Archive for July, 2010

Spotlight on Stefan Freund

Cellist and composer Stefan Freund is a big part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. As associate professor of composition and music theory, Freund teaches young composers at Mizzou and directs the Creating Original Music Project (COMP). He’ll be busy during the inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, too, both as a teacher and as a performer with Alarm Will Sound, the Fest’s resident ensemble.

A native of Memphis, TN, Freund received a BM with High Distinction from the Indiana University School of Music and an MM and a DMA from the Eastman School of Music. His primary composition teachers included Pulitzer Prize winners Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner as well as Augusta Read Thomas, Frederick Fox, Claude Baker, David Dzubay, and Don Freund, his father. He studied cello with Steven Doane, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Peter Spurbeck and others.

Freund is the recipient of numerous prizes, including multiple awards from BMI and  ASCAP, a Music Merit Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, and the Howard Hanson Prize. He was selected as the 2004 Music Teachers National Association-Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year, and in 2006 was awarded the MU Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award.

Freund also has received many commissions as a composer, and his music has been performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Weill Recital Hall, NPR’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, the National Gallery of Art, the Aspen Music Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, the International Performing Arts Center (Moscow), Glinka Hall (St. Petersburg), Queen’s Hall (DK), the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, and other concert halls in Austria, Germany, and Greece. His works have been recorded on the Innova, Crystal, and Centaur labels.

As a cellist, Freund has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, the Hermitage Theatre (RU), the Muzikgebouw (ND), the World Financial Center, and Miller Theatre.  He has recorded on the Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, and I Virtuosi labels as well as Sweetspot Music DVD.

Previously an assistant professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, Freund also has served as a faculty member of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, and presently is the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Columbia Civic Orchestra.

For more about Freund, check out “The next sound: A new initiative supports aspiring composers, ” a feature story written by Dale Smith for the summer 2010 issue of Mizzou magazine.

In the first embedded video window below, you can see and hear Freund conducting the Columbia Civic Orchestra in a performance of his composition “Cyrillic Dream,” created in 2009 and inspired by a visit to Russia and the omnipresence there of the Cyrillic alphabet.  In the second window, you can check out Freund and Alarm Will Sound performing their rendition of “Revolution 9” by the Beatles in July 2009 at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.

Alarm Will Sound’s Alan Pierson interviewed by Columbia Daily Tribune

The Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen continues his coverage of the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival today via an interview with Alarm Will Sound artistic director, conductor and keyboardist Alan Pierson (pictured).

You can read the interview posted on the paper’s Art Axis blog here.

Last chance for Festival passes

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival opens tonight, which means you have only a few more hours to purchase Festival passes, good for admission to all four concerts at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. The cost of the four-concert pass is $35 for adults, $20 for students.

Single tickets are priced at $10 for adults, $5 for students for the concerts on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; and $15 for adults, $10 for students for the final concert on Sunday.

Tickets can be charged by phone by calling the Missouri Theatre box office at 573-875-0600 or purchased online at www.motheatre.org. (There is a $2 per ticket fee for online purchases; phone purchases will not be charged a fee.)

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival on Sequenza21

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival got a nice mention Sunday on Sequenza21, a leading website for the contemporary classical music community.  Editor Steve Layton offered good wishes, mentioned all of the Festival’s guest performers and composers and our eight resident composers, and even linked to this blog. You can read his post about the Festival here.

Spotlight on W. Thomas McKenney

As the Mizzou faculty member charged with overseeing the Festival, W. Thomas “Tom” McKenney has been involved in the event since its inception. During the next week, his task will be even more hands-on, as he works with the Festival’s eight resident composers, takes part in faculty presentations, and more.

McKenney, who is professor of composition and music theory and director of Mizzou’s electronic music studios, also will be represented during the Festival as a composer. His piece “Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird” will receive its world premiere performance by Alarm Will Sound at the Festival’s opening concert on Monday, July 12 at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. You can read more about that composition, McKenney and the Festival in this article by Mallory Benedict published last week in the Columbia Missourian.

Dr. McKenney received his PhD in composition from the Eastman School of Music, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. In 1970 he was named the Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association.

His compositions have been performed in Europe, South America, China, and throughout the United States, and he is the recipient of numerous grants and commissions. In 1987, McKenney was invited by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China to present a series of lectures on the use of lasers and electronic music.

In addition to his work at the electronic music studio at the University of Missouri, he conducts the New Music Technology Institutes and has worked at Robert Moog’s studio, the Stiftelson Elektronikmusiktudion in Stockholm, Sweden, the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia at North Texas State University, and the Center for Electroacoustic Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. McKenney received the Purple Chalk Award for Excellence in Teaching, given by the Arts and Science Student Government, and the Orpheus Award, given by the Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for significant contributions to the cause of music in America.

For more on McKenney, check out the profile written a couple of years ago by LuAnne Roth for SyndicateMizzou. In addition to the text, it includes a series of video clips in which he discusses a variety of topics, from his research and creative activity to the use of electronic instruments to the importance of emotion in music.

“The bottom line for McKenney is that “music has to speak to the human spirit. That’s what it’s really all about,” the interview concludes. “The violin might be just a wooden box with metal strings, “yet, put in the hands of an artist, the most beautiful things in the world can come out of it.” Ponder as well the human voice. “We could scream and say nasty, horrible things to other human beings,” he points out, “or we could sing and make beautiful sounds. That’s really what the human spirit is all about.” And that’s what motivates McKenney’s musical compositions.”

Amy Beth Kirsten featured in New Haven Register

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival resident composer Amy Beth Kirsten is the subject of a feature story published today in the New Haven (CT) Register. The article by the Register‘s arts editor Donna Doherty also includes a short video of Kirsten talking about the Festival and her writing process.

You can read the story and see the video online here.

Spotlight on Edie Hill

Here’s another in our series of profiles of the resident composers taking part in this year’s Mizzou New Music Summer Festival:

The most experienced among the 2010 Festival’s eight resident composers, New York City native Edie Hill (pictured) earned a bachelor’s degree in music composition and piano performance at Bennington College, where she studied with Vivian Fine. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota with principal composition teacher Lloyd Ultan, and also has studied extensively with Libby Larsen.

Currently, Hill serves as composer-in-residence at The Schubert Club in St. Paul, Minn. and lives in Minneapolis, where she also works as a freelance composer.

From solo to orchestra, epigram to epic, her music has been presented by Lincoln Center in New York City, LA County Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Cape May Festival (NJ) and the Downtown Arts Festival (NYC). Hill was a McKnight Artist Fellow in 1996, 2001 and 2006, a Bush Artist Fellow in 1999 and 2007, and has won grants from the Jerome Foundation, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America and the Argosy Foundation.

You can hear samples of Edie Hill’s music on her website, MySpace page and Facebook page.  And for even more about Hill, check out this profile of her published in 2006 by Mpls/St. Paul magazine.

In the first video window embedded below, there’s a short video feature about Hill and a work she created last year for the Twin Cities Women’s Choir. The second clip shows flautist Linda Chatterton performing “Harvest Moon and Tide,” the second part of a five-movement solo flute work written for her by Hill. The complete piece, “This Floating World,” is inspired by the imagery of five haiku poems.

Spotlight on Martin Bresnick

We are honored to have Martin Bresnick as one of the guest composers and instructors who will work with the eight resident composers taking part in the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.

Bresnick (pictured) was born in New York City and educated at the High School of Music and Art, the University of Hartford, Stanford University, and the Akademie für Musik in Vienna. His principal teachers of composition included György Ligeti, John Chowning, and Gottfried von Einem.

He is presently Professor of Composition and Coordinator of the Composition Department at the Yale School of Music, and also has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Stanford University and as a visiting professor or guest lecturer at many other institutions.

Bresnick’s compositions cover a wide range of instrumentation, from chamber music to symphonic compositions and computer music. His orchestral music and chamber music have been performed by major symphony orchestras and ensembles throughout the US, Europe and Asia, and heard at numerous major festivals.

The recipient of dozens of prizes and commissions during his long and distinguished career, Bresnick also has written music for films, two of which, Arthur & Lillie (1975) and The Day After Trinity (1981), were nominated for Academy Awards in the documentary category.

His music has been recorded by Cantaloupe Records, Composers Recordings Incorporated, Centaur, New World Records, Artifact Music and Albany Records and is published by Carl Fischer Music (NY), Bote and Bock, Berlin and CommonMuse Music Publishers, New Haven. The most recent recording of Bresnick’s music, Every Thing Must Go, came out in June on Albany Records.

Bresnick’s notable students include Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe (co-founders of Bang on a Can), Evan Ziporyn, Kevin Puts, Marc Mellits, Christopher Theofanidis, Carlos Sanchez-Guiterrez and Michael Torke. “We do look at him as our guru,” says Lang of his former teacher. “He’s a really inspiring person.”

On a personal note, Bresnick is married to pianist Lisa Moore, who’s a guest performer at the 2010 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival. (You can see a short video here of a joint interview that Bresnick and Moore did in 2008 for the website New Music Box.)

For more about Bresnick, read this profile written in 2007 by the New York Times‘ Anne Midgette for the Yale Alumni Magazine. For more on his compositional process, check out this interview with Bresnick, in which Bresnick discusses his work “Grace,” a concerto for two marimbas and orchestra written for marimbist Robert Van Sice.

In the first embedded video window below, you can see and hear an excerpt of Moore and Third Coast Percussion performing Bresnick’s multi-media work “Caprichos Enfaticos” in a concert on February 14, 2010 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Below that, there’s a 2010 performance of the first movement of “Grace” by percussionists Brad Meyer and Ben Stiers, accompanied by pianist Beth Ellen Rosenbaum playing a reduction of the orchestral parts.