On January 31, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University awarded a grant of $3,000 to support The Walden School Faculty Commissioning Concert. The concert celebrates Walden’s faculty as world-class artists and composers, writing for and collaborating with some of the foremost ensembles in the world to bring world premiere music to the concert stage.

Ensemble Dal Niente will be the ensemble-in-residence for the 2019 Faculty Commissioning Concert. With a roster of 23 exceptional musicians, Dal Niente performs new and experimental chamber music with dedication, virtuosity, and an exploratory spirit. Four members of Dal Niente will spend a week on the campus of the Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire. Dal Niente and the 10 participating faculty composers will hold rehearsals on Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11, open to anyone who wants to observe the creative process firsthand. The Faculty Commissioning Concert will be performed in the evening of July 12, 2019, for an audience of Walden faculty, staff, and students, and residents from throughout the region.


Sarah Riskind and Nate May, two faculty composers commissioned in 2018

The ensemble’s week-long residency offers an immersive collaborative process. All faculty composers and resident artists live on campus for the duration of the project, forming a close-knit creative community; artistic dialogue continues throughout the day and pieces evolve as they are carried from rehearsal to dining hall and back again. Composers and performers alike must be open-minded, adapting to and exhilarated by the project’s diverse offerings.

The Ditson Fund was established at Columbia University in 1940, with a bequest of $400,000 from Alice M. Ditson, the widow of the noted Boston music publisher Oliver Ditson. Mrs. Ditson’s will stipulated that income from the bequest be used for non-academic fellowships, public concerts, and publications in support of music. The initial Advisory Committee appointed by Mrs. Ditson directed her intentions toward contemporary music. The Ditson Fund has continued this focus, with emphasis on funding of performances and recordings of music by emerging American composers. In 1945 the Ditson Conductor’s Award was established. It is the oldest continuing award honoring conductors for distinguished contributions to American music. Having awarded over 2,000 grants starting in 1940, the Ditson Fund continues to play an important role in support of contemporary American art music. Walden is honored to receive our first-ever grant from the Ditson Fund, whose dedication to contemporary music so closely intertwines with Walden’s mission. We are proud of this partnership to celebrate and support emerging composers.

Walden’s 2018 Faculty Commissioning Concert featured six members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), premiering new works by 11 Walden faculty composers. You can listen to all of the pieces performed at this concert on Walden’s bandcamp page.