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Dean Minderman (1957-2021)

Dean Minderman at the piano
Dean Minderman performing at the Big Muddy Blues Festival in St. Louis, 2018

We at the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the MU School of Music are saddened to learn of Dean C. Minderman’s passing. Dean was the voice of this blog and our Twitter profile for the last 11 years, and as part of Slay & Associates’s team, worked tirelessly to promote MNMI’s activities. If you’ve ever been a visiting composer or performer at Mizzou, or if you’re a student or faculty composer who’s won an award or participated in an opportunity, Dean has written about you. If you’re a writer, journalist, or media outlet in Missouri who’s ever covered our events, you learned about them through Dean. When MNMI embarked on an exciting collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony, the HEC Network in St. Louis aired a segment featuring interviews with our composers — all thanks to Dean. 

“My collaboration with Dean was crucial since my very first week at Mizzou,” says MNMI Managing Director Jacob Gotlib. “He cared about his work so deeply, and over the years taught me what it means to care that much as well. I didn’t understand what an ‘eye for detail’ really meant until I worked with Dean — he never let anything past him, and continually pushed me to be the best I could be.”

“As a graduate of Mizzou, Dean was a perfect fit for spreading the word about the wonderful opportunities of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. He took deep pride in seeing our success and sharing it with the world. We will deeply miss his contributions to Mizzou New Music and to the St. Louis jazz scene,” says Stefan Freund, MNMI Artistic Director.

“We are so appreciative of Dean’s work for our School. He always made us look and sound good and was a stickler for excellence. I’m thankful we were able to work with him and be the subject of his great writing for so many years,” says Julia Gaines, Director of the MU School of Music.

A graduate of Mizzou’s prestigious journalism program (BM 1979), Dean maintained great affection for his alma mater throughout his life. His first contact with new music came from an electronic music course he took with Emeritus Professor of Composition W. Tom McKenney. Dean combined his love of writing and music, writing myriad articles for the St. Louis Riverfront Times, NewMusicBox, and numerous other publications. His first love, however, was jazz and blues — Dean was a staple of the jazz and blues scene in his native St. Louis, playing piano and keys in multiple bands. His most significant contribution to his city’s musical scene was St. Louis Jazz Notes, a blog he maintained for over 16 years that chronicled upcoming events and rising artists, both in St. Louis and nationally. 

Dean’s impact on the Mizzou New Music Initiative — and his efforts to bring the world’s ears, eyes, and words to our activities — has been tremendous. We miss him dearly. If you would like to share any thoughts or stories about Dean, please leave them in the comments below.

[Switch~ Ensemble] virtual residency at Mizzou will include
presentations plus a free online concert on Sunday, May 2

The new music group [Switch~ Ensemble] will do a “virtual residency” this spring for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, culminating in a online concert featuring works by Mizzou student composers.

The concert at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 2 will include new works by Mizzou’s Santiago Beis, Luis Bezerra, and Oswald Huynh, as well as music by Chris Chandler and Zachary James Watkins. The performance will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel and on the Mizzou New Music Facebook page.

The [Switch~ Ensemble] residency also will include a presentation to the School of Music’s convocation on entrepreneurship for musicians, plus presentations to the School’s composition seminar and “introduction to electronic music” class.

Founded in 2012 at the Eastman School of Music, [Switch~ Ensemble] (pictured) is a group of ten instrumentalists and composers dedicated to performing high-level chamber music integrated with cutting-edge technology and supporting emerging and early career composers.

Mizzou assistant professor Megan Arns is their percussionist, and there are two other members who have some prior experience at MU: cellist T.J. Borden, who did a residency and concert for MNMI in 2019, and Jason Thorpe Buchanan, the ensemble’s artistic director, who was a resident composer at the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Other members of [Switch~ Ensemble] are Lauren Cauley, violin; Christopher Chandler, composer and sound engineer; Matt Evans, saxophones; Madison Greenstone, clarinets; Clay Mettens, director of development, composer and sound engineer; Zach Sheets, composer, flutes, and managing director; and Wei-Han Wu, piano..

In keeping with their mission statement, [Switch~ Ensemble] has collaborated with both emerging and established composers, performing commissions and premieres of dozens of new works. Upcoming engagements include world premieres of commissioned works by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, Katharina Rosenberger, Anna-Louise Walton, and Kelly Sheehan, supported by New Music USA, the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Pro Helvetia, the MAP Fund, and more.

Past performances and residencies include Cornell, Bard College, University of Chicago, Ithaca College, Harvard University Group for New Music, UC Berkeley, the VIPA Festival (Spain), Eastman School of Music, Frost School of Music at University of Miami, and Avaloch Farms Music Institute, as well as concerts at the Image/Sound Festival, San Francisco Center for New Music, MATA Interval Series, NYCEMF, Vanguard New Music Series at Kent State University, the Queens New Music Festival, and more.

Tesla Quartet coming to University of Missouri
for residency, concert on Sunday, November 3

The internationally acclaimed Tesla Quartet is coming to the University of Missouri for a Mizzou New Music Initiative residency that will include a concert at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, November 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall on campus. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

The group’s visit to Columbia comes as they’ve just released their second album, “Joy & Desolation,” on the Orchid Classics label. A collaboration with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, the disc features a recording of “Ius in Bello” by Mizzou assistant professor of composition Carolina Heredia, as well as works by Mozart, Finzi, and John Corigliano.

Their concert at Whitmore Recital Hall will include a performance of “Ius in Bello,” plus compositions by Michael Ippolito, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Giovanni Sollima.

In addition to their public performance, while in residence at Mizzou the members of Tesla Quartet also will do a reading session of string quartets written by student composers; give lessons and master classes to student string players; and make a recording of another of Heredia’s works, “Ausencias.”

Former in 2008 at The Juilliard School, the Tesla Quartet (pictured) is Ross Snyder (violin), Michelle Lie (violin), Edwin Kaplan (viola), and Serafim Smigelskiy (cello). They perform regularly across North America and Europe, with recent highlights including their debut at New York’s Lincoln Center, a return to London’s Wigmore Hall, and performances at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall, plus tours of Brazil, China, and South Korea, and a residency in the UK.

Praised by The International Review of Music for their “superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style or technical demand,” the Tesla Quartet has won top prizes in numerous international competitions, most recently taking second prize plus the Haydn Prize and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Their debut album, released in 2018 on Orchid Classics, featured works by Haydn, Ravel and Stravinsky and won wide critical acclaim, including a double 5-star rating from BBC Music Magazine and praise from Gramophone magazine for its “tautness of focus and refinement of detail.”

Producer for Mizzou faculty members earns Grammy nomination

One of the nominees this year in the Grammy Awards’ “Classical Producer of the Year” category has a Mizzou connection.

Veteran producer Judith Sherman, a 12-time Grammy Award nominee and winner of the award for Classical Producer of the Year for 1993, 2007 and 2011, is nominated again for her work in 2018, including the Albany Records release New Music for Violin and Piano by violinist Julie Rosenfeld and pianist Peter Miyamoto.

Miyamoto is a professor of piano and Rosenfeld an assistant professor of violin at Mizzou, and one of the eight new works included on the album (pictured) is “Life (Still) Goes On,” written by Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Released on April 1, 2018, New Music for Violin and Piano has earned positive reviews from critics, with American Record Guide calling Rosenfeld’s performances “earnest and lovely, wholly embodying the spirit of each work,” and praising Miyamoto’s playing as “sensitive and balanced, with silkiness and aggression in all the right places.”

As for the verdict of Grammy Award voters, that will be revealed at the 61st annual awards ceremony, which is scheduled for February 10, 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in part on CBS.

MADSM Collegiate Composer Competition
entry deadline extended to Friday, October 19

The entry deadline for the 2018 MADSM Collegiate Composer Competition has been extended to Friday, October 19.

“Since this a new competition this year, and the fall semester has just begun, we wanted MADSM member institutions to have more time to get the word out, and their students to have more time to respond,” said Jacob Gotlib, managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI).

MNMI is co-sponsoring the competition with the Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) to encourage the creation of original chamber music that can be played by high-school level musicians.

The MADSM Collegiate Composer Competition is open to all students currently enrolled in any MADSM member institution, with separate categories for undergraduate and graduate students. Composers are asked to write a new work from five to seven minutes in length for a group of three to five musicians, consisting of some combination of flute, clarinet, piano, violin, cello, and percussion.

The new deadline for scores and recordings to be submitted online is Friday, October 19, and winners will be announced on Monday, November 12.

Winning composers will be invited to the University of Missouri, where their pieces will be workshopped and recorded by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble. The Ensemble will premiere this year’s winning works in January 2019 at the Missouri Music Educators Association conference in Osage Beach, with the goal of encouraging future performances on concert programs around the state.

For more information or to submit an entry, go to

The Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) includes all institutions in the state of Missouri that offer post-secondary music study. MADSM offers a regular forum for leaders from these institutions to discuss issues pertaining to music study; to provide mutual support for each other; and to advocate for music education at the collegiate level, presenting a strong and unified voice for music education in Missouri.

Dustin Dunn wins second place in MTNA’s national composition competition

Mizzou student Dustin Dunn has placed second in the “Young Artist” category of this year’s Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) national composition competition.

Dunn (pictured), a junior working on a bachelor’s degree in music composition, was recognized for “Of Stained Glass and Hymnody,” which was premiered in March 2016 by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

His work became eligible for a national award after winning first place in the Missouri statewide and West Central Division portions of the competition. As the second place winner, Dunn will receive a cash prize.

A native of Annapolis, MO and graduate of Iron South High School, Dunn was a winner in Mizzou’s statewide Creating Original Music Project (COMP) and in the Missouri Composers Project before enrolling at the university with a full-tuition Sinquefield Scholarship to study composition. In addition to his awards from MTNA, he also was the winner of the Springfield (MO) Symphony’s 2016 Missouri Composition Competition.

Mizzou composer Douglas Osmun wins 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Douglas Osmun.

Osmun, who grew up in Zeeland, MI, is a first-year graduate student at Mizzou studying composition with Stefan Freund. He submitted “First Fig,” a work written for alto voice, cello and piano, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2017 competition were:
* Lee Hartman, instructor in music and music theory, University of Central Missouri;
* Allison Ogden, lecturer in composition, University of Louisville; and
* Christopher Stark, assistant professor of composition, Washington University.

Now in its 12th year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou.

As this year’s winner, Osmun (pictured) now will be commissioned to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Philharmonic orchestra, with the premiere performance to be presented as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase on Monday, April 10, 2017 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, he also will receive funding for the production of the score and parts, and a professional recording of his work.

Before coming to Mizzou, Osmun earned a BM in music composition at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. While at WMU, he studied with Lisa Renée Coons and Christopher Biggs, and was named a Beulah and Harold McKee Scholar, one of the school’s three top awards for music students.

Osmun’s other awards and accomplishments include the Ron Nelson Award and Symphonic Band Commission; an international premiere of his work at the highSCORE Festival in Italy; a mini-grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo; and serving as the Region V Student Representative for the Society of Composers, Inc.

The other finalists for the 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Dustin Dunn, Hans B. Heruth, Aaron Mencher, and Jake Smucker.

“Herstory” website features original music from Mizzou composer Haley Myers

Senior composition major Haley Myers talks about creating the soundtrack for "Herstory"

Haley Myers, a senior composition major at Mizzou, has written and performed original music for The Herstory: JAWS Oral History Project, a new website created by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

“Herstory,” which went online last week, documents the professional careers, work experiences and associational life of senior women journalists who have participated in the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), an organization of female journalists that grew out of a 1984 panel discussion at the Missouri School of Journalism. The site features in-depth interviews with 34 JAWS members, as well as profiles of the interviewees; audio and video clips; pictures of early JAWS gatherings; and newsletters and documents from the organization’s first few years, provided by the State Historical Society of Missouri Manuscript Collection.

Myers wrote the music and played piano for the site’s soundtrack, which also features fellow student Grant Bradshaw performing on viola. The music editing was done by Mizzou New Music Initiative managing director Billy Lackey.

The site was unveiled in a presentation on Friday, May 1 at the School of Journalism. You can read more about “Herstory” and the students and faculty members who worked on the project here.

Pictured, from left: Young Volz, associate professor, School of Journalism; A.J. Million, web developer; Dean Mills, professor and Dean of the School of Journalism; William Lackey; Haley Myers; Ying Wu, website creative director & assistant professor, School of Journalism.