photo by James Pomerantz
Described by the Toronto Star as an "eclectic with wide open ears, Grammy-nominated composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel has been widely acclaimed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. Bermel's works draw from a rich variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk, and gospel. Hands-on experience with music of cultures around the world has become part of the fabric and force of his compositional language.
Currently serving as artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study and creative adviser to the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Bermel has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, Boston, St. Louis, New Jersey, Albany, and Pacific Symphonies, Los Angeles and Westchester Philharmonics, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri String Quartet, Music from China, violinist Midori, the Guarneri and JACK string quartets, electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans, cellist Fred Sherry and pianist Christopher Taylor, among others. His many awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, as well as residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri.
The recent CD of Bermel's orchestral works on BMOP/Sound was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, and a new CD of his large ensemble by Alarm Will Sound will be released on the Cantaloupe label this fall. He is founding clarinetist of Music from Copland House and has performed his clarinet concerto with more than a dozen orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and at the Beijing New Music Festival.
Bermel has worked with a diverse array of musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Leonard Slatkin, Midori, John Adams, Paquito DRivera, Philip Glass, Sir James Galway, Gustavo Dudamel, Luciana Souza, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Dennis Russell Davies, and Stephen Sondheim. He has also collaborated with artists in a wide variety of genres, including playwright Will Eno, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, installation artist Shimon Attie, landscape architect Andy Cao, choreographers Sheron Wray and Abigail Levine, performance artist Kim Jones, poets Wendy S. Walters, Mark Halliday Naomi Shihab Nye, and Albert Bermel.
As an educator, he founded the groundbreaking Making Score program for young composers at the New York Youth Symphony and regularly leads masterclasses at universities, conservatories, festivals, and concert venues worldwide. Mr. Bermel holds B.A. and D.M.A. degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan. His composition teachers were William Albright, Louis Andriessen, William Bolcom, Henri Dutilleux, André Hajdu, and Michael Tenzer, and he studied clarinet with Ben Armato and Keith Wilson. He also studied ethnomusicology and orchestration in Jerusalem with André Hajdu, later traveling to Bulgaria to study Thracian folk style with Nikola Iliev, to Brazil to learn caxixi with Julio Góes, and to Ghana to study Lobi xylophone with Ngmen Baaru. Derek Bermel's music is published by Peermusic (North/South America & Asia) and Faber Music (Europe & Australia).