I had a fantastic week serving as an artist in residence at the UNL Chamber Music Institute. We have had big, generous helpings of masterful teaching and coaching going on. I’ve heard some incredible young musicians play together.

The coolest thing about the institute (which is free for all fellows accepted!) is that around five composers are selected and given an ensemble for which to write in advance. They bring their music, and get time every day to rehearse with the ensemble. At the end of the week, on Friday night, they get a premiere of the piece. On Saturday, we do a professional recording of the new work. Pretty sweet.

The best part for me is that I get to hang out with composers. So, here they are (in alphabetical order) with some links so that you can hear what they are about. All five are wonderfully imaginative musical thinkers. I expect that they will all go on to fabulous careers and make a significant contribution to our discipline.

Peter Christian has an unbridled enthusiasm that is contagious. He has a simple joy in the process of organizing sound, and fortunately for all of us, he is extremely gifted at doing it. He also has a gift for writing the kind of music that musicians like to play.  I also love the formal clarity and expressive qualities of his music. Go listen to some of his music here.

Thomas Dougherty is a composer that has a natural gift for orchestral color even when writing for small ensemble. I am a bit fascinated by the way his mind works because he can seem to create musical coherence by either working with timbre or by creating interesting rhythmic motivic devices. It will be fun to watch what he writes as his career develops. Read about him here.

Jesse Limbacher is the sort of imaginative composer that I sometimes envy. He has a powerful imagination that seems to directly engage with raw sound material. His music is expertly paced and aurally stunning. His haunting textures and harmonic language are going to be in my head for a long while. Check out his stuff here.

Kyle Shaw is the kind of musician that is going to be able to do lots of different things. He is going to be able to write effectively in multiple stylistic genres. I’m anxious to see the direction his writing will take because the music that I have heard this week sets up some inspiring dramatic contrasts that I would like to hear more. Check out his stuff here

Wei Yang has a fecund musical mind that, like Jesse, is naturally drawn to raw sound materials which he uses in imaginative combinations. I particularly love the way that his music very authentically combines Eastern and Western elements. Wei says his website is out of date, so he will eventually send it to me and I will link it up.