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Spencer Topel

Hanover , NH         

Spencer Topel is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore relationships between architecture, space, and form. He is a recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Palmer Dixon Prize from the Juilliard School for best composition, BMI and ASCAP Awards, a Danish International Visiting Artist Residency in 2013 (DIVA), and was a recent artist-in-residence with the Meitar Ensemble in July 2014 (Tel Aviv).

Recent premieres and shows include Echoic Memory (The drawing Center NY), Vox Nihili (American Modern Ensemble), String Quartet (with FLUX Quartet and Ohm Speaker Inc.), Palavers (with String Noise), Listening Glass (P.3+ Bamboula NOLA), Capturing Resonance (with Soo Sunny Park at the DeCordova Museum), Callings (Chosen Vale Festival, FIGURA Ensemble), and Details on the Strasbourg Rosace (Third Sound, Meitar Ensemble, CCO-Oxford, and BYCE). 

Topel has produced works for many of America’s premiere music and art institutions, including the Drawing Center NY, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Juilliard Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, TILT Brass, FLUX Quartet, and the Callithumpian Consort. Notable international collaborations include performances with the FIGURA Ensemble in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Contemporarte Ensemble in Venice, Italy, and the Meitar Ensemble with the Israeli Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, Israel.  

Upcoming shows include an exhibition of a new installation in the Echoic Memory series at the Estonian Academy for Music and Theater as part Estonian Music Days presented in April, a NY premiere of the Cuba Edition of Details on the Strasbourg Rosace by Third Sound at National Sawdust. and an exhibition in Jaffa, Israel in 2016.

Topel received degrees from Cornell and The Juilliard School before joining the Tenure-Track Faculty at Dartmouth College, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Music. 

Details on the Strasbourg Rosace – Cuba Edition

Strasbourg Details is a composition exploring the proportions and transitions of fine-grain structure within the Strasbourg Rose (Rosace) by focusing on different sections, which in turn replicate themselves across the entire form. Musically, this translates into a replication of harmonic design, defined by the relationship between darkness-represented as pitchless noise features at one end, and white full-spectrum light at the other, represented by Alexander Scriabin’s iconic mystic chord.

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Vox Nihili

Vox Nihili (latin:voice of nothing) is a physical sound art piece exploring the boundaries of perception and physics to create an imaginary landscape of singing, statue-like instruments. The installation is comprised of an ensemble of five elecromagnetically-prepared hybrid acoustic-electronic instruments arranged on monolith pedestals. Read more at:


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Incendio started as an orchestration of an earlier work for the same title that was read by the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival in 2008, led by Octavio Ms-Arocas. This work gains inspiration from harmonic analysis on an excerpt from Claude Debussy’s Jeux de Vagues, (Play of the Waves) from the masterwork La Mer. By contrast, Incendio delights in water’s opposite element, fire, in the realms of the physical spiritual, inspirational, and emotional.

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