Institute Appoints Derek Bermel as Artist-in-Residence

Derek Bermel

The Institute for Advanced Study has announced the appointment of composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel as Artist-in-Residence.  During his stay at the Institute, Bermel will pursue his scholarly and creative interests while developing major work, profiting from opportunities similar to those offered by the Institute to visiting scientists and scholars.  As the Institute’s resident composer, Bermel also will arrange the Institute’s annual Edward T. Cone Concert Series.  His term begins on July 1, 2009.

A composer, clarinetist, conductor, jazz and rock musician, Bermel made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 as soloist performing his own critically acclaimed clarinet concerto, Voices - The 2001 winner of a Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, Bermel comes to the Institute from a three-year position as the American Composers Orchestra’s Music Alive Composer-in-Residence.  In that position, he played a central role in programming and serving as curator and artistic advisor to the organization’s Orchestra Underground series.

“We are delighted that Derek is joining the Institute as our new Artist-in-Residence,” stated Peter Goddard, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study.  “The breadth of his musical influences and the wide range of his musical experience and achievement will add greatly to the cultural life of our community.”

“I’m thrilled to join a community of scholars that I’ve long held in the highest esteem,” said Bermel.  “I look forward to drawing inspiration and contributing creative energy during my residency.”

Bermel has received commissions from such organizations as the Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center and WNYC Radio. Individuals and groups have also commissioned works from Bermel, including Music from China, Jazz Xchange (U.K.), Figura (Denmark), violinist Midori, eighth blackbird, cellist Fred Sherry and pianist Chris Taylor.  The London Philharmonia performed an all-Bermel concert as part of their Music of Today series in 2006 and his music has been featured at festivals around the world.  A 2002 disc of his chamber work, Soul Garden, has received great acclaim, and a CD of his orchestral music by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Voices , was released in February 2009.  In 2010, a CD of several of his larger works will be released by the group Alarm Will Sound.

Last season, Bermel performed as soloist alongside Wynton Marsalis in his Migration Series, a work commissioned by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra (ACO).  He also appeared as clarinet soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in conductor/composer John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, and as a soloist in his own concerto at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Highlights during this season include the Pittsburgh Symphony’s premiere of The Good Life  for chorus and orchestra, and a return to Carnegie Hall for two premieres: a Koussevitzky Commission for ACO conducted by Maestro Dennis Russell Davies and as soloist in the world premiere of Fang Man’s clarinet concerto Resurrection. This September, Bermel will begin an affiliation as a guest composer with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. 

His awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts; Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships; the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center; the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Paul Boylan Award from the University of Michigan; commissions from the Fromm and Greenwall Foundations, Meet the Composer and the Cary Trust; and residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar and Civitella Ranieri.

Bermel has collaborated with artists in a wide variety of genres, including playwright Will Eno, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, installation artist Shimon Attie, landscape architect Andy Cao, choreographer Sheron Wray, performance artist Kim Jones, composer/sound designer David Reid and poets Wendy S. Walters, Mark Halliday, Naomi Shihab Nye and Albert Bermel. As an educator, he founded the Making Score program for young composers at the New York Youth Symphony, and regularly leads master classes at universities, conservatories and concert venues worldwide.

Born in New York, Bermel began composing music at the age of eight.  He obtained a B.A. from Yale University in 1989 and a D.M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1998, studying composition with William Bolcom, Michael Tenzer and William Albright, at Tanglewood with Henri Dutilleux and in Amsterdam with Louis Andriessen.  Bermel also studied ethnomusicology and orchestration in Jerusalem with André Hajdu, later traveling to Bulgaria to study Thracian folk style with Nikola Iliev, to Brazil to learn caxixi with Julio Góes and to Ghana to study Dagara xylophone with Ngmen Baaru.

His music is published by Peermusic Classical in North and South American and Asia and by Faber Music in Europe and Australia.

About the Artist-in-Residence Program

The Artist-in-Residence program was established at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1994 to create a musical presence within the Institute community and to have in residence a person whose work could be experienced and appreciated by scholars from all disciplines. Pianist Robert Taub was the first Artist-in-Residence from 1994 to 2001, followed by composer Jon Magnussen, who served as Artist-in-Residence from 2000 to 2007. Paul Moravec served as Artist-in-Residence from 2007 to 2008 and Artistic Consultant from 2008 to 2009. Derek Bermel, a composer, clarinetist, conductor and jazz and rock musician, served as Artist-in-Residence from 2009 to June 2013.

Composer Sebastian Currier became Artist-in-Residence in July 2013. His complex and imaginative works have been performed by such eminent artists and ensembles as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Berlin Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet and the New York Philharmonic. A recipient of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award, Currier has received numerous honors including the Berlin Prize, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About the Institute for Advanced Study

The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute exists to encourage and support curiosity-driven research in the sciences and humanities—the original, often speculative thinking that produces advances in knowledge that change the way we understand the world. Work at the Institute takes place in four Schools: Historical Studies, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Social Science. It provides for the mentoring of scholars by a permanent Faculty of approximately 30, and it ensures the freedom to undertake research that will make significant contributions in any of the broad range of fields in the sciences and humanities studied at the Institute.

The Institute, founded in 1930, is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its more than 6,000 former Members hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world. Thirty-three Nobel Laureates and 40 out of 56 Fields Medalists, as well as many winners of the Wolf or MacArthur prizes, have been affiliated with the Institute.