Since Chicago Magazine first described his early opera projects as “Chicago’s most daring and avant-garde” in 2010, Nicholas DeMaison has continued to prove himself as one of the most capable conductor/composers in the young generation of multi-talented musicians working to reimagine classical institutions and genres.
In recent seasons he has lead the premiere productions of Pauline Oliveros’ The Nubian Word for Flowers (which he assembled posthumously for performance - ICE/Roulette), Nathan Davis’ Hagoromo (ICE/AOP/BAM Next Wave), Mikael Karlsson’s The Echo Drift (ICE/AOP/Prototype Festival), Mojiao Wang’s Encounter (Beijing Modern Music Festival), James Ilgenfritz’s The Ticket That Exploded, Charles Fussell’s The Astronaut’s Tale, and of newly commissioned orchestral works by Miya Masaoka, Zach Layton, Erica Ball, Eli Greenhoe and others. The US premiere of his arrangement of Milhaud’s La Mère Coupable by OnSite Opera & ICE was lauded as “a natural fit”. He has been a regular collaborator with ICE, ECCE, American Opera Projects, and previously worked with Giants are Small, Ensemble Sospeso, Talea Ensemble, and Opera Cabal among others.
While his true musical love may be the collaborative interdisciplinary wilds of new opera, he is just as at home interpreting scores from Josquin to Sibelius and Sciarrino. In 2013, he was invited to create a new orchestral, choral and chamber music program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and in that context has had the opportunity to build a comprehensive performance program from the ground up that combines a classical pedagogy with a forward-looking embrace of technology and performance practice, and to collaborate regularly with the world-renowned Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) to realize a variety of new hybrid works for ensembles, voices, and new technologies.
Also an active composer, Nicholas’s music has been described as “crossing the threshold from being abstractly academic to emotionally provocative,” (Time Out NY) and “faster and blippier…smooth-versus-screechy…both ominous and playful at the same time.” (Lucid Culture). His work spans from chamber works with live electronic audio and video components to works for chorus and orchestra. Ensembles that have performed DeMaison’s music include The New York Philharmonic, Giants Are Small, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, NOISEBridge, andPlay, Del Sol String Quartet, ensemble dal niente, UCSD New Music Ensemble, Hunter College Campus School Orchestra, South Hadley Chorale, Florilegium Chamber Choir and Opera Cabal, and has been featured at June in Buffalo. He has received grants from New Music USA, Fractured Atlas, American Composers Forum, Melodious Accord, and the Harry and Alice Eiler Foundation. He was twice been offered residencies at High Concept Laboratories (Chicago, IL). He regularly works on the music staff for broadcast productions with the New York Philharmonic, MediciTV, and Live from Lincoln Center.
Nicholas is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and UC San Diego, where he studied composition with Chaya Czernowin and Philippe Manoury. He has studied conducting with Franck Ollu, Lucas Vis, Peter Eötvös, Pierre Boulez, Gustav Meier, Carl St. Clair, Vance George, Alice Parker, and Lewis Nielson.