Deemed by the New York Times as “a hotbed of contemporary-classical players” and a “rural experimental haven," Oberlin Conservatory of Music cultivates innovation in its students. In its six annual full-concert cycles, Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME), directed by Timothy Weiss, performs music of all contemporary styles and genres: from minimalism to serialism, to electronic, cross genre, mixed media, and beyond.
CME has worked with many prominent composers, including Aaron Helgeson ’05, George Crumb, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Stephen Hartke, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lang, Joan Tower, Frederic Rzewski, and others, and has premiered many of their works. CME also regularly premieres works by Oberlin faculty, student, and alumni composers.
Each year, some of the most well-regarded contemporary music icons perform as soloists with CME, including Jennifer Koh ’97, Claire Chase ’01, David Bowlin ’00, Tony Arnold ’90, Marilyn Nonken, Stephen Drury, Steven Schick, and Ursula Oppens. Distinguished students regularly receive opportunities to perform as soloists with the ensemble as well, a luxury that is seldom afforded at other institutions.
CME regularly performs in Cleveland and tours the states. In recent years, the group has performed at the Winter Garden, Miller Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, DiMenna Center, Harvard University, Benaroya Hall, Palace of Fine Arts, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and in numerous partner concerts with the Cleveland Museum of Art.
CME has been featured on a number of commercial recordings, including John Luther Adams’ In the White Silence (New World Records), Lewis Nielson’s Écritures: St. Francis Preaches to the Birds (Centaur Records), and on the Oberlin Music record label.