Ensemble Dal Niente

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Ensemble Dal Niente
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresContemporary classical
Years active2005-present
LabelsNew Amsterdam, New Focus, Navona, Parlour Tapes+, Carrier

Ensemble Dal Niente is a contemporary classical music ensemble based in Chicago, Illinois, USA that performs acoustic and electroacoustic chamber music.


Ensemble Dal Niente was founded in 2005 by a group of graduate student composers at Northwestern University. In their first five years of existence, Dal Niente programmed compositions by emerging composers and, as their capacity grew, performed classics of the contemporary repertoire such as Gérard Grisey's Partiels. Dal Niente is considered one of multiple groups responsible for an increase in attention towards Chicago's new music scene in the early 21st Century; in 2010, the Chicago Tribune noted that "Dal Niente is a model of what contemporary music needs, but seldom gets, to reach and engage a wider public."[1]

Ensemble Dal Niente first performed at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in Darmstadt, Germany in 2010. After winning the festival's Kranichstein Stipend Prize, they returned in In 2012 and were awarded the Kranichstein Prize for Interpretation.[2] In 2014, Dal Niente gave the Darmstädter Ferienkurse's festival-closing concert in an evening-length concert in the style of Dal Niente's "Party" events in Chicago.[3]

Dal Niente has collaborated with and profiled composers through their "Proximity" portrait concerts. The Proximity series has included collaborations with Kaija Saariaho (2009), Mark-Anthony Turnage (2010), Mark Andre (2012), Chinary Ung (2012), Chaya Czernowin (2012), Johannes Kreidler (2013), Raphaël Cendo (2014), Mathias Spahlinger (2015), and Rebecca Saunders (2015).[4]

Dal Niente's busier 2012-13 concert season included the ensemble's first of multiple ventures to Latin America, for the Festival Internacional Chihuahua.[5] In December, listeners gathered at Mayne Stage for Dal Niente's "Hard Music, Hard Liquor" series, a nod to the ensemble's tradition of selecting difficult music. In February, Dal Niente would commence a four-year-long project with the rock band Deerhoof, the band's drummer/composer Greg Saunier, and composer Marcos Balter with a concert of new music performed at Merkin Concert Hall's Ecstatic Music Festival. For the concert, "Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier created a dazzling suite of songs by his band called Deerhoof Chamber Variations that Dal Niente performed, radically reconfiguring the music while retaining its quirky melodic shapes."[6] An album featuring Dal Niente and Deerhoof with said compositions by Balter and Saunier will be released on New Amsterdam Records in April, 2016. February 2013 also marked Dal Niente's first presentation of Georg Friedrich Haas's work for large ensemble and theatrical lighting, "in vain." A subsequent performance of "in vain" in Washington, DC was deemed "mind-bending" by The Washington Post.[7] The 2012-13 season was completed with a July 4 performance at the Ravinia Festival and a return to Latin America for the inaugural MusicArte Festival in Panama City, Panama. At the close of the 2012-13 season, Dal Niente was profiled by the Chicago Tribune as a group of "super-musicians."[8]

In recent years, Dal Niente has also performed at the Library of Congress (Washington, DC), the Fromm Concerts at Harvard University,[9] St.Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series (Minnesota), Pritzker Pavilion (Chicago), Chicago Cultural Center, Harold Washington Library (Chicago), a return to the Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Germany), and a tour of Latin America that took members to the Library of the Bank of the Republic (Colombia), Universidad de Javeriana (Colombia), Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva (Mexico), and the MusicArte Festival (Panama).[10] Dal Niente's effort to work with emerging composers has led to composition workshops, classes, and performances at the universities of Northwestern, Chicago, Harvard, Stanford, Indiana, Illinois, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Minnesota, Illinois State, and Williams College.[11] In addition to their Proximity portrait series, Dal Niente has also collaborated on performances with composers Marcos Balter, Eliza Brown, Anthony Cheung, Aaron Einbond, Brian Ferneyhough, Ashley Fure, Evan Johnson, Mikel Kuehn, Lee Hyla, George Lewis (trombonist), Bernard Rands, Augusta Read Thomas, Greg Saunier, Hans Thomalla, Jay Alan Yim, and Katherine Young, among others. The ensemble has commissioned new works for ensemble from composers including Drew Baker, Marcos Balter, Christopher Biggs, Kirsten Broberg, Raphaël Cendo, Lisa Coons, Aaron Einbond, Natacha Diels, Christopher Fisher-Lochhead, Ashley Fure, Pierce Gradone, Evan Johnson, Morgan Krauss, Mikel Kuehn, Jeff Parker, Mauricio Pauly, Christopher Trapani, and Greg Saunier.[12]

Dal Niente's 2015-16 season celebrates its 10th Anniversary, culminating in the 2016 iteration of their "Party" series.[13] During a midseason tour of Chicago, Boston, and New York, the ensemble's New York performance was reviewed by The New York Times.[14]




  1. ^ von Rhein, John. "Dal Niente, Fifth House groups take listeners to places they're never been before". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  2. ^ 2012 Kranichstein Music Prize announcement
  3. ^ 2014 Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music - Final Concert
  4. ^ Dal Niente Proximity Portrait concerts
  5. ^ Chihuahua Music Chronicle
  6. ^ Margasak, Peter. "Deerhoof, unlikely partners of Chicago's Ensemble Dal Niente, bring it solo to Lincoln Hall tonight". Chicago Reader. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  7. ^ Downey, Charles. "Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge celebrated with Ensemble Dal Niente performance". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  8. ^ von Rhein, John. "Chicago classical music ensemble Dal Niente gets fierce". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  9. ^ Fromm Concerts at Harvard University announcement
  10. ^ Chicago Latino Music Festival announcement Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Ensemble Dal Niente's University Residencies
  12. ^ Ensemble Dal Niente Concert & Repertoire History
  13. ^ Dal Niente's Chicago Concert Season
  14. ^ Allen, David. "Review: Ensemble Dal Niente Brings Its Intense Whimsy to the DiMenna Center". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  15. ^ http://dalniente.com/staff.html

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