2019 NMCS Composers


Taja & Anna Astar, composers

Taja and Anna Astar are a creative unit from Northern Europe. Russian-born, in 2007 they left for Finland where they were
able to get officially married and continue their professional and spiritual development. Taja got training in piano performance (MA from St. Petersburg State Conservatory), musicology and composition. In the autumn of 2019, she is
going to continue her studies with composer Rolf Martinsson at Lund University, Sweden. Anna is a poet, librettist and songwriter; she studied linguistics, English literature and creative writing, as well as musicology. Since 2015, when they were initially inspired by performance of an opera singer, the duo has been actively working on vocal pieces, such as art songs and works for musical theater. They are fascinated by the magic of human voice, and story-telling through melodious music, full of humor and passion, is an integral part of their being.


Benjamin Beckman, composer

Composer Benjamin Beckman (b. 2000) is a rising freshman at Yale University hailing from Los Angeles, CA. Ben has notably had works performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra, Frost School of Music Ensemble Ibis, Triton Brass, the Lyris Quartet, the Thornton Edge, and the Harvard-Westlake Symphony Orchestra in venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Koussevitzky Music Shed and Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, REDCAT Theater, the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA, and University of Miami’s Clark Recital Hall, and appeared on NPR through the radio show From the Top. As part of his summer 2019 apprenticeship, Ben’s new work Occidentalis will be performed by National Youth Orchestra of the USA at Tanglewood, on the BBC Proms, and at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Ben is an ASCAP composer and publisher, and is self-published under his company BlueCircle Press. Find out more at www.benjaminbeckmanmusic.com.


Eric Delgado, composer

Originally from San Diego, California, Eric Delgado is a performer-composer with a kaleidoscopic background. His compositions have been performed and read by numerous ensembles such as the Del Sol String Quartet, the Danish String Quartet, The Florida Orchestra, and members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Eric has experience playing flute in multiple orchestral and chamber settings as well, including alongside members of the San Diego Symphony, UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also has performed in jazz combos, Afro-Cuban drumming bands, touring choirs, and Flamenco-Israeli-inspired liturgical groups. Eric received his B.A. degree in Music from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015 and his MM degree in Composition at the University of Miami in 2019. He has studied composition under Ken Ueno, Cindy Cox, Franck Bedrossian, Charles Mason, Dorothy Hindman, and Lansing McLoskey. Eric is currently a lecturer in the Department of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Miami, Frost School of Music.

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Georgi Dimitrov, composer

Georgi was born in 1989. At the age of fifteen he moved to Natick, Massachusetts to study composition at the Walnut Hill School. He later received bachelors (California Institute of the Arts), and a masters and doctoral degrees in composition from the University of Southern California. Georgi has minors in instrumental conducting, viola performance, and theory and analysis.

Georgi is an adjunct theory, aural skills, and orchestration instructor at the University of Southern California. He has studied composition with Donald Crockett, Andrew Norman, Stephen Hartke, and Sean Friar. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies. His music can be found at georgidimitrov.us

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Ruby Fulton, composer

Composer and musician Ruby Fulton writes music which invites listeners to explore non-musical ideas through sound. Her musical portfolio includes explorations of mental illness, Buddhism, philosophy, psychedelic research, addiction, and chess strategy; and profiles of iconic popular figures like the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and musicians Syd Barrett and Whitney Houston. Her music has been performed by the Boulder Philharmonic, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Holland Symfonia, Volti, and Newspeak; and programmed on the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Guadeamus New Music Festival, and the SONiC Festival. In addition to composing, Fulton works as co-artistic director of the experimental vocal collective Rhymes With Opera, a 5-piece vocal/composer ensemble. She teaches composition and music theory at the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music. She holds a doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory, with additional degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Boston University. 

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Connor Gibbs, composer

Connor Gibbs (b. 1995) is a music educator, singer, and composer based in Massachusetts, USA. He graduated from Wagner College in May 2017 with a B.A. in Music and currently teaches choral and vocal music at Central High School and the Community Music School, both in Springfield, Massachusetts. As a composer, he has premiered compositions in Houston’s Space City New Music Festival, in Dartington’s International Music School and Festival in England, and in European University Cyprus’s International Composition Workshop. His work Broken Promises for string orchestra was premiered as a finalist in the Musica Per Archi International Composition Competition. Connor also created the original score for the new contemporary play It’s Pinocchio! and will have his first composition feature on a CD: Lament of the Weary Traveler, for solo alto flute, on Iwona Glinka’s upcoming collection Two Minutes for Solo Flute. In August 2019, Connor will travel to Italy to premiere a new string quartet at the highSCORE Festival.


Cem Güven, composer

Cem Güven is a composer from Turkey/Istanbul, who curently studies with Prof, John Corigliano at the Juilliard School in New York. He graduated from Galileo Galilei Italian High School and he studied piano performance with Prof.Dr. Eser Bilgeman Şakir at the Istanbul University State Conservatory. He studied composition privately with Prof. Deniz Arat, who is in the faculty of  Mimar Sinan Conservatory. He was also the youngest opera singer of Turkey. He acted in the opera “ The Turn of The Screw” by Benjamin Britten, which was organized by Süreyya Stage. He attended several music festivals such as Gümüşlük Music Festival, where he studied with the pianist Gülsin Onay and the pianist/composer Fazıl Say, Interlochen Summer Music Festival where he studied composition with Dr. Robert Brownlow and Curtis Summerfest where is studied compositon again with Jonathan Holland, David Ludwig and Shinuh Lee. In 2018, Cem Güven became one of the featured composers for “C4 choir world premiers 2018”. In 2019, his piece “Rafflesia” for string orchestra won the 2nd prize in the competition “Musica per Archi” which got sponsored by Lviv Philarmonic Society in Ukraine. Rafflesia will be published by one of the most famous edition companies in Italy, which is the Aldebaran Editions.


Marc Hoffeditz, composer

Marc Hoffeditz is a composer and musical storyteller searching to balance the humors of pathos, sarcasm, and vulnerability. Living in the Boston area, his recent work has focused on dramatic vocal music, culminating in a variety of chamber operas and long form concert works. His music has been featured by NANOWorks Opera, One Ounce Opera, Rhymes with Opera, Hartford Opera Theatre, and the New York Opera Fest.

He is currently a member of the Advanced Writers Lab with the New Opera and Music Theatre Initiative (NOMTI), adapting the play Grindr (and other concerns) by Boston playwright MJ Halberstadt into an opera. Marc has received degrees from the Boston Conservatory and Christopher Newport University, studying with Andy Vores, MartiEpstein, Dalit Warshaw, and Christopher Cook. He currently leads a double life as a composer and library assistant.


Andrew Lovett, composer

Andrew Lovett was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1962, and grew up in London, England. He studied music at Cambridge University and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at City University, London. In 2009 he joined the Department of Music at Princeton University as a Professional Specialist. He became a US citizen in July 2017.

Compositions include: Voyage (1997) for chamber orchestra and electronics; Unknown Terrors (2000) for cello, keyboard and electronics; The Colour of Sadness (2003) for saxophone and
electronics; Abraham on Trial (2005) - opera in two acts for five singers and electronics; Three Poems by Miroslav Holub (2008) for mezzo-soprano and piano; Lonely Sits the City (2009) - opera in one act for soprano and electronics; Beauty and Secrets (2010) for chamber ensemble; On the Curves of the Winds (2013) for solo cello and electronics; Aelia Capitolina (2013) for multichannel surround-sound electronics; O Absalom (2015) for countertenor and electronics; Valediction (2016) surround-sound electronics; The Analysing Engine (2017) - opera in one act for six singers and seven instruments; Let’s Talk (2018) for multichannel surround-sound electronics.

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Zachary James Ritter, composer

Zachary James Ritter is a composer who wants to work with you. Driven by making music with his friends and making friends with his music, Ritter strives to create works that resonate with his audience through shared human experience. His music takes influence from electronica, minimalism, and traditional music of Ireland and America. Ritter sometimes uses layered textures with playfully unpredictable rhythms, as well as spare, raw musical landscapes which lend themselves to calm, meditative listening experiences. He likes to make music people want to listen to, music made in sincerity. 

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Brent Ruddy, composer

Brent Ruddy is a Boise, Idaho-based composer whose work seeks to explore the concepts of humanity and inhumanity, contrasting the heartfelt, visceral and natural with the mechanical, distant and unfeeling.  His influences range from expressionism to indie pop to modern jazz to death metal, and he has written in each of these styles and more, always looking to challenge and surmount genre barriers.

Brent is always happy to provoke thought and introspection though music—both in composition and performance. In addition to composing formal “art music,” he also performs as vocalist and lead guitarist for progressive extreme metal band Aterrima and plays guitar for jazz-pop project Swankenstein.

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Nathan Scalise, composer

Nathan Scalise blends the rhythmic drive of rock, direct expression of folk, formal considerations of classical music, and ecstatic emotion of gospel into an accessible and individual compositional voice. His music has been performed professionally by artists including Contemporaneous, the Momenta Quartet, Andrew Fuchs, Hub New Music, Jordan Bowman, the Ajax Quartet, 3G Percussion, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, Modern Medieval Trio, Dolce Suono Trio (2017 Steven Stucky Young Composers Competition Winner), Out of Bounds Ensemble, Contemporary Columbus, Opera Elect, Angela Collier-Reynolds (selected through Fifteen-Minutes of Fame),

Paul Neebe, and Orchestra 2001, and at festivals including Fresh Inc, NYC SongSLAM (2019 1st prize), Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy, Connecticut Summerfest, Charlotte New Music Festival, and Space City New Music Festival. Always interested in composing for contexts outside the classical concert hall, his works also include church music, jazz ensemble pieces, and musical theater.

In addition to compositional activities, he performs frequently as a trombonist, pianist, and drummer. A native of Brewster, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, Nathan holds an M.M. in Composition from Binghamton University, where he studied composition with Daniel Thomas Davis and trombone with Don Robertson, as well as B.A.s in Music and Economics from Swarthmore College, where he studied composition with Gerald Levinson, trombone with Paul Arbogast, and piano with Hans Lüdemann. He is currently an adjunct professor at Binghamton University. When not doing something musical, he is likely to be running, playing basketball, or cheering loudly for Boston sports teams. 

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Conner Shaw, composer

Conner Leigh Shaw’s life in the majestic open spaces of Colorado, 

and his emotional interpretations on both his life and the cataclysmic events occurring in the world shape his writing into a style simultaneously haunting and beautiful. In November 2018, Shaw made his national composer-performer debut at the University of Tennessee Martin New Music Festival playing his yearning, yet elegant electronic-sample and electric guitar art song Pain, Trains; Wane. In October of the same year, Shaw was featured as both performer and composer on the University of Northern Colorado’s contemporary ensemble release

UNCOmmon Ensemble at the Tank, which was recorded at the infamous reverb chamber studio The Tank in Rangely, Colorado. In May of 2018, Shaw released his debut album Portraits, Moods, and Places on UNC’s Bear Records label, featuring twenty-four contemporary chamber pieces with six different groups from around the Northern Colorado area. Shaw’s first compositional accolade dates to March of 2017, where he won the Open Space Festival Call for Scores with his American art song Epitaph on the World. This same month, Shaw’s first guitar concerto was premiered in Greeley, Colorado. As evidenced by these compositional projects, Shaw’s major influences include Charles Ives, George Crumb, and Ted Hearne. 

clshawmusic@gmail.com, clshawmusic.com 

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Paul Smith, composer

Paul is a lecturer in music at the University of New England, Australia, where he teaches composition and music theory. He is co-artistic director of Blush Opera, based in Sydney, and holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University. Paul specialises in composing opera and music for toy piano and often works with other artists on collaborative works for music with animation, theatre and dance. His first three chamber operas have toured festival across Australia and Singapore and in July 2019 he premiered a new major work for voice and toy piano at the ‘Music as Play’ Festival in Italy following a composition residency in Armenia. Future works include a large-scale new opera, Chop Chef, developed in collaboration with writer, Julie Koh, which satirises reality tv food competitions scheduled for 2020. Paul is an associate artist with the Australian Music Centre.


Wes Stephens, composer

Hailed as "talented" (David Maslanka, composer) and a "world-class rising composer" (Karen Naifeh Harmon, violinist and composer)  Wes Stephens' (b. 1983) award-winning compositions have been performed internationally by organizations and ensembles such as the Boston Metro Opera, Tulsa Modern Movement, Bespoke Brass,  the University of Missouri Percussion Ensemble, the Truman State University Percussion Ensemble, and the University of Oklahoma Steel Band. He holds degrees from the University of Missouri (Master of Music, 2009) and Missouri Western State University (Bachelor of Science in Music Education, 2007). Wes Stephens is a member of ASCAP, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

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Emily Joy Sullivan, composer

Emily Joy Sullivan (b. 1987) is a composer, educator, and choral director based in Northern California and Buffalo, NY. Her music is animated by the spirit of song, dance, and storytelling, and is grounded in vernacular traditions. Ms. Sullivan’s works have been performed in New York, Chicago, Memphis, Vancouver, Valencia, and Cape Town, South Africa. She holds a Master’s degree in Music Composition from SUNY Fredonia and a BA in Music from Amherst College, where her feminist musicology thesis was “Envoicing Eve: Femmes Fatales in Carmen, Salome, and Lulu.” This fall, Ms. Sullivan will begin a Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition at the University of California, Davis. She is currently working on a musical theater project retelling fairy tales from the heroines’ points of view.


Carle Wirshba, composer

Originating as a punk/rock guitarist with no formal training in music, Carle Jordan Wirshba has invested much of his college career overcoming his sense of inadequacy in an artistic field that famously values prodigies and preschool piano lessons. He is currently studying composition under Nicolas Scherzinger & Natalie Draper, at Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music, obtaining his masters of music. Only beginning formal composition late in 2015, he has since fully indulged in his own compositional mind, creating hybrid species between punk-rock, experimental sound, post-romanticism, and post-minimalism. The generative force behind his compositional process stems from this genre-defiance, where connection to the music is more important than the title assigned to it.

Carle currently holds a bachelor of arts in music from Binghamton University, where he studied composition under Daniel Thomas Davis for over two years; as well as briefly studying with composer Gordon Beeferman. He also holds a bachelors of science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University and a minor in education. He has been commissioned by various organizations in the Central New York, including Syracuse University Graduate School, the College of Visual and Performing Arts Minor Fund, Syracuse University Jewish Studies Program, SU Graduate Student Organization, the Binghamton University Undergraduate Research Center, the Center for Israeli and Judaic Studies at Binghamton, Harpur Edge, and the Harpur College Summer Scholars and Artists Fellowship; and most recently has been commissioned by the American Guild of Organists and the Steven R. Gerber Trust.