Ben Roidl-Ward, bassoon; Isidora Nojkovic, cello and Daniel Pesca, piano

New Music for a New Age

  • Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964) - Bebop Riddle IIB (2022, rev. 2024) (8')
  • Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson (b.1952) - Pilgrimage (2023) (15')
  • Daniel Pesca (b. 1985) - In Solitude (2020) (7’)
  • Ruth Crawford-Seeger (1901-1953) - Diaphonic Suite No. 2 (1930) (4’)
  • Amy Williams (b. 1969) - Give Way and Stop/Yield

Recently named one of 23 artists who are “changing the sound of classical music” by the Washington Post, bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward is the Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as Principal Bassoonist of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Solo Bassoonist of Ensemble Dal Niente, and Contemporary Leader of the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Ben’s dedication to working with and advocating for composers of his generation has led him to commission numerous works featuring the bassoon, and he has participated in the premieres of over 125 compositions to date. He has appeared as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony and the Northwestern and Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensembles, along with several regional orchestras throughout the US. Ben has performed as Guest Principal Bassoon with the Arctic Philharmonic (Bodø, Norway) and the Milwaukee Symphony, and has also played as a guest musician with the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the International Contemporary Ensemble, among others. He has presented masterclasses at Northwestern University and the Oberlin and Peabody Conservatories, and has appeared in the Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Lucerne, Donaueschingen, Spoleto, and Banff Festivals. 

A 2018 Luminarts Fellow in Classical Music, Ben was one of five finalists for the International Double Reed Society’s 2020 Gillet-Fox Competition. His debut solo album, “Axis Mundi: New Works for Bassoon” was released on Sideband Records and was selected for the “Best Contemporary Classical on Bandcamp: November 2022” list. Ben earned his DMA from Northwestern University, where he studied with David McGill and researched methods of notating multiphonics. Previously, he studied with Ben Kamins at Rice University, George Sakakeeny at the Oberlin Conservatory, and Francine Peterson in the Seattle area. 

Praised for her “great control” (Chicago Classical Review), cellist Isidora Nojkovic is an active soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. She has a passion for contemporary music and commissioning, having premiered over 50 works. She is one half of the contemporary violin/cello duo Orbit (“the new cross-continental duo to pay attention to.” – Classical Post), and is a member of Chicago’s Varo String Quartet. She performs regularly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Symphony, Illinois Symphony, Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble, and the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra. She has also completed two tours with Lincoln Center Stage, performing in twenty-two countries as part of a piano quintet.

Daniel Pesca has been hailed as “the perfect composer-virtuoso pianist” (All about the Arts) and “equally talented as pianist, composer and advocate of his peers’ works” (Fanfare). Daniel has participated in the premieres of more than 150 new works, many of which were composed for him. He has shared the stage with leading ensembles such as Ensemble Signal and Ensemble Dal Niente, performing at Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, and new music festivals around the world. He is a founding member of the Grossman Ensemble and the Zohn Collective, and has performed as concerto soloist with the Orchestra of the League of Composers, Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Slee Sinfonietta. His compositions have been sponsored by organizations such as National Endowment for the Arts and New Music USA. 

Daniel appears on recordings from Urtext Classics, Centaur, Albany, New Focus, CCCC, Nimbus, Furious Artisans, Neuma, Sideband, and Oberlin Records. His solo album Promontory, released Fall 2021, includes world premieres of works by Augusta Read Thomas, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, and Aaron Travers, plus his own compositions. Daniel served on the faculty at University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 2019-2023, and was previously artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago. Beginning in Fall 2023, Daniel is assistant professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

About the Rush Hour Concerts

Rush Hour Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Zell Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and contributions from individual donors.

Upcoming Performances

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