Stolz has a unique compositional voice in the contemporary classical music world: one that is clearly influenced by his performance background in jazz fusion and progressive rock, yet firmly rooted in the contemporary classical tradition. Although his music sounds expressive, natural and raw, the notation is often very precise (e.g., the use of microtones and complex rhythms).
His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and across Europe, including festivals and conferences such as the Academie Internationale d'Ete de Nice (FRANCE), Suolahti International Summer Music Festival (FINLAND), Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, Las Vegas International New Music Festival, North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference, National Flute Association Convention, Electronic Music Midwest, ElectroAcoustic Barn Dance, Oregon Bach Festival, Belvedere Chamber Music Festival, Electroacoustic Juke Joint, eXtensible Electric Guitar Festival, Las Vegas Music Festival, University of Alabama-Huntsville New Music Festival, Music Today Festival, and several regional College Music Society conferences. Large ensembles that have performed his compositions include the Clinton Symphony Orchestra, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, Joliet Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Music Festival Orchestra, Sandhills Symphony Orchestra, Hartt Wind Ensemble, Omaha Symphonic Winds, San Francisco State University Wind Ensemble and many other college bands.
Stolz has been commissioned by the Alturas Duo, CCSU Chamber Players, Synchronix, LVA Jazz Ensemble, Las Vegas Music Festival Orchestra, SUNY-Stony Brook, Aaron Larget-Caplan, Leslie Ann Leytham, Tom Peters, Robert Karrass, Peter Scuderi, Darin Wadley and choreographer Erin Bomboy. Stolz was the winner of the Vox Novus/Composer’s Voice Dance Collaboration Competition for Remnants of Bullfrog, Nevada for fixed electronic media and dance, the Max DiJulio Composition Prize, second prize in the New Zealand Association of Organists International Competition, and the Most Outstanding Student Composition Award at the 2009 College Music Society Northeast Conference.
His Lullaby for Sam appears on Aaron Larget-Caplan's New Lullaby CD from the Six Strings Sounds label, his second piano quartet Catharsis II is on the Millennial Masters Volume 3 from Ablaze Records, and his Duet for Xylophone and Drum Set is on Art Rock Circus's 2013 release Variations on a Dream. Singer Cece Otto will record Stolz's Lincoln Highway Songs for her forthcoming CD American Songline, and percussionist Darin Wadley will record Bullfrog for his forthcoming CD Big Bang. Princess Ka'iulani for flute is forthcoming in the SCI Journal of Musical Scores. Stolz's jazz and rock compositions appear on several other CDs.
As a music theorist, Stolz given papers at the Second International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music (Vancouver, BC), Music Theory Midwest, South Central Society for Music Theory, two national conferences (Society of Composers Inc. and College Music Society), several regional CMS conferences, Queen's University (Canada), The Hartt School, and at MACRO Musicians' Workshop. Although best known for his analytical system for microtonal music he calls "Fractional Set Theory," Stolz has also given papers on Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King, theory-composition pedagogy, and jazz improvisation pedagogy. His article "Teaching Jazz Improvisation Using Macro-Analystical Techniques" was published in Musical Insights in 2013. His article on Schoenberg's fourth string quartet is available online.
Stolz is also a drum set performer in both the rock and jazz idioms, working with notable bands such as Swinging Popsicle, Halloween Town, and Art Rock Circus. He appears on the Johnny Pate 80th birthday concert CD with jazz greats Ron Carter, Phil Woods, Monty Alexander, Kenny Burrell and several others. His solo CD Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra feautring prog-rock arrangements of "classical" works was released in 2011. He also appears on Halloween Town's 2011 CD Zafra Ct. which features Ryan Pardey, Wes Hines, two members of Louis IV (Jason Hill & Brian Karscig) and three members of The Killers (Dave Keuning, Tommy Marth, and Mark Stoermer). Born in Milwaukee, WI, Stolz grew up in Las Vegas in the 1990s. At only 17 years old, he joined the retro swing band Dirty Martinis, working regularly at the lounge of former Las Vegas Hilton. As a teenager, he started working with some of Las Vegas's finest jazz musicians (e.g., Joe Lano, JoBelle, Walt Blanton, Dennis Mellen, etc.) and backing up out-of-town performers (e.g., Carl Saunders, Jiggs Whigham, John Clark, etc.).
As a rock music scholar, his essays on Black Sabbath, Genesis, Rush, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention are forthcoming in 100 Greatest Bands of All Time: An Encyclopedia from ABC-Clio. He presented a paper on Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" at the MACRO Musician's Workshop in 2012.
Dr. Stolz did his undergraduate work in composition and jazz studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and went to graduate school at the University of Oregon and at The Hartt School. As a graduate student, he taught in the theory, composition, jazz and history departments. His composition teachers included Virko Baley, Robert Carl, David Crumb, Robert Kyr, Larry Alan Smith and Ken Steen, and his theory teachers included Jack Boss, Steve Larson, David Macbride and Michael Schiano. He studied drums with John Abraham, Chris Benham, Patrick Bowen, Gary Hobbs, Steve Houghton, Joe LaBarbera and Joe Malone, and studied jazz with Stefan Karlsson, Toby Koenigsberg, Dave Loeb, Joe Lano, Steve Owen, Bruce Paulson, Tom Warrington and Rocky Winslow.
Stolz is very interested in Hawaiian history and culture, and has spent a considerable amount of time in Hawaii. Several of his compositions take on Hawaiian themes. Mele Hoipoipopo and Why Waianaie? for wind ensemble, Princess Kaiulani for flute, Kaena Point for piano quartet, Legend of Waianapanapa Caves for violin (or viola) and piano (with optional dance), and Makaha Valley for chamber ensemble are a few compositions based on Hawaiian people and locations. He presented “Ka Haku Mele ‘Āina a Ho‘oipoipo: Programmatic Elements in My Hawaiian-Themed Compositions" at the 2013 Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities. The paper was published in the conference proceedings.
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