- New York
Uncover classical music’s modern side with innovative composers, performance venues and events.
Today’s classical music is wildly entertaining and accessible to all ages. Contemporary artists mix classical notes with different musical genres, unusual instruments, movement and dance, even political expression. Take a look at these unique events, contemporary twists on masterworks and the composers who are shaping the future of classical music.
Miami, Florida – New World Center’s Pulse
Only in nightlife-loving Miami will you find a symphony in a nightclub. New World Center’s Pulse combines the classical sounds of the New World Symphony with a bass-bumping live DJ for a one-of-a-kind nightclub experience. Check the New World Center calendar for Pulse dates and other fun events, including free movies and WALLCAST® concerts featuring stunning visual displays projected on the side of the Frank Gehry-designed building.
Catching a WALLCAST concert at the New World Center
Ojai, California – Ojai Music Festival
For a music director, the Ojai Music Festival is a dream come true. Every year, a new director arranges the most innovative lineup of contemporary classical performances they can imagine. The results have been delightful and genre-bending: classical music mixed with dance, varied musical styles, scores from across the centuries, visual displays and experimentations with electronic sounds. This unique festival takes place over the course of four days every June.
Pair inspirational views with groundbreaking music at the Ojai Music Festival
Memphis, Tennessee – Opera Memphis
As part of its mission to entertain, inspire and educate about the genre, Opera Memphis presents 30 Days of Opera each September, offering dozens of free pop-up performances throughout the city. The regular season includes treasured classics such as “Madama Butterfly” in addition to new American operas. The organization takes opera to the community through The McCleave Project, which aims to involve people of color in opera.
The Hattiloo Theatre, a popular venue in Memphis’ Overton Square
New York, New York – MATA Festival
For new or unaffiliated classical composers, finding performance opportunities can be a barrier to success. Founded in 1996 by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky and Lisa Bielawa, MATA Festival gives emerging composers a stage, regardless of affiliation and inclusive of alternative aesthetics and styles. Every April, count on hearing eclectic styles from up-and-coming composers and performers from around the world.
St. Paul, Minnesota – 113 Composers Collective
Discover the newest classical music through 113’s curated concerts, master classes and seminars. This collective of new music composers and performers actively seek out cutting-edge musicians from around the world to present their work to audiences. Concerts are affordable and generally open to all ages. If you enjoy experimental music, be sure to check their performance schedule.
Crowds entering the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, a top St. Paul venue
Today’s classical music both honors and displaces the genre’s conventions. Some modern musicians appeal to classical music loyalists. Other musicians are so inventive that you might forget they were trained in the tradition of Mozart, Beethoven and Handel.
- Mocrep is a Chicago-based collective of 11 artists combining various forms of music with performance art, vocals, visuals and movement. Their end goal: to blur the lines between genres and musical mediums and disrupt the political history of classical music. Check them out at various art spaces in Chicago, Illinois.
- A New York City-based quintet, including a soprano, flute, clarinet, violin and percussion, TAK Ensemble tours the USA, collaborating extensively with other artists as well as music programs including New York University, Columbia University and Oberlin College.
- Julia Bullock’s beautiful soprano voice satisfies classical aficionados and modern-day music lovers alike. She performs Franz Schubert and Samuel Barber with as much ease as she does Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Her touring schedule includes both national and international engagements throughout the year.
- Alloy Orchestra, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, creates original scores for vintage movies from the silent-film era. Fans of rare film will be especially delighted. Check the group’s touring calendar for screenings around the USA.
From an opera about Steve Jobs to orchestral covers of rocker Trent Reznor’s music, today’s classical composers are culturally inclusive, experimental with instruments and relevant to music lovers of all styles.
- Missy Mazzoli‘s compositions have been performed by esteemed companies including the New York City Opera, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Victoire, her performance ensemble, blends classical notes with sounds from electronica and guitar.
- NPR and Paste Magazine have recognized the work of Angélica Negrón, a Puerto Rican composer based in New York. She incorporates out-of-the-ordinary sounds, from whistles to music boxes, and has created film scores as well as solo, orchestral and small-ensemble pieces.
- Nico Muhly’s catalog is extensive, from collaborations with indie rock artists to stage musicals, film scores and his original opera “Two Boys,” which was performed at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera of New York City.
- Judd Greenstein’s work has been commissioned for orchestra, opera, concerto, ballet and indie rock. He was a founding member of the new chamber music collective, NOW Ensemble.
- Musical America recently named composer Mason Bates the most-performed living composer as well as Composer of the Year for 2018. His opera, “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” is an operatic look at the late co-founder of Apple.
- As a Grammy-winning composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre has created unique song arrangements for Depeche Mode and Trent Reznor and a slew of his own classical works. His groundbreaking Virtual Choir integrates recordings from thousands of vocalists from around the world singing one of his original choral arrangements.