Ben Bolter is a versatile conductor who has achieved remarkable accomplishments in a variety of musical styles. He devotes his career to both traditional and new music while constantly exploring new ways to conduct and perform. Last Fall 2014, he joined the conducting faculty at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music as director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble. Ben made his conducting debut in June 2008 with the National Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim in the Washington Post: “Bolter spotlighted the showiest aspects of Enensco’s Romanian Rhapsody #1 and made it look easy.” He has also worked as an assistant conductor with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Indiana University Symphony, DePaul Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, Roosevelt University Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Music Festival AACA Orchestra and contemporary music ensembles such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble, Holographic, and worked with world-renowned flute soloist and new music activist, Claire Chase. 

Ben completed his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University (IU) in 2008. During his time at IU, he was the Associate Director of the New Music Ensemble and collaborated with Alan Pierson, Founder and Artistic Director of Alarm Will Sound. After graduating, Ben served on faculty at IU from 2008-2012 as a staff conductor and conducting instructor. During this time, he joined forces with composer Jeremy Podgursky and formed HOLOGRAPHIC, a contemporary music ensemble and series which targets both mainstream and alternative venues to create a strong awareness of new music in the central community.

Upon completing his Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance at the New England Conservatory (NEC), Ben apprenticed to Michael Morgan and served as a conductor for the Oakland Youth and San Francisco Community Music Center orchestras. At age 21, Ben was invited to the Aspen Music Festival as a fellow for the American Academy of Conducting (AACA) where he assisted Harry Bicket in the production of Cavalli’s Giasone, directed his own production of Stravinsky’s L ’Histoire du Soldat and conducted numerous other programs with the AACA orchestra.

Ben has worked with renowned conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Herbert Blomstedt, David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, James DePreist and Michael Morgan and studied with conductors David Effron and Thomas Baldner at Indiana University.

Ben has also served on the conducting faculty for the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and is a regular guest at DePaul University, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Director of Conservatory Orchestras at The Merit School of Music, Artistic Director of The People’s Music School Youth Orchestras (El Sistema Chicago), Principal Conductor of NEC’s Festival Youth Orchestra and co-founder/principal conductor of HOLOGRAPHIC. In addition to his work as a conductor, Ben is also an active keyboardist and songwriter. He has been a member of both cover and original bands and has performed in venues throughout the Midwestern states.

B.M. in oboe, New England Conservatory; M.M. in conducting, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Also faculty of Roosevelt University, Merit School of Music, People's Music School.

photo by Liz Linder

Video: Ben Bolter conducts the Merit School of Music's Chamber Orchestra, February 2013

Related links:

Ben Bolter at Merit School of Music