Showcasing Kent, Ohio and the surrounding Northeastern Ohio Region.
Copyright 2015. aroundkent. All rights reserved.

A Clarinet Collective

• Including Invocation and Spirit Dance by KSU composer Frank Wiley

Dennis Nygren, clarinet, KSU emeritus clarinetist



• Including Portals of Light by KSU composer Frank Wiley

Jeffrey Heisler, saxophone; I-Chen Yeh, piano 

Members of the KSU New Music Ensemble

The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh

• Book by Denise A. Seachrist, including a CD of his compositions

The Kent State University Press

Other CDs of music by Halim El-Dabh are available on CD Baby.

New music is the main focus of two series presented by the School of Music—the Kent State University New Music Series and the Vanguard New Music Guest Artists Series. The New Music Series features performances by the KSU New Music Ensemble, with visiting artists and faculty guest artists. The Vanguard Series features concerts by outstanding guest soloists and ensembles from throughout the United States and abroad, who are specialists in the performance of new music.

The New Music Ensemble is a student ensemble made up of undergraduate and graduate students. The mission of the Ensemble is to study and present in live performances a wide range of music from the late 20th and 21st centuries, with an emphasis on music by living composers. The Ensemble has presented numerous world premieres. In addition to concerts on the KSU campus, the New Music Ensemble presents outreach concerts in traditional and non-traditional venues in northeast Ohio, including 78th Street Studios in Cleveland and Last Exit Books in downtown Kent. 

When I first came to Kent State University in 1979, there was a great deal of interest in new music, especially in the establishment of an ensemble dedicated to the performance of new music. I founded the KSU New Music Ensemble during my first year on the faculty, and I have continued to serve as its Director, or in recent years Co-Director. A few years ago, Anthony Donofrio, a composer and KSU alumnus who was a member of the faculty here at the time, joined me as Co-Director of the Ensemble. Tony is currently on the faculty at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. 

I am especially glad that Dr. Noa Even, our professor of saxophone, is co-directing the New Music Ensemble with me this year. Noa is an amazing musician and teacher, a true champion of new music, and a powerful force in the realm of contemporary music performance. In addition to her active career as a soloist, she performs regularly with two duos, her saxophone duo Ogni Suono, with Phil Pierick, and her saxophone and drum set duo Patchwork, with percussionist Stephen Klunk. In 2014 Ogni Suono released their album Invisible Seams, including premier recordings of six compositions written for them. They are currently pursuing a project called SaxoVoce, for which they are commissioning new works that incorporate the use of the human voice in various ways. They have received a grant from New Music USA, as well as funding through Kickstarter, for the project. 

While I bring to the New Music Ensemble and our New Music Series the perspective of a composer and conductor, Noa brings the perspective of an outstanding performer and active new music specialist. We are all very fortunate to have Noa Even in our new music program. 

The Vanguard New Music Guest Artists Series was founded in the spring of 2014. Since that  btime we have had a very impressive range of outstanding musicians, all of whom are new music specialists, come to Kent to present public concerts, as well as workshops for student composers and performers. Several of the performers on the series have been KSU alumni, and others have performed works by KSU alumni composers. Noa Even writes:

It’s invigorating for the students to have new music experts on campus for performances, presentations, and master classes throughout the year. For many of them, the Vanguard Series bis their first experience hearing contemporary repertoire live. While the music may challenge them in new ways, the opportunity to interact with guest performers and composers is invaluable. Students often leave with many questions, a new interest in digging deeper into the possibilities of their own instrument, open ears, and an open mind. 

This season, the four-concert New Music Series will include one concert of music by guest composer Marilyn Shrude, a member of the faculty at Bowling Green State University, whose music will also be performed by KSU Choirs and the KSU Orchestra, and one concert of music by world-renowned composer and KSU alumnus Donald Erb, including a performance by the KSU Wind Ensemble. 

Invisible Seams

• Ogni Suono

• Noa Even (KSU music faculty) and Phil Pierick, saxophones


Joie de Vivre!

• Panorámicos

• Including Oboe Machinations by KSU emeritus composer Thomas Janson

• Performers include KSU oboist Danna Sundet.


When many people think of “classical” music, they think about such composers as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. These were certainly great artists who made an extraordinary contribution to our civilization. But the tradition of which they were a part, the creation of music as art, has continued until now and will surely continue long into the future. Today, there is a truly amazing amount of activity in contemporary music. Gifted composers are creating fascinating new works, and brilliant performers are presenting these new works to a growing audience, eager to experience new sounds and new musical ideas. 

The Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University presents many concerts incorporating new music each year. Students, members of the faculty, and many of the ensembles, including the Orchestra, directed by Katherine Kilburn; the Wind Ensemble, directed by Jesse Leyva; and the Chorale, directed by Scott MacPherson, perform music by living composers on a regular basis.



Works for Two Pianos and Electronics
by Stark and Stockhausen
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, 7:30 pm

Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble
David Lang’s love fail for Voices and Percussion
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, 7:30 pm

The Kent State University New Music Series
Saturday, March 4, 2017, 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 29, 2017, 7:30 pm—featuring the music of KSU alumnus composer Donald Erb

In the fall of 2015 and the fall of 2016, the College of the Arts sponsored two significant residencies including music by living composers through the Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series. Last fall, we hosted the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a prize-winning collective of outstanding young musicians who specialize in the performance of contemporary music. ICE has been called “America’s foremost new-music group” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker. In addition to presenting an extraordinary concert of new works, including one piece in which they were joined by the KSU New Music Ensemble, the members of ICE gave several workshops for KSU students during their residency. This fall, the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company presented a full performance on campus. Their program included Act II of Martha Graham’s seminal work Clytemnestra, with music by KSU Emeritus Professor Halim El-Dabh, who is celebrating his 95th birthday this year and who attended the performance. About the Thomas Schroth Visiting Artists Series, our Dean, John Crawford-Spinelli, writes: 

The Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series allows the College of the Arts at Kent State to bring in superb guest artists in music and other arts. In the performing arts, we have hosted pianist Arnaldo Cohen, composer Stephen Schwartz, the International Contemporary Ensemble and both the Limón Dance Company and the Martha Graham Dance Company, just to name a few. We are so grateful to Cecile (Cil) Draime and her late husband Max for their vision and generosity in establishing this series. 

Last year, there were two substantial collaboration projects involving student composers. The first was a collaboration between the composition students and the saxophone students, culminating in performances on campus and at 78th Street Studios.

Noa Even writes:
Collaboration is a uniquely exciting process through which musicians learn to solve problems creatively. It is also an opportunity to produce something communal, yet personal. The saxophone and composition collaboration project Frank Wiley and I facilitated last year yielded phenomenal results. Students teamed up over the course of several months to compose, revise, and premiere new works. The quality of the music written over the course of the year was quite high and the saxophonists truly got to know these pieces, which were written specifically for them. It was a valuable experience for everyone involved and will hopefully lead students to initiate future collaborative projects as they continue to explore new music. 

The second was the Singing Verse project, which was funded by a Catalyst Grant from the College of the Arts. The student composers collaborated with poets from KSU’s Wick Poetry Center (David Hassler, Director), singers and instrumentalists from the School of Music, and students from the Fashion School, culminating in a performance on campus and a documentary video.

Project leader Gerrey Noh writes:
Over the years, I have discovered that music students are most engaged in learning when they see the importance of connecting their knowledge to experiences. I also have learned that their engaged learning produces the most successful results when it is practiced through diverse aspects of musical practices. The Singing Verse project was initiated based on these philosophical grounds, on which the students built their own ways of creating music, and pushed their limits to discover new possibilities. We could not be any happier with the results Singing Verse has generated. As our President, Beverly Warren (who was one of the participating poets in Singing Verse), mentioned at the final concert, we also believe that the interdisciplinary projects like Singing Verse ought to take place on a regular basis. It beautifully demonstrates the very principles of the liberal arts education. 

Numerous compact discs of new music from Kent State University are available. The Harlequin, featuring violinists Jameson Cooper and Jacob Murphy, both KSU alumni, with KSU pianist Donna Lee and KSU faculty and student musicians, performing music by KSU faculty composers, was released on Centaur Records. About the project Jameson writes: 

The Harlequin was a very special project for me. It was my first commercial CD recording, and it was all about friendships and collaboration. While I was a student at Kent, I got to know and work with some truly inspiring musicians. Alongside my work in the graduate quartet, I involved myself in performing new music works, the first of which was Thomas Janson’s The Harlequin. Subsequently I was honored to have several of the composition faculty write new works for me The CD idea came about as a way of setting down these works for posterity and as a showcase for the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. I was delighted to be at the confluence of so much KSU talent. The recording of Janson’s The Harlequin, in particular, was unique in that it involved almost the entire applied faculty performing together under the direction of Frank Wiley. I’m very proud of the recording and it is a reminder of the wonderful nurturing and vibrant experience I had at Kent State.

Ralph Lorenz, Interim Director of the School of Music, writes:
It is important for the School of Music to have a strong program in new music for many reasons, not the least of which include research into new compositional practices, professional training for our students in the performance of new music, and cultural enhancement for our community. Music composition is a living art, and through the School’s efforts in new music, we are witnesses to the ongoing development of musical styles and techniques..

Frank Wiley and Noa Even, Co-Directors of the KSU New Music Ensemble

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

• Including Leiyla and the Poet by KSU emeritus composer Halim El-Dabh


Kent/Blossom Music Festival Presents Summer Sounds Opus 1

• Including new music by northeast Ohio composers performed by Kent State University

faculty Danna Sundet, oboe; Donna Lee, piano; Ted Rounds, percussion; and members

of The Cleveland Orchestra


The Harlequin

• Music by KSU composers Thomas Janson, John Ferritto, Halim El-Dabh and Frank Wiley

• Jameson Cooper, violin; Jacob Murphy, violin (KSU alumni)

• Frank Wiley, conductor

• Performers include KSU faculty pianist Donna Lee and KSU students, faculty and alumni. • •