The Center for New Music, a performance organization devoted to the late 20th and early 21st century repertoire, is the focus of contemporary composition and performance at the University of Iowa. The Center, like the internationally renowned Writers Workshop, embodies the institution's commitment to the vital role of the creative arts at the frontiers of human experience.

The Center functions as a laboratory and performance extension of the School's composition area, and as a repertory ensemble for the creation and presentation of contemporary music in general. The core ensemble consists of violin, viola, cello, and piano supported by Research Assistantships assigned by those studios. The remaining members that complete the sinfonietta ensemble are assigned by the individual studio faculty, typically for the academic year. The Center also serves as host for guest composers and artists.

The Center remains an advocate of contemporary music performance. Its programming reflects the range of current compositional styles as well as what is considered standard repertoire from the mid-20th century into early 21st. The high quality of performance results from working with a core ensemble, solidly grounded in the repertoire, over an extended period of time. New and more diverse audiences are carefully cultivated through outreach concerts, and the Center's professional reputation is steadily being established through CD recordings as well as through the collaboration of nationally-known guest composers and performers.