Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works
by Furrer, McKenney, and five student composers
on Sunday, April 27 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will present their final on-campus concert of the 2013-14 academic year at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 27 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.

The program will include new works from five Mizzou students, plus music from Mizzou professor W. Thomas McKenney and from Swiss composer Beat Furrer, who will be one of two guest composers at this summer’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Furrer’s “Aer,” written for clarinet, cello, and piano, is described as “an exploration of breathy sounds created through extended techniques on the instruments,” while McKenney’s “The Rising of the Moon” is based on the Irish ballad of the same name by John Keegan Casey and recounts the battle between the United Irishmen and the British Army during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

“About the Others,” by graduate composition student José Martínez, was inspired by poet Octavio Paz’ “Sunstone” and incorporates lively percussion ostinatos surrounded by energetic rhythms in the instruments.

Completing the program will be four new works by Mizzou composition students that were commissioned for an upcoming Forest Park Forever member event in St. Louis: “Elysium” by Trey Makler; “Structural Symbiosis” by Matt Stiens; “A Leaf on the Wind” by Justin Pounds; and “Forest Park Rhapsody” by Benedetto Colagiovanni.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) 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 2013-14 season are Rachel Czech, cello; Hsu Shun Jung, piano; Mary Jamerson, flute; Katherine Jones, violin; Ian McClaflin, percussion; Shawn Nemati-Baghestani, oboe; and Jeremiah Rittel, clarinet.

The Ensemble serves as the repertory group for 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. As the repertory group for the Initiative, they work with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community.

Mizzou International Composers Festival 2014 launch event
on Tuesday, April 22 at Ragtag Cinema to feature
live music, film, and a chat with composer Nico Muhly

The Mizzou International Composers Festival will launch ticket sales for 2014 with a FREE public event on Tuesday, April 22 at Ragtag Cinema featuring live music, refreshments, a film screening, and a live-by-Skype video chat with Nico Muhly, who will be a guest composer at this year’s festival.

Doors will open at 5:00 p.m., and single tickets and festival passes for the 2014 MICF will be on sale at special discounted prices throughout the event.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) will perform at 5:45 p.m., followed a screening of the film “Choking Man,” an 2008 independently produced drama with a musical score composed by Muhly that also includes Mandy Patinkin and a pre-”Breaking Bad” Aaron Paul in supporting roles. (You can see the trailer for “Choking Man” in the embedded video window below.)

When the screening is over, Muhly will appear live via Skype to take questions and discuss his work with the audience.

Admission is free, but because seating is limited, tickets will be required. Distribution of free tickets for the event will begin at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 22 at the Ragtag box office, 10 Hitt St. in downtown Columbia. Each ticket admits one person, and includes one free beer or soda and one free small popcorn.

The 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will take place Monday, July 21 through Saturday, July 26 in Columbia, with Muhly and Swiss national Beat Furrer as guest composers; Alarm Will Sound as resident ensemble; and eight resident composers selected from more than 200 applicants from around the world.

New oratorio by Mizzou’s Stefan Freund reveals
Missouri’s Civil War history through music

Though the Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, it remains a continuing subject of fascination for historians and in pop culture, inspiring poems, songs, novels, films and more. Now the war’s divisive effects on the state of Missouri are the subject of a new oratorio by Stefan Freund, an associate professor of composition and music theory at the University of Missouri and co-artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The world premiere of “The War Amongst Families and Neighbors: The Civil War in Missouri” will be presented by the University of Missouri School of Music and the University Concert Series at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, April 24 in Jesse Auditorium on the campus of the University of Missouri.

The performance will feature the more than 200 voices of the MU Choral Union and University Singers, plus the Columbia Civic Orchestra and three guest singers: the acclaimed bass-baritone Timothy Jones as principal soloist; tenor Steven Tharp, an assistant professor of voice at Mizzou; and soprano Lindsey Lang, a Missouri native and Mizzou alumnae. R. Paul Crabb, professor and director of choral activities for the School of Music, will conduct the orchestra and combined chorus.

Drawing impetus from the impending 150th anniversary of the Centralia Massacre, Freund spent a year and a half working on the oratorio, first researching the course of the war in the region with the help of the State Historical Society of Missouri, and then composing the music.

The first part, “St. Louis to Pea Ridge (1861-1862),” tells the story of the political and military events that kept Missouri in the Union, while the second, “Guerrilla Warfare (1863-1865),” focuses on guerrilla activity in the later years of the war. In total, the completed oratorio includes four spoken texts; arrangements of five Civil War-era songs significant to Missouri; and 18 original compositions set to texts taken from source materials including letters, editorials, and battle reports.

The performance will be accompanied by projections of texts and art from the period provided by the State Historical Society of Missouri. In addition, students from Lee Elementary School in Columbia have created new artwork inspired by the project that will be exhibited in the lobby of Jesse Auditorium.

Tickets for “The War Amongst Families and Neighbors: The Civil War in Missouri” are $15 for general admission, $10 for Mizzou students, and may be purchased at the University Concert Series box office at the Missouri Theatre; by phone at 573-882-3781; or online at ticketmaster.com.

Two related events will offer additional opportunities for the community to get involved before the performance. On Friday, April 11, Freund and Ralph Kreigh of the Mid-Missouri Civil War Round Table will give a presentation to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at 1:30 p.m. at the Commerce Bank, 2000 Bernadette Dr.

On Thursday, April 24, a convocation with the composer, conductor, and soloists, moderated by Arthur Mehrhoff of Mizzou’s Museum of Art & Archaeology, will take place beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Whitmore Recital Hall on campus, with a reception to follow at the State Historical Society. Both events are free and open to the public.

“The War Amongst Families and Neighbors: The Civil War in Missouri” was composed and produced with funding from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, the MU Research Council, the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitors Program.

Creating Original Music Project concert to present award-winning works
from Missouri student composers on Saturday, April 19

Listen online to the 2014 C.O.M.P. Festival

New award-winning works by Missouri student composers will be performed at the 2014 Creating Original Music Project Festival, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, April 19 in the Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus.

Admission to the concert is free and open to the public. The concert also will be streamed live online at http://music.missouri.edu/concert_streaming.html.

For nine years, the annual Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition has championed Missouri’s youngest composers, awarding cash prizes and performance opportunities to elementary, middle school, and high school students from across the state.

A joint venture of the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides an annual gift of $60,000 to sponsor the competition, C.O.M.P. was created in 2005 to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original musical works and to encourage performances of those works.

The winning composers in each of seven different categories and their schools receive cash prizes, and high school winners also receive a scholarship to attend Mizzou’s high school summer music composition camp.

“As recognition for Missouri as a center for new music continues to grow, we’re delighted that students from all around the state continue to express themselves, develop their skills, and be recognized for their talents,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. “For some of these kids, C.O.M.P. could be a first step toward a career as a composer or musician. We’ve already seen some winners become music majors in college, and given time, encouragement and hard work, there’s no telling how far they may go.”

The 2014 Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition categories and winners are:

Elementary School – Songs with Words
1) Sadie Tanner of Maplewood-Richmond Heights Elementary School, Richmond Heights, for “Trees.” Music teacher: Kristin Tanner. Sponsor: John Israel.
2) Grace Filer of Harrisonville Christian School, Harrisonville, for “Imagination.” Music teacher and sponsor: Al Sancken.
3) Elizabeth Hess of Southern Boone County Elementary School, Ashland, for “Magic.” Music teacher and sponsor: Sean Hennessey.

Elementary School – Instrumental
1) Weston Krenn of The Summit Preparatory School, Springfield, for “Frolic.” Music teacher and sponsor: Shawn Keech.
2) Emily Chevalier of The Country Schoolhouse, Amazonia, for “Winter’s Promise.” Music teacher: Rebecca Quimby. Sponsor: Michelle Bland.
3) Amelia Markwell of Green Trails Elementary School, Chesterfield, for “The Four-Leaf Clover.” Music teacher and sponsor: Jacquelyn Gross.

Middle School – Popular
1) Samuel Luetkemeyer of Immanuel Lutheran at Honey Creek, Jefferson City, for “The Jacks of Swing.” Sponsor: Debra Leech.
2) Emma Reinagel of Oakville Middle School, Mehlville, for “When You’re Awake.” Music teacher and sponsor: Lacey Cupp.
3) Menea Kefalov and Ande Siegel of Ladue Middle School, Ladue, for “You’re Alone.” Music teacher: Leah Gastman. Sponsors: Leah Gastman, Jeffrey W. Lidhorst and Elizabeth Dalby.

Middle School – Fine Art
1) Brandon Thibodeau of Kearney Middle School, Kearney, for “A Collaborative Conversation.” Music teacher: Narong Prangcharoen. Sponsor: Chris Heil.
2) Soyoung (Mary) Park of Smithton Middle School, Columbia, for “Dreamcatcher.” Music teacher: Eun Kim. Sponsor: Nellie Schrantz.
3) HyunJun (John) Yoo of West Middle School, Columbia, for “Rhythm Festival.” Music teacher and sponsor: Julie Swope.

High School – Jazz
1) Brian Lollman of Raytown South High School, Raytown, for “96.” Music teacher and sponsor: Michelle Dake.
2) Adam Cohen of Parkway Central High School, Chesterfield, for “Smokey Lounge.” Music teacher and sponsor: Winifred Crock

High School – Popular
1) Tanner Qualls, a home-schooled student from Lee’s Summit, for “Both Sides.” Music teacher and sponsor: Becky Qualls.
2) Kael Upschulte of Jefferson City High School, Jefferson City, for “Break Through.” Sponsor: Beth Dampf.
3) Silas Luetkemeyer of Calvary Lutheran High School, Jefferson City, for “Sunshine Rain.” Sponsor: Melissa Ahlers.

High School – Fine Art
1) Dustin Dunn of South Iron High School, Ironton, for “Mortuis Loqui.” Music teacher and sponsor: Eva Barnes.
2) Hans Heruth of Liberty High School, Liberty, for “Perception.” Music teacher and sponsor: Rika K. Heruth.
3) Joseph Misterovich of The Summit Preparatory School of Southwest Missouri, Springfield, for “i stand in the moon and call it good.” Music teacher: John Prescott. Sponsor: Shawn Keech.

Each student who enters the competition must have the signature and sponsorship of his or her school’s music teacher. Community agencies, churches, after-school programs, private teachers and other musical mentors also may sponsor their young musicians in partnership with the student’s school music teacher.

MICF resident composers in the news

Here’s the latest news and updates from some of the resident composers at past Mizzou International Composers Festivals:

* Jeremy Podgursky, MICF 2010, is one of six winners this year of a Charles Ives scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The $7,500 scholarships are awarded to composition students of great promise, as selected by a committee of academy members including MICF 2010 guest composer Martin Bresnick, Joan Tower, Samuel Adler, Mario Davidovsky, John Harbison, Stephen Hartke, Tania León, and Tobias Picker. The Ives scholarships and the academy’s other awards in music will be presented at a ceremony in May.

* Asha Srinivasan, MICF 2012, (pictured) is having compositions performed at three major events this month.  She was the featured composer and her works “Dviraag” and “Bapu” were played at the Western Illinois University New Music Festival, March 4 in Macomb, IL.  Srinivasan’s “Keerthanata” will be played at the Region V conference of the Society of Composers, Inc., held March 27-29 at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, and  her tuba and fixed media work “Dyadic Affinities” will be played at the national conference of SEAMUS, aka the Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States which takes place the same weekend  at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

* A new oboe trio composed by Stephanie Berg, MICF 2012 and a Mizzou almuna who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MU, will be performed next year as part of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s chamber music series.

* David Crowell, MICF 2012, was the subject of a recent profile in the Huffington Post. The accompanying audio samples include “Fallout,” which Crowell wrote for Alarm Will Sound and the MICF. His new percussion work “Celestial Sphere” will be performed by Ian David Rosenbaum and a consortium of percussionists on March 23 at the Philips Collection in Washington D.C., while Crowell and his band Empyrean Atlas will play March 24 at Roulette in Brooklyn.

* Speaking of Alarm Will Sound, they’ve been using David Biedenbender’s “Schism,” composed for the 2011 MICF, as part of their work in St. Louis with students at Webster University’s Community Music School. AWS and the CMS students will perform the piece together on Friday, May 30 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The video below shows them working side-by-side on “Schism,” while the audio player contains AWS’ recording of it from the MICF.

MNMI News included in Missouri Arts Council’s
“Snapshots of the Missouri Arts Blogosphere”

The Mizzou New Music Initiative News blog was one of the sites mentioned in the Missouri Arts Council’s recent “Snapshots of the Missouri Arts Blogosphere.”

You can read the article rounding up the best of Missouri’s arts blogs through the end of the month (and perhaps a bit longer) by going to their website at https://www.missouriartscouncil.org/ and clicking on the link in the middle of the page. Thanks to MAC’s Barbara MacRobie for the mention!

Missouri Composers Orchestra Project chooses works
by Clark, Strobel and Williams for performance on Sunday, March 16

For a composer of orchestral music, getting a new work performed by a live orchestra represents not only the culmination of many hours of hard work but also the realization of a dream.

Now, three Missouri composers will see their work rewarded and hear their dreams realized, as the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have announced the selection of three orchestral works written by Missouri residents to be performed by the CCO at a concert on Sunday, March 16 in Columbia.

The winning compositions were chosen in a statewide competition conducted under the auspices of the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP). Each winner will receive a $500 honorarium from MOCOP’s sponsor, the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The works chosen for 2014 in the Open category are FE 700° C by Patrick David Clark and From the Book of the Dead by Robert Strobel. Clark, a native of St. Louis who now lives in Columbia, earned both a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in composition from the University of Missouri. Strobel, also a resident of Columbia, is working on a master’s in composition at Mizzou.

The winning composition in the High School category is Firelight by Alex Williams, an 18-year-old senior at Neosho High School in Neosho.

The winners were selected through a blind judging process by John Cheetham, professor emeritus of music theory and composition at the University of Missouri, and Bruce Gordon, former orchestra manager for CCO.

All three winning compositions will be performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra as part of their annual concert of music by living composers at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 16 at Columbia College’s Launer Auditorium, 901 Rogers St. in Columbia.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students, and can be purchased in advance online at http://cco.missouri.org/ or at the door.

The concert also will include the Overture from Mizzou professor and CCO music director Stefan Freund’s forthcoming Civil War Oratorio; American Sojourn by Kevin Hartnett, a former winner in the statewide Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition for student composers; and Mutaciones I by Mizzou student José Martínez, which won the $6,000 National Prize for Culture in Martínez’ native country of Colombia.

Freund will conduct the orchestra’s performances of his Overture and of Martínez’ work, while Patrick Clark will conduct his own work and Robert Strobel’s composition. Brian Silvey, assistant professor of music education at Mizzou, will lead the performance of Hartnett’s American Sojourn, and MU junior Grant Bradshaw, assistant conductor of the Missouri Symphony Society Conservatory, will conduct Williams’ Firelight.

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 Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP) is a collaborative effort by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and the Columbia Civic Orchestra to bring attention to orchestral works written in the state of Missouri. By identifying composers of orchestral music and providing opportunities for the performance of their work, MOCOP strives to showcase the talent of Missouri and share it with the community.

Patrick David Clark

Robert Strobel

Alex Williams

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works by Fox, Cypret, Henderson, Hoercler and Herd on Sunday, March 9 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will present their first concert of 2014 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 9 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.

The program will include new works from four current Mizzou composition students plus one by the late Frederick Fox, former professor of composition at Indiana University.

Described as “a dark sonic fantasy” employing innovative instrumental techniques and creative percussion writing, “Devils Tramping Ground,” was written in 1991 by Fox, a jazz-influenced composer and teacher who in the mid-1970s founded the Indiana University New Music Ensemble.

The other four works on the program will be premiere performances. “Lament for a Bird,” was written this year by Kay Cypret, a first year master’s student studying composition at Mizzou. It tells the story of the life and tragic death of a bird featuring lyric chorales and percussion that imitates gunshots.

“Inception, Conception, Create,” written in 2013 by Luke Henderson, was inspired by Oliver Sacks’ book “Musicophilia,” and portrays the process of composition from start to finish. Henderson is a freshman at Mizzou, studying for degrees in both music education and composition.

“Adventures in Anarchy,” a 2013 work by freshman composition major Erin Hoerchler, offers “a quick, wild ride featuring syncopated rhythms and explosive dynamics.”

Travis Herd’s “Meditation,” also composed in 2013, uses repetition and pantonality to create an ethereal and relaxed mood, interrupted by moments of dissonance. Herd is a junior music education major in his first year of composition studies.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) 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 2013-14 season are Rachel Czech, cello; Hsu Shun Jung, piano; Mary Jamerson, flute; Katherine Jones, violin; Ian McClaflin, percussion; Shawn Nemati-Baghestani, oboe; and Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets.  They serve as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, working with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community.

Alarm Will Sound to perform free concert on Friday, February 7 at Missouri Theatre

Alarm Will Sound, the acclaimed chamber orchestra dedicated to contemporary classical music, is returning to Columbia to perform a concert at 7:30 p.m., Friday, February 7 at the Missouri Theatre.

The group (pictured) has served since 2010 as the resident ensemble for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, which takes place each year in July, but this will be their first performance here during the regular academic year. The February 7 concert is presented by the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the University of Missouri School of Music, and is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature seven works written or arranged specifically for Alarm Will Sound, including five that will be part of their next album. According to managing director Gavin Chuck, it’s a program that shows off the group’s established ability to translate music between idioms while also exploring human performance of sounds originally made by technology.

Two of the pieces they’ll play – Matt Marks’ arrangement of the Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” heard previously as part of the multi-media show 1969; and Evan Hause’s arrangement of Edgard Varèse’s “Poème électronique” – use traditional acoustic instruments to realize music originally created using tape machines and electronic manipulation.

A different form of interaction between man and machine is explored in Alarm Will Sound’s renditions of music by Conlon Nancarrow, whose works for player piano are essentially impossible for any human pianist to perform. The February 7 concert at the Missouri Theatre will include Nancarrow’s “Study 2A,” arranged by Gavin Chuck, and “Study 3A,” arranged by Derek Bermel, which were recorded for the group’s 2008 album a/rhythmia.

The three other works on the program destined for Alarm Will Sound’s next CD are “Big Spinoff,” from the esteemed American composer Charles Wuorinen; “Will Sound,” from Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany’s most prolific contemporary composers; and “Zoetrope,” written by the young British composer Charlie Piper for the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

St. Louis Symphony performs Stephanie Berg’s “Ravish and Mayhem”

Mizzou alumna Stephanie Berg’s composition “Ravish and Mayhem” was performed by the St. Louis Symphony on January 10 and 11 at Powell Hall in St. Louis to standing ovations from the audiences and rave reviews from local critics.

Writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, classical music critic Sarah Bryan Miller found “Ravish and Mayhem” to be “a really delightful work…It’s a fun, creative piece, and (guest conductor Andrey) Boreyko and the orchestra rendered it with accuracy and elan.” Miller also called Berg “a promising new compositional voice,” concluding, “We can trust that this won’t be the last we hear from Berg.”

Meanwhile, in his review on the website of KDHX (88.7 FM), critic Chuck Lavazzi noted that the performance “drew enthusiastic ovations for both the orchestra and—when Mr. Boreyko persuaded her to appear on stage—Ms. Berg as well.”

“This unabashedly cinematic and vivid piece was a delight from the opening Coplandesque fanfares and melismatic woodwind figures to the brass glissandi near the end that conjured up images of trumpeting elephants,” said Lavazzi.

Berg (pictured), who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mizzou and won the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, wrote “Ravish and Mayhem” to be performed by Alarm Will Sound at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival. It’s the first work created under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative to be performed by a major symphony orchestra.

(It’s also one of two pieces the St. Louis Symphony played this season from composers involved with the 2012 MICF; in September, they performed “Rapture” by Patrick Harlin of the University of Michigan, who also was a resident composer for the festival that year.)

The reviews culminated a week of media attention for Berg, in which she was interviewed on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis’ “Friday With the Arts” and St. Louis Public Radio/KWMU’s “Cityscape”; appeared on KSDK’s “Show Me St. Louis” and the mid-day news broadcasts on KTVI and KPLR; and was the subject of articles in St. Louis magazine, Alive magazine and the weekly South County Times and Webster-Kirkwood Times newspapers.

Berg also was interviewed during the intermission of KWMU’s broadcast of the Symphony’s concert on January 11. You can listen to that interview, and see the SLSO program notes for the entire concert, here.