Mizzou International Composers Festival gets submissions from around the world

With a flurry of last-minute activity, a total of 244 composers from around the world applied for the eight resident composer spots at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Submissions were received from 22 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The 2018 MICF is scheduled for July 23 – 28 on the University of Missouri campus and at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia, and will feature Chen Yi and Alex Mincek as distinguished guest composers and Alarm Will Sound as resident ensemble. The eight resident composers selected to take part in the festival will be named in January.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble presenting “Words and Music”
and more on Sunday, December 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will premiere new works by seven different Mizzou composers in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus. Admission is $5 for the general public, free for Mizzou faculty, students and staff with ID.

The full Ensemble (pictured) will present the premiere performances of “notfromme” by Mikkel Christensen, a first-year master’s student; “Night Blossoms,” by senior composition major Ben Colagiovanni; “If you have nothing nice to say [say it softly],” by Libby Roberts, also a first-year master’s student and the pianist for the Ensemble; and “Good Vibes,” by freshman composition major Nick Williams.

The concert also will feature four songs created this fall as part of “Words and Music,” a collaborative project between the School of Music and the Department of English.

Overseen by post-doctoral fellow Carolina Heredia and assistant teaching professor Julia Bentley from the School of Music, along with Gabriel Fried, assistant professor of English, the “Words and Music” project involved three teams, each including an MU student poet, composer, singer, and a Mizzou New Music Ensemble member.

The new works they created to be performed at this concert are:

“Katabasis,” with words by Mary Clare Agnew and music by Libby Roberts, which will be performed by Briana Bennett, mezzo-soprano, and Kelariz Keshavarz, flute;

“The Wanderer,” with words by Hannah Cajandig and music by Adam J. Cohen, a sophomore composition major, to be performed by soprano Morgan Owen and percussionist Brianna Trainor; and

“Transience,” with words by Bryn Bartel and music by sophomore composition major Ethan Forte, performed by Matt Ahn, baritone and Daniel Keeler, cello.

In addition, as an example for the students, Gabriel Fried and Carolina Heredia worked together to write “Schoolyard Blessing,” which will be performed at the concert by Julia Bentley with Libby Roberts on piano.

Chen Yi to serve as distinguished guest composer
for 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will welcome Chen Yi as a distinguished guest composer at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), scheduled for Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Chen (pictured) is a distinguished professor of composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her composition “Si Ji” (“Four Seasons”), she was born and raised in Guangzhou, China and is known as a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Along with many orchestral works, Chen has written numerous choral works and pieces of chamber music, including works written for traditional Chinese instruments.

Next July in Columbia, she’ll join Alex Mincek, who was named in October as the MICF’s other distinguished guest composer for 2018. The MICF features three public concerts of music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events. As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will present the world premieres of new works from eight resident composers, with Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, serving as resident ensemble.

The resident composers are selected for the MICF each year through an online portfolio application process. During the festival, they’ll get composition lessons from the distinguished guest composers and Mizzou faculty, and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a professional live recording of their work.

The deadline for submitting an application is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Friday, November 17, 2017. For more information or to apply to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit https://app.getacceptd.com/mizzou.

The 2018 MICF will be Chen’s second visit to Columbia under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. She previously came to Mizzou in 2015 for a brief residency during which the University Singers presented the world premiere of her composition “The Beautiful West Lake.”

In addition, her husband Zhou Long, also a professor of composition at UMKC’s conservatory and winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for music, was one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2013 MICF, making them the only married couple who both have served in that capacity.

A violinist as well as a composer, Chen Yi earned bachelor and masters degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University.

She received the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005. Other honors include first prize from the Chinese National Composition Contest, Lili Boulanger Award, NYU Sorel Medal Award, CalArts/Alpert Award, and many more.

Chen has won fellowships and commissions from organizations including the Guggenheim Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Ford, Roche, and Rockefeller foundations; Meet The Composer, Chamber Music America;, the BBC Proms; the China National Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center Festival, and Carnegie Hall.

Ensembles and soloists commissioning her work have included the Cleveland Orchestra, Mira Wang and the Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Seattle Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma and the Pacific Symphony, Evelyn Glennie and the Singapore Symphony, the Women’s Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and more.

Chen’s music is published by Theodore Presser Company, and has been recorded and released on more than 20 different labels, including New Albion, CRI, Angel, Koch International Classics, Delos, New World and Naxos.

Alarm Will Sound to play free concert on
Wednesday, December 6 at Missouri Theatre

Alarm Will Sound is returning to Columbia to perform at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 6 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. 9th St. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

As the resident ensemble for the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), Alarm Will Sound (pictured) has been playing in mid-Missouri since 2010, and five of the six composers whose works they’ll perform in December at the Missouri Theatre have a connection to the MICF.

Two of the works were created specifically for the festival by past resident composers. “Paper Pianos I. You are not a kid,” was written by Mary Kouyoumdjian and premiered at the 2016 MICF, and “Urban Sprawl” was written by Clint Needham and was first performed the 2011 festival.

Needham currently is composer-in-residence and assistant professor at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio; Kouyoumdjian is a freelance composer based in New York City.

Alarm Will Sound also will perform new works by two of its own members. “Escape Wisconsin” is by AWS violinist and guitarist Caleb Burhans, and premiered at the 2017 MICF, while “Unremixed” was composed by Stefan Freund, who is the cellist for AWS, professor of composition at Mizzou, and artistic director of the MICF and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Completing the program will be two pieces by well-known contemporary composers, “Try” by Andrew Norman and “Scratchband” by John Adams.

Norman was a distinguished guest composer at the 2015 MICF, and is the winner of the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for outstanding achievement by a living composer, and an assistant professor of composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music; Adams is the Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning composer of “Nixon In China,” “Doctor Atomic,” “Shaker Loops” and more.

2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 23 – 28; applications for eight resident composers now open

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is now accepting applications for eight resident composers to take part in the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), which will be held Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Alex Mincek (pictured) will serve as one of the MICF’s two distinguished guest composers, teaching and consulting with the resident composers and ensemble. The second distinguished guest composer will be announced at a later date.

The MICF features three public concerts of music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events. As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will present the world premieres of new works from each of the eight resident composers, with Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, serving as resident ensemble.

The resident composers are selected for the MICF each year through an online portfolio application process. During the festival, they’ll get composition lessons from the distinguished guest composers and Mizzou faculty, and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a professional live recording of their work.

The deadline to apply to become a resident composer for the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Friday, November 17, 2017. For more information or to submit an application, please visit https://app.getacceptd.com/mizzou.

A Florida native turned New Yorker, Alex Mincek earned his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and his DMA from Columbia University. Currently an assistant professor, composition and music technology at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, he is a recipient of honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Alpert Award, multiple awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and more.

Mincek’s music has been performed at major venues and international festivals including Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, Wigmore Hall, Strasbourg Musica, Darmstadt (IMD), and many others, and he has collaborated with ensembles including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Linea, Talea, Dal Niente, Yarn/Wire, and the JACK Quartet.

A saxophonist and bass clarinetist, Mincek is a co-founder and artistic director of the Wet Ink Ensemble, a group that, starting in 1998, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous works by contemporary and emerging composers. They have collaborated with artists such as George Lewis, Evan Parker, Christian Wolff, and members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and introduced NYC audiences to the work of European composers including Peter Ablinger, Mathias Spahlinger, and Beat Furrer.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

JACK Quartet coming to Mizzou for residency, concert on Friday, October 27

The acclaimed new music group JACK Quartet is coming to the University of Missouri for a two-day residency, culminating in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 27 at Whitmore Recital Hall.

Admission to the concert is $5 at the door for the general public, free to Mizzou students, faculty and staff with ID.

In addition to the concert, while they’re on campus the quartet (pictured) will have coaching sessions with the university’s graduate string quartet and Mizzou New Music Ensemble, and take part in a convocation with the entire School of Music.

They also will present a free, public workshop with Mizzou New Music Initiative post-doctoral fellow Carolina Heredia on Thursday, October 26 at Whitmore Hall, performing the Missouri premiere of a new section of her composition “Ausências/Ausencias/Absences.” (JACK Quartet premiered the original, shorter version of Heredia’s work in 2016, and you can see them playing it, plus a couple of other sample performances, via the embedded video players at the bottom of this post.)

Called “superheroes of the new music world” by the Boston Globe, and praised as “the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment” by the Washington Post, JACK Quartet was formed in 2005 by violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Kevin McFarland, all alumni of the Eastman School of Music. In 2016, violinist Austin Wulliman and cellist Jay Campbell joined the group, replacing Streisfeld and McFarland.

JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music. They have collaborated with a stellar roster of contemporary composers, including Derek Bermel, Cenk Ergün, Roger Reynolds, Toby Twining, and Georg Friedrich Haas. John Luther Adams, Chaya Czernowin, Simon Steen-Andersen, Caroline Shaw, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Reich, Matthias Pintscher, and John Zorn.

The quartet has performed at major venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in the USA, as well as Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (The Netherlands), IRCAM (France), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Suntory Hall (Japan), and many others.

As part of an ongoing commitment to music education, the JACK Quartet spends two weeks each summer teaching at New Music on the Point, a contemporary chamber music festival in Vermont, and has long-standing relationships with the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program and the Boston University Center for New Music.  They also have taught and performed at schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington.

“Ausências/Ausencias/Absences” by Carolina Heredia

“Intonations” by Derek Bermel

“Ritornello” by Caroline Shaw

Missouri student composers are eligible for awards, cash prizes from Mizzou’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP)

While the tools for writing music have evolved over time – from pen, paper and piano to computers, samples and synthesizers – young composers today still face the same challenge they’ve had for hundreds of years: getting their music heard.

That ‘s why the Mizzou New Music Initiative began the Creating Original Music Project (COMP).

Now in its 13th year, COMP is an annual statewide competition that showcases new, original music from Missouri student composers and songwriters in grades K-12, offering positive recognition and prizes, performance and educational opportunities, and more.

Sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, COMP is now accepting entries for the 2018 competition.

Both the winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Winners in high school also are eligible for scholarships to attend the week-long Missouri Summer Composition Institute, held in June on the Mizzou campus.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in two categories, Songs With Words and Instrumental. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music and Popular Music; and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Popular Music, Jazz, and Other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Both notated pieces and music made electronically are eligible. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher.

Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. All entries must be submitted by Sunday, January 14, 2018.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and an application for the 2018 competition, please visit the COMP website at https://music.missouri.edu/mnmi/comp.

For students looking for more guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

Students can e-mail works in progress, ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2017-18 academic year is Douglas Osmun, who can be reached by email at composerconnection@missouri.edu.

Aaron Mencher wins 2018 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2018 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Aaron Mencher.

Mencher (pictured) is a junior and Sinquefield Scholar at Mizzou, studying composition with Carolina Heredia. He submitted “Bluish Orange,” a work written for flute, clarinet, and saxophone, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2018 competition were Jennifer Jolley, assistant professor of composition at Ohio Wesleyan University; LJ White, lecturer in composition at Washington University; and Yoshiaki Onishi, a freelance composer in Columbia, MO.

Now in its 13th year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou.

As this year’s winner, Mencher now will be commissioned to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Brian Silvey, which will premiere it as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase on Monday, April 9, 2018 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, Mencher also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work professionally recorded.

Coming to the University of Missouri from John’s Creek, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, Aaron Mencher also is one of three Mizzou student composers selected this year to take part in reading sessions of new works with members of the St. Louis Symphony.

His piece “Fast-Forward” recently won the American Modern Ensemble’s composition competition in the Young Artist category for composers under the age of 22. In conjunction with this award, Mencher’s piece “Rise” will be performed by cellist Dave Eggar in a concert in November at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY.

In 2016, Mencher won the Boston New Music Initiative’s Young Composers Competition with his work “Uncertainly Yours,” which was performed by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble as part of their season-opening concert in October in Columbia, and then by BNMI’s ensemble in November in Boston.
Mencher’s piece “New” won awards in the 2015 NAfME Student Composers Competition and the 2016 American Prize in Composition – Band/Wind Ensemble, Student Division competition. It has been performed by the All-National Concert Band and Mizzou’s University Wind Ensemble, and has been published by Murphy Music Press.

The other finalists for the 2018 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Dustin Dunn, Jake Smucker, Ben Rouder, and Ben Colagiovanni.