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Synapse Violin: Summer 2024 Composition Workshop

Featuring Composer in Residence Dan Trueman
Violinists Leah Asher, Rachel Peters, Kevin Rogers

Headshots of featured artists.

Learn to compose for violin and hear your music brought to life by a professional violinist.

Fully Online July 8-26

Workshop Overview:

The violin has spent 500 years among the most beloved instruments in the world. It’s the only instrument that is equally at home at barn dances in Kentucky and temples in India as it is the most prestigious concert halls in Vienna. Composing for violin can be intimidating—not only are there hundreds of years of tradition to contend with, but the way the instrument works can be counterintuitive to those whose experience is mainly with keyboard instruments or software. But with a little guidance, and most importantly, an opportunity to experiment and hear the results, composers can gain confidence and skill very quickly.

Synapse Violin is an opportunity to spend three weeks immersed in the beauty and possibility of this instrument, and come out with a piece of your own recorded by a professional.

Here’s what you get:

    • Six one-on-one composition lessons from our professional composition teaching artists.
    • Additional daily guidance via online forums.
    • Access to an exclusive online course on the techniques of violin composition.
    • Two studio classes with our composer in residence (select participants will present their work).
    • Two live workshop sessions on your music with a guest violinist (Leah or Rachel).
    • A recording of your piece (up to five minutes) by a guest violinist.
    • Two months full access to the Synthase Composers Academy.
    • Select pieces will receive a virtual premiere on our Summer Showcase.

Composer in Residence: Dan Trueman

Dan Trueman is a musician: a fiddler, a collaborator, a teacher, a developer of new instruments, a composer of music for ensembles of all shapes and sizes.

He has worked with ensembles such as So Percussion, the PRISM Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Gallicantus, the JACK Quartet, as well as individuals like scientist Naomi Leonard, choreographer Rebecca Lazier, poet Paul Muldoon, director Mark DeChiazza, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird, guitarist/songwriter Monica Mugan, pianists Adam Sliwinski and Cristina Altamura, and many others. Dan’s work has been recognized by fellowships, grants, commissions, and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, the Bessies, the Fulbright Commission, the American Composers Forum, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, Meet the Composer, among others. He is Professor and Chair, Department of Music at Princeton University.

Current and recent projects include  bitKlavier (the prepared digital piano); The Fate of Bones, a new record with  Caoimhín Ó RaghallaighThe Cross Quartets, a set of string quartets in scordatura, for Brooklyn Rider and the Bergamot Quartet12 Preludes for bitKlavier (recording in progress with Cristina Altamura and Adam Sliwinski); Songs That Are Hard To Sing, for So Percussion and the JACK Quartet (released by New Amsterdam Records in 2019);  Midden Find, for fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Contemporaneous (in progress); Olagón, an opera featuring Iarla Ó Lionáird and Gelsey Bell, with text by Paul Muldoon and directed by Mark DeChiazza (premiering at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, May ’23, with the Crash Ensemble); There Might Be Others, with choreographer Rebecca Lazier and scientist Naomi Leonard (winner of a Bessie Award, Outstanding Music Composition). His tools of the trade are the first-of-its-kind Hardanger d’Amore fiddle by Salve Håkedal (played with a beautiful baroque bow by Michel Jamonneau), bitKlavier, and the ChucK music programming language by Ge Wang.

Featured Violinists: Leah Asher, Rachel Peters, Kevin Rogers

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Violinist/violist, composer, and visual artist Leah Asher is an avid performer of contemporary music and creator of new artistic works. Leah is the executive director and violinist of The Rhythm Method string quartet and co-creator of MEANINGLESS WORK with Nicolee Kuester. Leah regularly performs with New York-based ensembles such as International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, and S.E.M. Ensemble. She formerly served as solo violist of NOSO Sinfoniettaen and co-principal viola of the Arctic Philharmonic. As a composer, Leah has been commissioned by ensembles including andPlay, Chartreuse, Periapsis, NorthArc Percussion Group, The Great Learning Orchestra, Du.0, and solo artists such as Meaghan Burke, Tristan McKay, and Jennifer Torrence. Recent releases include Leah’s solo album ‘Retreat into Afters’ on SCRIPTS records and The Rhythm Method’s self-titled debut album on Gold Bolus Recordings. Leah joined the faculty of Manhattan School of Music as of 2022.  www.leahasher.com

Rachel Headshot

Rachel Peters is Principal 2nd Violin of Orchestra Iowa and Section Violin in the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. Peters is a founding member of the Oak Quartet, which operates all Candlelight Concerts in Iowa. She has performed across the United States, United Kingdom, and Asia. In 2021 she completed her tenure as Assistant Concertmaster in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Collegiate degrees have been obtained from University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (B.M.), Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music (M.M.), and she is currently pursuing a Doctoral Musical Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Peters served for six seasons as Concertmaster of Opera in the Ozarks. She has recorded commercially for Disney+, National Geographic, Cedille Records, the Charleston Symphony, and more. When not on the stage she works with her violin and viola students at Schultz Strings and is brought fluttering joy from her pet bird named Ori.

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Kevin Rogers is a passionate advocate for new music, a violinist, and improviser who has dedicated his career to the discovery and wonder of art for our time. He founded Friction Quartet, whose mission is to expand the modern chamber music experience. Kevin is also a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Northern California’s most long standing and largest new music ensemble.

With a deep foundation in classical and contemporary music training, Kevin studied under renowned musicians, including Bettina Mussumeli at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and William Terwilliger at the University of South Carolina.

Kevin fulfills his vision of new music advocacy by shaping the landscape of modern classical music, actively inspiring others to explore the profound, mysterious, humorous, and ultimately deeply touching possibilities of art from our time.

Synapse Composition Instructors: Nathan Nokes, Huijuan Ling

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Nathan Nokes is a composer, sound artist, whose music has been described as an exploration of time and space (Sightlines).  He has worked with ensembles such as Tuscan Symphony Orchestra, Switch~ Ensemble, Tak Ensemble, Line Upon Line, Wet Ink, and Invoke Quartet. His string quartet and electronics piece Alone Together received the 2020 Matera Intermedia Festival award in mix media. He has been featured in the SEAMUS, American Composers Orchestra’s EarShot 2022, International Saxophone Symposium, Oh My Ears Festival, Fusebox Festival, New Voices Festival at COA, Foot in the Door, Cohen New Works Festival, Electric LaTex, and Festival of Contemporary Art Music. His fellowships, scholarships, and residencies include the Kent Kennan Graduate Fellowship, I-Park Foundation, Nief-Norf Technology Fellowship, Hartt Talent Scholarship, and The Walden SchoolHe holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Texas at Austin, a M.M. in composition from Hartt School of music at the University of Hartford, and B.M. in Composition from Washington State University.

Susie Ling

Huijuan (Susie) Ling is a composer and keyboardist currently based in Durham, NC. She likes to draw her inspiration outside the boundaries of the wobbly concept of Western art music and enjoys the process of discovering and negotiating a sound world that feels authentic both to her and her collaborators. Her music has been performed by ensembles and musicians such as the Utari Duo, Cracow Golden Quintet, Ciompi Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Imani Winds, JACK Quartet, Line Upon Line Percussion, and others. In 2022, her woodwind quintet “Toward a Rediscovery” won the first prize in the fifth International “New Vision” Composition Competition from the New York Dance & Arts Innovations; in 2021, she was awarded the William Klenz Prize in Composition from Duke University; in 2020, she was among the recipients of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and in 2019, her harpsichord solo “Those Cold Winter Rains” won the third prize in the SIMM 2019 International Harpsichord Composition Competition. Huijuan joined Synthase in 2022 and has been an avid teaching artist who advocates for a supportive and friendly creative space. She received her PhD in composition from Duke University, MM from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and BM from Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Meet our Artists:


    • $850 due by June 28th
    • no-cost payment plan available
    • Synapse Alumni and Synthase Composers Academy members are eligible for a 10% discount.


Who is this for?

The minimum age for enrollment is 13. Aside from that, this is for anyone who understands the basics of music notation and would enjoy mentorship and a recording by a professional violinist. Our previous workshop has included students who ranged from beginner composers (with only performing experience) to graduate students at top conservatories.

Do you offer refunds?

Yes! Participants who need to withdraw from the workshop will receive a full refund up until the last day of registration (June 28, 2024). However, we will not be able to issue a refund after the registration closes.

When can I register?

Registration opens on May 18th and closes on June 24, or before that if we fill up sooner. If you’re interested in joining, please join our waitlist for updates.

Will I have one-on-one lessons with the guest composer?

No. However, Dan Trueman (composer in residence) will offer 2 studio classes to everyone in the Synthase Composers Academy. If you are interested in presenting your work and receive comments, make sure to click the “presenter” option on your registration form.

Can I use the recording of my piece for my portfolio?

Yes! You can use the recording privately for circumstances such as portfolio and grant applications. If you’d like to make the recording public on platforms such as SoundCloud and YouTube, feel free to list that this piece was written for the 2024 Synapse Violin Workshop, but do not list the performer’s name. Please do not release the piece commercially on platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp.

Do I have to apply or am I automatically accepted?

For this summer’s workshop, we will accept students as long as registration is open. However, we reserve the right to close the registration early if needed.

Am I guaranteed an audio recording of my piece?

As long as you follow the requirements and meet the deadlines within the workshop, we can guarantee you a professionally edited, and mixed recording of your piece. However, the audio recording cannot be released commercially on platforms such as Bandcamp and Spotify, and, if you were to make the audio public on platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud, make sure to not list the performer.

Can I get a video recording of my piece?

It is possible at the violinist’s discretion, but it is not guaranteed. If the piece is not technically too challenging, our violinists are open to doing a run-through video of the piece. However, please understand that producing a video recording is much more demanding than producing an audio recording. Due to time constraints, we cannot edit, mix, and master a video recording for our participants if we need to record the piece section by section. Furthermore, if you would like to make the video recording public, contact your violinist first, and they reserve the right to say no to such a request.

Are all of the workshop events live?

There will be a mix of live and asynchronous events.

What days/times are the live events?

Studio meetings Group events (such as studio classes and workshops) are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. ET. You will schedule your composition lessons directly with our Synapse composition faculty (Susie or Nathan). Additionally, we have two house keeping meetings scheduled. They are at Monday, July 8, from 7-8pm ET, and Friday, July 26, at 7-8pm ET.

What happens if I have to miss a live event?

You can check out the recording of these events whenever you have a moment. You can also post your comments/questions on our academy forum.

Can I talk to someone to find out more?

Absolutely. Just email synapse@synthase.cc.

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