Firehouse 12 ē 45 Crown Street ē New Haven, CT 06510 ē 203.785.0468

Nathan Bontrager


Performer's Website

With a broad background of study and experience, cellist Nathan Bontrager is at ease in a variety of musical environments. He can be found performing in symphony halls, art galleries, bars, or as a service to the community in schools, retirement centers, and churches.

Bontragerís early musical formation came on the piano which later gave way to cello and other stringed instruments. His activity in rock and pop bands helped pave the way for an interest in contemporary classical music and boundary-crossing ensembles. Always committed to teaching, Bontrager studied Education and Cello Performance at Eastern Mennonite University. In addition to performing as concerto soloist after winning the University Concerto Competition he gave various solo recitals, conducted instrumental and vocal ensembles, and had numerous original compositions performed publicly.

In May 2006 Bontrager played for two months with La Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Merida in Venezuela. Two years later he returned as an instructor for the Acarigua-Araure Youth Orchestra Festival. These and other experiences as an educator and volunteer in South America have cultivated an interest in the music of other cultures and a deep commitment to the importance of education for all people.

While completing a Masterís degree in Cello Performance at the University of Maryland, Bontrager began studies on the viola da gamba with Dr. Kenneth Slowik of the Smithsonian Institute. He soon began to perform in the Washington D.C. area on gamba as well as playing continuo on cello for period performances. Bontrager continued his gamba studies with Martha McGaughey at the Virginia Baroque Performance Academy.

An active and tireless promoter of new music, Bontrager performed frequently with noted contemporary ensembles in the Washington/ Baltimore area such as the Great Noise Ensemble, the Mobtown Modern Concert Series, and the Inscape Chamber Music Project. In addition, he co-founded The Experimental Music Performance Organization (TEMPO) which remains active in the area. With TEMPO, Bontrager helped to give world and US premieres of numerous works as well as commissioning multiple new compositions. He has also had his own work commissioned, most recently a work for choir and instrumental ensemble performed by the Eastern Mennonite University Chamber Singers.

Bontragerís main teachers include Ed Gant, Einar Holm, Harvey Shapiro, Peter Wiley, and Evelyn Elsing. He has played in masterclasses for Steven Isserlis, David Gee, and David Teie and has had chamber music coachings with the Guarneri String Quartet and the Kronos Quartet.

Bontrager now resides in New Haven, Connecticut. Current projects include acoustic sessions with the New Haven Improvisers Collective and the improvised music trio, Broadcloth. Bontrager is the Studio Coordinator and primary cello teacher at the Audubon Strings Studio and the Music Director at St. Peterís Episcopal Church of Milford, CT.

Firehouse 12 Performances

Broadcloth Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 8:30p
New Haven Improvisers Collective Saturday, November 20, 2010, 8:30p

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