The ISU Contempory Music Festival

The Contemporary Music Festival began in 1967 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The music schools at Butler University and Indiana University also were involved in its beginning.

Indiana State University assumed full sponsorship in 1969. Grant money from such sources as the Indiana Arts Commission and Arts Midwest continues to fund portions of the festival. The Department of Music plans the event.


The principal objective of the festival, unchanged since its inception, is to stimulate recognition of contemporary orchestral music as a valuable artistic expression of our time.

To accomplish this objective ISU brings a guest orchestra to the campus for the festival to rehearse and perform not only standard 20th century works but also those of young and promising composers who win the annual orchestral composition contest. For the first 20 years of the festival, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra served as the guest orchestra. The Louisville Orchestra made its first appearance at the 1987 festival and continues to be the orchestra-in-residence.


The Contemporary Music Festival provides both a learning environment and a performance opportunity for contemporary composers and students of new music. Professional musicians conduct master classes and seminars, perform compositions and offer students the stimulation of face-to-face interaction.


An integral part of the festival is its orchestral composition contest.

Thousands of talented young composers have submitted. entries during its 30-year history, with the winners being recognized with a special performance of their pieces. More than 120 established and emerging composers have participated in the festivalQa number of whom are Pulitzer Prize winners: Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Michael Colgrass, David Del Tredici, Jacob Druckman, John Harbison, Karel Husa, Bernard Rands, Ned Rorem, Joseph Schwantner, Charles Wuorinen, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

Grawemeyer Award winners include John Corigliano, Joan Tower and Chinary Ung.


The festival also brings a prominent music critic to lecture on music and journalism in the classroom setting. The critic interacts personally with conductors, visiting composers, students and people from Terre Haute and beyond. A number of nationally recognized critics have participated since 1978 when the concept was introduced. They have come from Boston, New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Dettoit, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Montreal, San Francisco, Kansas City, Charlotte and Indianapolis.

Information provided by Indiana State University

Page Created September 10, 1996
Page last updated 9/24/96
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