Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) looking for
new orchestral, choral works for concert in March 2018

While writing music may be a solitary activity, composers of new music for orchestra or chorus ultimately need the help of many others to bring their works to life in concert.

That’s why the Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) once again in 2018 will offer performance opportunities for new, large-ensemble music written by Missouri residents.

Now in its eighth year, MOCOP is a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) (pictured), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Each year, recently composed works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process and are performed by the CCO and Chamber Choir at a concert in Columbia. Each of the composers of the selected works also is awarded a $500 honorarium.

MOCOP’s 2018 competition is open to composers of orchestral and choral music in four categories – two for Missouri composers currently in high school, and two open to Missouri composers of any age.

The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 11, 2018 at First Baptist Church, 1112 E Broadway in Columbia.

Composers who wish to submit their work to MOCOP can find details on eligibility and instrumentation plus complete application materials online at https://music.missouri.edu/mnmi/mocop.

Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, December 4, 2017.

Mizzou faculty ensemble ZouM to perform
Friday, September 8 in Columbia and
Saturday, September 9 in St. Louis

The Mizzou faculty collective ZouM will showcase new music from six living composers with performances next weekend in Columbia and St. Louis.

They’ll play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 8 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the MU campus, then travel to St. Louis for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 9 at Washington University’s 560 Music Center.

Admission to the concert in Columbia is $5 for the general public, free to Mizzou students, staff and faculty with ID. The St. Louis concert is free and open to the public.

In all, fifteen Mizzou faculty members (plus one guest composer/performer) will take part in the concerts, which will feature two world premieres commissioned with support from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The program for the two concerts will include:

* “Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out),” a 2012 work by Mizzou New Music Initiative managing director Jacob Gotlib that will be performed by percussionists Abby Rehard and Megan Arns.

* “Dejate Caer,” written in 2012 by MNMI’s new post-doctoral fellow Carolina Heredia, and performed by violinist Julie Rosenfeld with pre-recorded electronics by Heredia.

* “Southern Harmony,” composed in 2014 by Jacob Bancks and performed by mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and pianist Neil Minturn.

* “Winter Haiku,” composed in 2016 by Dennis Leclaire specifically for the Esterhazy String Quartet, which includes Julie Rosenfeld, Eva Szekely (violin), Leslie Perna (viola), and Eli Lara (cello).

* “Tantrums,” a new work by Asha Srinivasan, who was a resident composer at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF). The piece was commissioned and will be given its world premiere by MU faculty duo DRAX, featuring Leo Saguiguit on baritone saxophone and Megan Arns on percussion, with the composer on electronics.

     Christopher Stark

* “Monday, Midnight,” a new work commissioned from Christopher Stark, who’s an assistant professor of composition at Washington University and was a resident composer at the 2015 MICF.

The world premiere will be performed by an ensemble including Rosenfeld, Lara, Minturn, and Arns, plus Steven Tharp (tenor), Kristine Poulsen (alto flute), and Wesley Warnhoff (clarinet), conducted by Mizzou professor of composition and MNMI artistic director Stefan Freund.

ZouM is a collective of Mizzou faculty members formed in the spring of 2015 to present contemporary chamber music.

After only two seasons, ZouM already has enlisted the talents of more than 25 faculty performers, composers, and academics from the University of Missouri School of Music to present innovative programs that promote contemporary chamber works by living composers.

Recent projects have featured works by Jennifer Higdon, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Dennis DeSantis, and by Mizzou composers Stefan Freund, Trey Makler, Jacob Gotlib, and Carolina Heredia.

St. Louis Symphony musicians to read works by Mizzou composers

Three student composers from the University of Missouri School of Music will get a chance this academic year to have their orchestral works read, critiqued, and then played again by musicians from the St. Louis Symphony.

Under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, student composers Dustin Dunn, Aaron Mencher, and Douglas Osmun (pictured) are writing new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra, which will be read and played by members of the Symphony in a private session this November in St. Louis.

The composers then will get a chance to revise their works for a second, public reading by the same musicians on Sunday, April 29 at Powell Hall.

Dunn, a senior, and Mencher, a junior, are working toward undergraduate degrees in composition at Mizzou, while Osmun, winner of the school’s Sinquefield Composition Prize for 2017, is in his second year of study for a master’s degree.

“This is a unique opportunity for our composers,” said Stefan Freund, professor of composition at the University of Missouri School of Music and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “We’re delighted to be collaborating with the St. Louis Symphony to give these students some real, practical experience working with an ensemble of world-class musicians. ”

“The two-session format makes this program particularly valuable,” Freund said.  “There are other programs that give young composers the chance to have their works read by a professional orchestra, but most provide just one session with the musicians.”

“Here, because the Symphony and their musicians are willing to do two sessions, our composers will have a chance to evaluate everything from their overall orchestration to the notation of individual parts, make revisions, and then hear the results of the changes they’ve made. That’s a learning experience that’s impossible to get any other way,” he said.

Dunn, Mencher, and Osmun already are working on their compositions, Freund said, and are expected to deliver the first versions of their works to the Symphony in October. More details about the public reading in April will be announced at a later date.

A look back at the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival

Composers Festival spotlight: Georg Friedrich Haas

Georg Friedrich Haas, one of the two distinguished guest composers at the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival, is known and respected internationally as one of the major European composers of his generation.

Considered to be a leading exponent of “spectral music” and sometimes compared to György Ligeti for his use of microtonality, Haas has lectured and taught courses on the subject, but also has said he’s uncomfortable being pigeonholed, noting simply that, “I am a composer, not a microtonalist.”

As a distinguished guest composer for the MICF, Haas (pictured) will work with the eight resident composers and resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, and will give a public presentation on his music.

Two of his works will be played during the festival. Alarm Will Sound will perform Haas’ “Remix” as part of their concert on Thursday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre, and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will play his “…aus freier Lust…verbunden” during the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 28.

Haas’ compositions range from chamber pieces, including seven string quartets, to orchestral works, operas, and concertos. His hour-long “in vain,” written in 2000 for 24 musicians, has been called “path-breaking” and is regarded as one of the most important new compositions of the 21st century.

Another notable recent work by Haas is “limited approximations” for orchestra and 6 microtuned pianos, which won SWR Symphony Orchestra Composition Prize in 2010. Haas’s opera “Morgen und Abend,” with a libretto by the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, was jointly commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and premiered on the main stage of the Royal Opera House in November 2015.

Haas’ music has been performed by ensembles and orchestras all over the world, and his works have been part of festivals including Wien Modern in Vienna, Musikprotokoll in Graz, Witten, Huddersfield, Royaumont, Venice Biennale, and Festival d’Automne in Paris, as well as at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse and the Salzburg Festival 2011.

He has received many national and international awards, including the 2007 Grand Austrian State Prize for Music, the country’s highest artistic honor; the Music Award of the City of Vienna in 2012, the Music Award Salzburg in 2013, and numerous others.

Haas, who will turn 64 next month, was born in Graz, Austria and grew up in Tschagguns, a village in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. He studied composition, piano, and music pedagogy at the Musikhochschule in Graz, and then did post-graduate study at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna with Friedrich Cerha, who’s been described as “the doyen of Austrian composers.” He also participated in the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in 1980, 1988 and 1990, and the computer music course at IRCAM in 1991.

He began teaching in 1978 at the Musikhochschule, and in 2005 also started lecturing at the Hochschule in Basel, Switzerland. In 2013, he was appointed MacDowell Professor of Music at Columbia University in New York City, where he continues to teach.

For more about Georg Friedrich Haas, watch this video interview from 2015, and read Alex Ross’ 2010 piece about him in The New Yorker and this 2014 article about him from the New York Times. You can hear some of Haas’ music in the embedded players below.

“In Vain” performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, recorded at the Chicago premiere on February 28, 2013 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

“ATTHIS” (2009), performed for the St. Petersburg International New Music Festival by Ensemble for New Music Tallinn, with Merje Roomere and Eva-Maria Sumera (violins), Talvi Nurgamaa (viola), Jarkko Launonen (cello), Kristin Kuldkepp (double bass), Helena Tuuling (clarinet), Sabina Yordanova (bassoon), Jürnas Rähni (horn), and Rainer Kohlberger, visuals and real-time animation, conducted by Arash Yazdani. Recorded on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg.

“Sayaka” performed by Radar Ensemble, with Jonathan Shapiro (percussion) and Felix Kroll (accordion).

“Neues Werk für 8 Posaunen (Octet for eight trombones),” world premiere performance by Trombone Unit Hannover recorded September 10, 2015 at the Basler Münster in Basel, Switzerland

MICF in the news

With the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival set to start on Monday, July 24, the MICF has been in the news.

The website I Care If You Listen, which has an international following among composers, musicians, and new music enthusiasts, offered extensive coverage of the festival with “5 Questions for Stefan Freund,” which included several photos and a SoundCloud playlist of the 2016 MICF’s eight world premieres.

Freund – the artistic director of the MICF and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, professor of composition at Mizzou, and cellist for Alarm Will Sound – used the opportunity to tell ICIYL’s worldwide audience all about the festival and how it fits into MNMI’s array of programs for composers at all stages of their careers.

On Sunday, July 16, the Columbia Daily Tribune published a feature story, “Face the Music,” previewing the MICF. The article by the Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen, which was the cover story of the paper’s “Sunday Blend” section (pictured), featured interviews with resident composers Carolina Heredia and Christopher Mayo.

The Tribune and Danielsen followed up that story with three sidebars published online: one profiling the MICF’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, one featuring a wide-ranging Q&A about the festival with MNMI managing director Jacob Gotlib, and one touting the MICF’s “can’t miss” moments.

Gotlib also was interviewed by Connor Lagore of the Columbia Missourian for that newspaper’s preview of the MICF, “Composers descend upon Columbia for new-music festival,”

On Tuesday, July 25, Columbia’s NBC affiliate KOMU aired a story about the festival by reporter Nick Allen, “Mizzou International Composers Festival begins eighth annual showcase.”

In addition, over the past few weeks the festival’s resident and distinguished guest composers all have talked with KMUC’s Trevor Harris for the station’s weekly “Mizzou Music” program, which airs at 6:00 p.m. every Wednesday. Those interviews have been archived on KMUC’s website.

Composers Festival spotlight: Christopher Mayo

A native of Toronto, Christopher Mayo is the first Canadian to be a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composer Festival.

A composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electronic music, Mayo (pictured) received his bachelor of music degree with honors at the University of Toronto, where he was awarded the Glenn Gould Composition Prize and the William Erving Fairclough Scholarship. He relocated to London in 2003 to study at the Royal College of Music, where he earned a master of music in 2004 and a Ph.D in composition in 2011.

His time there resulted in a number of opportunities, including appearing in the BBC Two television documentary Classic Goldie, helping UK drum and bass musician Goldie to write a commission for the London Symphony Orchestra. The LSO has gone on to record two of Mayo’s own works, releasing their version of “Therma” in 2013, and Mayo’s contribution to the multi-composer Panufnik Variations project in 2016. (While in London, Mayo also was a member of the Camberwell Composers Collective, which included 2012 MICF resident composer Charlie Piper.)

Since moving back to Toronto, Mayo has continued to collaborate occasionally with popular musicians, penning string arrangements for performers including Carly Rae Jepsen, Drake and Tanya Tagaq for the Polaris Music Prize awards ceremony, and writing orchestral arrangements of a number of Jepsen’s hits for her debut performance last month with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Other recent projects include “Streets become Liars,” which was premiered in March by Crash Ensemble at New Music Dublin 2017, and, of course, “Beast (for Hugo Ball),” the work Mayo has written for Alarm Will Sound to perform at the MICF’s “Eight World Premieres” grand finale on Saturday, July 29 at the Missouri Theatre.

Characterized by a distinctive rhythmic language and a wide range of influences, Mayo’s music has been performed by orchestras including the LSO, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and others.

He has had chamber works commissioned by London Sinfonietta, MATA Festival, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montreal +, Motion Ensemble, and more. His chamber music also has been played by new music groups including ACME, L’arsenale, Aurora Orchestra, Aventa and Land’s End Ensemble; at festivals including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, the Cheltenham Festival, and the Marrakech Biennale; and at venues ranging from Le Poisson Rouge to Wigmore Hall.

Mayo’s vocal works include “Death on Three-Mile Creek,” commissioned in 2011 by Carnegie Hall, and “Under Dark Water,” commissioned by Esprit Orchestra.

He frequently collaborates with artists from other disciplines, and in recent years has created new dance scores for Rambert Dance Company, New Movement Collective, and for the English National Ballet’s performance at the Coronation Gala at Buckingham Palace. Mayo’s chamber opera “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered,” was cited as a “deft mix of documentary, pulsating drones, electric guitar and sparing percussion” in 2014 by BBC Music Magazine.

Christopher Mayo was interviewed by the Columbia Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen for a feature story about the 2017 MICF, which you can read here. He also was interviewed by KMUC’s Trevor Harris for the station’s “Mizzou Music” program, and you can listen to that interview here.

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

“Pike and Shot” (2008), performed by Paul Widner (cello) and Philip Thomas (piano) at Continuum Contemporary Music’s performance on April 25, 2013 at the Music Gallery in Toronto.

Excerpts from various works

“First Screening” for orchestra and film, recorded September 25th, 2016 by the Victoria Symphony, conducted by Tania Miller.

Composers Festival spotlight: Amadeus Regucera

Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Amadeus Regucera is (along with Clare Glackin and Selim Göncü) one of three resident composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival with a West Coast connection.

A native Californian, he earned his B.A. in music in 2006 from the University of California, San Diego and last year completed work on his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.

Regucera also has considerable experience in concert production, having served as production director of UC Berkeley’s Eco Ensemble, production and operations manager of the University of California, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and as artistic production director for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

Regucera (pictured) describes his compositions as engaged with “the embodied and acoustical energy of sound and its production, the erotics of performance, the musical vocabulary of popular music, and noise.”

For the MICF, he’s written a new work called “CRVD” that Alarm Will Sound will perform as part of the festival’s “Eight World Premieres” grand finale on Saturday, July 29.

Other recent projects include a new piece for Ensemble Linea for the 2017 Festival Musica in Strasbourg, France, and a new work for bassoonist Adrian Morejon.

Regucera’s music also has been performed by JACK Quartet, Ensemble Intercontemporain, EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Duo Cortona, and more.

He has presented works at ManiFeste, Voix Nouvelles, the Resonant Bodies Festival and the SONiC Festival in New York, as well as at the Hong Kong Modern Academy; the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt, Germany; the Impuls Academy in Austria; June in Buffalo; and the Mexican Centre for Music and Sonic Arts. Regucera also was part of the American Composers Forum artist delegation in 2015 to the Havana Festival of Contemporary Music.

In addition to music written for the concert stage, Regucera’s work intersects with visual and performance art, most notably in the piece “Communication,” which was featured in 2013 as part of the group show “Seelenwäsche” at the Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten in Graz, Austria; and “Schlachtfeld (a)”, performed by the composer in collaboration with Hong Kong-based choreographer Elysa Wendi.

You can hear samples of Amadeus Regucera’s music on his SoundCloud page and via the embedded players below.

“Skin, stretched upon the frame”
Written for and premiered by David Milnes and the University of California, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in March 2017 at Hertz Concert Hall

“S A F E”
Written for EXAUDI vocal ensemble, featuring Natalie Raybould (soprano), Lucy Goddard (mezzo-soprano), Tom Williams (counter-tenor), Stephen Jeffes (tenor), Gareth John (baritone), and Simon Whiteley (bass), directed by James Weeks. Premiered at the 2016 Voix Nouvelles rResidency at Abbaye-Royaumont in Asnières-sur-Oise, France.

“SKRWL”
Written for the soloists of Ensemble Intercontemporain – Alain Billard (clarinet, bass clarinet), Benny Sluchin (trombone), Hidéki Nagano (piano), Claire Merlet (viola), Pierre Strauch (cello) – and premiered at the 2016 ManiFeste in Paris, France.