Mendel Lee, Founder and President

Mendel Lee, Founder and President

MENDEL LEE (b. 1975) is a composer and musician residing in New Orleans, LA. He is currently the Founder and President of nienteForte Contemporary Music, a composer and performer with Versipel New Music, and an Assistant Director of Bands at Tulane University.

Mendel’s music has been commissioned by internationally renowned timpanist David Constantine of the President’s Own Marine Band, The Concert Singers (Los Angeles, LA), The Xavier University Symphonic Winds,, Byrne:Kozar:Duo, the Portland Percussion Group, the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, and dognebula games. Additionally, his works have been performed by Andy Kozar, the Greater Portland Flute Society, the San Francisco Festival of Contemporary Music, Future Music Oregon, and Versipel New Music, amongst others.

As a performer, Mendel was the snare drummer for the “Shakespeare 400” Jazz Funeral Brass Band in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He has also performed as a pianist, percussionist, vocalist, and conductor for the Hundredth Monkey Ensemble and Versipel New Music, and he has also served as a guest performer/conductor for the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, the Oregon Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble 504, and Ensemble Pamplemousse.

Mendel is an Innovative Percussion Educational Artist whose award-winning marching band and drumline arrangements have been performed by numerous high schools, colleges, and independent marching organizations nationwide. During his tenure with the Tulane University Marching Band, he has helped coordinate logistics for their performances in high profile national events and television coverage including the 2009 New Orleans Saints Superbowl Victory Parade, the 2010 Krewe of NFL Kickoff Parade, the 2011 Wheel of Fortune College Week, the 2013 Fox and Friends Super Bowl Week broadcast, the TUMB’s 2016 appearance in the second season of “NCIS: New Orleans”, and the TUMB’s 2018 Cure Bowl and 2020 Armed Forces Bowl performances. He also coordinated the Green Wave Brass Band’s 2016 appearance in the second season of MTV’s “Brothers Green – Eats!” and their appearance as the opening act for the 2016 and 2018 New Kids On The Block Mardi Gras World block party.

Maxwell Dulaney, Artistic Director

Maxwell Dulaney, Artistic Director

Currently Associate Professor of Composition & Theory at Tulane University, MAXWELL DULANEY received his Ph.D. in Composition & Theory from Brandeis University, where he studied with David Rakowski, Marty Boykan, Eric Chasalow, and Yu-Hui Chang. As an acoustic and electro-acoustic composer, his compositional philosophy is rooted in the study of multitudinous elements of sounds and finding new and informed ways of developing compositional structures out of them. Dr. Dulaney has been commissioned by, and collaborated closely with, soloists and ensembles including Orlando Cela, Chris Finkel, New York New Music Ensemble, the Xanthos Ensemble, and Grammy Award-winning harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy. Recent projects include a commission by ECCE Ensemble, In Ricordo di una Anima Antica for cello and clarinet in B-flat, and the commission of The Old Harp for the Ningbo University Orchestra.

Recent concerts include a performance of The Old Harp by the Randall College Orchestra in Lynchburg, VA. Future projects include a new piece for solo flute for Orlando Cela, which will be performed at DePauw University in Greencastle, IL and at Coup d’oeil Art Consortium in New Orleans, LA, and a new work for ECCE Ensemble to be performed during their 2015-16 season. Dr. Dulaney has been published in the SCI Journal of Musical Scores, Vol. 45 and his music has been recorded on Rainbow Classical label by the ensemble Mikrokosmos.

Stephen Montalvo, Operations and Outreach Director

Stephen Montalvo, Operations and Outreach Director

Stephen Montalvo (b. 1984) is an active composer and performer of acoustic and electronic music, as well as an audiovisual installation artist, based in New Orleans, LA. Through his music, he explores concepts related to resonance and rhythmic interplay and draws inspiration from social, ecological, and political concerns. His works have been performed throughout the United States, and internationally at the Osaka University of Arts Electronic Music Festival, by artists and ensembles including the Portland Percussion Group, Rhythm Method String Quartet, Bent Duo, Carlos Cordeiro, Talea Ensemble, Omaha Percussion Ensemble, and numerous scholastic groups. Additional collaborations include audiovisual installation projects for LUNA (Light Up NOLA Arts) Fête, hosted by the New Orleans Arts Council, as well as with the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave.

As a percussionist, Stephen has participated in performances with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Midland Odessa Symphony and Chorale, Texas Medical Center Orchestra, and the Louis Moreau Institute for New Music Performance. He currently performs nationally with Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium as well as in New Orleans with various local performers.

Stephen holds a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Tulane University where he studied with Maxwell Dulaney and Rick Snow and a Bachelor of Music from West Texas A&M University, where he studied percussion with Susan Martin Tariq and composition with Joseph Nelson and Robert Denham. Current affiliations include the Society of Composers and the Vic Firth Education Team as a Scholastic Educator and Marching Percussion Specialist.

The History of nienteForte

The History of nienteForte

nienteForte started as a result of founder Mendel Lee’s passion for contemporary music and contemporary music advocacy.  When Mendel was an undergraduate at West Chester University as a music education major, he attended a contemporary music concert that resonated so strongly with him that he changed his degree and career path towards composition.  Memories of that concert and the subsequent joy of simple exposure to contemporary music of all types as a listener and performer inspired him to try to create a similar experience at Tulane University.

215369_10150151799799926_3091476_n
Mark Lighthiser (left), David Constantine (center) and Mendel Lee (right) at the conclusion of the first nF concert in 2011.

The first concert was in the Spring of 2011 featuring David Constantine, the former Assistant Principal Timpanist of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.  With his cohort Mark Lighthiser and a handful of his students in the Tulane University Marching Band, Mendel put together a program including works by Michael Torke, Ingram Marshall, Lou Harrison, and his own work Timpani Forces commissioned by Dave two years prior.  The success of that concert laid the groundwork for it to become a consistent annual concert series every spring, bringing in guest performing artists and composers from across the country with the generous support and sponsorship from the Tulane University Marching Band and the Kappa Kappa Psi Rho Chapter at Tulane University.

It was immediately following the 2014 concert when Mendel met newly-appointed composition faculty member Maxwell Dulaney.  Maxwell immediately showed his support for the nienteForte endeavor and the two quickly developed a partnership to take advantage of their combined background and resources.  It was this that shifted nienteForte from an annual concert series to an annual contemporary music festival starting in the spring of 2015, featuring New York-based Ensemble Pamplemousse.

Mendel Lee and Maxwell Dulaney with Ensemble Pamplemousse
Mendel Lee and Maxwell Dulaney with Ensemble Pamplemousse