Composer, violinist/violist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Burhans was born in Monterey, CA, and has lived in New York with his wife, Martha Cluver, since 2003. He has been heralded by the New York Times as, “animated and versatile”, being a, “sweet voiced countertenor” as well as a “new music virtuoso”. Caleb's early musical influences were widespread both musically and geographically, ranging from his father (who in the 60's and 70's played with Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers and the Everly Brothers), to his training as a boy soprano in Houston, TX, to his early studies in Janesville, WI, where he studied violin, piano, music theory and composition, as well as picking up viola, cello, bass, percussion, mandolin, guitar, electric bass, and conducting. He attended Interlochen Arts Academy as well as the Eastman School of Music, where he received a bachelor's degree in viola performance and composition.
Besides violin and viola, Caleb’s main instruments are guitar and piano; he is also active as a countertenor. He is a regular member of groups including ACME, Alarm Will Sound, Beyondo, Bleknlok, Escort, itsnotyouitsme, Newspeak, Signal and the Wordless Music Orchestra. His compositions benefit from the synergy of writing for people he plays with, and his performances of other works draws from his insights as a composer. His compositions have often been premiered by (and commissioned by) ensembles he works with, including his setting of Psalm 118 (for mixed choir, children’s choir, brass, and organ) commissioned by Trinity Church, Wall Street for Easter 2008; his arrangement of John Adams’s “Coast” from Hoodoo Zephyr commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Alarm Will Sound (and premiered at Carnegie Hall by AWS in 2006); and his upcoming oh ye of little faith... (do you know where your children are?) commissioned by Lincoln Center for the re-opening of Alice Tully Hall, which will be premiered by Alan Pierson and Alarm Will Sound on March 3, 2009. Other compositions include An Advent Song, Commissioned by Trinity Wall Street and premiered on December 7th, 2008, by Robert Ridgell and the Trinity Wall Street Choristers; In a distant place, commissioned by the Bloomingdale School of Music, premiered on June 20, 2008, at Christ and St. Stephens Church by Clay Greenberg and students of the Bloomingdale School of Music; and Amidst Neptune, commissioned by Brad Lubman and premiered by Brad Lubman and Eastman’s Musica Nova at Kilbourn hall in March of 2003 (which was also performed at the Whitney Museum in 2006 by Alan Pierson and Alarm Will Sound as part of Steve Reich's 70th birthday celebration and at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall by Alan Pierson and AWS in a concert curated by John Adams).
Caleb has also been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, clarinetist Bill Kalinkos, Dogs of Desire, Fuma Sacra, Janus, the King's Park High School String Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Abby Fischer, percussionist Payton MacDonald, Scalene, St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Rochester, NY), Tarab Cello Ensemble, trombonist James Hirschfeld, violinist Yuki Numata, violists John Graham, Eric Nowlin, and Nadia Sirota.
A specialist in early music, new music, pop/rock, and improvisation, Caleb has premiered numerous pieces and worked with such composers as La Monte Young, Lou Harrison, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, Meredith Monk, Gavin Bryars, Max Richter, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Jacob Ter Veldhuis, Poul Ruders, Per Norgard, Roger Reynolds, George Crumb, Brian Ferneyhough, Martin Bresnik, David Liptak, Brad Lubman, Augusta Read Thomas and Bernard Rands. His performing activities have included playing or singing (sometimes both) with groups including the All-American Rejects, Anti-Social Music, the Charleston Symphony, the Bach Choir at Holy Trinity, Ensemble21, Ethel, the Madison Symphony, the Michael Gordon Band, the Milwaukee Symphony, the New York New Music Ensemble, Nexus, Ossia, the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Slee Sinfonietta, SO Percussion, Spring Awakening (On Broadway), Stars of the Lid, the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, The Hold Steady, the Todd Reynolds Situation, Trinity Wall Street Choir, the VOX Vocal Ensemble, the Wordless Music Orchestra, and the Zankel Hall Band.
As a violin soloist, he’s also played with the Beloit Janesville Symphony, Eastman's Ossia Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound and Eastman’s Collegium Musicum. As a countertenor soloist he's sung with the Brockport Symphony, Rochester Bach Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Trinity on Wall Street Choir, Manhattan School of Music Percussion Ensemble, Eastman's Musica Nova and Eastman's Collegium Musicum.
Caleb has recorded for Nonesuch, Harmonia Mundi France, Universal, Virgin, Winter & Winter, Bridge, Naxos, Lujo, Cantaloupe, Hanssler, MSR Classics, Hybrid, Vagrant, Arthaus Musik, Sweet Spot and Oxford Press. He has worked with conductors such as David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas, Brad Lubman and Paul O’Dette. Caleb’s principal violin teachers have been Norman Paulu, Almita and Roland Vemos, Eugene Purdue and Lynn Blakeslee. His sole viola teacher was John Graham and he has studied voice with Robert Issacs. His composition teachers have been David Liptak, Bob Morris, Joseph Schwantner and Augusta Read Thomas.
As a string player, Caleb has played with the Charleston Symphony, Madison Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Steve Reich Ensemble, Michael Gordon Band, Ensemble21, Tactus Contemporary Ensemble, University at Buffalo’s Slee Sinfonietta, Susie Kelly String Quartet, Ensemble Multicolour and the Rochester Bach Ensemble. As a singer he has worked with the New York Ensemble for Early Music, the Vox Vocal Ensemble, Christ Church Rochester and Downtown United Presbyterian Rochester. He’s been a member of the bands, Access to Gel, Eating Dead Deer Sex Machine, Sauce, Flesh Magnet, Mike Gamble’s Multi-Mediarchestra, and Nast, as well as the techno duo Bleknlok.
As a champion of new music, Caleb has premiered numerous works as well as working with such composers as La Monte Young, Lou Harrison, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, Meredith Monk, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Jacob Ter Veldhuis, Poul Ruders, Per Norgard, Roger Reynolds, George Crumb, Brian Ferneyhough, Martin Bresnik, David Liptak, Brad Lubman, Augusta Read Thomas and Bernard Rands. He has been commissioned by various new music ensembles including the Albany Symphony, Tarab Cello Ensemble, Janus and Eastman’s Musica Nova Ensemble. His music has been performed throughout North America and Europe. His works have also been performed by faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, University of Wisconsin Madison and Smith College. They have won awards such as the Music Educators National Conference Composition Competition and Eastman’s Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize. He has been featured on newmusicbox.org performing his own works. As a violin soloist, he’s played with the Beloit Janesville Symphony, Eastman’s Ossia Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound and Eastman’s Collegium Musicum. As a countertenor soloist he’s sung with the Brockport Symphony, Rochester Bach Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Trinity on Wall Street Choir, Manhattan School of Music Percussion Ensemble, Eastman’s Musica Nova and Eastman’s Collegium Musicum. Caleb was recently the featured soloist, playing violin with Alarm Will Sound in Lou Harrison’s Suite for Violin, Piano and Small Ensemble, as well as singing countertenor on Steve Reich’s Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ on WNYC’s show “New Sounds Live” with John Schafer.
Last Edited On: 5 January 2010