Archive for the ‘ Mizzou International Composers Festival ’ Category

2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 20 – 25;
Hans Abrahamsen, Andrew Norman named as guest composers

The 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF) will be held Monday, July 20 through Saturday, July 25 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, and will feature Hans Abrahamsen and Andrew Norman as guest composers.

The 2015 MICF will include a series of public concerts presenting music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes and other events.

Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will feature the world premieres of new works from each of the festival’s eight resident composers, with the acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, serving as resident ensemble.

Hans Abrahamsen

Hans Abrahamsen was born in Copenhagen and attended the Royal Danish Academy of Music. A published composer beginning at age 16, Abrahamsen in the early part of his career was considered part of the “New Simplicity” movement that began in the mid-1960s as a reaction to the perceived over-complexity of avant-garde music. Some of his best-known early works include “Winternacht” (1976-78); “Nacht und Trompeten” (1981); and “Zwei Schneetänze” (1985).

Befriending and studying with György Ligeti during the 1980s, Abrahamsen received the Carl Nielsen Prize in 1989 and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize in 1998. After a hiatus from composing, he re-emerged in the new century with a series of major compositions including the extended chamber work “Schnee” (2008), a Double Concerto for violin, piano and strings (2010-11); and “Let me tell you,” for soprano and orchestra, premiered in 2013 by the Berlin Philharmonic.

Andrew Norman

Andrew Norman is a Los Angeles-based composer and teacher at the USC Thornton School of Music. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Yale, Norman “draws on an eclectic mix of instrumental sounds, notational practices, and non-linear narrative structures.” His work has been noted by the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors” and by the Los Angeles Times for its “Chaplinesque” wit.

Norman has been the recipient of numerous commissions, prizes and awards, and his symphonic works have been performed by orchestras including the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich. His chamber music has been featured in the Wordless Music Series at Le Poisson Rouge and at the MATA Festival, the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Green Umbrella Series, and the Aspen Music Festival.

With the 2015 guest composers confirmed, eight resident composers now will be selected for the MICF through a portfolio application process to create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. During the week of the festival, they’ll get composition lessons from Abrahamsen and Norman and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a copy of a professional live recording of his or her work.

The application process for resident composers begins Thursday, October 23, 2014, and the deadline for submitting an application is Monday, November 24, 2014. To help composers save on printing and mailing costs, the MICF this year has moved to an online application process. For more information on applying to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/application.html.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

A look back at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival

Here’s a comprehensive look back at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival via news coverage and social media:

Even more media coverage of the 2014 MICF

With the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival now over, there still are a few items of media coverage of the festival to share.

In addition to their preview story on the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (linked here), Vox magazine sent writer Caleb O’Brien to the festival’s grand finale on Saturday night, and his recap of the evening can be read online here.

If you’d like to get a pictorial look behind the scenes of the 2014 MICF, resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound has posted on their Facebook page two albums of photos from the week. (The photo of resident composer José Martínez and AWS music director and conductor Alan Pierson accompanying this post is from the first set.)

Meanwhile, Seth Boustead and Jesse McQuarters, respectively the host and producer of the radio program Relevant Tones, were in Columbia for several days during the festival, recording material for an episode about the MICF that will air sometime this fall. The program is broadcast weekly at 5:00 p.m. Saturdays on WFMT (98.7 FM) in Chicago, and also can be heard online and on other subscribing stations around the country.

In addition to gathering material for later, the Relevant Tones crew also put together five short “Mizzou Minute” podcasts covering different aspects of the MICF. You can hear all five of them via the embedded SoundCloud players below.

More media mention MICF

Media attention for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival continued into the week of the fest, with St. Louis magazine publishing a preview story, including quotes from guest composers Zhou Long and Nico Muhly, online on Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, the Columbia Missourian ran their story about the festival, while a separate feature in the accompanying Vox Magazine focused on three of this year’s resident composers.

On Friday, the festival was featured in a report on the morning newscast of local NBC affiliate KOMU.

As for the photo accompanying this post, it’s not from the news media, but rather was shot by Christopher Weiss on Tuesday night when he and his fellow resident composers went out for dinner at Chim’s Thai Kitchen and encountered themselves, in poster form, on the restaurant’s front door.

From left, that’s Nick Omiccioli, Holly Harrison, Ian Dicke, Michael Schacter, Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Texu Kim and José Martínez. Weiss, while not visible in the photo, can be found on Twitter at @weisscomposer.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Zhou Long

Zhou Long

It’s an honor to have Zhou Long as one of the two guest composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Currently the Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Zhou won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2011 for his opera “Madame White Snake.” He graciously agreed to serve as one of this year’s guest composers on short notice after Beat Furrer, who originally had been scheduled to appear, was unable to attend for medical reasons.

During the MICF, he will give a public presentation about his music; instruct and interact with the eight resident composers in individual and group sessions; and work with Alarm Will Sound on the performance of his composition “Bell Drum Towers,” which they’ll play as part of their concert on Thursday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre.

Zhou is recognized internationally for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Drawing deeply on his Chinese heritage, he is a pioneer in combining the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions with contemporary Western ensembles and compositional forms.

Born in 1953 in China, he began piano lessons as a young child, but his musical studies were interrupted by the Cultural Revolution, the movement started in 1966 by Mao Zedong that attempted to enforce communism in the country by suppressing capitalist, traditional, cultural and intellectual influences.

Zhou was sent to drive a tractor on a rural state farm, where the bleak landscape, roaring winds and ferocious wild fires made what he describes as “a profound and lasting impression” on him. He was able to resume his musical training in 1973, eventually enrolling in the first composition class at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when it reopened in 1977. After graduating in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China.

Zhou first came to the United States in 1985 to study music at Columbia University, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music From China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award in 1999, and its prestigious Concert Music Award in 2011.

He has taught at UMKC since 2001, and has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2012-2013 Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the 2003 Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the CalArts/Alpert Award; and first place in the Barlow International Competition, with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Zhou has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and numerous others, and has been commissioned to compose new music by major presenting organizations, ensembles and orchestras all around the world.

Recent works include 2012’s “University Festival Overture” and “Beijing Rhyme – A Symphonic Suite,” commissioned by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and recorded on EMI in 2013; the solo piano work “Pianobells,” premiered at the Musica Nova concert in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; and a chamber work, “Cloud Earth,” which was commissioned and premiered by the New York New Music Ensemble.

In 2013, Zhou composed an evening-long symphonic epic “Nine Odes,” based on poems by Qu Yaun (ca. 340 BCE – 278 BCE), for the Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation. He also recently completed a new work for the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, and his piano concerto “Postures,” was premiered on July 4 by the Singapore Symphony and will be performed in September at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Zhou Long’s music has been recorded on Warner, Naxos, BIS, EMI, CRI, Teldec (1999 Grammy Award), Cala, Delos, Sony, Avant, Telarc and China Record. He is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
You can hear some samples of his music and see a brief feature about the Pulitzer-winning “Madame White Snake” in the embedded videos below.

“The Rhyme of Taigu” performed by Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui and recorded in October 2010 at the Philharmonie in Berlin.

“Pianogongs,” performed by pianist Chi-Ling Lok

“Five Elements,” recorded by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jeffery Meyer with Luisa Sello (flute), in July 2012 during the Thailand International Composition Festival at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Dhyana,” performed by Contemporary Enclave with James Ogburn, conductor, on July 10, 2012 at the Thailand International Composition Festival.

The Birth of “Madame White Snake”

Columbia media previews 2014 MICF

With the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival starting today, the Columbia Daily Tribune had two stories in Sunday’s paper, plus another online, which together offer a thorough preview of the week’s events.

The Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen interviewed managing director Billy Lackey and resident composer José Martínez for an overview of the festival, and also wrote separate articles about guest composer Nico Muhly and resident composer Nicholas Omiccioli.

Also last week, Mizzou professor, MICF co-artistic director and Alarm Will Sound cellist Stefan Freund appeared on KBIA’s “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper” to talk about the 2014 MICF. You can see and hear that conversation in the embedded video window below.

Also, if you’d like to get a look inside the program for the concerts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you can download a PDF copy here.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly

It’s a great pleasure to have Nico Muhly as one of the two guest composers for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

One of the most talked-about individuals on the contemporary music scene, often provocative and occasionally controversial, Muhly will work with the MICF’s eight resident composers both as a group and individually during the festival.

He’ll give a free public presentation on his music at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday in the Fine Arts Building on campus, and also will be present at the Missouri Theatre for performances of his “Seeing is Believing” by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday and “I know where everything is” by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on Friday.

(For more about Muhly at Mizzou, read this interview he did with the Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen that was published on Sunday.)

Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Nico Muhly earned a degree in English Literature from Columbia University and a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. From his sophomore year of college, Muhly worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years.

Muhly has composed for the Chicago Symphony, The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theater, violinist Hilary Hahn, percussionist Colin Currie, and many other individuals and organizations throughout the world. He worked with Icelandic pop star Björk in 2004 on the DVD single “Oceania,” and also has lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to Antony and the Johnsons, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doveman, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, and Usher.

In 2011, Muhly’s first full-scale opera, “Two Boys,” was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and the English National Opera. With a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by Bartlett Sher, “Two Boys” chronicles the real-life police investigation of an online relationship and ensuing tragedy; it premiered in London in spring 2012.

In more recent news, earlier this year Muhly’s score for the revival of “The Glass Menagerie” won a Drama Desk award for “Outstanding Music in a Play,” and he recently received a commission to write a piece of music for the Utah Symphony, using Southern Utah’s national parks and landscapes as inspiration. The work will be performed during the 2015-16 season, coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary.

Recordings of Muhly’s work include “A Good Understanding,” an entire disc of his choral music from the Los Angeles Master Chorale; “Seeing is Believing,” by The Aurora Orchestra; and the evening-length “I Drink the Air Before Me,” all released on Decca.

Among Muhly’s most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson, which was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Muhly’s first album, “Speaks Volumes.” Since then, Muhly has released a second album, “Mothertongue,” and worked with labelmates Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon on their respective solo releases. In spring 2012, Bedroom Community released Muhly’s three-part “Drones & Music,” in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and Alarm Will Sound violist Nadia Sirota.

Muhly’s film credits include scores for “Joshua” (2007), “Margaret” (2009) and Best Picture nominee “The Reader” (2008); all have been recorded and released commercially.

For more about Nico Muhly, read the interviews published recently by the Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, along with Muhly’s response to the latter, and check out the videos in the embedded windows below.

An Evening With Nico Muhly, ‘Two Boys’ And Other Works

Nadia Sirota and Valgeir Sigurðsson performing “Varied Carols” from “I Drink The Air Before Me” during Iceland Airwaves 2011.

Vasily Petrenko leads the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in the London Premiere of Muhly’s “Gait” at the 2012 BBC Proms.

Nico Muhly interviewed by NPR’s Ira Glass at the New York Public Library

Composers Festival Spotlight: Christopher Weiss

Christopher Weiss

2014 MICF resident composer Christopher Weiss may have been born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and grown up in the northeast, but as it turns out, his musical beginnings have a connection to the Show-Me State.

His paternal grandfather, a fisheries biologist here in Missouri, was an amateur violin-maker who enjoyed experimenting by constructing violins using unconventional woods. When Christopher was five, his grandfather presented him with a handmade, one-quarter-size violin, and he began taking his first music lessons.

Christopher taught himself to play the piano at age 12, and first developed an interest in composing during high school, going on to earn degrees from Rollins College in Florida and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

For the MICF, Christopher has written a new work called “Colors of the Waking Earth,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s grand finale concert next Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

In other recent performances, Act II of his opera “In a Mirror, Darkly” was presented in May as part of the Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers series of new works, with Tyson Deaton conducting; and his work “Three New Hampshire Postcards,” was performed earlier this year for a Rutgers University faculty recital by Bart Feller (flute), Rebecca Young (viola) and Stacey Shames (harp).

Christopher’s music has been hailed by the New York Times as “wonderfully fluid [with a] cinematic grasp of mood and lighting.” He has received commissions and performances from the Huntsville Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, the Boston Chamber Orchestra, the Lancaster Symphony, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Columbia Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has been Composer-in-Residence at Twickenham Fest and Young Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire.

His opera “In a Mirror, Darkly,” written with librettist S. O’Duinn Magee, was awarded a Domenic J. Pellicciotti Prize by SUNY Potsdam. Excerpts from the opera have been performed by the New York City Opera at their VOX showcase; at the John Duffy Composer Institute as part of the Virginia Arts Festival; and by the Fort Worth Opera, and will be presented by the Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra in November at SUNY Potsdam.

Christopher has been in residence at Yaddo, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. He was a recipient of a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, and was the youngest competitor ever to win the Jacksonville Symphony’s “Fresh Ink” competition. His music has been played on many local radio stations and was featured on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.”

Christopher also is active as a professional music copyist and publisher and has produced scores for G. Schirmer, the Washington National Opera, the Spoleto Festival USA, the Huntsville Symphony, and composers Marvin Hamlisch and Torrie Zito, among others. He also works as a freelance arranger for choirs, orchestras, and other performing organizations.

You can learn more about Christopher Weiss and hear samples of his music at his website.