The Music of Place

The best-loved places on and about the Dartmouth campus will be enfolded in a music project to premiere next fall.

As part of the college’s celebration of its 250th anniversary, award-winning composer Oliver Caplan ’04 has been commissioned by the Hopkins Center to write a major symphony for winds that will span four movements, each inspired by a beloved Dartmouth place. The Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble will premiere the new work in Fall 2019. The commission was supported by the Scott G. Smedinghoff GR ’17 Memorial Fund.

Caplan is reaching out to Dartmouth students, alumni, faculty and staff to hear their thoughts about what Dartmouth means to each of them, and to collect their suggestions for places to include in the piece, via an online form.

My hope is that opening this process will engender a sense of community ownership for the music, and foster anticipation for both the premiere and the 250th birthday more broadly,” Caplan wrote.

“The comments people have been sharing through the form is very moving and giving me a lot of inspirational fodder for the piece. In addition to sharing favorite places, people are talking about Dartmouth both in terms of tradition and legacy, and also quite poignantly about change and growth over time.”

Caplan’s music has been heard many times at the college, starting with multiple performances while he was an undergraduate. More recently, he was commissioned in 2012 by the Handel Society of Dartmouth College in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Hopkins Center (Roots and Wings) and in 2017 by a 12-institution consortium including the Wind Ensemble (Krummholz Variations).

According to a statement on his website,  Caplan seeks to write “melodies that nourish our souls, offering a voice of hope in an uncertain world. Inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit and beauty of the natural world, [my] music celebrates stories of social justice, conservation and community.”

Listen to Caplan’s works here.

Caplan’s works have been performed in over 125 performances nationwide. He has been commissioned by the Atlanta Chamber Players, Bella Piano Trio, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, Columbia University Wind Ensemble and New Hampshire Master Chorale, among others. He is the winner of a Special Citation for the American Prize in Orchestral Composition, and additional recognitions include two Veridian Symphony Competition Wins, the Fifth House Ensemble Competition Grand Prize, seven ASCAP Awards, and fellowships at VCCA and the Brush Creek Foundation. Recordings of Caplan’s music include his 2017 release You Are Not Alone, which has been featured on Apple Music’s Classical A-list, his 2012 debut album Illuminations and a track on the Sinfonietta of Riverdale’s 2016 album New World Serenade (Albany Records).

Caplan is the Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble. In addition to a BA from Dartmouth College, he has a master of music from the Boston Conservatory. He is a voting member of the Recording Academy and resides in Medford, Massachusetts.

Inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit and beauty of the natural world, [my] music celebrates stories of social justice, conservation and community. Oliver Caplan