Archive | July, 2013

Resident Composer Neely Bruce

21 Jul

resident composer neely bruce
NEELY BRUCE (b. 1944), Professor of Music and American Studies at Wesleyan University, is a composer, conductor, pianist and scholar of American music. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa; he received his DMA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His principal teachers were Ben Johnston, Hubert Kessler, J. F. Goossen, Lara Hoggard, Charles Hamm, Byrnell Figler, Roy McAllister, Soulima Stravinsky and Sophia Roso!. He has been visiting professor and artist-in-residence at Middlebury College, Bucknell University, the University of Michigan, and at Brooklyn College. He is the chorus director for Connecticut Opera, and, with his wife Phyllis, co-director of music at South Congregational Church in Middletown, Connecticut.

His largest work is entitled CONVERGENCE. [STEPPIN’ OUT, Continental Harmony, Charles Ives Newsletter – Here’s to Ives, Commissioned by the American Composers Forum, as part of its Continental Harmony project, this composition received its premiere on June 18, 2000 as part of the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas. On August 18, 2002 Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors presented a revised and expanded performance of this piece, enthusiastically received by an audience of 10,000. A new production of CONVERGENCE has been proposed in Danbury,
Connecticut (birthplace of Charles Ives). Bruce’s opera Hansel and Gretel, commissioned by
Connecticut Opera, received its first performances as a chamber work for children (soloists with piano and/or small ensemble) in 1997. The full-scale work (adding dancers, chorus and orchestra) premiered in March of 1998 at The Bushnell in Hartford. In December 2002 Trinity College of Music, London, presented the first student production of this opera, the composer conducting.

In July 2003 he composed the score for Benedict Arnold: A Brave Revenge by John Basinger. Produced by Connecticut Outdoor Historic Drama, Inc., this epic was presented in Washington Park, Groton, Connecticut, on the spot where British troops mustered prior to the Battle of Groton Heights, the very conflict enacted at the climax of the play. Other works for the stage include an allegorical opera of the American Revolution, Americana, or, A New Tale of the Genii (libretto by Tony Connor). This full-length work was begun on a fellow-ship from the National Endowment for the Arts

Bruce composed original music for three documentaries directed by Rocky Collins and produced for National Public Television’s The American Experience. He has composed and arranged the scores for two documentaries about African Americans in Connecticut, produced by Connecticut Public Television and directed by Karyl Evans. His score for Nook Farm: Mark Twain’s Neighbor-hood,
directed by Roynn Lisa Simmons, first aired in January 2002 on CPTV.

Bruce has worked indefatigably to promote American music of all periods. He was on the Editorial Committee of New World Records and was the first chairman of the New England Sacred Harp
Singing. He is one of nineteen living composers represented in The Sacred Harp, and music in this style is an important part of his output. In June of 1997 Larry Gordon conducted Village Harmony, an
inter-generational choir of shaped note singers, in a touring program devoted to Bruce’s music in
shaped note style. Gordon’s recording of these choruses was released in 2000. In 2003 Bruce, along
with Peter Amidon and Larry Siegel, conducted the choral group Festival Harmony in pieces from
their shaped-note œuvre. Festival Harmony plans a complete performance of Emily’s Flowers in the summer of 2004

He has conducted new works by over sixty composers, including major premieres of Christian Wolff, Pauline Oliveros, Gerald Shapiro, David Borden, Ronald Kuivila and Henry Brant. In recent years he has worked extensively with Brant; he obtained for Brant a commission from Wesleyan University in honor of the school’s sesquicentennial, and was the coordinator of two major works commissioned by Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors; 500: Hidden Hemisphere, and Dormant Craters. In March of 2003 Bruce conducted the American premiere of Brant’s Ghosts and Gargoyles, played by members of the New York Flute Club, with soloist Robert Aitkin.

Long associated with the works of the late John Cage, principally as a performer in HPSCHD and Song Books, in 1988 Bruce planned and executed a major symposium about Cage and his cultural influence entitled John Cage at Wesleyan. In 1996 he and his wife, along with Linda Hirst, produced Cage’s Europeras 3, 4 and 5 for the Dartington International School of the Arts in Totnes, England.


Resident Composer Michael Schelle

21 Jul

resident composer Michael Schelle

MICHAEL SCHELLE (b. 1950 in Philadelphia) : raised in Bergen County, northern New Jersey, Schelle graduated from Northern Highlands Regional High School where, as Captain of the track team, he held the all-state distance records in javelin, shot put and hammer for three years running. Now 30 years running as Composer in Residence at Butler University’s School of Music in Indianapolis, he has been 2X a Pulitzer Prize nominee, recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Composition Prize, a finalist for the International Humour in Poetry Competition (Paris), a published author (film music book) and restaurant critic (Indianapolis).

Schelle’s music has been commissioned and/or performed by over 300 orchestras, wind bands and professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad including the Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Greenwich (CT) Orchestra and Chorus, Honolulu Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Missouri Symphony, the District 99 Symphony Orchestra (Chicago), the New York Festival Orchestra, the principal orchestras of Albany (NY), Tulsa, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, North Carolina, Springfield (Mass), New Jersey, New Mexico, Knoxville,
Evansville, Fort Collins (CO), Fort Smith (AR) and Fort Wayne (IN); the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, New World Chamber Orchestra, Orkestra Projekt, Columbus Pro Musica, XTET (Los Angeles), Voices of Change (Dallas), SONOR (San Diego), ISIS New Music Ensemble (Austin), Urban Quartet of Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Eastman School of Music New Music Group. His music for symphonic winds has been commissioned and/or performed by dozens of the most prestigious wind ensembles across the U.S. including Eastman, University of Texas-Austin, University of Michigan, Arizona State, Indiana University, Kansas State, Michigan State, University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana, University of Nebraska, Ithaca, New Mexico, Ohio State University, Oklahoma, Florida, SUNY, USC, LSU, etc.

Recent critically-acclaimed international performances of Schelle’s music have included Kammerorchester Basel (Switzerland), the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (Moscow), the St. Petersburg (Russia) Chamber Philharmonic, Czestochowa Philharmonic (Poland), Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional (Costa Rica), Koenig Ensemble of London, Vale of Glamorgan Music Festival (Cardiff, Wales), Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), CoMET (Contemporary Music Ensemble of Tokyo), 2009 Firenza International Music Festival (Italy), the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Performing Arts Center Symphonic Wind Ensemble (2012), and in Ningbo, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Beijing, Brussels, Berlin, Bombay, Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna, Prague and Amsterdam.

Schelle has received composition grants and awards from many prestigious arts organizations including the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), the Rockefeller Foundation (NYC), American Symphony Orchestra League (NYC), League of American Orchestras “Music Alive” program,Organization of American States (OAS), Welsh Arts Council (Cardi”, Wales UK), International Percussive Arts Society, the 2012 National Band Association’s William D. Revelli Memorial Composition Prize, American Pianists Association, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition (UT), Great Lakes Arts Alliance, New England Foundation for the Arts, Pennsylvania Arts Commission, Indiana Arts Commission, New York State Arts Council, Arts Midwest, Arts Council of Indianapolis, NPR, ASCAP and BMI.

Schelle has held numerous extended composition residencies in the USA including the MacDowell Colony (New Hampshire), Spoleto USA Festival (Charleston, SC), Wolf Trap Center for the Performing
Arts (Virginia), ICAM (Institute of Contemporary American Music), the Albuquerque Youth Symphony
Program and the Finger Lakes Music Festival (upstate NY). He has been the featured Guest Composer for ALL-SCHELLEMUSIK programs, masterclasses and lectures at many leading institutions across the US including the University of Massachusetts, University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma, Arizona State University, Catholic University of America, Louisiana State University, Washington State University, Ohio State University, California Lutheran University, Eastern Michigan University, Syracuse University, University of Notre Dame, Trinity University, Bowling Green State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of New Mexico, Carnegie Mellon, Kent State University, Capital University, Old Dominion, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, USC, UCLA, NYU, and various SUNYs. Recent international Guest Composer residencies have included: Nagoya Imperial University (Japan), Aichi Prefectural University (Yazako, Nagakute, Japan), The People’s Power Grid University School of Music (Beijing, China), and the National University of San Jose / Orquesta Sinfonica

Schelle holds degrees from Villanova University (theatre), the Hartt School of Music, Trinity College of Music, London, UK, (diploma) and a Ph.D. from University of Minnesota. His composition teachers have included Aaron Copland, Arnold Franchetti (student of Richard Strauss), Eric Stokes, Paul Fetler (student of Hindemith and Boris Blacher) and Dominick Argento. Schelle’s works are published by Keiser Classical / Hal Leonard (New York / St. Louis), Silman-James Press (Los Angeles, CA), Indiana University Press, European American Music, American Composers Edition (NYC) and commercially recorded by CRS (Philadelphia), Innova (Boston), and Albany Records (NYC / London).

2013 Hartford New Music Festival Update

21 Jul
Banner for the 2013 Hartford New Music Festival 1913|2013

Banner for the 2013 Hartford New Music Festival 1913|2013

featuring resident composers Neely Bruce and Michael Schelle

The 20th century is such a hard act to follow that 21st century artists and historians find themselves in constant reflection lately, celebrating anniversaries, centennials and other such accidents of the calendar. But surely the hallmark year of 1913 itself is most appropriate for such treatment. The spirit of the 1913 that lopsidedly shaped our cultural past has gotten a little lost in the present. It’s with this in mind that we resurrect a new music festival in Hartford this year as The Hartford New Music Festival: 1913|2013, extolling the forward-thinking artistry of the past in order to blaze a more exciting future.

The “Indy Avant Garde” concert/installation – our small homage to the New York Armory show of 1913 – will only be introducing and reminding all who come of the expansive breath of possibilities art can take. While the dual forces of the Generous Ensemble and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra aren’t necessarily presenting a “skandalkonzert” and our resident composers, Neely Bruce and Michael Schelle’s works are unlikely to cause a riot, we aim to ignite passions within our audience just as strong and with as lasting an unpredictable effect.


The Hartford New Music Festival 1913|2013, is an exhilarating concert series aiming “to present a mixture of local composers, performers, ensembles and more internationally recognized composers…to present newer work in a historical context.” This festival is a catalyst for music lovers, who are looking for more adventurous music that details fresh thinking and defies conventional ideas and music pprocesses, while transforming the audiences musical experience through rigorous art. This festival is unique because it holds a point of view which covers a historic theme that both anchors the performances in tradition and pushes past current trends. The music itself has been chosen to communicate to our audience that progressive challenging music can be exciting and accessible at the same time.

This year’s six-day festival celebrates the historic spirit of Modernism in America, and Hartford as it’s new bellwether toward the future. Featured ensembles include the Generous Ensemble and Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, two groups devoted to uplifting culture and developing appreciation for a variety of music throughout the Greater Hartford region. As part of the Hartford New Music Festival:1913|2013, the ensembles are collaborating on two world premieres by composers Neely Bruce and Michael Schelle, passionate devotees of history who have witnessed half of the past century, befriending luminaries from Aaron Copland to John Cage. These award-winning composers are writing adventurous works that capture the Modernist ethos and the historic perspective of this year’s festival.

To learn more about these artists, please visit:

October of 2013

Charter Oak Cultural Center, Trinity College Chapel and The Connecticut Historical Society

Resident composers Neely Bruce and Michael Schelle
The Generous Ensemble
The Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra
016 New Music Ensemble
The comedy stylings of Kevin Good

*Full Schedule of concert series dates and times to be released soon