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April 5: Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts Names Composer Noel Zahler Head of the School of Music


Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts Names
Composer Noel Zahler Head of the School of Music

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's College of Fine Arts has announced the appointment of Noel Zahler as its new head of the School of Music.     

Noel Zahler"Noel brings the best of three worlds. He comes to Carnegie Mellon respected as a gifted composer and as an accomplished administrator with great leadership skills," said Hilary Robinson, the Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts. "Furthermore, he is a perfect fit for Carnegie Mellon. We anticipate a great future for Carnegie Mellon's School of Music."     

Zahler, who will begin his new assignment July 1, succeeds Marilyn Taft Thomas, who will return to the school's faculty after serving as interim head. Zahler comes to Carnegie from the University of Minnesota, where he directs the School of Music and teaches composition.   

"How we combine the power of musical sound and its interpretation through performance into works that speak to each of us is, for me, what making music is all about," Zahler said. "In my own work as a composer, I try to build imaginary sound-worlds that resonate differently, with emotion and meaning, for everyone who hears them.

"Standing at the crossroads of the arts and sciences, Carnegie Mellon has the unique opportunity to transform the training of musicians for the 21st century and to influence how music will be made and experienced. I'm thrilled to be part of this changing artistic landscape," Zahler said.    

Zahler's compositions include a wide range of vocal, instrumental, electro-acoustic, interactive and multimedia works. Recordings of his music "Regions I, Four Songs of Departure" and "Harlequin" are available on the Opus One record label. His acclaimed work for chamber orchestra, "Agarttha" — with David Gompper, conductor of the Ensemble of the Center for New Music — is available on the Centaur label. The American Composers Orchestra, Arden Trio, Charleston String Quartet, Meridian String Quartet, League of Composers and other ensembles throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia have performed his compositions.   

In addition, Zahler is the co-author of three computer software programs, the "Artificially Intelligent Computer Performer," "Score Follow" and "Music Matrix." His writings on music theory and composition, artificial intelligence and music, and computer music have been published in various publications, including the "New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians," the "New Grove Dictionary of Music in the United States" and in Charles Ives' "The Unanswered Question." Zahler was recently elected vice president of the American Composers Alliance, a national organization founded by Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions in 1937.     

Zahler has a Ph.D. in musical arts from Columbia University; a master's degree from Princeton University; a certificato di perfezionamento from L'Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy; and a bachelor's degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at CUNY Queens College.     

His awards and prizes include a National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commission; a Fulbright/Hayes Fellowship to Italy; two McDowell Colony Fellowships; an Aaron Copland Foundation Grant in support of recording; a Connecticut Commission on the Arts Individual Artists Grant; and a Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) prize for the sound score to the computer-realized video "Gothic Tempest."