Composers Festival spotlight: Oscar Bettison

As one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival,
Oscar Bettison will give a public presentation on his music; mentor and teach the eight resident composers; and work with Alarm Will Sound, who will perform his chamber concerto “Livre des Sauvages” as part of Thursday night’s concert at the Missouri Theatre.

A member of the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University since 2009, Bettison originally is from Jersey, UK. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Royal College of Music in London, then studied for three years at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague before completing his Ph.D at Princeton University.

As a composer, Bettison is noted for his use of found and “junk” percussion and other examples of what he calls “Cinderella instruments” - “instruments that really shouldn’t be the belle-of-the-ball but I make them so” – as well as for using electric instruments more common to rock music than classical.

His works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. Recent commissions include the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, musikFabrik, Tanglewood Music Center, Talea Ensemble, Slagwerk Den Haag, So Percussion, Bang on a Can All-Stars and the New York Philharmonic’s 2014 Biennial.

Bettison won the the very first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize in 1993, and has gone on to earn numerous other awards and honors including a Chamber Music America Commissioning Award in 2013; the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize in 2009; and more, as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.

His music has been featured on several recordings, including in 2010 a full-length album, “O Death,” featuring the evening-long work of that name performed by Ensemble Klang; and “B&E (with aggravated assault)”, performed by NEWSPEAK on New Amsterdam Records.

For more about Oscar Bettison, read the profile of him published in 2013 by Johns Hopkins Magazine, and his 2009 interview with CompositionToday.com.

You can hear samples of Bettison’s music on his SoundCloud page. In the embedded media players below, you can see a brief video profile of Bettison, produced by the Peabody Conservatory, and
a video interview in which he talks about “Livre des Sauvages,” plus performances of two of Bettison’s works.

Oscar Bettison talks about life as a composer and finding inspiration through teaching. See him give lessons to students at the Peabody Conservatory and listen in as he rehearses his piece “Apart,” written for So Percussion.

Oscar Bettison talks about his chamber concerto, Livre des Sauvages.

The East Coast premiere of Bettison’s “An Inventory of Remnants,”
performed by Choo Choo Hu (piano, percussion) during the New Music Gathering 2016, at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

“Vamp (movement 2)”, performed by Ensemble Offspring, with Lamorna Nightingale (piccolo), Claire Edwardes (percussion), and Jason Noble (clarinet), on March 18, 2014 at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

Composers Festival spotlight: Julie Rosenfeld and Peter Miyamoto

Performing as guest artists at the Mizzou International Composers Festival this year are violinist Julie Rosenfeld and pianist Peter Miyamoto, who will be playing together as part of the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 29 at the Missouri Theatre.

Rosenfeld (pictured, top left) joined the faculty of the University of Missouri School of Music in the fall of 2014 as assistant professor, violin and a member of the Esterhazy Quartet. Previously, from 2009 until 2013 she was assistant professor of violin in-residence at the University of Connecticut, and from 2001 to 2009 she was a visiting professor of music at Bard College.

She also has taught violin and chamber music at the European Mozart Academy in Poland, and has served on juries for the Astral Foundation, the Juilliard School, the Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation, the Banff International String Quartet Competition, and others.

A native of Los Angeles, Rosenfeld attended the Curtis Institute of Music and received a bachelor of music from the University of Southern California and a master of music from Yale University.

As a performer, she has appeared at the Marlboro, Santa Fe, Newport and La Jolla Chamber Music Festivals and as a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She has recorded for labels including Parnassus Records, Albany Records, and BMG Classics, for which she performed on two CDs of French chamber music with André Previn.

As the first violinist of the award-winning Colorado Quartet for 32 years, Rosenfeld played more than 1200 concerts throughout the United States and Canada and in more than 20 other countries.

Widely praised for their recordings of both standard and contemporary repertoire, the quartet performed and promoted the work of living composers such as Karel Husa, Joan Tower, Richard Wernick, Katherine Hoover, George Tsontakis, Laura Kaminsky, and Libby Larsen.

The Colorado Quartet was in residence at Bard College from 2000 until 2009, and also directed the Soundfest Festival and Institute of String Quartets, a music camp for players aged 10 to adult amateurs in Falmouth, Massachusetts, from 1991 until disbanding in 2013.

Peter Miyamoto is professor of piano and chamber music at Mizzou. He holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale University School of Music, Michigan State University, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Before coming to Missouri, Miyamoto (pictured, bottom left) taught at Michigan State University and the California Institute of the Arts and also served as head of the piano faculty at the New York Summer Music Festival.

In 1990, he was named the winner of the first-ever Gilmore Young Artist award, and he has won numerous other competitions, including the American Pianist Association National Fellowship Competition, the D’Angelo Competition, the San Francisco Symphony Competition and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Competition.

Miyamoto has performed in recital and as a soloist in Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, China, and Japan, and in major US cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

He has performed with orchestras such as the Chautauqua Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Florida Philharmonic, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, and many others. As a chamber musician, he has played with Charles Castleman, Victor Danchenko, Lara St. John, members of the Blair, Borromeo, Euclid and Pacifica String Quartets, and many others. Miyamoto is a former member of the August Trio and the Beaumont Trio, and was a founding member of the Quadrivium Players, the resident ensemble at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Miyamoto’s critically acclaimed solo CDs include The Chopin Ballades and Fantasies, A Schubert Recital, Brahms Works, and A Piano Recital.

You can hear performances by Julie Rosenfeld (with the Colorado Quartet) and Peter Miyamoto in the embedded media players below.

The Colorado Quartet – Julie Rosenfeld (violin), Deborah Lydia Redding (violin), Marka Gustavsson (viola) and Diane Chaplin (cello) – and oboist Humbert Lucarelli perform the string quartet version of John Corigliano’s “Aria – Adagio” from his Concerto for oboe and orchestra.

“Pictures at an Exhibition” performed by Peter Miyamoto (piano) with Keisuke Hoashi (narrator) in July 2012 for the New York Summer Music Festival at the Goodrich Theatre at SUNY Oneonta College.

Composers Festival spotlight: Wang Lu

Born in Xi’an, the ancient capital of China, 2016 MICF resident composer Wang Lu was raised as part of a musical family immersed in Chinese opera and folk music traditions, and her works “reflect a very natural identification with those influences, through the prism of contemporary instrumental techniques and new sonic possibilities.”

An assistant professor of music at Brown University since 2015, Wang (pictured) graduated in 2005 from the Central Conservatory of Music in Bejing and earned her doctoral degree in composition in 2012 from Columbia University.

Her honors include a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship, first prize at Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s Young Composers Forum in 2010, two ASCAP Morton Gould awards, and more.

Wang’s music has been performed internationally by groups including the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Shanghai National Chinese Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Albany Symphony, and many others.

In 2010, she was selected for a Tremplin commission by IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain, and in 2012, she took part in the International Composition Seminar with the Ensemble Modern.

Wang’s orchestral work “Scenes from the Bosco Sacro” was selected for the 2014 New York Philharmonic Biennial New Music Readings, and her music also has been featured at the Cresc Biennale for New Music, MATA Festival, Gaudeamus Music Week, Tanglewood Music Center, Cabrillo Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Takefu International Music Festival, and more.

In addition to “Backstory,” which she wrote for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s “Eight World Premieres” concert on Saturday, July 30, Wang’s other recent projects include commissions for ICE, Yarn/Wire, the Momenta Quartet, organist Mark Steinbach, and violinist Miranda Cuckson; and a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

For more about Wang Lu, read this short feature about her from last year on ClassicalLite.com; the 2014 interview with her published on the American Composers Orchestra’s website; and her 2011 interview with the Huffington Post.

You can hear samples of Wang Lu’s music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded players below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Daniel Silliman

2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival resident composer Daniel Silliman was born in Syracuse, NY and grew up in Katy, TX, near Houston.

He began studying piano as a child, and upon graduating high school, enrolled in the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, where his composition teachers included Andrew Norman, who was a distinguished guest composer at last year’s MICF.

After graduating summa cum laude from USC in 2015 with a B.M. in composition, Silliman is now a doctoral fellow working on an MFA/Ph.D in composition at Princeton University in New Jersey. His teachers there include Louis Andriessen and another former MICF distinguished guest composer, Donnacha Dennehy, who was part of the 2012 festival.

Silliman’s music has been recognized with a number of awards and honors, including the 2015 William Schuman Prize from the BMI Foundation; an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, for which he was a finalist in 2012 and a winner in 2015; and being selected as a resident composer in New York Youth Symphony’s First Music competition.

In 2015, Silliman was one of seven young composers chosen to participate in CULTIVATE, the annual composers institute at Copland House, which is the former home of composer Aaron Copland in upstate New York that’s now a center for new music. Daniel Silliman’s music also has been presented by the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, American Festival for the Arts, Texas Music Teachers Association, and Access Contemporary Music.

His new work created for the 2016 MICF is titled “Endless Castle Romance,” and will be premiered by Alarm Will Sound along with new pieces from the other seven resident composers at the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 30 at the Missouri Theatre.

You can hear samples of Daniel Silliman’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded media players below.

“strain” for cello and orchestra, featuring Michael Kaufman (cello) and the USC Symphony conducted by Donald Crockett.

“mechanical trees,” a 2014 work for bassoon, percussion, piano and page turns that was premiered and recorded on July 28, 2014 at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, ME.

“scaffold,” recorded February 24, 2015 in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California’s Joyce J. Cammileri Hall, featuring Clara Kim (violin), Michael Kaufman (cello), and Brendan White (piano).

Composers Festival spotlight: Wang A Mao

Coming originally from China, Wang A Mao had to travel a long way from home to study composing in the United States. But her journey to Columbia to serve as one of the eight resident composers for this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival was considerably shorter, for as the latest festival participant from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, she only had to travel another hundred miles or so down the road.

Wang (pictured) earned her bachelor of arts in composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and first came to Missouri to study for a master’s degree, which she earned in 2012. She currently is completing work on her doctorate in Kansas City, where her teachers have included Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long (who was a distinguished guest composer at the 2014 MICF).

Wang’s music has been recognized with awards and performances in both Asia and the United States. In 2011, she was selected as a winner of the Beijing Modern Music Festival’s Young Composer Project, and her orchestral works have been read by the American Composers Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. In 2015, Wang’s “Characters in Theatre” was played at the NY Phil’s Biennial, a performance that the New York Times called “arresting…a kind of concentrated shot of the music associated with Chinese opera.”

Her chamber works have been premiered by groups including Third Angle New Music, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Music from China, and her commissioned work “The Feeble Breeze, The Sullen Spring” was included on the album East Meets West, Vol. II released by Albany Records.

She received a composition commission from the Missouri Music Teachers Association in 2013, and also has participated in composer fellowships and residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, the Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Banff Centre in Canada.

As a performer, Wang has played her own chamber works at Le Poisson Rouge in New York, Hong Kong’s City Hall Theatre, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and many Chinese venues. She also has performed her solo piano compositions at the Edgar Snow Memorial Fund Symposium and the National Association of Schools of Music concert series.

You can hear Wang A Mao talk about her music and about “Prowesses,’ the new work she’s written for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s grand finale, in the interview she recorded last month for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. For more, read her 2015 interview on the American Composers Orchestra’s website, and listen to samples of her music and another brief interview in the embedded players below.

“Shades of Chinese Essence,” a work for piano composed in 2014 and performed by pianist Zhang Yiming on February 26, 2015 at Temple University.

“Characters in Theatre (excerpt),” performed by the American Composers Orchestra led by George Manahan in June 2014 for the
Underwood New Music Readings at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York, NY.

Wang A Mao describes how her composition “Spirit of Zheng” was inspired by the poetry of Ruan Li.

Jacob Gotlib hired as new managing director for Mizzou New Music Initiative

The University of Missouri School of Music has hired Jacob Gotlib to be the new managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Gotlib, who earned his Ph.D in composition in 2015 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, will start work at Mizzou on Monday, August 15.

As managing director, he will oversee all programs and operations of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, including the Mizzou International Composers Festival, Creating Original Music Project (COMP), the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP), and more.

Currently living in Louisville, KY, Gotlib (pictured) already has some familiarity with the state of Missouri. Before getting his doctorate in Buffalo, he earned his master’s degree in composition in 2008 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and during his time there was one of the co-founders of the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance (KcEMA). Gotlib also holds a B.M. in music technology from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

His compositions have been performed by a variety of groups, including Ensemble Linea, Ensemble SurPlus, Ensemble Dal Niente, Crossfire Percussion Duo, Schlagquartett Köln, and Slagwerk Den Haag, and his music has received recognition from ASCAP/SEAMUS, Ossia, The Acht Brücken Festival, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, and various others.

While attending the University at Buffalo, Gotlib taught courses in composition, theory, and more. He also has served as an adjunct instructor in composition at Indiana University Southeast and Marshall University.

“We are delighted to have Jacob as the new managing director for the Mizzou New Music Initiative,” said Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music. “We were really impressed with both his overall knowledge of the field and his specific experiences as a composer, teacher, and organizer of new music events and festivals.”

Composers Festival spotlight: Trey Makler

Originally from Farmington, Missouri, Trey Makler
is Mizzou’s representative among this year’s group of eight resident composers at the Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Makler (pictured) just completed his senior year in Columbia, earning his bachelor’s degree studying composition with Stefan Freund and oboe with Dan Willett. While an undergraduate, he has served as vice-president of the Mizzou Composers Guild and president of the Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity, and he’s also quite familiar with the MICF, having been a production coordinator for the festival for the past three years.

An avid collaborator, Makler has worked with dancers, writers, and visual artists on a variety of interdisciplinary projects. He performs as an oboist with various ensembles in the Columbia area, including the Exit 128 contemporary chamber orchestra, of which he is a founding member; the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble and Philharmonic Orchestra; and others.

In addition to “Long String of Molecules,” the work Makler has written for Alarm Will Sound to premiere at the 2016 MICF, he also recently composed a piece for flute and guitar for this summer’s Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and completed work this year on “Hatrack,” a one-act chamber opera with libretto by Katie Kull.

Based on an essay by Herbert Asbury about the oppressive religious culture of rural Missouri in the early 20th century, “Hatrack” was premiered by Exit 128 in May 2016 at the Missouri Theatre.

Makler was the winner of the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the top award given to a student composer at Mizzou. He used the resulting commission to write “whatever we lose” for the University Philharmonic, and the work then was premiered at the 2015 Chancellor’s Arts Showcase. Also in 2015, Makler’s “die Sonette an Orpheus” was winner of the annual Boston New Music Initiative Young Composers Competition. It was premiered at the Arlington Center for the Arts in April of this year.

Makler also has written commissioned works for the Sheldon Concert Hall and others, including “Elysium,” composed for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and premiered in 2014 at an event for Forest Park Forever in St. Louis.

For more about Trey Makler, you can listen to the interview he did in May of this year on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program, and read this 2014 profile of him in the Columbia Daily Tribune. You can hear Trey Makler’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded media players below.

The world premiere of “Hatrack,” with music by Trey Makler and libretto by Katie Kull, performed by Exit 128 and conducted by Travis Herd on May 5, 2016 at the Missouri Theatre.

“I remember everything,” recorded at the 2015 Charlotte New Music Festival’s Dance Co-Lab concert.

“It Was There All Along,” premiered by Andrew Cuneo (bassoon) and Peter Henderson (piano) in February 2016 at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Composers Festival spotlight: Erin Gee

The innovative composer of vocal music Erin Gee is one of the two distinguished guest composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

In that capacity, she’ll give a public presentation on her music; teach and interact informally with the festival’s eight resident composers; and be in the audience for performances of her work in concerts by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday night and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on Friday night.

Currently an assistant professor of composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Gee (pictured) is known particularly for her series of compositions called “Mouthpieces,” which use “non-traditional vocal techniques, devoid of semantic language, to construct intricate and subtle patterns of a diverse array of vocal sounds.”

In 2014 she was cited by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, as part of his short list of the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century. Since then, she has been awarded the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Bogliasco Fellowship.

Gee graduated from the University of Iowa with BA and MA degrees in piano and composition, then earned a PhD in music theory in 2007 from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz.

“Mouthpieces” began as one piece for solo voice, which Gee began performing as a graduate student, and has grown to more than 25 works for orchestra, opera, vocal ensemble, large chamber ensemble and string quartet. Those works have been performed internationally by some of the top new music ensembles in Europe, North America, South America, Hong Kong and Japan and in the Wittener Tage für Neue Musik; Musik Protokoll in Steirischer Herbst; Klangspuren;, Darmstadt Festival Summer Courses; the SONiC Festival; and the Zurich Tage der Neue Musik. among others.

Gee’s awards for composition include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2008 Rome Prize, Zürich Opera House’s Teatro Minimo, and the Picasso-Mirò Medal, among others. She has written commissioned works for the Zurich Opera House; the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna; the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group under Esa-Pekka Salonen; Klangforum Wien; the American Composers Orchestra; and more.

Gee also has worked with the Latvian Radio Chamber Choir, Ensemble SurPlus, Alter Ego, Either/Or Ensemble, Wet Ink, Metropolis Ensemble, Repertorio Zero, and many others.

Her works are taught in the composition and musicology programs of many leading universities such as MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Mills College, and she has lectured at Harvard, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, and Wellesley.

Gee’s debut CD, also called Mouthpieces, was released in January 2014 on the col legno label in Vienna, and was praised by Gramophone magazine in a review which noted the “tangible virtuosity of Gee’s formidable vocal execution, as well as the comparable (if relatively more orthodox) finesse of the instrumental component” and stated, “Erin Gee clearly has a contribution to make.”

You can hear Erin Gee being interviewed last month on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program here, and see and hear some samples of her music being performed in the embedded players below.

Erin Gee and RepertorioZero perform “Mouthpiece XII” in a concert presented by Tage für Neue Musik in November 2009 at the Tonhalle in Zürich, Switzerland.

The Ecce ensemble performs “Mouthpiece XIXc” during the 2016 nienteForte Contemporary Music Festival in New Orleans.

The U.S. premiere of “Mouthpiece X” for amplified voice and amplified ensemble, performed on November 19 & 20, 2009 at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, featuring Erin Gee on vocals and Metropolis Ensemble, led by conductor Andrew Cyr.

“Mouthpiece XXIV” performed in 2015 by Ryan Muncy and Ross Karre of the International Contemporary Ensemble at Abrons Arts Center in New York City