Dal Niente is a model of what contemporary music needs, but seldom gets, to reach and engage a wider public.
— John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune


Ensemble Dal Niente is a Chicago-based contemporary music collective that presents and performs new music in ways that redefine the listening experience and advance the art form. The programming, brought to life by a flexible repertoire-based instrumentation, seeks to challenge convention and create engaging, inspiring, and immersive experiences which connect audiences with the music of today.

a superb contemporary-music collective.
— David Allen, New York Times


Noted for its presentation of "bracing sonic adventures" (Chicago Tribune), Ensemble Dal Niente, "a superb contemporary-music collective" (The New York Times), aims to drive musical discourse with adventurous projects that exhibit an ambitious range of aesthetic values tied to contemporary life and culture. The ensemble performs music written for large ensemble, chamber music, and solo works, each with relentless attention to interpretation. Dal Niente works with a range of composers, from emerging and established living artists to the post-World War II avant-garde generation. Recent projects include a collaboration with Deerhoof and Marcos Balter; a tour of Latin American countries; performances and recordings of works by George Lewis; an East Coast tour of German music; the Hard Music, Hard Liquor concert series and its annual Party. With each project, programs are curated and presented in ways that highlight the music’s relationship with our culture and society.

The ensemble’s introduction to the international music community was expedited by their acclaimed performances at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music in 2010 and 2012; in 2012, Dal Niente became the first-ever ensemble recipient of the coveted Kranichstein Music Prize and was invited to give the 2014 festival’s culminating performance in Darmstadt, Germany.

Recordings of Dal Niente’s performances of new and recent repertoire have been released on the New Amsterdam, New Focus, Navona, Parlour Tapes+, and Carrier labels. The ensemble also shares performance videos and discussions with their audience through YouTube and other social media.

Dal Niente’s outreach includes educational activities of all kinds, exhibited most commonly in university settings with composition workshops, masterclasses, discussions, and performances. The ensemble’s residencies have included work with faculty and students at various universities including Northwestern, Chicago, Harvard, Stanford, Indiana, Illinois, and Western Michigan, among others.

The ensemble's name, Dal Niente ("from nothing" in Italian), is a tribute to Helmut Lachenmann's Dal niente (Interieur III), the revolutionary style of which serves as an inspiration for its musicians. The name also references its humble beginnings -- founded in 2004 by a group of student composers at Northwestern University, the ensemble has risen from obscurity to a position as one of North America's most prominent new music groups.



  • First ensemble to be awarded the prestigious Kranichstein Music Prize at the 2012 International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany
  • Recent international engagements include a 3-week tour of Colombia, Mexico, and Panama supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's International Connections Fund
  • Academic residencies at Harvard University, Indiana University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and Williams College
  • Performed the Chicago premieres of two 21st-century masterpieces, in vain by Georg Friedrich Haas and Schnee by Hans Abrahamsen
  • Performed on renowned concert series and festivals throughout the world including Concerts from the Library of Congress, Ecstatic Music Festival (NYC), Festival International Chihuahua, Latino Music Festival (Chicago), Music Arte Panama, Ravinia Festival, and SALT Festival (Canada)