The UT New Music Ensemble, under the direction of Professor Dan Welcher, is widely regarded as one of the best student ensembles of its kind in the U.S. Featuring solo, chamber and large ensemble works by living composers and those of the recent past, the New Music Ensemble presents six full-length concerts annually of new chamber music composed primarily within the past 20 years. This unique group consists of a sixteen member core ensemble, and is made up of the most proficient student instrumentalists and singers in the Butler School of Music.
Since the inception of the Visiting Composers Series in 1995, the ensemble has featured works of world-class guest composers every year, who also present an open forum on their works and give master classes to students in the Composition Department. Recent visiting composers have included John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Michael Daugherty, David Del Tredici, John Harbison, Christopher Theofinidis, George Tsontakis, Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, Joan Tower and Chen Yi. In addition, works by faculty composers Donald Grantham, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Russell Pinkston and Dan Welcher are performed regularly, as well as music composed by the leading living composers (and most prominent twentieth century composers). Finally, it has been one of the hallmarks of the ensemble to present the world premiere of a student composition on every concert, giving the composition students a rare and extremely valuable opportunity.
The New Music Ensemble has been called "the best hidden treasure in Austin's classical music scene" (Austin Chronicle), and performances by the ensemble have won "Best Performance of a New Work" awards from the Austin Critics' Table on several occasions.