Rhodes Scholar Nick DiBerardino (b. 1989) is a composer whose music depicts vivid, fantastical journeys. Melodic lyricism, “richly textured, multilayered” sounds (Minnesota Star Tribune), and dynamic harmony “full of jostling and jarring tonal colors” (Broad Street Review) distinguish his diverse catalog. Nick’s work weaves “surprisingly harmonious melodies” (Portland Press Herald) into a visceral, gestural language, making contact with science, literature, history, art, and poetry to trace broad narrative arcs that resonate beyond the concert hall.
Nick is enthusiastically working to extend the reach of art music through collaborative projects. His recent children’s opera Anansi and the Great Light, produced by Curtis’ Family Concert Series, explored a new model for community involvement in the creative process. A series of residency workshops involved schoolchildren in North Philadelphia in every phase of the work’s creation. Young students directly contributed to the libretto and to the score through fun, interactive activities. They also experienced the opera firsthand, performing in the production as a children’s choir. In his work as a Community Artist Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, Nick also developed a workshop series for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of memory loss and dementia. This series, created in partnership with the Penn Memory Center, engaged participants in a range of multisensory group composition exercises with the aim of improving quality of life and culminated in a concert of collaboratively composed works.
This fall will see the premiere of Nick’s new odyssey for eight hands, Atlas. Inspired by images from the New Horizons spacecraft and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing,Atlaswill explore sonic spaces with a sense of wonder about the universe, the spaces we inhabit within it, and the spaces we might someday traverse. The percussionists of arx duowill premiere the piece alongside pianists Amy Yang and Qing Jiang, alwaysworking around a single piano. They will chart many theatrical possibilities for spatial interaction, all four sometimes playing percussion at the corners of the stage, other times crowding elbow to elbow at the piano bench.
Nick’s recent collaborative projects included the curation of an outward-looking commissioning initiative with the “superb” (Philadelphia Inquirer) musicians of The Brass Project. This initiative, called “Cityscaping,” generated thirty-five new pieces of engaging civic music for outdoor performance, including works by Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Jay Kernis, Rome Prize winner Sean Friar, and Princeton Professor Emeritus Paul Lansky. Praised as “great fun” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the project culminated in new music concerts in dozens of schools, public spaces, and non-traditional concert venues. In 2018, selections from this repertoire, including Nick’s Ornithopter, were released by The Brass Project on their debut album, “Cityscaping.”
Nick is also proud to have co-founded and directed the Oxford Laptop Orchestra (OxLOrk), a chamber music ensemble comprised of both musicians and coders. Powered by hemispherical speakers and novel software instruments, OxLOrk creates electroacoustic performances that are maximally individually expressive. With Nick presiding over its inaugural year, OxLOrk presented five concerts, including a collaboration with the Ashmolean Art Museum and an interactive performance at the Barbican Centre in London.
Nick is a passionate speaker who enjoys reaching listeners both at home and abroad. He has appeared on BBC Radio Oxford and public radio and television in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New Mexico. He regularly gives lectures and talks to a wide range of audiences. During the 2018-2019 season, he will appear as a pre-concert lecturer at the Brooklyn Art Song Society, the DiMenna Center, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
Nick furthers his commitment to the wider new music community in his role as the Project Manager for Curtis’ 20/21 Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated new music presenting arm of the Curtis Institute of Music. Nick also serves as the Media Relations and Booking Manager for the PRISM Quartet, one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles who have “set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times) and commissioned nearly three hundred new works.
A committed teacher, Nick sees education as a core part of his musical mission. He has served on the Musical Studies faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music and worked as a teaching fellow and assistant at Yale University, the Yale School of Music, and four of the colleges at the University of Oxford. Nick spent several summers working with young musicians as composer-in-residence at the Luzerne Music Center (NY), where he was on the composition and theory faculty. He is currently the Musical Studies Lead Instructor and Composition Coordinator at Curtis' Young Artist Summer Program and is thrilled to be teaching composition and theory at the Sphinx Performance Academy, a program with a primary focus on cultural diversity that actively recruits students from cultural backgrounds underrepresented in the field of classical music.
Nick’s music has met critical acclaim within the concert hall. An accomplished young orchestral voice, Nick’s works have been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Minnesota Orchestra, among others. His chamber music has been read and performed by the Zora, Iris, and Brentano String Quartets, arx duo, Sandbox Percussion, the Israeli Chamber Project, the New College Choir, Thin Edge Music Collective, members of the Fountain Ensemble and Horszowski Trio, performers Tony Arnold, Blair McMillen, Tara O’Connor, Danny Phillips, Soovin Kim, and many other ensembles and artists.
Nick has received recognition for his music from a diverse set of institutions, including ASCAP, the Music Teachers’ National Association, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Boston New Music Initiative, PARMA Recordings, the New York Youth Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of New York, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, the California Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and the American Composers Forum. Other accolades include winning the Portland Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition, garnering a soundSCAPE Composition Prize, and receiving a Horizon Award from Connecticut's Westport Arts Advisory Committee, given to young artists who have achieved "measurable excellence" in their field. Nick has dabbled in film composition, and his score for Scholastic’s film and audiobook adaptation of This is Not My Hat received an AudioFile Earphones Award and was named a finalist in the 2015 Audie Awards. In 2018, Nick was chosen as one of five composition fellows for the international Intimacy of Creativity Festival in Hong Kong.
Nick has participated in seminars and festivals with the New York Youth Symphony, the European American Musical Alliance, the Brevard Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Norfolk New Music Workshop, the highSCORE festival, the soundSCAPE festival, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival, where his work was featured on the Charles E. Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music. He has been a composer fellow at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, a composer-in-residence at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, a participant in the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival's Young Composers Seminar, and Young Artist Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire.
Nick earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University, where he founded the Undergraduate Composers Collective, was elected early to Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize for excellence in music theory and composition. At the University of Oxford, Nick obtained an M.Phil with distinction and was awarded the John Lowell Osgood Memorial Prize for composition. Nick also holds an M.M. from the Yale School of Music and a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in composition at Princeton.
Nick lives in Lawrenceville, NJ with his wife Audrey and their two cats, Aristotle and Sappho. He eats plants exclusively, is always trying to get better at yoga, and happily maintains a private composition studio in Philadelphia for students of all ages.