Max’s forthcoming cello concerto, Leviathans, is influenced by traditional dance forms and Golden Age Hollywood; cheerful jigs and fearless sea shanties are juxtaposed against lovelorn whales and tentacled horrors crawling up the coast of New England. The work builds on his viola concerto, Giants, which wields the unsung hero of the orchestra to call up singing harps, dancing stormclouds, and a fiendishly ticking clock inexorably counting down to the end of the world.
A passionate advocate for incorporating composition into instrumental pedagogy, Max has taught tunewriting workshops for beginning string players across the country, including at CU Boulder, Colorado State University, and the American String Teachers Association national conference. A compositional method book, The Tune Bug (coauthored with fiddler and pedagogue Andy Reiner), is forthcoming.
Max is committed to bringing together performers of diverse stylistic backgrounds, and to colliding musical worlds at high speed. His collaborators include banjoist and instigator Jayme Stone, revolutionary dance company Pilobolus, Grammy-nominated harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, composer and filmmaker Daniel Valdez, fearless violist Brett Deubner, and Native flute specialist Leon Joseph Littlebird, and his work has been performed by the Colorado Symphony, Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, Musique sur la Mer Chamber Orchestra, and Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, and at the American Repertory Theater, International Music Festival of Gramado, Brazil, and the Minster in York, England. Max holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a bachelor’s degree from the Berklee College of Music. Currently, he serves on the composition faculty at the University of Idaho. His work appears on Naxos Records and Yellow Sound Label.
“Max Wolpert….is for me the real find here. Viola concertos were never like this! Fine performances, good sound, terrific fun.” – Guy Rickards, Gramophone, August 30, 2017
“…classical...crossed over from folk and country music. ‘When Echoes Speak’ reflects this in its comfortable populism.” – Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 8, 2023
“…an interesting and engaging mixture of traditional fiddle tunes and contemporary explorations in atmospheric soundscaping.” – Marc Shugold, The Scen3, March 2, 2019
“…an attractive, effective and intriguing bit of musical depiction. It’s all great fun, and this must be a pleasure to play.” – Peter Alexander, Sharps and Flatirons, November 30, 2017
“Wolpert’s piece inhabits mythic landscapes….very reminiscent of the ‘awakening nature’ in the first movement of Mahler 3.” – Records International, September 4, 2017
“…a fascinating melange that continually surprises and delights.” – Ralph Graves, Charlottesville Classical, July 18, 2018
Fiddler, composer, and storyteller Max Wolpert conjures up monsters and myth where the traditional, classical, and theatrical meet. Built on his extensive background as a fiddle player and enthusiast of the macabre, Max's pieces are crafted with taut detail and a flair for the dramatic honed over years as a pit musician, conductor, and orchestrator for theatrical productions.
In a recent collaboration with Japanese artist Ryo Nishikawa, Max’s Monster Dances: A Multimedia Ghost Story for Viola Alone saturates in his trademark twisty thorniness, in an undercurrent of manifold menace. It’s not a square dance, nor a Baroque partita, but a stomp-down for haunts, ghouls, and vengeful ghosts.