Archive for the ‘ Mizzou New Music Initiative ’ Category

2020 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) offers
awards, cash prizes for Missouri student composers

2019 COMP High School division winners

From parchment and quill to pen and paper to computer and software, the tools used by composers to set down their musical ideas may have changed over the years, but one thing remains the same: every composer still needs a chance to be heard.

That’s why the Mizzou New Music Initiative is inviting young composers from across Missouri to take part in the 2020 Creating Original Music Project (COMP).

Now in its 15th year, COMP is an annual statewide competition sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. COMP showcases new, original music from Missouri student composers and songwriters in grades K-12, offering positive recognition and prizes, performance and educational opportunities, and more.

Both the winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 25, 2020 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Winners in high school also are eligible for scholarships to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, which will take place in June 21-27, 2020 on the Mizzou campus.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in two categories, Songs With Words and Instrumental. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music and Popular Music; and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Jazz, and Pop Music/Other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Both notated pieces and music made electronically are eligible. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher.

Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. All entries must be submitted online by Sunday, January 19, 2020.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and how to submit an application for the 2020 competition, please visit the COMP website at

For students looking for more guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

Students can e-mail works in progress, ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2019-20 academic year is Niko Schroeder, who can be reached by email at

Olivia Bennett wins 2019-20 Luna Composition Lab fellowship

Missouri student composer Olivia Bennett has been named one of five 2019-20 fellows by Luna Composition Lab, a program at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City that provides mentorship and performance opportunities to young composers who are female-identifying, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

Bennett (pictured), a 17-year-old home-schooled student from Nixa, Mo (just south of Springfield), has won multiple awards in competitions sponsored by the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Those awards include a total of five prizes in the annual Creating Original Music Project (COMP), a statewide composition competition for students in grades K-12, and two wins in the “High School” division of the Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP), which each year showcases recent large ensemble works by Missouri composers in a concert by the Columbia Civic Orchestra and the Columbia Chamber Choir.

In addition to the COMP and MOCOP performances, Bennett’s works have been played by ensembles including the Mizzou String Quartet, Springfield Youth Symphony, Interlochen Philharmonic, and Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra. She is an alumna of the 2018 Interlochen Arts Camp and Boston University’s 2019 Tanglewood Institute, and was selected as a 2019 American Composers NextNotes winner. A pianist and cellist as well as a composer, Bennett plays cello in the Missouri Philharmonic Orchestra in Springfield.

Now in its fourth year, Luna Composition Lab was founded by composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, with composers Reena Esmail, Kristin Kuster, Gity Razaz and Tamar Muskal set to mentor the 2020 fellows.

As part of their fellowships, Bennett and the other young composers will receive one-on-one mentorship and bi-weekly Skype lessons throughout the year; a week of masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours, concerts, and networking events in New York City; a performance opportunity in NYC as part of the Kaufman Music Center’s “Face the Music” concert season; high-quality recordings of their work; and more.

Michael Harley visiting Mizzou for residency, concert on Monday, October 21

Bassoonist Michael Harley is coming to Mizzou for a residency and concert on Monday, October 21.

While he’s on campus, Harley (pictured) will teach a bassoon master class, work with composition students, and perform in a concert at 7:30 p.m. at Whitmore Recital Hall.

The concert will feature music from Harley’s upcoming album Come Closer, which is set for release on October 18, including works by Reginald Bain, Carl Schimmel, Fang Man, Caleb Burhans, and Mizzou’s own Stefan Freund. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

Harley already is quite familiar with Mizzou, having visited many times over the past decade as the bassoonist for Alarm Will Sound, the resident ensemble for the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival. A founding member of AWS, Harley currently serves as associate professor of bassoon at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, where he also teaches courses in American music, coaches chamber music, and is artistic director of the Southern Exposure new music series.

Having grown up in northern Indiana and Michigan, Harley earned his undergraduate degree in English and music at Goshen College, a master’s in music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and his D.M.A. from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  Before joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina, he previously taught music at Ohio University, Wright State University, and at his alma mater Goshen College.

With Alarm Will Sound, Harley has performed at major venues around the world, done educational residencies at universities and other institutions throughout the U.S., and premiered works from dozens of today’s most distinguished composers.

As a recitalist, chamber, and orchestral musician, he has played in venues on five continents, ranging from New York City nightclubs and bars to concert halls including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican in London, Musiekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, and many more. He also has worked with artists including the indie rock group Dirty Projectors, jazz/funk trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, percussionist and composer Tyshawn Sorey, Dance Heginbotham, and orchestras in Charleston; Columbus; Fort Wayne; South Bend; Augusta, GA; Rock Hill, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC.

Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) seeks
new orchestral, choral music for concert in April 2020

. The Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) is looking for new, large-ensemble music written by Missouri residents to be performed in a concert in April.

Now in its tenth year, MOCOP is a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to bring attention to new large ensemble works written in the state of Missouri. By identifying composers and providing opportunities for the performance of their work, MOCOP showcases emerging talent from Missouri and shares it with the world.

Each year, recently composed orchestral and choral works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process to be performed by the CCO and Chamber Choir (pictured) at a concert in Columbia and professionally recorded. Each of the composers of the selected works also is awarded a $500 honorarium.

MOCOP’s 2020 competition has four categories: High School Choral and High School Orchestral, for Missouri composers currently in high school, and Open Choral and Open Orchestral, for 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, April 5, 2020 at the Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St, in Columbia.

Composers who wish to submit their work to MOCOP can find details on eligibility and instrumentation plus complete application materials online at

Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, December 2, 2019.

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 Columbia Chamber Choir in a subset of the Columbia Chorale, which works to promote choral music of the highest artistic quality and to stimulate a greater community understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of choral music by presenting programs appealing to a wide cross-section of Missouri residents and visitors.

Amy Williams coming to Mizzou in October for residency and concert

Composer and pianist Amy Williams is coming to Mizzou next month for a residency and concert.

Williams, who is an associate professor teaching composition and music theory at the University of Pittsburgh, will be on campus in Columbia on Wednesday, October 9 and Thursday, October 10.

While she’s at Mizzou, Williams (pictured) will make a presentation to composition students, give private lessons, and perform in a free concert featuring excerpts from John Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano” at 3:00 p.m. Thursday at Whitmore Recital Hall.

The daughter of two professional musicians, Williams grew up in Buffalo, NY, frequently hearing contemporary music and meeting composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Elliott Carter, and more. She earned her undergraduate degree at Bennington College, and then completed both her master’s degree in piano performance and her Ph.D. in composition at the University at Buffalo. She previously taught at Bennington and Northwestern University before joining the Pittsburgh faculty in 2005.

One of Williams’ best-known works as a composer is the Cineshape series of chamber pieces inspired by different films, first performed in May 2016 by the JACK Quartet, flautist Lindsey Goodman, and percussionist Scott Christian, with video by Aaron Henderson.

“My performance influences my composition very directly — I think very much about the role of the performer, sometimes specifically (what would she or he want to play, what is his or her sound at the instrument), but also performative issues such as physicality and coordination,” Williams said in a 2015 interview. “And I analyze pieces that I play very much from a composer/theorist’s perspective. So it works both ways.”

Her compositions have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe, including Ars Musica in Belgium, Gaudeamus Music Week in the Netherlands, Dresden New Music Days in Germany, Festival Aspekte is Austria, Festival Musica Nova in Brazil, and many more.

Williams’ works have been performed by prominent soloists and ensembles such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Aleph, Ensemble Dal Niente, Wet Ink, Talujon, Empyrean Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), pianist Ursula Oppens, and numerous others. Her compositions also have been featured on two “portrait” CDs of solo and chamber works released by Albany Records, “Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings” (2013) and “Cineshape and Duos” (2017).

Williams formed the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo with Helena Bugallo while both were graduate students at the University at Buffalo. The duo has been featured at major contemporary music festivals and series in Europe and the Americas, including the Ojai Festival, Miller Theatre, Symphony Space, Le Poisson Rouge, Musica Contemporanea Ciclos de Conciertos in Buenos Aires, Festival Attacca in Stuttgart, and many more. They have released five CDs, featuring the music of Conlon Nancarrow, Morton Feldman and Edgard Varèse, György Kurtág, and Igor Stravinsky.

Ben Rouder wins 2020 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2020 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Ben Rouder.

Rouder (pictured) is a junior working toward a bachelor’s degree in composition at Mizzou. He submitted “M.I.S.”, a work for chamber ensemble originally composed as part of last year’s “Influences Symphony” project, to the competition and was selected for the prize by independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2020 competition were Yotam Haber, associate professor of music composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Nina C. Young, assistant professor at the University of Southern California.

Now in its 15th year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou.

As this year’s winner, Rouder now will be commissioned to write an original work for the University Singers, conducted by Paul Crabb, who will premiere it as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase on Monday, February 28, 2020 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, Rouder also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work professionally recorded.

Rouder is a native of Columbia, MO who graduated from Rock Bridge High School. His music has been performed by groups including the Columbia Civic Orchestra, the University of Missouri Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, the University of Missouri Brass Choir, and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

He was the winner in the Open Orchestral division of the 2019 Missouri Composers Project competition for his work “Social Justice Warrior.” Rouder also is the founder and current administrator of the Seventh Column Chamber Ensemble, a student-run chamber orchestra founded in 2019.

The other finalists for the 2020 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Daniel Fitzpatrick, Luis Hermano Bezerra, and Hans Bridger Heruth.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works by Boulez, Higdon, Martínez, and Heredia in concert Sunday, October 6 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will begin their 2019-20 season with a concert featuring works by two modern masters, a Mizzou alumnus, and a current Mizzou faculty member.

The Ensemble (pictured) will perform music by Pierre Boulez, Jennifer Higdon, José Martínez, and Carolina Heredia at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 6 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. The concert is free and open to the public.

As the name suggests, Boulez’s “Dérive 1” is derived from two of his other compositions, “Messagesquisse” and “Répons,” the latter of which in turn was created as a re-elaboration of musical ideas from “Éclat/Multiples.” This working method was typical of Boulez, who was known for producing new material by extending or transforming existing pieces.

Higdon’s “Zaka” has been called “an energetic and tightly focused work that uses string instruments in percussive and unorthodox ways,” and was praised by the Sacramento Bee as “a fantastic sprint full of irresistible Stravinskian energy and rhythmic drive.”

Martínez, who earned his master’s degree in composition from Mizzou in 2016, describes his piece “Illegal Cycles” as “an attempt to contaminate salsa with some noise, yet at the same time, to look for the groove in the fine-art sound of the freely improvised music” and “a natural product of our post-postmodern world, where the artistic boundaries between genres are happily long gone.”

“Ius in Bello” (Latin for “law of war”) was inspired by the socio-political confrontations in Venezuela that began in 2014. Heredia, a native of Argentina and an assistant professor of composition at Mizzou, calls the work “my response to the violent repression executed by the government against civilian protesters,” explaining that it “engages with dream-like sections in which color-saturated imagery of a perfect future is tinted with crispy dissonances.”

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, conductor, professor of composition, and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2019-20 season are Daniel Fitzpatrick, piano; Stephen Landy, percussion; Ann Mozina, flute; Jordan Nielsen, percussion; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Cameron Tubbs, cello; and Andrew Wiele, clarinet. Mizzou New Music Initiative post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi serves as the Ensemble’s assistant conductor.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to read works by Mizzou composers
Hans Bridger Heruth, Ethan Forte, and Daniel Vega

From left: Heruth, Forte, Vega

Three University of Missouri student composers will have their works played by musicians with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra this year as part of a joint educational venture between the orchestra and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Student composers Hans Bridger Heruth, Ethan Forte, and Daniel Vega (pictured) were selected by SLSO Resident Conductor Gemma New to write new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra drawn from the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony.

The three works will be read, played, and critiqued in a private session on Tuesday, October 1 in St. Louis. The composers then will get a chance to revise their music for a second, public reading by the same musicians at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 29 at Powell Hall.

Heruth, a senior, and Forte, a junior, are working toward their undergraduate degrees in composition at Mizzou, while Vega is in his second year of study for a master’s degree. They are the third group of Mizzou composers to take part in the program, which began in 2017. They will deliver the first versions of their works to the Symphony in early September.

“Given that the mission of the Mizzou New Music Initiative is to make Missouri a center for composition, we’re very pleased to be able to collaborate with one of the state’s most prestigious musical organizations,” 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 grateful to the St. Louis Symphony and Gemma New for these opportunities to give our students some practical experience working with an ensemble of world-class musicians.”

The two-session format makes this program particularly valuable, Freund said. “Our composers are able to hear their music played, get immediate feedback directly from the conductor and musicians, and make revisions. Then they can hear the results of the changes they’ve made in the second session, which makes for a learning experience that can’t be duplicated in a classroom.”

Acclaimed as one of today’s most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, celebrating its 140th year in the 2019/2020 season. Widely considered one of the world’s finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connection – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music. Today, the SLSO builds on the institution’s current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with new Music Director Stéphane Denève.