo instrument, for small ensemble, for chamber orchestra, for electronic media, and everything in between. The ensemble seeks to foster a sustainable, productive environment that puts musicians and composers in an optimal position to further the progress of music today.
Its annual Chicago concert series a staple of the local scene, Ensemble Dal Niente performs a wide variety of contemporary music to packed houses in diverse venues that range from traditional concert halls, to pop and jazz clubs, to art galleries, to public spaces. The ensemble plays a vast and comprehensive spectrum of technically demanding 20th- and 21st- century masterpieces. Including canonic works of the last 40 years as well as overlooked, rarely-performed gems, its repertoire requires a special commitment to musicianship, detail, and precision.
Crucial to Dal Niente's vision is working with young and emerging compositional talent. The ensemble has commissioned or premiered hundreds of works and has collaborated with visual artists and playwrights to create rich new experiences for audiences and people of diverse creative disciplines. Equally at home working with major international figures as with younger composers, recent collaborators include composers Raphael Cendo, George Lewis, Brian Ferneyhough, Marcos Balter, Greg Saunier, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, Hans Thomalla, Lee Hyla, Johannes Kreidler, Chaya Czernowin, Mark Andre, Kaija Saariaho, Evan Johnson, Aaron Einbond, and Katherine Young. Vital to the organization’s mission is the education of the next generation of composers and performers. Through residencies and workshops at local and regional high schools and colleges, the ensemble and its musicians guide the development of the future of the art form.
In July 2012, Ensemble Dal Niente became the first-ever ensemble to win the coveted Kranichstein Music Prize, the top award for music interpretation at the acclaimed International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany, cementing its place as one of the world's foremost new music organizations.
The ensemble's name, Dal Niente ("from nothing" in Italian), is a tribute to Helmut Lachenmann's work for clarinet Dal niente (Interieur III), the courageously revolutionary style of which serves as an inspiration for its musicians. The ensemble's name also references its humble beginnings -- founded in 2004 by a group of music students at various Chicago schools, the ensemble has risen from obscurity to a position as one North America's most prominent new music organizations.