Missouri Composers Orchestra Project selects six works for concert on March 20

For many young composers, writing for orchestra or chorus represents a significant pinnacle of achievement, offering artistic satisfaction and enhancing credibility and career opportunities.

Reaching that pinnacle, however, also requires getting that new, large ensemble work played in public, which is not always an easy task when resources are scarce and many music directors tend to rely on familiar favorites.

Now, six up-and-coming composers are getting a boost from the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP), as their orchestral and choral works will be performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) and the Columbia Chamber Choir at a concert on Sunday, March 20 in Columbia.

The compositions were chosen in the fifth annual competition conducted under the auspices of MOCOP, a collaborative effort involving the CCO, Chamber Choir, the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The 2016 MOCOP competition included for the first time both choral and orchestral works in five categories – three for Missouri composers, and two added this year specifically for composers currently studying at schools in the Southeastern Conference.

All the winners will receive a $500 honorarium from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, and the composers selected from SEC schools also will receive travel expenses so they can attend the final rehearsal and concert. This year’s selected works and their composers are:

Missouri Open – Orchestral: “Wafting Mists” by Daniel Morel, a doctoral student at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Morel also holds degrees from Bucknell University (BA) and The Hartt School, University of Hartford (MM, AD).

Missouri High School – Orchestral: “Nightmare Waltz” by Emily Shaw, a sophomore at Gloria Deo Academy in Springfield, MO.

Missouri High School – Choral: “Solar Flare” by Ethan Forte, a senior at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, MO.

SEC Student – Orchestral: “A Cypress Prelude” by Christopher Lowry, a DMA student at Louisiana State University (LSU). Lowry, who plays viola with several regional orchestras, also has a bachelor of music degree from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and a master of music degree from LSU.

SEC Student – Choral: “When I am Dead, My Dearest” by Ryan Stennes, a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in composition at the University of Tennessee.

The concert also will include a performance of “Routine Android,” an orchestral work by University of Missouri senior composition major Luke Henderson that was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 2016 MOCOP competition.

The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform all the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 20 at Broadway Christian Church, 2601 West Broadway in Columbia. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Columbia Civic Orchestra is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

The Columbia Chamber Choir in a subset of the Columbia Chorale, which works to promote choral music of the highest artistic quality and to stimulate a greater community understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of choral music by presenting programs appealing to a wide cross-section of Missouri residents and visitors.

The Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP) is a collaborative effort by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra, and the Columbia Chamber Choir to bring attention to new large ensemble works written in the state of Missouri and by SEC student composers. By identifying composers and providing opportunities for the performance of their work, MOCOP intends to showcase emerging talent from Missouri and SEC schools and share it with the world.

$2 million gift provides continued support for new music at Mizzou


In a news conference on Monday, February 1, the University of Missouri announced that Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield have given a gift of more than $2 million over three years to support the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI). The MNMI brings together a diverse array of programs which position the MU School of Music as a leading national and international center in the areas of composition and new music. This latest gift will support the MNMI through 2019.

The Sinquefields are long-time supporters of music and the arts, specifically music composition. The Sinquefields’ support for composition at Mizzou began more than 10 years ago with the Creating Original Music Project, a statewide K-12 competition and affiliated high school summer camp. In 2009, they gave MU $1 million to create the Mizzou New Music Initiative. With this most recent gift, the Sinquefields have given nearly $4.5 million to support the MNMI and more than $15 million, including a $10 million gift in support of a new School of Music building, in total giving to MU.

“The Sinquefields’ most recent gift helps position the MU School of Music as a recognized leader in music composition nationally and throughout the world,” MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said. “By combining their love of the arts with their financial support to MU, the Sinquefelds have found a meaningful way to showcase their passion for musical composition and their love of performance arts. We are grateful for their generosity and for their leadership in supporting the arts here in Missouri, nationally and internationally.”

“We want Mizzou and Missouri to become an international mecca for music composition,” Jeanne Sinquefield said. “There are so many talented young composers, but there is a lack of public funding for programs and scholarships to support them. We are thrilled with the success the MNMI has enjoyed in its first seven years, and we are excited to help support its growth into the future.”

Alarm Will Sound to perform free concert
Saturday, February 13 at Missouri Theatre

The Mizzou New Music Initiative and the University of Missouri School of Music will welcome back to Columbia the acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound for a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 13 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S 9th St.

The concert will feature works by Hungarian avant-garde composer György Sándor Ligeti, who’s considered one of the most influential figures in the history of 20th century music. Born in Hungary in 1923, Ligeti escaped to the West in the late 1950s and, once freed from the artistic restrictions imposed by the Hungarian government, began to write innovative electronic and orchestral works noted particularly for their dense use of polyphony.

In addition to influencing several subsequent generations of composers, Ligeti’s work also earned the admiration of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, who included excerpts of the composer’s pieces in 2001: A Space Odyssey and other films.

Alarm Will Sound’s production will tell Ligeti’s story through a blend of music, text and imagery. Centered on his Chamber Concerto and Piano Concerto, the performance will make the connection between biography and music, explore the relationship of politics and art, and shed light on a unique artistic imagination. AWS member John Orfe will be featured as soloist in the Piano Concerto.

Formed in 2001, Alarm Will Sound (pictured) is a 20-member ensemble that approaches contemporary music in the spirit of curiosity and fearlessness, with a repertoire ranging from the archmodernist to the pop-influenced.

Alarm Will Sound performs regularly in New York City, St. Louis, and on tour throughout the US and Europe. AWS also has served as resident ensemble for the Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF) since its inception in 2010, and will return to Columbia in July for the seventh year of the MICF.

Ben Colagiovanni wins “Young Artist” award
in MTNA national composition competition

The University of Missouri’s Ben Colagiovanni is the national winner of the “Young Artist” award in this year’s Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) composition competition.

Colagiovanni (pictured) currently is a senior at Mizzou pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music composition. He was recognized for “Forest Park Rhapsody,” one of four works originally commissioned in 2014 by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform at an event for Forest Park Forever’s Leffingwell Society.

As a winner of the competition, Colagiovanni will receive a first place prize of $3,000, and “Forest Park Rhapsody” will be performed at the 2016 MTNA National Conference, which takes place April 2 through April 6 in San Antonio, TX.

A native of St. Louis and graduate of Clayton High School, Colagiovanni was a two-time winner in Mizzou’s statewide Creating Original Music Project (COMP) before enrolling at the university with a full-tuition Sinquefield Scholarship to study composition.

The Music Teachers National Association was founded in 1876 to advance the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music. The organization currently has nearly 22,000 members and more than 500 local affiliates in 50 states, and each year conducts several different competitions for student musicians and composers.

Mizzou International Composers Festival announces resident composers for 2016

The Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) has selected eight resident composers to participate in the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF).

Presented annually since 2010 by MNMI and the University of Missouri School of Music, the MICF in just six years has become the Midwest’s top summer showcase for intriguing new music by composers from around the world.

The seventh edition of the festival, scheduled for Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30 in Columbia, will feature world premieres of eight new works written by this year’s selected composers. Listed with their current places of residence, they are:

* Matthew Browne, Ann Arbor, MI
* Takuma Itoh, Honolulu, HI
* Mary Kouyoumdjian, Brooklyn, NY
* Ryan Lindveit, Los Angeles, CA
* Trey Makler, Columbia, MO
* Daniel Silliman, Princeton, NJ
* Wang A Mao, Kansas City, MO
* Wang Lu, Providence, RI

The eight resident composers are chosen through a portfolio application process that this year attracted 229 entries from 18 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The resident composers bringing international perspectives to Mizzou this year will include Takuma Itoh, who’s originally from Japan, grew up in California, and now is assistant professor of music at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

The 2016 group also includes two natives of China now living in the US: Wang Lu, who did her graduate studies at Columbia University and now is an assistant professor of music at Brown University in Rhode Island; and Wang A Mao, who earned her master’s degree and currently is working on a doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Trey Makler, a native of Farmington, MO now in his senior year of work toward a bachelor’s degree in composition at Mizzou, will represent the University of Missouri. Makler was the winner of the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the university’s highest honor for a student composer, and also has served as a production coordinator for the past two years of the MICF.

The 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival will include a series of public concerts featuring music from the resident composers and other contemporary creators, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events.

The Festival’s distinguished guest composers for 2016 will be Oscar Bettison, a British/American composer who has served on the composition faculty of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute since 2009; and Erin Gee, an assistant professor of music at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who is known for her compositions using non-traditional vocal techniques.

The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, once again will serve as resident ensemble, as they have since the MICF began in 2010.

During the festival, the eight resident composers will receive composition lessons from Bettison and Gee; take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give public presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of a new work created specifically for the MICF and Alarm Will Sound.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

Hear new music from the Mizzou International Composers Festival

As we anticipate the announcement later this month of the eight resident composers for the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival, the interval also provides an opportunity for MNMI to share for the first time some music from the 2015 MICF.

For starters, you can use the embedded audio player below to stream “virgin soil,” which was written by 2015 resident composer Conrad Winslow (pictured, upper left) and given a world premiere performance by Alarm Will Sound as part of the grand finale of last summer’s MICF:

And here’s Alarm Will Sound performing the world premiere of “True North” by 2015 resident composer Christopher Stark (pictured, lower left):

José Martínez selected by Third Coast Percussion
for 2016-17 Emerging Composers Partnership

Mizzou graduate student José Martínez has been selected by Third Coast Percussion to take part in their Emerging Composers Partnership for the 2016-17 season.

The Chicago-based ensemble chose Martínez (pictured) and Princeton graduate student Annika K. Socolofsky from among 99 applicants this year for the partnership program, which now is entering its third season.

Both composers will take part in a series of collaborative workshops in Chicago and create new works for Third Coast Percussion, which then will be premiered as part of the ensemble’s hometown concert series. Each composer also will receive an honorarium and a recording of their piece.

Martínez currently is working on a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou. He is a member of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble; was a resident composer at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival; and was the winner of the 2013 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the University’s highest honor for a composition student.

You can read more about his participation in Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composers Partnership here.

2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival
gets applications from 18 countries

The numbers have been tallied, and the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF) has received submissions from a total of 229 individuals hoping to be among the fest’s eight resident composers, including 129 who applied for the first time.

The 2016 MICF will take place from Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30 in Columbia.

Resident composer submissions were received from a total of 18 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Each resident composer will write a new work for the festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, which will be premiered during the grand finale concert on Saturday, July 30 at the Missouri Theatre.

Resident composers also will get composition lessons from distinguished guest composers Oscar Bettison and Erin Gee and from Mizzou faculty members, and each composer also will receive a copy of a professional live recording of his or her work.

The eight resident composers selected for the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced in January.