For several decades, cellist Craig Hultgren has been a fixture on the scenes for new music, the newly creative arts, and the avant-garde.


Cellist Craig Hultgren remains active in new music, the newly creative arts, and the avant-garde. Leaving Birmingham after more than 30 years as a member of the Alabama Symphony, he now resides outside of Decorah, Iowa as the farmer-cellist. The New York Classical Review commented that he, "…played with impressive poise and sensitivity…" for Dorothy Hindman's 2016 chamber music retrospective at Carnegie Hall. At this point, almost 300 works have been created for him. A recipient of two Artist Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, he was a member for many years of Thámyris, a contemporary chamber music ensemble in Atlanta. He is a founding member of Luna Nova, a new music ensemble with a large repertoire of performances available as podcast downloads on iTunes. Hultgren is featured in four solo CD recordings including UK composer Craig Vear’s hpyerconcerto Black Cats and Blues on Métier Recordings. Recently, Hultgren entered the realm of digital online releases with four works Songs for Cello and Piano by Ben Hippen available on Spotify. For ten years, he produced the Hultgren Solo Cello Works Biennial, an international competition that highlighted the best new compositions for the instrument. He taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Wartburg College (Iowa) and Birmingham-Southern College where he directed the BSC New Music Ensemble. He is a founding member and former President of the Birmingham Art Music Alliance and was on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestras of Birmingham and their Scrollworks program. Currently, he is Vice President of the Oneota Valley Community Orchestra Board of Directors in Decorah and has recently assumed the role of Chair for the Iowa Composers Forum.

As the poet Ezra Pound said, "Make it new."


Describe your music

Free improvisation has as many different explanations as there are improvisers who care to talk about it. For Craig Hultgren, improvisation is an artistic style that affords the opportunity for uniquely individual expression. Some of this is achieved through nontraditional or unusual ways of playing the instrument. Chaotic playing is another element of the style, yet somehow a pattern always emerges.

Interested in collaborating with

I collaborate with living composers both young and old. Beyond improvisation and acoustic playing, I work with electronics and possess an electric cello. I possess a broad array of live signal processing devices along with Max, Ableton Live and Pure Data.

Additional info

BMetro article: <>

Retrospective article: <>


Craig Hultgren again shows skill, dedication to new music at Meet the Composer event in Birmingham
By Michael Huebner -- The Birmingham News March 28, 2010

Craig Hultgren has become a magnet for composers seeking first hearings of their cello works. For many years that took the shape of an international competition he sponsored. It has continued through his association with Birmingham Art Music Alliance and the ensembles Luna Nova and Thamyris. His skill, dedication and eagerness to try the untried are without peer, as he proved again Saturday at UAB's Hulsey Recital Hall.


Cellist Bows for University Audience
By: Meghan Hunt
Bowling Green State University 2/9/07 Pulse

For years, stringed instruments have conjured up ideas of tuxedos, elegant concert halls and classical music. If one went to cellist Craig Hultgren's recital this past Monday, those ideas are the furthest from what was found there. It was a nice departure from the otherwise structured chamber music.


Pierre Ruhe, former music critic - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s amazing how one person’s perseverance can play such an outsized role in a city’s arts community. Craig has been a rock-solid member of the ASO cello section, always positive about the future of classical music because he’s eager to hear new sounds, try fresh approaches. It’s his belief that composers – the folks who create the music – should be at the center of the art form. Like an actor who delves deep into the playwright’s language and meaning, Craig throws himself into channeling the composer’s intentions, whether its Beethoven or a young colleague whose music he commissioned. He’s so determined, and he’s played a crazy number of world premieres. It’s just amazing how he’s pushed himself, and brought along local musicians with him. I think he helped change people’s attitudes about what’s possible.