Nathan Ball is working towards his master's degree at New England Conservatory, where he studies with Michael Gandolfi. Growing up in Vail, Colorado, famous as a resort but in most ways a small Western city, he participated in band in high school and also played in a garage band. He came east in part to experience a different area of the country and attended Boston College, where he studied composition with Thomas Oboe Lee and earned his bachelor's degree in music cum laude. While at BC he also studied saxophone privately and participated in the BC b0p! jazz ensemble, the University Wind Ensemble, and the Screaming Eagles Marching Band (as trombonist).
Ball's first acknowledged works date from his undergraduate years. these include a song for voice and piano, Prayer, on a text of C.S. Lewis; the string quartet Autumn Wind, the jazz ensemble piece Smack Dab in the Middle, and his Saxophone Quartet No. 1. He wrote his first orchestral piece, Augustine's Ascent, in summer 2008, and it was given a reading by the New England Conservatory Philharmonia this past fall.
In addition to his love for traditional repertoire and jazz, Ball is interested in the later music of Arvo Part, Henryck Gorecki, and other composers whose style draws on Renaissance and Medieval compositional ideas and features (to put it simplistically) stark tonality and slowly developing narrative. He is also drawn to the "optimistic" openness of Aaron Copland. Ball's own music exhibits a similarly transparent harmonic language (he is particularly partial to octaves and fifths) and a tendency to spin out large-scale form via the manipulation of clear, diatonic motifs.