Seth Boustead

Seth Boustead is a Chicago-based composer, radio host, arts manager and writer, concert producer, in-demand speaker and visionary with the goal of revolutionizing how and where classical music is performed and how it is perceived by the general public.  He received his Master of Music Composition degree from the Chicago College for the Performing Arts in 2002 and has gone on to forge a unique and highly personal musical identity through a prolific outpouring of works in every conceivable genre. His music is regularly performed across the United States and in Europe and has been heard on radio and television stations in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Paris among others and his orchestra piece This Point Forward was a finalist for the American Prize in 2012. 

Seth is the founder and Executive Director of Access Contemporary Music, an organization that exists to present classical music as a living tradition by performing new works in innovative ways for new audiences, providing community-based education, and collaborating with composers from around the world.  After nine years of his leadership ACM has grown to have the nation’s third largest composer member program, Chicago’s ACM School of Music offers lessons to just over 200 students in three locations, dozens of high school students have benefited from summer workshops and classes, ACM has commissioned over a hundred new works from composers around the world and its resident ensemble Palomar has performed consistently innovative programs to capacity crowds in Chicago and beyond. 

Chicago Classical Review has named Seth “one of our most creative concert programmer/producers,” with past production credits including Songs About Buildings and Moods, a guided architectural tour that included music composed especially for each space performed live in the building, Composer Alive, an annual commission in which a piece by an international composer is emailed in installments and rehearsed and recorded live, Rags, Stomps and Stride, an evening of contemporary ragtime, 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago, a radio play for voices and live music inspired by stories by legendary journalist Ben Hecht, and far too many more to list. 

In addition to the stunning variety of these events, each has been highly successful. Songs About Buildings and Moods led to an annual collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago is being recorded for commercial release, will be performed live on WFMT in 2014 and is being adapted into a film version and Composer Alivehas led to worldwide acclaim for ACM and the Palomar ensemble. 

Seth has shared his passion for contemporary classical music with radio listeners through his show Relevant Tones since 2005, first on Loyola University’s WLUW and, since 2011, on WFMT, Chicago’s classical music station.  In January 2014 Relevant Tones will syndicate nationally, bringing it to an estimated 100,000 listeners around the country each week.  Always interested in innovation, Seth created the Thirsty Ear Festival in 2012 to showcase the stunning diversity happening in classical music today and to spotlight talented ensembles.  Broadcast live from City Winery in Chicago, it is the nation’s only contemporary classical music festival to be broadcast live on a classical radio station. 

A passionate advocate of silent film, Seth started the Sound of Silent Film Festival in 2005 featuring newly composed music performed live to modern silent films. The festival has been a sold-out event in Chicago for years and recently premiered to great success in New York City.  Featured films have been by big name directors like Martin Scorsese, Gus van Sant, Guy Maddin and Alexander Payne but also feature lesser known films deserving of a wider audience and many of the films screened at the Sound of Silent Film Festival have been created expressly for it. 

He is the co-producer of the 2007 documentary film Composer Alive: Eastern Expressions, and also wrote music for the film and appears in it. The film has been shown on WTTW in Chicago and been screened in Palo Alto, CA and Portland, OR. 

A frequent guest speaker, Seth has given lectures and appeared on panel presentations at conferences around the country and at UNAM in Mexico City. He has spoken about diverse topics such as fundraising for non-profits, public relations, new directions in contemporary classical music and composing for film. In 2011 he gave a TEDx talk called the Future of Classical Music and was one of only 10 people chosen for the honor of speaking. 

Seth has been interviewed by or had writings appear in a wide variety of publications including the New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Composition Today, New Music Box of the American Music Center and Chamber Music Magazine.  He has been a guest on radio and television shows including Chicago Tonight on WTTW, 848, Morning Edition and Afternoon Shift on Chicago Public Radio, Sunday Papers on WGN, Movies on the Radio on WQXR in New York and many more.