Archive for the ‘ Mizzou International Composers Festival ’ Category

Composers Festival spotlight: Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Occupying their usual spot in the festival lineup, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will be performing during the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival as part of Friday night’s “Mizzou New Music” concert at the Missouri Theatre.

Their portion of the evening’s program will include works by the MICF’s two distinguished guest composers – “The Blotting” by Donnacha Dennehy and “World Under Glass No. 2” by Amy Beth Kirsten – as well as music by Mizzou student Jack Snelling.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the MICF. The Ensemble serves as the repertory group for MNMI, working with faculty, students, and visiting composers, and giving public performances on campus and in the community.

In addition to presenting several concerts each year in Columbia, the Ensemble also has performed programs of works by Mizzou composers at the Contemporary Art Museum – St. Louis, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park, the World Chess Hall of Fame, Cortex Innovation Community, and more.

The Ensemble’s current members are Hannah Hutchins, percussion; Ann Mozina, flutes; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Libby Roberts, piano; Brianna Trainor, percussion; Cameron Tubbs, cello; and Austin Wright, clarinets. They will be augmented for this performance by Mizzou graduate student Tyler Hannsz on viola. MNMI’s post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi serves as the Ensemble’s assistant conductor.

You can hear some past performances by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble using the embedded player below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Kristina Wolfe

2019 MICF resident composer Kristina Wolfe describes herself as “a composer, wanderer, electronic musician, maker, and multi-instrumentalist.”

A native of Tampa, FL, Wolfe (pictured) currently is a composer and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Scholar working in sound archaeology exhibition and composition at the University of Huddersfield in the UK.

She earned her PhD in multimedia and electronic music experiments from Brown University in 2016, having previously completed an MA in digital music at Dartmouth College and a BA in music technology at Florida International University.

For the MICF, Wolfe has composed a new work titled “A Curation of Finds,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new music from the festival’s seven other resident composers at the grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Wolfe’s music has been performed at the MATA, Bang on a Can, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music festivals, and can be heard on recordings including her own 2010 CD release Swa Cwæð Eardstapa and the multi-artist collections Transcendigitalism – a compilation of esoteric drones on Silent Records and Music of Ostrava Days 2013.

Her prizes and awards include a commission in 2017 from MATA; winning entries in the 2016 Villiers Quartet New Works Competition and the 2016 Viola da Gamba Society of America Competition for New Music for Viol and Piano; and an honorable mention for the 2014 Pauline Oliveros Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music.

Wolfe will be a composer in residence in 2020 for ISCM-VICC in Visby, Sweden. Her previous residencies include the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival in Massachusetts; the Centre D’Art Contemporani i Sostenibilitat El Forn de la Calç in Catalonia, Spain; the Composit Festival and Institute in Italy; Ostrava New Music Festival in the Czech Republic; and Visiones Sonoras 2008 in Morelia, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico.

For more about Kristina Wolfe, you can listen to her recent interview recorded for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program; read the profile of her published in 2017 by the online magazine Van; and watch a video of her presentation at the Ambient@40 conference last year in Huddersfield.  You can hear samples of some of her music in the embedded players below.

“Record of Ancient Mirrors,” recorded during the MATA Festival on April 29, 2017 at The Kitchen in New York, NY, performed by NOVUS NY with Scott Jarrett conducting and Doug Balliett as soloist on viola da gamba

“Near Sky,” recorded February 28, 2018 at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY, performed by Bearthoven, featuring Karl Larson (piano), Matt Evans (percussion), and Pat Swoboda (bass)

Composers Festival spotlight: “0150719 by reference”

In addition to the expanded schedule of concerts celebrating the festival’s tenth year, another first for the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival is “0150719 by reference,” a generative eight-channel audio installation created specifically for the MICF by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

The installation will be open starting on Tuesday, July 23 and continuing through Saturday, July 27 in the second-floor lobby of the Missouri Theatre. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The sounds for “050719 by reference” are based on a massive archive of samples of extended instrumental techniques that were recorded by members of Alarm Will Sound for a since-abandoned project.

Working collaboratively, Kirschner and Neumann (pictured) constructed their own musical materials from the sample library. Kirschner first produced a reference track with a harmonic structure, which both artists used while creating individual sounds for the piece. With the reference track removed, the two groups of individual sounds were combined, then mixed and spatialized with an algorithmic software player developed by Neumann to create an “unpredictable and continuously evolving” composition.

The title comes from a naming convention adopted by Kirschner when he began releasing his own music in the late 1980s, using the dates on which works are begun as their names. “I wanted my work to remain purely abstract, and for listeners to be able to bring whatever meaning or interpretation they wanted to it,” he said.

Both creators of “050719 by reference” brought extensive experience in music and sound design to the project. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Kirschner began playing piano when he was five years old. He briefly studied composition in college, but found academia too confining, and subsequently moved to New York City in the late 1980s to develop his work independently.

Kirschner spent the 1990s composing and refining his style, doing occasional commissions for ballet and modern dance. An early adopter of online distribution of music, he has made much of his work freely available on the internet, as well on a series of CD releases. You can read more about Kirschner’s DIY approach in his 2013 interview with New Music Box’s Molly Sheridan.

Neumann is a sound artist, organizer, and audio engineer who grew up in Germany and now is based in Brooklyn, NY. He earned a master’s degree in media art from the Academy of Visual Art Leipzig, and also studied electronic music composition under Emanuele Casale in Catania, Italy.

As audio engineer for Alarm Will Sound and others, Neumann is responsible for complex live productions featuring electroacoustic music and multi-channel audio, often requiring elaborate speaker setups and unusual miking techniques. His own work uses “conceptual and often collaborative strategies to explore sound, sound material and its modulation through space, situation and media.” Neumann also curates an event series in NYC and Berlin, CT::SWaM, that engages in “spatial sound works and focused listening.”

Since “050719 by reference” is a brand new work, there are no audio or video recordings available, but you can see Kirschner and Neumann talk about their work in the embedded videos below.

“Pirate This Music” – Kenneth Kirschner interviewed by Molly Sheridan for New Music Box

Daniel Neumann interviewed about his sound installation “Channels”

2019 MICF in the media

With this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival fast approaching, MNMI has been working to get the word out via local media.

For starters, the “Mizzou Music” radio program, heard at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evenings on Columbia’s classical music station KMUC, has been airing a series of interviews with participants in this year’s MICF.

Composers interviewed by host Aaron Hay so far include Peter Shin, Nicole Murphy, Inti Viggis-Vizueta, Donnacha Dennehy, Chelsea Komschlies, Kristina Wolfe, Theo Chandler and Mizzou’s own Aaron Mencher.

Still to come are interviews with Charles Halka, Amy Beth Kirsten, and MNMI managing director Jacob Gotlib. All the interviews are or will be archived on KMUC’s website.

Meanwhile, MNMI artistic director and Mizzou composition professor Stefan Freund was interviewed for Columbia Access Television by Elise Bucheit of the Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs. You can see their conversation about the MICF in the video embed below:

Lastly, if you’d like to get a “sneak peek” at this year’s MICF, you can take a look inside the official program through the embedded window below. (To enlarge to full-page size, click the icon in the middle of the window.)

Composers Festival spotlight: Eli Keszler

For this year’s expanded edition of the Mizzou International Composers Festival, the Mizzou New Music Initiative is teaming up with Columbia-based experimental music organization Dismal Niche to present two free late-night concerts on Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26 after the performances at the Missouri Theatre.

Friday’s late-night concert will feature percussionist, composer, and artist Eli Keszler in a solo performance starting at 9:30 p.m. at the Firestone Baars Chapel on the campus of Stephens College.

Keszler (pictured), who’s based in New York City, earned his BA in music performance and composition from the New England Conservatory of Music, and has lectured as a visiting artist at Brooklyn College, Columbia University, New England Conservatory, Dartmouth University, Washington University, Mass Art, and UMass Boston.

His music, praised as “a unique combination of intense drumming and sparse, often dramatic sound design” which “occupies a unique but imaginative space on the experimental music landscape,” can be heard on solo recordings released by Shelter Press, Empty Editions, ESP-Disk’, PAN and his own label REL records.

Keszler’s two most recent releases are Stadium, which made several critics’ year-end “best of” lists in 2018 and was called “an isolationist avant-jazz masterpiece that’s both highly complex and entirely accessible,” and Empire, an EP that came out earlier this year.

As a composer, Keszler has received commissions from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and So Percussion. He also has collaborated with Oneohtrix Point Never, Laurel Halo, Rashad Becker, and David Grubbs, and many others.

Keszler’s works frequently explore the relationship between sound and the environment, whether physical or virtual, in which it is heard, and his music, installations, and visual art have appeared at the Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, MIT List Visual Arts Center, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sculpture Center, The Kitchen, South London Gallery, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Barbican at St. Luke’s, Walker Art Center, and numerous other institutions, galleries, and venues.

His awards include a Sound and Music Fellowship from the New York Foundation For The Arts, grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Creative Connections, the MATA Composers Prize, and the Gaudeamus Composer Award.

For more about Eli Keszler, read the interview with him published earlier this year on and his interview from October 2018 with You can see and hear samples of some of his performances and compositions via the embedded players below.

“Stadium,” recorded October 2, 2018 at The Kitchen in New York City

Keszler performs live on October 24, 2018 at Zebulon in Los Angeles

Keszler improvises for Fact magazine’s video series “Against The Clock,” recorded in February 2019 at his home studio in NYC

Composers Festival spotlight: Aaron Mencher

Resident composer Aaron Mencher is representing the University of Missouri at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mencher (pictured) received his bachelor’s degree in music from Mizzou this year, and in the fall will begin studies for a master’s in music at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD.

For the MICF, he’s written a piece titled “Haworthia,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new music from the seven other resident composers as part of the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

While at Mizzou, Mencher was the winner of the 2018 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the school’s top award for a student composer. He used the accompanying commission to write “Gravity” for the University Wind Ensemble, which premiered the work in April 2018 at the annual Chancellor’s Arts Showcase.

He was one of three student composers in the 2017-18 academic year selected to work with musicians from the St. Louis Symphony, who read his work “Antrios” and performed it at Powell Hall under the baton of resident conductor Gemma New. “Antrios” also was selected in 2018 to be performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra at the annual Missouri Composers Project concert.

Mencher’s works include contemporary classical music, film scores, and incidental music. His music has received honors and awards from organizations such as the American Modern Ensemble, ASCAP, the Boston New Music Initiative, National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the European-American Musical Alliance, the American Prize, and the Third Millennium Ensemble.

He has collaborated on performances of his music with a variety of ensembles and soloists, including Deviant Septet, Third Coast Percussion, International Counterpoint, the All-National Concert Band, DRAX, newEar, clarinetist Wesley Warnhoff, cellists Bjorn Ranheim and Dave Eggar, and more.

Other recent commissions include a clarinet concerto for Warnhoff and the University of Missouri Philharmonic, and a work for violin and piano for the classical music series at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Mencher’s dramatic projects include scoring a documentary directed by Katie Schnell, and writing music for the short film Maggephah, directed by Atlanta-based filmmaker Brad McGaughey. He also worked as the composer and sound designer for many shows at the now-closed Dancing Goat Theater in Atlanta, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anne of Green Gables, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest.

For more about Aaron Mencher, listen to the interview he did last month on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. You can hear some of his music via the embedded windows below.

“Rise” for solo cello, performed by Dave Eggar on November 1, 2017 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY

“Perspectives” for clarinet, violin, and piano, performed by newEar on April 20, 2019

Composers Festival spotlight: Nicole Murphy

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Nicole Murphy is only the second Australian to be a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival. (Holly Harrison, MICF ’14, was the first.)

Murphy (pictured) earned her PhD from the University of Queensland and is represented as an associate artist by the Australian Music Centre. Her music is published by Wirripang, Austalia’s leading independent print music publisher of classical and jazz.

She is composer-in-residence at the Queensland Academy for Creative Industries in Brisbane, Queensland, and in 2018 was the inaugural recipient of the Australia Ensemble‘s Emerging Composer Fellowship.

For the MICF, she’s written a new work for Alarm Will Sound called “Dust,” which will receive its world premiere performance during the festival’s grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Murphy’s awards include winning international calls for scores in 2017 from ICEBERG and in 2016 from Nief Norf, as well as the Mid America Freedom Band international commissioning prize in 2016, the International Alliance for Women in Music‘s Theodore Front Prize in 2013, and the Definiens C3 international composers award in 2011.

She was chosen in 2012 as the young composer to represent Australia at the 30th Asian Composers League Festival in Tel Aviv, and in 2016 was one of six composers selected to work with Steve Reich as a part of a celebration of his 80th birthday presented by Soundstreams in Toronto.

Murphy has been commissioned by well-known arts organizations including the Australian Ballet, the Royal Academy of Dance in London, Experiments in Opera/Symphony Space in New York, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Wild Rumpus in San Francisco, and others.

Her music has been performed by ensembles such as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, New York’s NOW Ensemble, Ars Nova Dallas, and Halcyon in Sydney, and at festivals including the Atlantic Music Festival and the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Connecticut, the Dallas Festival of Modern Music, and more.

For more about Nicole Murphy, listen to her interview recorded a few weeks ago for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program; her interview published in 2017 on the website of Experiments in Opera; and her 2017 interview on the Australian composer podcast “Making Conversation.” You can hear some of her music on her SoundCloud page and via the embedded players below.

“Stolen,” performed in 2017 by Solomon Silber (guitar) and the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Julian Pellicano

“Untangled,” performed by Contemporaneous on April 6, 2017 at the DiMenna Center in New York City

“Parched Paddock,” performed by Zorana Sadiq (soprano), Wesley Shen (piano), and Daniel Morphy (percussion) as part of Soundstreams 2016 Emerging Composer Workshop on April 13, 2016 at Alliance Francaise Spadina Theatre in Toronto

Composers Festival spotlight: Theo Chandler

Resident composer Theo Chandler comes to the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival by way of Houston, TX, where he currently is working on a doctorate of musical arts at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music.

He’s already had a busy summer, having served as composer in residence for the Maryland Wind Festival, held in June in Frederick, MD, and as a fellow at the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, which is going on right now in Suffolk, England.

The piece Chandler (pictured) has written for the MICF, “Familiar Punchlines,” will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new works from the seven other resident composers as part of the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

A native of Hillsborough, NC, Chandler started playing clarinet in sixth grade band. He officially switched his focus to composing while earning his bachelor’s degree in music at Oberlin Conservatory, and went on to earn a master’s degree in composition from The Juilliard School.

His honors as a composer include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters and a Morton Gould Award from ASCAP, both in 2018. In addition, while at Juilliard, Chandler was selected as the winner of the school’s Orchestra Competition, Gena Raps Competition, and New Juilliard Ensemble Competition.

He previously has been a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center, Copland House CULTIVATE, and Aspen Music Festival, and was selected for an I-Park Composer + Musicians collaborative residency with Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Chandler has been the Young Artist Composer for Da Camera, Emerging Composer Fellow for Musiqa, and the Young Composer in Residence for the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. He also has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony First Music Program, Les Délices, Golden West Winds, cellist Amir Eldan, flutist Alexa Still, and others.

He also is active as a clarinetist, and to date has collaborated on the premieres of more than 100 pieces by fellow composers. Combining both of his principle pursuits, Chandler has performed his own work “Modern Etude for Clarinet” at the Kennedy Center and the Akron New Music Festival, his “Four Homophonic Studies” for Oberlin’s commencement recital, and his “Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra” for Oberlin’s Concerto Competition finals.

For more about Theo Chandler, listen to his recent interview on Classical 90.5 FM’s “Mizzou Music” program. You can hear some of his music in the embedded players below.

Two Taylor Songs, performed by soprano Ally Smither and Tanglewood Music Center Woodwind Fellows in 2017

“A Delicate Perpetuum,” performed by The Zafa Collective on December 18, 2016 at Ganz Hall in Chicago, IL.