For over a decade, the BU Center for New Music (CNM) at Boston University College of Fine Arts (CFA) School of Music has been a potent force for new music. BU CNM brings dynamic figures from the contemporary music world to work with BU students and engage with the city of Boston’s groundbreaking arts venues for residencies that include performances, collaborations, and events that merge the realms of composition, improv, electronic music, and visual arts.

2023-2024 Season

The world of contemporary composition has become so vast and multi-faceted. This year we have decided to embrace that range and bring in three very different composers who can help us showcase the range and depth of contemporary creation,” says Joshua Fineberg, director of the BU Center for New Music and professor of music, composition and music theory in BU School of Music.

Center for New Music: Sound Icon, Mivos Quartet, Ming Tsao, Elizabeth Ogonek, Hans Thomalla

Composer Residencies

This season, rather than focus on one guest artist, the Center for New Music is featuring in residency three extraordinary composers representing vastly different aesthetic worlds. Each of these composers will come to the Boston University Center for New Music for a residency where they will be featured in a concert, offer composition lectures and work with BU students. The Thomalla and Ogonek residencies will feature Boston’s own Sound Icon Ensemble led by Jeffrey Means, and the Tsao residency will feature a concert from the New York-based Mivos Quartet. Sound Icon and Mivos Quartet will also work with BU students and Mivos Quartet will perform a concert of student works.

COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE: HANS THOMALLA with Sound Icon conducted by Jeffrey Means

November 16-18, 2023

Hans Thomalla, a German American composer living in Chicago and Berlin. Thomalla’s work has particularly focused on the stage. He has written three operas and is currently composing a new work of music theater Dark Fall – for the Nationaltheater Mannheim. Thomalla is Professor of Music Composition at Northwestern University where he co-founded the Institute for New Music. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis, the Composer Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Thursday, November 16, 2023 • 5-7 pm – Hans Thomalla discusses his work
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Friday, November 17, 2023 • 5-7 pm – Hans Thomalla composition Masterclass
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Saturday, November 18, 2023 • 8 pm – free concert
CFA Concert Hall

  • Hans Thomalla Harmoniemusik [1] (2020-2021)
  • Chaya Czernowin Fast Darkness III (2022)
  • James Tenney Having never written a note for percussion (1971)
  • Gérard Grisey Périodes (1974)

COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE: ELIZABETH OGONEK with Sound Icon Conducted by Jeffrey Means

November 30 – December 2, 2023

Elizabeth Ogonek’s music has been described as “shimmering,” “dramatic” and “painstakingly crafted” by the Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Ogonek was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the Mead Composer-in-Residence, a position which she held alongside Samuel Adams until 2018. Ogonek has also worked closely with the London Symphony Orchestra for whom she has written two orchestral works: as though birds and Sleep & Unremembrance. Both pieces were premiered under the direction of François-Xavier Roth at the Barbican Centre. In early 2020, the LSO gave the European premiere of All These Lighted Things while the Toronto Symphony Orchestra gave the Canadian premiere of as though birds. Recent notable chamber and solo projects include two works for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, a work for Ensemble 360, a solo piano work, Orpheus Suite, commissioned by the Music Academy of the West and a Fromm Foundation commissioned work, where are we now, for pianist Xak Bjerken, percussion quartet and male vocal sextet on a text by Paul Griffiths.

Born in 1989, Ogonek grew up in New York City. Her primary teachers included Don Freund, Claude Baker, Michael Gandolfi, Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke and Julian Anderson. A former Beinecke and Marshall Scholar, she holds degrees from Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music (BM, 2009), the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music (MM, 2012) and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (DMus, 2017).


Thursday, November 30, 2023 • 5-7 pm – Elizabeth Ogonek discusses her work
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Friday, December 1, 2023 • 5-7 pm – Elizabeth Ogonek composition Masterclass
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Saturday, December 2, 2023 • 8 pm – free concert
CFA Concert Hall

  • Gérard Grisey Stèle (1995)
  • Alvin Lucier Opera with Objects (1997)
  • Elizabeth Ogonek Orpheus Suite (2018)
  • Kaija Saariaho  from the grammar of dreams (1988)
  • Joshua Fineberg <<autant de libertés que l’esprit prend avec la nature>> (2021-2022)
  • Erin Gee Mouthpieces 32 (2018)


February 1-3, 2024

Ming Tsao writes music with a sensuality that arises out of a focus on the inherent qualities of sound – what the composer calls its “materiality” – coupled to an extreme formal rigour and a highly precise, finely-crafted compositional style. In the foreground of his music is a contemporary conception of musical lyricism, which is fractured, multi-faceted and problematised to reflect the modern experience. Many of Ming Tsao’s works are the result of a critical and deep-thinking examination of the Western classical tradition as well as his serious engagement with Chinese traditional music. Ming Tsao has composed works for ensembles including the Arditti Quartet, ELISION Ensemble, ensemble ascolta, ensemble recherche, Ensemble KNM Berlin and Ensemble SurPlus and has had premieres at the Darmstadter Ferienkürse, Donaueschinger Musiktage, MaerzMusik Berlin, Wien Modern and the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik. He was born in Berkeley, California. His father emigrated from China and his mother’s parents emigrated from Austria. He studied violin and viola before travelling to Suzhou, China, to study with the renowned Guqin (Chinese zither) performer Wu Zhao-ji. He studied composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston and Ethnomusicology at Columbia University in New York before studies in Logic, Philosophy and Mathematics. Returning to composition, he gained a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego under Chaya Czernowin as well as studying privately with Brian Ferneyhough. He was Professor of Composition at Göteborg University and Visiting Professor of Composition at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2021 for music composition.


Thursday, February 1, 2024 • 5-7 pm – Ming Tsao discusses his work
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Friday, February 2, 2024 • 5-7 pm – Ming Tsao composition Masterclass
BU Electronic Music Studio (room B38) 855 Commonwealth Ave.

Saturday, February 3, 2024 • 8 pm – free concert
CFA Concert Hall

  • Ming Tsao Pathology of Syntax (2010)
  • Elizabeth Ogonek Running at Still Life  (2013)
  • Raven Chacon The Journey of the Horizontal People (2016)
  • Chikako Morishita Doll Time (2019)

Student Performance Opportunities

BU Center for New Music provides music students with opportunities to work on music with contemporary music groups based in or out of Boston, allowing them to learn different contemporary techniques beyond the classroom. This season Mivos Quartet will be performing a public concert of BU student works. Mivos Quartet and Sound Icon will both be working with students as well.

Past Seasons & Residencies