Ben Bolter made his orchestral conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at age 25, with the Washington Post praising his performance: “Bolter spotlighted the showiest aspects…and made it look easy.”
He was met with rave reviews from his extensive involvement in Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival: “Bolter was all business as he wove together Balter’s imaginative soundscape…” (Chicago Classical Review) and “[Drew Baker’s] NOX made an altogether striking close to an absorbing, eclectic program, quite the best of the Ear Taxi events I had witnessed up to then” (The Chicago Tribune). The world premiere of NOX was named Chicago’s Best Classical Music Performance of 2016 by the Third Coast Review. Recently, Bolter received critical acclaim for conducting the inaugural performance of the newly formed Grossman Ensemble at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC). In its debut performance with this University of Chicago group, the Chicago Tribune remarked, “It was an exuberant finale to the concert, all adroitly conducted by Ben Bolter and dispatched with considerable polish and aplomb by the Grossman Ensemble.”
Since 2014, Bolter has served on the conducting faculty at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music faculty as co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble and associate director of the Institute for New Music. He devotes his career to both traditional and contemporary music while constantly exploring new ways to conduct and enhance modern performance. He has also served as an assistant conductor with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Opera Theater and has been a frequent guest at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, DePaul University School of Music and previously served on the conducting faculty at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Bolter has also worked with highly acclaimed groups and soloists such as International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Square Peg Round Hole, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Claire Chase, Dave Bowlin, Tony Arnold, Kate Soper and many others. He has worked closely with major composers such as Steve Reich, David Lang, John Luther Adams, Ashley Fure, Felipe Lara and Andrew Norman and has given world premieres by Shulamit Ran, Marcos Balter, Sam Pluta, Tonia Ko, Drew Baker, Matthew Peterson, among many more.
Along with Conductor Donald Nally and Eighth Blackbird member Doug Perkins, he co-directed the mid-west premiere of John Luther Adams’ “SILA” to commemorate the new Ryan Center for the Arts building at Northwestern University. For four years, he served on the faculty at Indiana University as a staff conductor and taught graduate courses in orchestral conducting.
At age 22, Bolter was awarded a fellowship from the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. Additionally, Bolter has conducted orchestras at renowned music institutions such as the New England Conservatory, Indiana University (IU), DePaul University, Roosevelt University, and the Aspen Music Festival. Along with composers Jeremy Podgursky and Ryan Chase, Bolter co-founded the Holographic New Music Project, an ensemble and series located in Bloomington, Indiana which targeted alternative venues as well as held masterclasses at various schools.
Bolter has also been widely recognized for advancing youth orchestras. He has worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s annual Chicago Youth in Music Festival, the Oakland Youth Orchestras, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and is the former music director of the Conservatory Orchestras at the Merit School of Music, where his Philharmonic Orchestra was annually featured on 98.7 WFMT, and performed routinely at the Chicago Symphony Center. Passionate about the cultural impact of music, Ben is the conductor of the Rita Simo Youth Orchestra at The People’s Music School. Under his direction, the ensemble was showcased on Channel 7 ABC Chicago andperformed at a 2013 Ted Talk at Harris Theater. He has also previously served as music director of the New England Conservatory Festival Youth Orchestra, a three-week summer intensive program.
Bolter completed his master of music degree in orchestral conducting from Indiana University in 2008 and holds a bachelor of music degree in oboe performance from the New England Conservatory. An active singer/songwriter and keyboardist, Bolter released his first full length album, Time Flies, in Fall 2019 of all original songs. He also released an EP of 4 original tracks back in Winter 2018. Currently performing solo in venues across Chicago, he has played in multiple original and cover bands as well as performed in countless venues across the Midwest.