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Connecticut Summerfest 2020

Connecticut Summerfest is a contemporary music festival that brings together talented emerging composers and inventive chamber ensembles.

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2020 Festival Wrap Up

Posted on December 14, 2020 by Connecticut Summerfest, Inc.

After several months of creative thinking and hard work with our 2020 collaborators, we were thrilled to be able to adapt our 5th anniversary season for our new reality. Thanks to the support of the International Contemporary Ensemble and composition faculty members Phyllis Chen, Nathan Davis, Gilda Lyons, and Matt Sargent, we were able to alter our Composition Program to be completely digital. We are proud to report that our 2020 festival went smoothly and was creatively and professionally fruitful for our festival composition students.

Highlights from Connecticut Summerfest 2020:

Festival composers collaborated with our 2020 ensemble-in-residence, the International Contemporary Ensemble, on their brand new pieces via Zoom meetings and rehearsals before and during the festival. ICE devised clever rehearsal and recording solutions for these new works, and our Evening of Web Premieres was live streamed on September 12. Check out the playlist here!

We were able to engage double the number of guest lecturers than originally planned for our in-person festival, including musicologist Dr. Stephan Pennington, known for his work with protest music, who was recently profiled by the Boston Globe for raising $10,000 for bail funds during a recent online talk!

Festival composers worked one-on-one with our four composition faculty in private lessons, sharing their scores and recordings through Zoom.

 Festival composers received thoughtful comments and feedback on their music in a group setting as well, presenting their recent projects in composition seminars.

The International Contemporary Ensemble provided our festival composers and staff the opportunity to privately view their archived collaborations with composers Courtney Bryan, Vijay Iyer, George Lewis, Matana Roberts, and Tyshawn Sorey. This collection was entitled Amplifying Black Voices and prompted festival composers to reflect on issues of systemic racism in contemporary classical music.

We were able to preserve the valuable networking and community aspects of Connecticut Summerfest through special online social events, such as a Welcome Dinner, Coffee Hour, and Farewell Happy Hour!


Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us over these last five seasons, and especially to New Music USA—we couldn’t do it without you! Although we are all expending lots of energy to cope with and continue onward during this pandemic, we hope that music can be a comfort. We believe that in times of crisis, the arts have the power to uplift, console, and inspire, and we here at Connecticut Summerfest will continue doing that for you, our amazing family.


Connecticut Summerfest is an annual contemporary music festival that brings together talented emerging composers with some of the country’s most innovative chamber music ensembles. Taking place in the heart of Connecticut, nine festival composers are selected through a blind adjudication process to collaborate with resident ensembles and receive the guidance of distinguished composition teachers and lecturers, culminating in the premiere of new works during our free nightly concert series. Connecticut Summerfest is a unique and affordable educational opportunity for composition students and a way for the Greater Hartford area to experience contemporary classical music free of charge. Our 2020 festival will occur June 11–17, 2020 at The Hartt School in West Hartford, CT.

Every year, Connecticut Summerfest invites professional, actively-touring chamber ensembles to work collaboratively with festival composers to bring new works to life. We are thrilled to be featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as our ensemble-in-residence for our 2020 season. Described as “the new gold standard for new-music” (The New Yorker), ICE is an innovative and dynamic ensemble at the forefront of the contemporary classical scene. In addition to curating three free concerts, ICE will work with our festival composers on pieces written specifically for the festival, to be premiered at our fourth and final concert, the Evening of Premieres.

The structure of Connecticut Summerfest was carefully crafted to provide emerging composers and ensembles a meaningful forum for artistic exchange and professional development, as well as to provide the community with free performances of high-caliber new music. The festival features seminars, lessons, and rehearsals during the day, followed by a series of three evening concerts and one Sunday matinee performance, all of which are presented free to the public, in addition to being live streamed in high definition. The first three concerts, which will occur at 8PM on June 12th and 13th, and at 4PM on June 14th in the Berkman Recital Hall at The Hartt School, will feature programs curated by ICE. The final concert on June 16th is our Evening of Premieres, during which brand-new works by festival composers are brought to life.

Our daytime activities offer festival composers educational and career advancement opportunities. In addition to rehearsing with ensembles throughout the morning and afternoon, participants attend interactive presentations by world-class guest lecturers, private hour-long lessons with each resident composition faculty member, and composition seminars that engage all participants in serious artistic discussions. This year’s composition faculty members are Phyllis Chen (Freelance composer and pianist in ICE), Nathan Davis (Adjunct Professor of Music Technology at Montclair State University and percussionist in ICE), Gilda Lyons (Assistant Professor of Composition at The Hartt School), and Matt Sargent (Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Bard College) .

Start and End Dates



West Hartford, Connecticut

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Last update on December 14, 2020

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West Hartford, Connecticut
Connecticut Summerfest brings together talented emerging composers with some of the country’s most inventive chamber music ensembles for a week-long festival of artistic exchange culminating in nine world premieres. Since our inaugural season in 2015, we have premiered 35 new works, collaborated with 9 chamber ensembles, engaged 11 composition faculty members, and presented 9 lectures…

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New York, New York
Composition Faculty
Composition Faculty
Buffalo, New York
Composition Faculty
New York, New York


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