Redefining chamber music

Letter from the founder, Dr. Carter Dewberry

The idea for The Definiens Project was born while I was sitting in a graduate music class at UCLA. I had just finished presenting my classical analysis of a cello quartet performance of Metallica’s The Unforgiven as performed by the band Apocalyptica. Members of the class had enjoyed the performance until they learned who had written it. At that time, I heard some comments of indignation over my bringing non-classical music into an academic setting.

Thankfully, my professor Dr. Winter did not share that opinion. He encouraged me to continue challenging the perceived barrier between classical and non-classical music.

I named this chamber music ensemble The Definiens Project based on the Latin word Definiens. This term means (loosely) that which defines. I wanted to redefine elements of chamber music performance to attract a broader, contemporary audience. The Definiens Project’s first concert was appropriately called “The Pop Effect.” We eventually became a non-profit organization in order to further my vision of conducting community and educational outreach.

It was also recommended that I pursue doctoral studies at UCLA where I could continue to be supported in my creative efforts. I did not want to pursue another solo performance degree. My passion was chamber music. I ended up petitioning the school to allow me to create a new course of study that would allow me to get my Doctoral of Musical Arts in Chamber Music Performance. My petition was a success, and I started my doctoral career alongside developing The Definiens Project.


For years during and after I attended UCLA, The Definiens Project involved numerous students and faculty members from both UCLA, USC, and other local universities (proof that musicians from rival schools can play well together 🙂 ). We served as the ensemble-in-residence at UCLA as well as other institutions and presented dozens, if not hundreds, of concerts in varied local venues.

My dissertation was based on the work I had done with The Definiens Project throughout my graduate career. The title is “Expanding the Classical Music Audience.” Excerpts of my dissertation are included on this website to further describe my vision.

I had to step down from The Definiens Project for personal reasons a number of years ago. Others picked up where I left off.

Today, looking back at this project, I am thankful for all those who have supported and participated in the growth of this organization. I see we have made a musical impact in the world that will resonate for generations to come.

I invite you to learn more about my vision for this organization by reading my dissertation excerpts on this website. If you would like to learn more or engage in a dialogue about this topic, I can be reached at carter (at)

All Best,

Dr. Carter Dewberry