Dennis Tobenski is a composer of acoustic new music whose work has been described by Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times as “distinctive and engaging”.
Dennis’s Only Air, a 20-minute work for high voice and orchestra memorializing the gay teenagers who have taken their own lives in recent years, was commissioned by the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra, and was premiered April 25, 2013. A chamber version of the piece was commissioned and premiered by The Secret Opera, based in NYC. The chamber version received its West Coast premiere in November 2014 by members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony as a part of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual Institute on Psychiatric Services.
Called a “dynamic vocalist” by Mr. Tommasini, Dennis’s focus as a vocalist is primarily on the works of the 21st and late 20th centuries. He has premiered works by David Del Tredici, Chester Biscardi, Ricky Ian Gordon, Darien Shulman, and Hadar Noiberg.
In November 2014, he and pianist Marc Peloquin recorded their first album together, a disc of 19 art songs by living American composers. The album, titled And He’ll Be Mine will be released by the duo in Spring 2015, and features works by David Del Tredici, Chester Biscardi, Zachary Wadsworth, Darien Shulman, and Dennis Tobenski. The duo plans to record their next album in Fall 2015: a retrospective of Dennis’s vocal works to date.
In 2010, Dennis founded NewMusicShelf.com, an online digital distribution service for self-published composers, as well as for performers looking for works outside of the traditional music publishing system. The service currently represents 20 composers and over 300 of their works. From 2006 to 2010, Dennis co-directed the Tobenski-Algera Concert Series with composer Jeff Algera. The Series premiered over two dozen works, and was dedicated to presenting and promoting works by young and emerging composers.
Dennis also writes The Composer’s Guide to Doing Business, a blog series that takes a look at the practical and financial aspects of the concert music business from a composer’s point of view.
Dennis received his B.Mus. in Vocal Performance and Music Theory & Composition in 2004 from Illinois State University, and his M.A. in Music Composition from The City College of New York in 2009. His principal teachers have included David Del Tredici, Daron Hagen, and Chester Biscardi. He has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Prairie Center of the Arts, the Ucross Foundation, and the Staunton Music Festival.
Dennis lives in New York City with his partner Darien Scott Shulman and their cats Midget, Pistachio, and Bond.