2019-20 Collaborators

Matt Albert, violin

photo: Kim Leeson

Called “preposterously talented” by Time Out Chicago, violinist and violist Matt Albert is the Chair of Chamber Music at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan. He previously served as the Director of Chamber Music and SYZYGY at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, and he was a founding member of Eighth Blackbird, with whom he received numerous awards, including first prizes at the Naumburg, Concert Artists Guild, Coleman, and Fischoff Competitions, and three Grammy awards for their recordings on Cedille Records. He has collaborated with Alarm Will Sound, Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, Seraphic Fire, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and Wilco, and his orchestral playing has included work with the Shreveport Symphony (as Concertmaster), the Baltimore Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and a tenured position as Principal Second Violin of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. Other leadership roles include three years as the Artistic Director of the M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition and three years as the Artistic Director of the Music in the Mountains Conservatory in Durango, Colorado. Matt holds degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Northwestern University School of Music.


Molly Barth, flutes

Described as “ferociously talented” (The Oregonian) and “an exemplary performer” (Log Journal), flutist Molly Barth specializes in the music of today and has been involved with several ensembles. Formed with Dieter Hennings, Duo Damiana is focused on broadening the cutting-edge repertoire for flute and guitar. The Zohn Collective brings together a core ensemble with musical ties for projects throughout the world. Molly co-founded Eighth Blackbird, with whom she performed from 1996-2006, won a Grammy Award, Naumburg Award, Concert Artists Guild Prize and recorded with Cedille Records. As co-founder of Beta Collide, Molly collaborated with individuals from numerous disciplines and recorded with Innova Records. Molly is Asst. Professor of Flute at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University and previously taught at the University of Oregon, Willamette University, the University of Chicago and the University of Richmond. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, and Northwestern University. Molly is a Burkart Artist.


Zachary Good, clarinets

Zachary Good is an instrumentalist (clarinets and baroque recorders) and performer from Pittsburgh, PA. Based in Chicago, he is a freelancing musician, middle school band director, and founding member/co-artistic director of Mocrep. Zachary has performed with Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, Lyric Opera Unlimited, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Manual Cinema, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the New World Symphony. He has appeared as a soloist with the International Contemporary Ensemble and DePaul University’s new music ensemble, 20+.

Since 2016, Zachary has regularly toured with Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion, performing Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. In January 2018, he worked closely with cellist YoYo Ma as one of six fellows at the second annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong festival in Guangzhou, China. While a fellow with the Civic Orchestra in 2015, he established the annual New Music Workshop; a local call for scores that include performances, workshops, and recordings of selected works with Civic musicians. He regularly performs with the trio, ZRL (with Ryan Packard and Lia Kohl); their albums are released on Chicago labels No Index and Homeroom. Zachary tours nationally and internationally with the puppet theatre company Manual Cinema and the interdisciplinary performance ensemble Mocrep. Zachary is a band director at the Chicago Waldorf School. He is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and DePaul University.


Ken Thomson, clarinets

photo: Naomi White

Ken Thomson, a staple of New York City’s contemporary music and jazz communities, is widely regarded for his ability to blend a rich variety of influences and styles into his own musical language while maintaining a voice unmistakably his own.

Thomson has a growing catalog of music written for chamber music and small orchestra, and has released a number of albums with groups that he has created.  His latest effort combining the sounds of jazz and contemporary music, Sextet, garnered Top of 2018 awards from websites Second Inversion and AnEarful.  His previous project, a five-piece group called Slow/Fast, was praised by The New York Times for its “intricate long-form compositions,” and garnered a five-star review in All About Jazz. He has released full-length CDs of his compositions in 2013 with JACK Quartet (Thaw) and in 2016 with cellist Ashley Bathgate and pianist Karl Larson (Restless).

Ken plays clarinet for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the world’s preeminent new music ensembles. He is the musical director for the Asphalt Orchestra, an 8-piece next-generation avant-garde street band. He plays saxophone and is one of the 4 composers in the punk/chamber/jazz band Gutbucket, with whom he has toured internationally to twenty countries and 32 states over twenty years. He is on faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival

As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, Doug Perkins, Mariel Roberts, and others, and has received awards from New Music USA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, ASCAP and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. The New York Times wrote of his work “Wait Your Turn” for the American Composers Orchestra upon its debut at Carnegie Hall: “The concert ended on a high note…. the music offered a density worthy of the closing bars of a Led Zeppelin epic;” and of his work “seasonal.disorder” for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, “a virtuoso piece.”

As a saxophonist and clarinetist, he has performed and recorded with Ensemble Signal (conducted by Brad Lubman), working directly with composers from Steve Reich to Helmut Lachenmann and performing on CDs for Harmonia Mundi, Mode, Orange Mountain, and Cantaloupe Records. He is a frequent collaborator with many new-composed music groups including Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Novus NY and more. He has also worked as a music director, notably, directing composer Julia Wolfe’s “Traveling Music” at the Bordeaux Conservatory, France, 2009, and has conducted performances of “Music for Airports” with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, choir, and guest musicians from Melbourne to Buenos Aires.

He has recently been the subject of profile features in Downbeat, NewMusicBox and Critical Read. He is a Selmer Paris, Conn-Selmer and D’Addario Woodwinds Artist. 


Elly Toyoda, violin

Elly Toyoda, an alumna of the 2018 Blackbird Creative Lab, hails from Osaka, Japan, has performed in various festivals in Asia, Europe, and North America. She holds her Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory, where she was elected membership to Pi Kappa Lambda of the National Music Honor Society, and studied for a semester in Vienna, Austria upon receiving the Thomastik-Infeld City of Music Scholarship and Fine Arts Scholarship. She earned her Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music where she served as concertmistress of the orchestra, was a finalist of their concerto competition, and received the school’s Alumni Prize. Outside of school, she has been a semi-finalist of the 2017 Gershwin International Music Competition, and a finalist of the 2018 Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. An avid supporter of contemporary music, she was awarded the Prix de Musique Contemporaine by the Fontainebleau Schools Association, appeared on programs at the National Sawdust and Le Poisson Rouge in New York, and has premiered numerous works through Eighth Blackbird’s Creative Lab, Lucerne Festival, Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and Talis Festival. Toyoda is currently a full-scholarship Doctoral student at Rutgers University studying with Yura Lee, serving as concertmistress of the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, and is on the violin faculty at SpeakMusic Conservatory and Lindeblad School of Music.

Wetzel, David clarinet

Clarinetist/Bass Clarinetist David Brooke Wetzel is a specialist in new music and interactive electronics. Solo appearances include the Chicago Composers’ Consortium, New York Electroacoustic Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest (IL), Electroacoustic Barn Dance (VA), Endless Mountains (PA), Spark Festival (MN), Sonic Fusion (UK), and as a featured performer at SPLICE 2015 (Kalamazoo), SEAMUS 2012 (Appleton), and ICMC 2010 (NYC). His research interests are primarily in the field of interactive computer music systems, with a special focus on maintaining electroacoustic repertoire in the face of rapid technological change. His writing on this subject has appeared in Organised Sound and in recent presentations to SEAMUS and ICMC. He is the creator of the Interactive Event Manager (IEM), a script-driven modular software system for interactive electroacoustic performance. As the founder and artistic director of the Loyola University Technology Ensemble (LUTE), Dr. Wetzel has led numerous readings of Terry Riley’s “In C” arranged as a “laptop play-along” for musicians and “non-musicians” alike, in an effort to create immersive and collaborative musical experiences for everyone, regardless of background or ability. Dr. Wetzel has recently joined the Software Systems Laboratory at Loyola University Chicago as a faculty advisor for digital music initiatives, including the ongoing and expanding “Accessible Technology Ensemble” project. 

Dr. Wetzel received the B.Mus. in clarinet performance from Lawrence University, the M.M. in computer music performance and concert production from the Peabody Conservatory and the DMA in clarinet performance from the University of Arizona. His clarinet teachers include Jerry Kirkbride (Dorian Quintet), Loren Kitt (NSO), Edward Palanker (Baltimore Symphony), Thea King (ECO) and Dan C. Sparks. His computer music teachers include McGregor Boyle, Ichiro Fujinaga and Geoffrey Wright. Dr. Wetzel currently teaches digital music and programming at Loyola University Chicago, and has previously taught at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Central Arizona College, the Peabody Preparatory, and the Baltimore High School for the Arts. He also serves as technical director and production coordinator for Access Contemporary Music (ACM) in his home town, Chicago.


Pamela Z, composer, vocalist and interdisciplinary artist

photo: rubra

Bay Area artist Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video. A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, digital processing, and wireless MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound with physical gestures. In addition to her solo work, she has been commissioned to compose scores for dance, theatre, film, and chamber ensembles including Kronos Quartet, the Bang on a Can All Stars, Ethel, and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her interdisciplinary performance works have been presented at venues including The Kitchen (NY), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF), REDCAT (LA), and MCA (Chicago), and her installations have been presented at such exhibition spaces as the Whitney (NY), the Diözesanmuseum (Cologne), and the Krannert (IL). Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. She has performed in numerous festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (New York), Interlink (Japan), Other Minds (San Francisco), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Dak’Art (Sénégal) and Pina Bausch Tanztheater Festival (Wuppertal, Germany). She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Rome Prize, a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Artist Impact Award, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, an Ars Electronica honorable mention, and the NEA Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. www.pamelaz.com