Archive for the ‘ Mizzou New Music Initiative ’ Category

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: Hans Abrahamsen

All of us at the Mizzou New Music Initiative are pleased to welcome Hans Abrahamsen as one of our two distinguished guest composers for the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

The winner of major honors including the Carl Nielsen Prize (1989) and the Wilhelm Hansen Prize (1998), Abrahamsen (pictured) since 1995 has taught composition and orchestration at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. As a distinguished guest composer for the MICF, he’ll work with the festival’s eight resident composers as a group and individually, and also will give a public presentation on his music.

Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, Abrahamsen first pursued his own study of music at the Royal Danish Academy, where he was inspired by his composition teachers and mentors Per Nørgård and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

His early works also reflected the influence of the “New Simplicity” movement, which had some parallels to minimalism in that it was a reaction by Danish composers of the mid-1960s to the excessive complexity of the music then being written by the European avant-garde. Noteworthy compositions from the first part of Abrahamsen’s career include his String Quartet No. 1, “10 Preludes,” and “Winternacht,” an ensemble work composed between 1976 and 1978.

In the 1980s, Abrahamsen studied with and befriended György Ligeti, and continued to develop his personal style in works such as the orchestral “Nacht und Trompeten” (1981); “Marchenbilder,” an ensemble piece from 1984, and “Lied in Fall,” written in 1987 for cello and 13 instruments.

After a hiatus from composing that lasted nearly a decade, Abrahamsen returned with more personal work, including a piano concerto written in 1999 for his wife Anne-Marie Abildskov, and the extended chamber work “Schnee”, which was premiered in 2008 by Ensemble Recherche and has received considerable critical acclaim.

Abrahamsen’s “Let me tell you,” for soprano and orchestra, was premiered in December 2013 by the Berlin Philharmonic, with Barbara Hannigan, to whom the work is dedicated, as soprano soloist and Andris Nelsons conducting. It has proven to be one of Abrahamsen’s most immediately popular works, with 15 performances since the premiere. Many additional performances and a recording are scheduled, and in May of this year, “Let me tell you” also won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2015 Award for Large-Scale Composition.

Abrahamsen’s current projects include work on an operatic setting of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” which will get a premiere performance in the fall of 2018 from the Royal Danish Opera. “Terms like ‘magical’, ‘mysterious’ and ‘elusive’ are often used describe Abrahamsen’s music, and for good reason,” said a recent feature story about Abrahamsen in the Glasgow, Scotland newspaper The Herald. “Like a fairytale or a winter landscape, he takes what is familiar and transforms it, allowing us to experience it, and perhaps ourselves, afresh.”

(You can hear some samples of Hans Abrahamsen’s music and an interview with him via the embedded YouTube and SoundCloud players below.)

String Quartet No. 1 “10 Preludes”

“Winternacht”

Hans Abrahamsen talks about his compositions “Schnee”‘ and String Quartet No. 4

“Schnee” Canon 2B, from the US premiere performance by the Talea Ensemble, conducted by James Baker, on January 21, 2011 at Scandinavia House, New York City.

“Let me tell you”

Music from 2014 MICF now on SoundCloud

Now that tickets are on sale for the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival, here’s a chance to whet your musical appetite with some sounds from the 2014 MICF.

These works were written by 2014 resident composers Holly Harrison, Texu Kim, and Michael Schachter (pictured, from left) especially for the Festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, and received their world premiere performances at the 2014 festival. To play the track, just click on the embedded SoundCloud player.

The 2015 MICF takes place July 20 – 25 in Columbia. To get your tickets to hear this year’s exciting world premieres and more, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/tickets.html.

“Radishes and Strings,” by Holly Harrison

“Bounce” by Texu Kim

“Five – Six – Seven – Eight” by Michael Schachter

Tickets for 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival
go on sale Monday, June 8

New Muse Piano Duo

Tickets for the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF) will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. CDT next Monday, June 8.

Heralded as one of the premier contemporary music events in the Midwest, the MICF has been called “a vibrant inferno of creative energy” by the internationally syndicated radio program “Relevant Tones,” and praised for offering “kinetic excitement” by the hometown Columbia Daily Tribune.

DRAX

The 2015 MICF will take place from Monday, July 20 through Saturday, July 25 in Columbia. The grand finale of the week will feature the world premieres of eight new works written by the festival’s resident composers and performed by Alarm Will Sound, who return for their sixth year as resident ensemble.

That concert will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 25 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St. in downtown Columbia.

In addition to their grand finale performance, Alarm Will Sound also will play music from their recent repertoire in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at the Missouri Theatre.

Alarm Will Sound

This year’s “Mizzou New Music” concert at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre will feature performances by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and guest artists New Muse Piano Duo, with pianists Jonathan Kuuskoski and Paola Savvidou, and DRAX, with percussionist Megan Arns and saxophonist Leo Saguiguit.

They will showcase music from MU faculty and student composers, as well as works by this year’s MICF guest composers, Hans Abrahamsen and Andrew Norman.

Festival passes good for admission to all three concerts are on sale for $80 for the VIP package, which includes a champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception with Alarm Will Sound members; $40 for an adult general admission pass; and $20 for a student general admission pass.

Single tickets are priced at $18 for adults, $10 for students, and are all general admission. Tickets can be charged by phone using Visa, MasterCard or Discover by calling 1-573-882-3781. To buy tickets online, or to see a complete listing of Mizzou International Composers Festival events, visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

(Missouri sales tax of 7.975% already is included in the price of each ticket. An additional fee of $2.00 per ticket will be charged for online purchases. For these fees, a three-concert festival pass is considered one ticket.)

In addition to these three concerts, the MICF also will feature several free events, including open rehearsals and presentations by the participating composers. A complete schedule of those events will be released at a later date.

The eight resident composers were selected from more than 230 applicants from the USA and overseas to participate in the festival and create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. They are:

* Thomas Dougherty, Houston, TX
* Emily Koh, Waltham, MA
* Andrew McManus, Chicago, IL
* Justin Pounds, Columbia, MO
* Alessandro Ratoci, Lausanne, Switzerland
* Christopher Stark, St. Louis, MO
* Anthony Vine, Brooklyn, NY
* Conrad Winslow, Brooklyn, NY

During the festival, the resident composers will receive composition lessons from guest composers Hans Abrahamsen, a Danish composer whose spare yet lyrical works reflect his involvement in the “New Simplicity” movement of the 1960s; and Andrew Norman, a Los Angeles-based composer and teacher at the USC Thornton School of Music.

The resident composers also will take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of their work.

José Martínez selected for LA Phil composers workshop

Mizzou student José Martínez is headed to California this week to take part in a workshop for young composers sponsored by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Next on Grand: National Composers Intensive is a three-day program that lets selected American composition students create new works for the Los Angeles-based “experimental classical ensemble” wild Up, while also working side-by-side with esteemed composers such as Steven Mackey, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Caroline Shaw, and Steve Reich.

Martinez (pictured) is one of ten composers selected for this year’s intensive program, which will take place May 28 – 30 in Los Angeles in conjunction with the LA Phil’s “Next on Grand: Contemporary Americans” festival.

Originally from Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, José earned his diploma at the Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, and currently is completing work on a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou.

He was the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize, Mizzou’s top honor for composers, and represented the university that year as a resident composer at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Before coming to Mizzou, José’s honors included winning the National Cultural Prize for “Mutaciones I” from the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín; receiving Colombia’s national composition prize for young composers from the National Ministry of Culture in 2009; and winning a Colombian national composition contest in 2011.

A percussionist as well as a composer, José was co-founder of the Bogotá Conservatory’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and is music director for the percussion ensemble Ictu5. As a percussionist, he also won a national performance contest in 2004; has been a member of the percussion ensembles Contempo, Sinergia Ensemble, and Octopus; and for five years was timpanist for the Bogotá Symphonic Orchestra Foundation (FOSBO).

A ‘behind-the-scenes” look at the Mizzou New Music Ensemble

In conjunction with their concert last Sunday, April 26 at Whitmore Recital Hall, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble staged a “Twitter takeover,” offering followers a behind-the-scenes look at their preparations for the show. You can see what happened in the slideshow below…

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform new works
inspired by St. Louis Zoo in concert on Friday, May 8

The Living World at the St. Louis Zoo

In the latest in an ongoing series of concerts featuring newly commissioned, site-specific works, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform at 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 8 in The Living World at the St. Louis Zoo. The concert is free and open to the public.

The program will include three new compositions from University of Missouri students inspired by the Zoo and commissioned specifically for the occasion by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

“Predators” is by Kaylene Cypret, a graduate student working on a master’s in composition and orchestral conducting, and “evokes the spirit of birds of prey by imitating moments of hunting, flight, communication and curiosity.”

“Colors of Nature,” composed by Grant Bradshaw, a senior studying composition and viola, develops musical representations of the hues of various types of plant life found on the Zoo grounds, and then combines them into new sonic colors.

“Rhapsody in Zoo,” by sophomore composition major Erin Hoerchler, starts with rock beats and jazz harmonies and develops a theme through several reprises to showcase the individual musicians in turn, as well as the entire group.

The concert will be the latest in a series that began in 2010 and has included performances of new works written by Mizzou students specifically for the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, Sheldon Concert Hall, Forest Park Forever, and the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble

As an opening number, the Ensemble also will play “Djole” by Jeremiah Rittel, the group’s clarinetist. Based on a rhythm from Sierra Leone, the work re-imagines music originally played by indigenous drummers and combines it with new material for an ensemble of Western “classical” instruments.

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 and associate professor. The Ensemble’s members for the 2014-15 season are Taylor Burkhardt, piano; Rachel Czech, cello; Jose Martínez, percussion; Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets; Erin Spencer, flute; Britney Stutz, violin; and Korin Wahl, viola.

Tom McKenney featured in Columbia Daily Tribune, on KBIA

W. Thomas “Tom” McKenney, who has taught composition and music theory at Mizzou for 47 years and has served as co-artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative since it began in 2010,  is retiring from full-time teaching after the Spring 2015 semester.

Although Professor McKenney (pictured) will still be around Columbia, teaching some classes, composing, and no doubt offering wise counsel to all who seek it (while being freed from those pesky meetings and administrative duties), it nevertheless seems very appropriate that the Columbia Daily Tribune paid tribute to him last week with an short feature about his teaching career, composing, and impending retirement, which you can read online here.

Noting that “What has been, and what will be, at MU bear the marks of McKenney’s hand and his measured, wise musical manner,” the article concludes, “These gains are, and will continue to be, gradual, but it is clear McKenney leaves the program on a high note.”

McKenney also talked about some of his recent compositions with KBIA host Trevor Harris last week for a feature story, which you can check out here.