2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 25 – 30;
applications for eight resident composers now open

Oscar Bettison

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is now accepting applications for eight resident composers to take part in the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), which will be held Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

British/American composer Oscar Bettison 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 the acclaimed new music group 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 receive 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 copy of a professional live recording of their work.

Born in the UK, Bettison has served on the composition faculty of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute since 2009. His music has been described as possessing “an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty” and a “unique voice,” and has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world.

Bettison’s works have been featured and reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and British, Dutch and Italian media outlets, and has received airplay on radio throughout the US, Australia, Britain, The Netherlands and Brazil and on British and Dutch TV.

The application period for resident composers begins September 21, 2015, and the deadline for submitting an application is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Monday, November 23, 2015. For more information or to apply to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit https://app.getacceptd.com/mizzou.

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

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform music by Chen Yi and David Maslanka, plus new student works on Monday, October 12 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform music written by two upcoming composers-in-residence in a concert at 7:30 p.m., Monday, October 12 in Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission is free for Mizzou students, faculty and staff with ID, $5 for the general public.

The concert will feature performances of “Out of This World” by David Maslanka, a work inspired by the poets Seamus Heaney and Czeslaw Milosz, and “Sparkle” by Chen Yi, described by its composer as “bright” and “nimble.”

Maslanka, a Montana resident and freelance composer known particularly for his music for winds, has written more than 130 published works and served on the faculties of universities including Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. He will be in residence at Mizzou from October 13 through October 15, working with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Missouri Quintet, and University wind ensembles.

Chen, a native of China who currently is a professor of composition at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music. She will be in residence at Mizzou from October 24 to October 26, working with the Ensemble and the University Singers.

The concert also will include two premieres by Mizzou composition students. “Titan Arum” by junior Luke Henderson is a three-movement concerto for trumpet and chamber ensemble written for graduate trumpeter Adam Matejek, who will join the Ensemble as a guest performer for this concert. It reveals the influence of Sumatran music as it depicts the growth, blooming, and withering of the Sumatran “corpse flower” that give the piece its name.

“Illegal Cycles” was written by master’s student José Martínez for the chamber orchestra wildUp as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Next on Grand” National Composers Intensive. The work features grooves from traditional Latin American music, and now has been rearranged in a version for chamber ensemble for this premiere performance.

Rounding out the program will be encore performances of recent Mizzou graduate Grant Bradshaw’s “Colors of Nature” and master’s student Kay Cypret’s “Predator,” two works composed for the Ensemble’s concert in May, 2015 at the St. Louis Zoo. Bradshaw, a violist as well as a composer and conductor, will join the Ensemble as a guest performer on both works.

The eight-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 2015-16 season are Rachel Czech, cello; José Martínez, percussion; Rebecca McDaniel, percussion; Gyumi Rha, piano; Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets; Panagiotis Skyftas, saxophones; Erin Spencer, flute; and Britney Stutz, violin.

In addition to the guest musicians mentioned previously, bassist Sam Copeland will augment the Ensemble in this concert for their performance of “Sparkle,” which will be conducted by Mizzou senior Travis Herd.

Photo of Mizzou New Music Ensemble by Gene Royer.

Composers Festival spotlight: New Muse Piano Duo

The New Muse Piano Duo is another relatively recent addition to the University of Missouri’s ensembles in residence, and will be making their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut this year as part of Friday’s “Mizzou New Music” concert.

Individually, Paola Savvidou serves as assistant professor of piano pedagogy at Mizzou, while Jonathan Kuuskoski is an assistant teaching professor and director of entrepreneurship and community programs.

Savvidou received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned MM and DMA degrees in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while Kuuskoski earned both a BA in music and an MBA from UNC-Greensboro, and an MM from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As a performing duo, they specialize in music of the 20th and 21st centuries, seeking to expand the repertoire available for four hands and two pianos by performing newly composed works across the United States and abroad.

During their inaugural season in 2013-14, the New Muse Piano Duo toured with a program consisting exclusively of new works by living composers, selected from a call for scores that drew more than 90 submissions from across the Americas and Europe.

They also did guest artist residencies at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Truman State University, Missouri State University, and the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece, as well as a lecture recital at the European Piano Teachers Association Conference in Oslo, and guest artist recitals at the European Association for Music in Schools Conference and Biennial Euro-Mediterranean Musicological Conference at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

This past season, the Duo has premiered new works by Amy Williams, Jeffrey Hoover, Robert Honstein, and Haley Myers in performances in Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Baltimore.

Before coming to Mizzou, they helped found the New Music Everywhere ensemble, based in Madison, WI, collaborating with composers including Laura Schwendinger, Jeff Herriott, and Robert Honstein, visual artist Shinique Smith; with faculty from UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater; and with Madison-based troupes including the Deer Heart Dance Company, The Weather Duo, Mad Town Ballroom, and the UW First Wave Hip Hop Learning Community. Kuuskoski and Savvidou also have performed across the Midwest with the UW-Madison Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

You can hear samples of the New Muse Piano Duo’s music in the embedded SoundCloud players below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Andrew McManus

A native of Massachusetts, 2015 MICF resident composer Andrew McManus currently lives in Chicago, where he earned his PhD at the University of Chicago, studying with Marta Ptaszynska, Augusta Read Thomas, Shulamit Ran and Howard Sandroff. He also holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University.

The work McManus has composed for Alarm Will Sound to play at the festival is called “embers, fused to ash,” and you can read some of his thoughts about it and see a bit of the score here.

McManus’ acoustic works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, Pacifica Quartet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, Minnesota Orchestra and the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program. His electronic works have been presented at the University of South Florida and the Aries Composers Festival in Fort Collins, CO.

Notable performances include the premiere of his orchestral work “Strobe” in June 2014 by the New York Philharmonic, which was called “riveting” and “breathless…surging…hazy… sometimes all at once” by the New York Times. And in May 2014 his opera “Killing the Goat,” based on the novel La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat) by Mario Vargas Llosa, was premiered by eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, and members of the Contempo Chamber Players at the University of Chicago.

McManus’ electronic work “Mesospherics” (2011-2013) was featured at the University of South Florida New Music Festival, and other compositions of his have been performed at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

For more about Andrew McManus, read this interview with him, done in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Arts, Science and Culture Initiative. You can hear samples of Andrew McManus’ music in the embedded Vimeo and SoundCloud players below.

“Killing the Goat,” a chamber opera recorded May 16, 2014 at Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. Performed by the Contempo Chamber Players of the University of Chicago; Julia Bentley, mezzo soprano; Chad Sloan, baritone; Ricardo Rivera, baritone; eighth blackbird; the Pacifica Quartet; and Jesse Langen, guitar; conducted by Cliff Colnot.

Composers Festival spotlight: Conrad Winslow

Even before coming to Columbia for the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival, resident composer Conrad Winslow has been all over these United States.

As his professional bio puts it, “Extended childhood road-trips through the continental United States and a residential stint in Hawaii have taught him to look wide.” Raised in Homer, Alaska and now based in Brooklyn, Winslow earned his undergraduate degree in music from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

He subsequently moved to the Northeast, earning an M.M. degree in film scoring from New York University and a master’s degree in composition from the Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano.

Informed by his travels and by “watching his parents chop down trees and build a log cabin home in the woods,” Winslow’s music has been lauded for its “harmonic thorniness and rhythmic vitality” by the New York Times and described as a “scenic, boisterous and bumpy ride” by the Albany Times Union.

He has earned honors and awards from ASCAP, New Music USA, the American Composers Forum and The Jerome Fund, and more. Winslow also has written instrumental music on commission from Carnegie Hall, the American Composers Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, Bala Brass, and Gaudete Brass (who recorded his work for Cedille Records), and others.

His most recent commissions include works for bassoonists Rebekah Heller and Adrian Morejon, under the auspices of the International Double Reed Society, and Cadillac Moon Ensemble; and a ballet score for choreographer Justin Peck.

Winslow’s orchestral work “Joint Account” will receive a world premiere performance from the American Composers Orchestra in October at Carnegie Hall as part of the SONiC Festival, curated by former MICF distinguished guest composers Derek Bermel and Anna Clyne.

You can hear samples of Conrad Winslow’s music in the embedded SoundCloud and YouTube players below.

“Two Riddles” for two bassoons, performed by Rebekah Heller and Adrian Morejon on August 6, 2014 at SubCulture, NYC.

Composers Festival spotlight: Anthony Vine

One of two resident composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival now based in Brooklyn, NYC, Anthony Vine originally hails from Warren, OH.

He earned a B.M. in composition from The Ohio State University and an M.A. in composition from the University of Washington, and is the founder and artistic director of CNX: The Columbus // New York New Music Exchange, a programming and outreach initiative that seeks to build relationships between the contemporary music communities of Columbus, OH and New York City.

Vine’s music has been played and workshopped in North America and Europe by ensembles and performers including JACK Quartet, Pascal Gallois, Ensemble Besides, Quasar Saxophone Quartet, Bearthoven, Protean Duo, Inverted Space Ensemble, and members of the Columbus Symphony, among others.

He has attended summer courses and residencies such as the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, SALT New Music Festival, and Composit New Music Festival, and taken private lessons and masterclasses with composers such as Rebecca Saunders, Georges Aperghis, Brian Ferneyhough, Joshua Fineberg, Enno Poppe, Philippe Leroux, Steven Takasugi, David Lang, and others. In January 2016, he’ll be one of seven composers participating in the Minnesota Orchestra’s 13th annual Composer Institute.

Vine frequently collaborates with choreographers and multimedia artists, and recently has been developing a site-specific project, Hallways, with Logan Company (Kathryn Logan and Katy Gilmore) and Matt Evans.
You can hear samples of Anthony Vine’s music in the embedded SoundCloud players below.  

Composers Festival spotlight: Thomas Dougherty

Resident composer Thomas Dougherty comes to the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Houston, TX, where he earned his master of music degree in composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and has served as composer and violinist for the Da Camera of Houston Young Artists Program.

Very soon, though, he’ll move to Los Angeles to begin work this fall on a DMA in composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where the faculty includes 2015 MICF distinguished guest composer Andrew Norman.

A native of Pittsburgh, Dougherty attended Carnegie Mellon University during his senior year of high school, and went on to receive bachelor’s degrees in both composition and violin performance from the Eastman School of Music.

While a student at Eastman, Dougherty was awarded the Anthony and Carolyn Donato Prize and the Louis Lane Prize for Composition, and also was the winner of the Eastman Orchestral Composition Competition, which resulted in a performance of his “Three Pieces for Orchestra” by the Eastman Philharmonia.

As a violinist, Dougherty has performed many of his own solo and chamber works, has served as concertmaster for the Eastman Philharmonia, and was awarded first prize at the 2014 Music For Mt. Lebanon Keynotes Scholarship competition.

His residencies have included time as a Chamber Music Institute Fellow at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he wrote a piece for the Meadowlark Trio, and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau in France, studying harmony and composition. Dougherty has also attended festivals such as the FUBiS Music Composition Course at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Composition Course at Montserrat in Valencia, Spain, and has presented his works in masterclasses to composers Steven Stucky and David Lang.

You can hear samples of Thomas Dougherty’s music in the embedded SoundCloud players below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Justin Pounds

Resident composer Justin Pounds is the University of Missouri’s representative at the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival, and along with Christopher Stark, one of two resident composers this year with ties to Missouri and St. Louis.

A St. Louis native who grew up in the suburb of Oakville, Pounds earned his bachelor of music degree at Mizzou, and currently is pursuing a master of music in composition, studying with Dr. Thomas McKenney and Dr. Stefan Freund. 

This past November, his chamber opera “The Outlaw” was premiered by at Mizzou by the Show-Me Opera. Pounds also recently completed a commissioned work for solo piano inspired by the rhythms of Africa, which was performed at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Pounds spent August 2013 to August 2014 as the resident composer for the town of Lexington, Missouri, scoring original music for audio tours of the city’s historic districts as part of a two-year program in which the University is helping Lexington brand itself as a destination for tourists and artists.

Also in 2014, Pounds and three other Mizzou composers wrote a group of commissioned works for Forest Park Forever in St. Louis, with Pounds’ composition “A Leaf on the Wind” getting performances at The Jewel Box in Forest Park and subsequently at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Pounds’ work “Electric Brain” was choreographed for dancers at Stephens College by Stephanie Reynolds and presented at the central region American College Dance Festival, and his choral piece “Music, When Soft Voices Die”‘ was selected by The C7 Prize as a Recommended Work.

Justin Pounds’ music also has been featured in masterclasses with composers John Orfe and Tod Machover, and given premiere performances by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Mizzou’s Concert Chorale, and various chamber groups.

During the 2013-14 academic year, he served as “composer on call” for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Composer Connection distance learning program. Pounds also was a finalist for the Sinquefield Composition Prize in 2013, 2014, and 2015; and was a finalist for the 2014 MU Collaborative Arts Initiative.

You can hear samples of Justin Pounds’ music in the embedded YouTube and SoundCloud players below.

“The Outlaw,” performed November 15, 2014 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia.