Mizzou composer Trey Makler wins 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize

Trey Makler

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Trey Makler.

Makler, a junior from Farmington, MO, is studying composition at Mizzou with W. Thomas McKenney and Stefan Freund. He submitted “Elysium,” a work for chamber ensemble, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2015 competition were Mara Gibson, associate teaching professor, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance ; Eric Honour, professor of music and director of the Center for Music Technology, University of Central Missouri; and Nick Omiccioli, composer.

Now in its tenth year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou. As this year’s winner, Makler now will have the opportunity to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Philharmonic, which will receive its world premiere on Monday, April 13, 2015 at the annual Chancellor’s Concert in Columbia. With the commission, he also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work recorded.

In addition to “Elysium,” written for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and performed this summer at an event for Forest Park Forever, Makler has had several other notable premieres and commissions in his young career. They include a collaboration with choreographer LeeAnn Davis; second prize in the 2014 Mizzou Collaborative Arts Initiative; and a commission from the Sheldon Concert Hall, with the support of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, for a new work for violin and piano to be premiered in February 2015 at The Sheldon.

As an oboist, Makler performs with the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble and Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as in various other ensembles and chamber groups on campus and in the community of Columbia. He currently is vice-president of the Mizzou Composer’s Guild and president of the Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity.

The other finalists for the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Kaylene Cypret, Justin Pounds, and Matthew Stiens.

The Sinquefield Composition Prize competition is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, an array of programs intended to position the University of Missouri School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. The Initiative is the direct result of the generous support of Dr. Jeanne and Mr. Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform collaborative concert
with Rich Pellegrin Quintet on Friday, October 24 at Whitmore Recital Hall

Rich Pellegrin

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform their first concert of the 2014-15 academic year at 7:30 p.m., Friday, October 24 in Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission is free for Mizzou students, $5 suggested donation for the general public.

Presented in conjunction with the three-day Mizzou Improvisation Project conference happening that week, the program will feature a joint performance with the Rich Pellegrin Quintet. Pellegrin, a jazz pianist and composer, is an assistant professor of music theory at Mizzou. The two groups will collaborate on his 2012 work “Down,” which incorporates improvisation as well as composed material.

Improvisation also is a major part of “Four Spaces,” a 2012 work by Paul Steinbeck that uses a graphic score and requires the performers to work together with the conductor to develop musical ideas and create different sonic textures and colors. Steinbeck, a bassist and composer, is an assistant professor of music at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Ensemble also will perform “Loki,” composed this year by Luke Henderson, a senior in music education and composition at Mizzou. Named after the Norse god of trickery, the work surprises the listener with elements of jazz, klezmer, reggae, and Irish jigs.

Rounding out the program are Mischa Zupko’s “Source of Breath, Source of Life,” a 2007 work commissioned for the new music ensemble eighth blackbird that comments on the conflicts between industry and a sustainable environment; and “Rotae Passionis,” a 1982 composition by Pulitzer Prize winner Christopher Rouse that musically depicts the Stations of the Cross from the Biblical story of Christ’s crucifixion.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2014-15 season are Taylor Burkhardt, piano; Rachel Czech, cello; Jose Martínez, percussion; Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets; Erin Spencer, flute; Britney Stutz, violin; and Korin Wahl, viola.

MNMI helps create audio tours for community arts project in Lexington, MO

The Lexington Community Arts Pilot Project and the University of Missouri Extension Division will present the premiere of “Legends of Lexington,” four audio tours of the historic districts of Lexington, MO featuring music, sound and production by composers from the Mizzou New Music Initiative, at a reception this Friday, September 26 at Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington.

The audio tours are part of a two-year program to help Lexington brand itself as a destination for tourists and artists. MNMI managing director William Lackey and Justin Pounds, who’s working on his master’s in composition at Mizzou, have spent the last year making period visits to Lexington, learning about the town, interacting with community members, and gathering ideas and material for the tours.

Pounds composed the music, while Lackey provided supervision, advice and audio engineering, recording voiceovers from volunteer narrators and location sounds, and editing and mixing all the parts into a finished product.

Lexington, which overlooks the Missouri River about 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, was the site of one of Missouri’s bloodiest Civil War Battles, and now is home to the Battle of Lexington Historic Site, wineries, orchards, an historic downtown with shops and restaurants, Wentworth Military Academy, and more.

The tours will available in digital formats and on CD, and will be released to the public for the first time this weekend during the town’s annual Apples, Arts and Antiques Festival.

You can find more information about the MU Extension Community Arts Program here, and see a brief video about the Lexington project in the embedded window below.

A look back at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival

Here’s a comprehensive look back at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival via news coverage and social media:

Even more media coverage of the 2014 MICF

With the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival now over, there still are a few items of media coverage of the festival to share.

In addition to their preview story on the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (linked here), Vox magazine sent writer Caleb O’Brien to the festival’s grand finale on Saturday night, and his recap of the evening can be read online here.

If you’d like to get a pictorial look behind the scenes of the 2014 MICF, resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound has posted on their Facebook page two albums of photos from the week. (The photo of resident composer José Martínez and AWS music director and conductor Alan Pierson accompanying this post is from the first set.)

Meanwhile, Seth Boustead and Jesse McQuarters, respectively the host and producer of the radio program Relevant Tones, were in Columbia for several days during the festival, recording material for an episode about the MICF that will air sometime this fall. The program is broadcast weekly at 5:00 p.m. Saturdays on WFMT (98.7 FM) in Chicago, and also can be heard online and on other subscribing stations around the country.

In addition to gathering material for later, the Relevant Tones crew also put together five short “Mizzou Minute” podcasts covering different aspects of the MICF. You can hear all five of them via the embedded SoundCloud players below.

More media mention MICF

Media attention for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival continued into the week of the fest, with St. Louis magazine publishing a preview story, including quotes from guest composers Zhou Long and Nico Muhly, online on Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, the Columbia Missourian ran their story about the festival, while a separate feature in the accompanying Vox Magazine focused on three of this year’s resident composers.

On Friday, the festival was featured in a report on the morning newscast of local NBC affiliate KOMU.

As for the photo accompanying this post, it’s not from the news media, but rather was shot by Christopher Weiss on Tuesday night when he and his fellow resident composers went out for dinner at Chim’s Thai Kitchen and encountered themselves, in poster form, on the restaurant’s front door.

From left, that’s Nick Omiccioli, Holly Harrison, Ian Dicke, Michael Schacter, Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Texu Kim and José Martínez. Weiss, while not visible in the photo, can be found on Twitter at @weisscomposer.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Zhou Long

Zhou Long

It’s an honor to have Zhou Long as one of the two guest composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Currently the Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Zhou won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2011 for his opera “Madame White Snake.” He graciously agreed to serve as one of this year’s guest composers on short notice after Beat Furrer, who originally had been scheduled to appear, was unable to attend for medical reasons.

During the MICF, he will give a public presentation about his music; instruct and interact with the eight resident composers in individual and group sessions; and work with Alarm Will Sound on the performance of his composition “Bell Drum Towers,” which they’ll play as part of their concert on Thursday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre.

Zhou is recognized internationally for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Drawing deeply on his Chinese heritage, he is a pioneer in combining the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions with contemporary Western ensembles and compositional forms.

Born in 1953 in China, he began piano lessons as a young child, but his musical studies were interrupted by the Cultural Revolution, the movement started in 1966 by Mao Zedong that attempted to enforce communism in the country by suppressing capitalist, traditional, cultural and intellectual influences.

Zhou was sent to drive a tractor on a rural state farm, where the bleak landscape, roaring winds and ferocious wild fires made what he describes as “a profound and lasting impression” on him. He was able to resume his musical training in 1973, eventually enrolling in the first composition class at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when it reopened in 1977. After graduating in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China.

Zhou first came to the United States in 1985 to study music at Columbia University, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music From China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award in 1999, and its prestigious Concert Music Award in 2011.

He has taught at UMKC since 2001, and has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2012-2013 Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the 2003 Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the CalArts/Alpert Award; and first place in the Barlow International Competition, with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Zhou has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and numerous others, and has been commissioned to compose new music by major presenting organizations, ensembles and orchestras all around the world.

Recent works include 2012’s “University Festival Overture” and “Beijing Rhyme – A Symphonic Suite,” commissioned by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and recorded on EMI in 2013; the solo piano work “Pianobells,” premiered at the Musica Nova concert in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; and a chamber work, “Cloud Earth,” which was commissioned and premiered by the New York New Music Ensemble.

In 2013, Zhou composed an evening-long symphonic epic “Nine Odes,” based on poems by Qu Yaun (ca. 340 BCE – 278 BCE), for the Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation. He also recently completed a new work for the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, and his piano concerto “Postures,” was premiered on July 4 by the Singapore Symphony and will be performed in September at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Zhou Long’s music has been recorded on Warner, Naxos, BIS, EMI, CRI, Teldec (1999 Grammy Award), Cala, Delos, Sony, Avant, Telarc and China Record. He is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
You can hear some samples of his music and see a brief feature about the Pulitzer-winning “Madame White Snake” in the embedded videos below.

“The Rhyme of Taigu” performed by Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui and recorded in October 2010 at the Philharmonie in Berlin.

“Pianogongs,” performed by pianist Chi-Ling Lok

“Five Elements,” recorded by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jeffery Meyer with Luisa Sello (flute), in July 2012 during the Thailand International Composition Festival at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Dhyana,” performed by Contemporary Enclave with James Ogburn, conductor, on July 10, 2012 at the Thailand International Composition Festival.

The Birth of “Madame White Snake”

Columbia media previews 2014 MICF

With the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival starting today, the Columbia Daily Tribune had two stories in Sunday’s paper, plus another online, which together offer a thorough preview of the week’s events.

The Tribune’s Aarik Danielsen interviewed managing director Billy Lackey and resident composer José Martínez for an overview of the festival, and also wrote separate articles about guest composer Nico Muhly and resident composer Nicholas Omiccioli.

Also last week, Mizzou professor, MICF co-artistic director and Alarm Will Sound cellist Stefan Freund appeared on KBIA’s “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper” to talk about the 2014 MICF. You can see and hear that conversation in the embedded video window below.

Also, if you’d like to get a look inside the program for the concerts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you can download a PDF copy here.