Don Byron

American clarinetist and composer Don Byron presents a gospel concert with his own New Gospel Quintet and premieres a clarinet concerto performed by the MIT Wind Ensemble.

Rome Prize recipient, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and 2007 Guggenheim Fellow Don Byron comes to MIT to collaborate with students and faculty to experiment in the concert hall and the music studio. MIT has a long-standing tradition of commissioning new music and opera that is first performed by professionally-led student ensembles in an educational setting.

During his first visit in a series of three during the 2012-2013 academic year, Byron worked closely with students from the Boston Arts Academy to present a gospel concert with his own New Gospel Quintet in October, 2012.

In March, 2013, the MIT Wind Ensemble, conducted by Fred Harris, premiered a concerto written by Byron with a clarinet solo by Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music Evan Ziporyn. Byron is well known at MIT, having visited campus to perform with his ensemble and Paul Auster, and he was appointed a Martin Luther King Scholar in 2008-2009.

The MIT Wind Ensemble is composed of outstanding MIT student musicians studying a wide variety of fields. Since 2001, the MIT Wind Ensemble has commissioned 20 original works by MIT faculty and internationally renowned composers.

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and MIT Music and Theater Arts.


Don Byron, a singular voice in a broad range of musical contexts, is acclaimed as much for his restless creativity as for his unsurpassed virtuosity as a player. Byron has presented a multitude of projects at major music festivals around the world. Launched in 2009, Don Byron’s New Gospel Quintet grows out of his in-depth studies of gospel music.

More at the artist’s website: Don Byron.

Past Events

Artist Presentation: Don Byron Composer Forum
March 13, 2013

Byron speaks about his new Clarinet Concerto to be premiered by the MIT Wind Ensemble; Evan Ziporyn, soloist, on March 16 in Kresge Auditorium.


Don Byron New Gospel Quintet
October 27, 2012

Legendary clarinetist Don Byron brings his newest project to MIT. It features the music of gospel pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey. Byron’s album Love, Peace and Soul (released in February 2012 on Savoy Jazz) mixes his original jazz compositions with traditional gospel works. Joining Don Byron and his New Gospel Quintet on stage is a chorus of students from Boston Arts Academy, an innovative public high school for the performing and visual art


Don Byron and Evan Ziporyn: Concerto for Clarinet With the MIT Wind Ensemble Conducted by Frederick Harris Jr. and Kenneth Amis
March 16, 2013

World premiere of Byron’s Concerto for Clarinet; Ives, Fugue in C, Variations on “America”; Mendelssohn, Overture for Winds; Arnold, Four Scottish Dances; Bach, Fugue in G minor (for saxophone ensemble), Sonata No. 1 in G minor, Presto (for clarinet ensemble), arranged by Byron.


Class Visits
Rehearsal with MIT Wind Ensemble

Visit to Martin Mark’s Film Music Course

Irish Independent: May is a Fiesta of Jazz with Two Festivals

Theatermania: The Inaugural Doris Duke Artists

Youtube: Live on Soundcheck on WNYC

Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards: Don Byron

The Boston Music Intelligencer: Wind Exhilarations at Kresge

The Arts Fuse: Fuse Jazz Review

Frederick Harris, Director of the MIT Wind Ensemble and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and a Lecturer in Music in Music and Theater Arts

Evan Ziporyn, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music in Music and Theater Arts and the Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology

The MIT Wind Ensemble

Don Byron at MIT. Credit: L. Barry Hetherington.
Don Byron at MIT. Credit: L. Barry Hetherington.

More about the Residency

Selected Past Projects