New Music Cafe to Feature Premieres of Alumni Compositions

Brian Baxter '07
Matthew Harder ’96
Ben Hjertmann ’07

Feb. 24, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— World premieres of music composed by Illinois Wesleyan University alumni Brian Baxter ’07, Matthew Harder ’96 and Ben Hjertmann ’07 will be featured March 5. The New Music Café event will begin at 8 p.m. in Westbrook Auditorium.

Baxter’s Golden Spring, Harder’s Fragile Space, and Palimpsest Panels by Hjertmann will be premiered at the concert, a School of Music sesquicentennial event that is free and open to the public.  Performers include Mark Timmerman ’14, violin; adjunct faculty member Sharon Chung ’00, viola; Andrew Hesse ’06, cello; Associate Professor of Music History Stephen Press, contrabass; and Adjunct Instructor of Music Joy Doran, piano. Another work by Harder, "Short Suite," will also be premiered. 

Baxter is a Chicago-based composer and drummer. He earned a master’s degree in music composition from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Having co-founded the Chicago Composers Orchestra, a group dedicated to the performance and advocacy of orchestral music by living composers, Baxter serves as a co-artistic director and president of the board of directors. He is also the director of operations for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, where he oversees nearly 500 student musicians performing across the Chicago area and around the world. He is the recipient of the 2014 Individual Artists Program Grant Award from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events in support of his full-length solo drum-set album, Book of Drum.  He has received six consecutive ASCAP Plus Awards.

Harder is a professor of music and director of music technology at West Liberty University in West Virginia. He earned two master’s degrees (one in percussion and one in composition) from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and a Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University. He writes acoustic and electroacoustic music for the concert stage, video, film, audio installations, electronic and music groups.  His works have been performed at numerous events including: the International Double Reed Society conference, College Music Society Annual Conference, Juventas New Music Ensemble, New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, U.S. Navy Band International SaxophoneSymposium, and North American Saxophone Alliance conference. 

Hjertmann is a composer and vocalist based in Boone, N. C., and teaches composition, theory, and electronic music at Appalachian State University. He composes and sings with the avant-folk trio the Grant Wallace Band and the surrealist-pop band Kong Must Dead. His music has been featured at Resonant Bodies Festival, Fast Forward Austin, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinics, the conference of the College Band Directors National Association, and South by Southwest (NonClassical showcase). He has received numerous awards including the 2014 Barlow Prize, the Third Coast Percussion Emerging Composers Partnership, a 2014 Project Grant from New Music USA, and first prize for Grade V-VI in the 2013 Frank Ticheli International Composition Contest. In 2013 he released a self-produced album of chamber metal entitled “Angelswort.” He received his doctorate in music composition from Northwestern University.

                                                                                                                                  By Mallika Kavadi '15