Daniel Vendt ’05
Daniel Vendt ’05 is an award-winning composer for film and television. His music can be heard in indie
films, cable television, and web series.
A pioneer in the composition program at IWU, he was the first student to feature original
film music at a composition recital, also writing and producing his own films to build
his portfolio. Graduating cum laude, Daniel was the first student accepted to the
Music Composition for the Screen MFA at Columbia College Chicago, where he received
the prestigious Follett Fellowship. There he was selected as a graduate student speaker
upon completion of the degree program.
Currently residing in Los Angeles, Daniel is writing music for several new series
on the National Geographic Channel. He has worked as assistant-composer to the Emmy
and Grammy nominated composer Peter Himmelman, and also has experience working as
a media manager, field producer, post production coordinator, and assistant editor
for both network and cable shows. He considers his experience at Illinois Wesleyan
to have been crucial in preparing him for the highly-competitive music and entertainment
Daniel is a member of BMI, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, and (never one
to forget his roots) the Illinois & Indiana Antique Tractor & Gas Engine Club.
Ben Hjertmann ‘07
Ben Hjertmann ‘07 is a Chicago-based composer and vocalist. He composes and performs
with the avant-folk trio the Grant Wallace Band and surrealist-pop band Kong Must
Ben has collaborated with numerous chamber groups, including the Quince Contemporary
Vocal Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, Borromeo Quartet, Anubis Quartet, Callithumpian
Consort, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and many others. His large-ensemble
music has been performed at UT-Austin, Louisiana State, Michigan State, Northwestern,
U-Nebraska at Lincoln, and NYU, among other schools. Ben’s piece Catclaw Mimosa was the 2013 winner of the Frank Ticheli International Composition Contest. In 2013,
Ben formed a consortium of 34 wind ensembles and individuals in which the students
of participating ensembles work closely with the composer throughout the process of
creating a new work.
Ben’s music has been featured at Fast Forward Austin, the Midwest Band and Orchestra
Clinics, the conference of the College Band Directors National Association, and the
South by Southwest NonClassical showcase. He has been a resident artist at the MacDowell
Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Shell Lake Arts Center. He
was a 2013 fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Institute, and a 2011 fellow at
the Other Minds Festival.
Ben’s work appears on the Spektral Quartet’s debut album “Chambers”, released by Parlour
Tapes+, and pianist Nick Phillips’ “American Vernacular” album released on New Focus
Records. In 2013 he released a self-produced album of chamber metal called Angelswort.
Ben received his Doctor of Music in Composition degree from Northwestern University
in 2013. His dissertation research focused on microtonal harmonic structures derived
from sum & difference tones. Ben teaches composition, music technology, theory, and
song writing at Northwestern University and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.
"The faculty at Illinois Wesleyan nurtured my creativity and musicianship, encouraging
me to explore the world of music guided by my inner compass. Their support created
a firm foundation upon which to build my aesthetic and career as a composer."
Dr. Matthew D. Harder ’96
Dr. Matthew D. Harder ’96 is Professor of Music and Director of Music Technology at West Liberty University.
He served as Program Director from 2009-2010 and interim Department Chair from 2010-2013.
Matt teaches Introduction to Music Technology, Electronic Music, Composition, Recording
Techniques, Music Technology Practicum, and Special Topics courses. He has also taught
Fundamentals of Percussion, Private Lessons, Percussion Ensemble, and The Panhandle
Steel Ensemble. Matt holds two Masters degrees from Bowling Green State University
in Percussion and Composition, and a Doctor of Music degree in Composition from Northwestern
University. Additionally, he studied drumming with the Ewe people of Ghana in the
summer of 1998. Matt is active as a composer of acoustic, electroacoustic, and live
electronic works. His pieces have been performed in numerous cities around the country
and have received several awards. Matt greatly enjoys the convergence of music and
technology in the pedagogical and creative arenas.
“My time as an undergraduate at Illinois Wesleyan represents my true formative years
as a creative musician. The halls of the music building are where I took my first
real steps by exploring the aesthetics, the mechanics, the techniques, and the forces
of musical creation that would be the foundation for my ongoing career as an educator,
a composer, and a performer. IWU allowed me the freedom to explore, while teaching
me the discipline necessary to realize my ideas - musical and otherwise.”
Brian Baxter ’07
Brian Baxter ’07 is a Chicago-based composer whose music is vigorous, direct, and
heavily influenced by personal experiences of places and environments. He writes primarily
chamber, orchestral, and vocal music.
Having co-founded the Chicago Composers Orchestra, a group dedicated to the performance
and advocacy of orchestral music by living composers, Brian serves as its Artistic
Director and Board of Directors President, overseeing all aspects of the organization.
Brian’s passion for new music is equaled by his passion for music education, which
is put to work in his position as Director of Operations with the Chicago Youth Symphony
Orchestras, where he oversees 450+ student musicians in a variety of orchestras and
chamber music groups that perform across the Chicago area and around the world. Here
he founded a Composition Seminar that supports pre-collegiate student composers.
Brian’s music has been recorded by the Palomar Ensemble on its Ten x Ten collaborative
arts vinyl release and by Gaudete Brass Quintet on their debut release with Cedille
Records, Chicago Moves. His chamber and vocal music have been performed by the Anaphora Ensemble, Forecast
Music, Gaudete Brass Quintet, neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, Palomar Ensemble, Singers
On New Ground and many others. His large ensemble works have received performances
from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestras, Chicago College of Performing Arts
Wind Ensemble, Chicago Composers Orchestra, and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.
In a collaboration with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Brian co-wrote orchestral
arrangements of My Brightest Diamond’s music for a concert featuring Shara with the
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra at Millennium
Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago. At South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Brian’s
music and performance was featured in 2011 as part of Gabriel Prokofiev’s NonClassical
Showcase at the Velveeta Room.
Brian holds an M.M in music composition from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College
of Performing Arts (M.M.) He has received yearly ASCAPlus Awards since 2009.
“The School of Music at IWU provided a solid foundation on which I have able to build
and grow my professional career in music. Dr. Vayo, who to this day is one of my
most influential teachers, opened the world of sonic possibilities in composition
to me. I began listening voraciously to everything I could get to my ears, and this,
combined with the way Dr. Vayo constantly challenged my musical conceptions and ideas,
significantly supported the development of my compositional voice.”
Though Colin Borck’s flair is for composing challenging solo literature for professional
performers, his musical output is diverse both in style and size. He often takes
a minimalist approach to his compositions, but always keeps a focus on the listener’s
engagement in the work.
Colin attended Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, where he received
Bachelor's Degrees in music composition as well as music education - the only person
in the over 150 year history of the school to successfully accomplish those two degree
choices. While at Wesleyan, Colin studied composition with David Vayo, Mario Pelusi,
and Serra Hwang, as well as received feedback from noted composers William Bolcom
and Louis Andriessen.
Prior to his studies at Illinois Wesleyan, Colin was involved with the Phantom Regiment
Drum and Bugle Corps, based out of Rockford, Illinois. He was a member from 1997-2000
where he marched baritone bugle and wrote the corps warm-up - the first time one of
his works was ever performed.
Colin has worked with and received feedback from numerous international performers
such as Monica Germino (violin), Cristina Zavalloni (voice), Marilyn Nonken (piano),
and Peter Bond (trumpet). Mr. Bond is performing Mr. Borck's "triquetra"; on his concerts
and masterclass tours.
Recent compositions include ‘triquetra’, an unaccompanied solo written for and premiered
by Peter Bond, trumpet with the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, ‘Nyad’s Dream’,
a work commissioned for the Kithara Trio of Chicago by Martha A. Hesse, as well as
‘Train’, a work for solo piano premiered in Naples, FL by Jodie DeSalvo.
Colin currently resides in Chicago, and works for the Chicago Zoologial Society which
manages Brookfield Zoo.
Peter Gilbert ’98
The music of Peter Gilbert ’98 combines traditional instrumental writing with elements of improvisation, live-performed
electronics, and other media. His music, whether presented in multi-media theater,
film, installation or a traditional concert, thrives on the act and art of collaboration.
He has held artist residencies in Europe and the US at festivals and institutions
like the ZKM Institut für Akustik und Musik and the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany).
Accolades and commissions have come from the Barlow Foundation, the Russolo Foundation,
the Look & Listen Festival, the Third Practice Festival, the Institut International
de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, and the Washington International Composers
Competition. Peter holds degrees from Illinois Wesleyan University, the Cleveland
Institute of Music, and Harvard University. He has taught composition, electronic
music, music theory and music history at Harvard University, Wellesley College, Northeastern
University, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Case Western Reserve University,
and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He currently teaches at the University of New
Mexico as Assistant Professor of Composition.
“The tight-knit, supportive environment at IWU's School of Music really encouraged
me to cultivate my passions and develop my different strengths, helping me become
the kind of well-rounded musician I wanted to be. This has turned out to be critically
valuable throughout many years of classroom and studio teaching at university and
college music departments, which today often need real breadth from their teachers.
Most important to me as a young musician was having mentoring teachers who were completely
invested in me both as an artist and as a human being. David Vayo was for me (like
many of my IWU teachers) the kind of professor you always hoped for: listening, pushing
you into the unknown, drawing you out with questions, and always with a heart and
mind open to whatever path you felt was yours. Of all the composers I know, David
is one of the most uniquely suited to teach and guide curious young composers of any