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Dennis Tobenski

Astoria, NY            

Dennis Tobenski is a composer of acoustic new music, a vocalist, and a strong advocate for new music and the interests of living composers.

Dennis’s Only Air, a 20-minute work for high voice and orchestra, memorializes the gay teenagers who have taken their own lives in recent years due to anti-gay bullying, and was commissioned by the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra. The piece received its chamber premiere in April 2013 by The Secret Opera, and received its West Coast premiere by members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony as a part of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual Institute on Psychiatric Services.

Called a “dynamic vocalist” by Mr. Tommasini, and “a skillful and sensitive singer who shapes phrases and renders text with expert care” by Gregory Berg of Journal of Singing, Dennis’s focus as a vocalist is primarily on the works of the 21st and late 20th centuries. He has premiered works by David Del Tredici, Chester Biscardi, Ricky Ian Gordon, Darien Shulman, and Hadar Noiberg. In February 2016, he and pianist Marc Peloquin released their first album together, And He’ll Be Mine: Love Songs by Gay American Composers, on the Perfect Enemy label, which they founded in order to present previously-unrecorded vocal works by living composers.

In May 2016, Dennis launched the Music Publishing Podcast, a weekly 60-to-90-minute show exploring the practical and business aspects of being a concert musician in the 21st Century, where he is joined by guests from throughout the realm of concert music, as well as the other arts. In January 2017, he launched a sister show to the podcast, titled “The Composer’s Guide to Doing Business“, which takes up the mantle of Dennis’ earlier writings on practical matters for composers.

He is also the founder of NewMusicShelf, an online marketplace devoted to bringing together performers of new music and independently-published composers by offering a platform for composers to sell digital editions of their works. In 2018, the company began publishing the NewMusicShelf Anthologies of New Music, a new initiative aimed at bringing new and unknown composers and repertoire to student and professional performers alike. With an emphasis on works not found in the traditional publishing ecosystem, each volume of twenty works is curated by performers who have a reputation for championing new music, with an eye toward selecting works with a range of styles and difficulties that are suitable for concert and recital performance.

Dennis lives in Astoria, Queens with his husband Darien Scott Shulman and their cat Pistachio.

Articles by Dennis Tobenski:

Articles March 30 2017 | By Dennis Tobenski
Support Systems

Art exists within the context of the life and beliefs of the artist who created it, and everyone who helped to shape that person’s life and beliefs.

Articles March 23 2017 | By Dennis Tobenski
Course Corrections

Within six months of starting my new freelance life, things had gone off the rails a little bit. As a result, I’ve found my freelance life to be an exercise...

Articles March 16 2017 | By Dennis Tobenski
Pitfalls of Living the Freelance Life

One of the things about being a freelancer is that your time is entirely your own. Sixteen-plus-hour days can come to be commonplace and the concept of “weekend” loses all...

Articles March 9 2017 | By Dennis Tobenski
Taking The Plunge

I composed on evenings and weekends when I had the energy, and stole time away during the day job to handle some of my musical admin tasks and to “network”...

Articles February 12 2014 | By Dennis Tobenski
Fair Trade for Sheet Music

In a world that increasingly relies on the economy of free, it's important to establish that some things aren't free, and in fact have an actual dollar value associated with...