Faculty & Staff

Ben Bolter

Ensemble Director: Merit Philharmonic & String Orchestra


Indiana University - Jacobs School of Music
Masters, Orchestra Conducting

New England Conservatory of Music
Bachelors, Oboe Performance




The son of a gifted flutist and of a Boston Symphony Orchestra trombonist, it was obvious to Ben Bolter early on that music would be his life’s focus. Saying he can’t remember a time in his life without music, he now devotes his career to traditional and new music, and works regularly with youth, conservatory and professional ensembles.

Mr. Bolter holds a Bachelor of Music in oboe performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Shortly after graduating, he made his conducting debut with the National Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim in the Washington Post: “Bolter spotlighted the showiest aspects of Enensco’s Romanian Rhapsody #1 and made it look easy.”

Since then, Mr. Bolter has served as assistant conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony, conducted orchestras at renowned institutions including Indiana University, DePaul University, and the Aspen Music Festival; and for a number of the country’s top contemporary music ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Fulcrum Point New Music Project and The Holographic New Music Project, which he co-founded with award-winning composer Jeremy Podgursky.

In addition to his role at Merit as Music Director of Conservatory Orchestras, Mr. Bolter is the Associate Director for Northwestern University’s Institute for New Music and Director of their Contemporary Music Ensemble. He is a regular guest conductor for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, DePaul University School of Music, among others, and is in the conductor for the New England Conservatory’s Festival Youth Orchestra summer intensive.

Mr. Bolter has been widely recognized for advancing youth orchestras. He works to help students grasp a deep emotional and technical understanding of the music. Mr. Bolter believes that when one performs, “they are sharing their relationship and connection to the music with the audience.”

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“Merit’s tuition-free conservatory is about exploring the depths of one’s passion for music and looking for new ways to express what cannot be expressed in words.”