Born in Wuppertal, Germany, composer Stefan Hakenberg now resides in Alaska's capital Juneau. His work includes a wide variety of musical media. Composing in collaboration with amateurs, and the integration of players of non-western classical background have particularly shaped Hakenberg's creative thought. Reviewers have praised his music as "highly original," "dramatic and memorable," "creating strong musical expressions in a densely contrapuntal style." Full of innovations his work is an ongoing reflection on musical styles of today that he finds along an international career path that has taken him from Cologne's experimental 80s New Music scene to Boston's 90s multicultural academic world, to the particularly Asian combination of influences in Seoul, Korea at the turn of the millennium.
Amongst the presenters of his music are Dinosaur Annex and Arcadian Winds, both from Boston, The Chicago 21st Century Music Ensemble, Ensemble Phorminx from Darmstadt, The New Millennium Ensemble from New York, the Bangkok Saxophone Quartet, Duo Contemporain from Rotterdam, UnitedBerlin, the Heidelberger Sinfoniker, and the Gürzenich Orchester der Stadt Köln; conductors like Roger Nelson, Jeffrey Milarsky, Morris Rosenzweig, Richard Pittman, George Tsontakis, Johannes Stert and Markus Stenz; and soloists like Claudia Buder, Phoebe Carrai, Il-Ryun Chung, Dai Xiaolian, Kari Jane Docter, Makiko Goto, Ji Aeri, Kim Woongsik, MeiHan, Heather O'Donnell, Jeremias Schwarzer, Wang Changyuan, and Martin Zehn amongst others.
Hakenberg attended the conservatories of Düsseldorf and Cologne where he studied composition with Hans Werner Henze. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University where he studied with Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. Other grants and fellowships brought him to the summer festivals in Tanglewood (where he studied with Oliver Knussen on a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship), Aspen (where he studied with John Harbison), and Fontainebleau (where he studied with Betsy Jolas), to the artist colonies The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, and the Atelierhaus Worpswede in Lower Saxony. MeetTheComposer, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, various Alaskan arts and humanities councils, and the Endowments for the Arts in North-Rhine Westfalia and Lower Saxony have directly sponsored his work repeatedly.
Hakenberg is a founder of the Alaskan contemporary music organization "CrossSound", which won a 2002 ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, and in 2005 received an NEA Creativity Grant for a program including Hakenberg's pansori Klanott and the Land Otter People on an Alaskan native story. Also in 2005 Hakenberg is beginning a term as Composer in Residence with the Seattle based Third Eye Brass. Films by Theo Lipfert with scores by Stefan Hakenberg, The Displacement Map and Taubman Sucks, won awards at festivals in Kansas City, Honolulu, at Portland's Northwest Filmfestival in Oregon, and three screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival among many more.
Hakenberg's music is published by Augemus Musikverlag, Bochum, Germany and Tonos Musikverlag, Darmstadt, Germany. Recordings are available on the Capstone Records label, Brooklyn, New York.