Archive for July, 2010

Spotlight on Amy Beth Kirsten

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

Born in East St. Louis, Illinois, Amy Beth Kirsten grew up in Kansas City and Chicago, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Jazz Studies from Benedictine University and a master’s degree in Composition from Chicago College of Performing Arts.

She currently lives and works in New Haven, CT, and graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in May 2010 with a doctorate in music composition.

Kirsten was honored in 2009 to have the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop, read her new orchestra piece “The Girl He Drew.” In 2009 she also held a Creative Arts residency at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy; was a finalist for the 2009 Rome Prize in Musical Composition; and held summer composition fellowships at the Norfolk New Music Workshop and Bang on a Can Summer Festival.

Previously, Kirsten was chosen to participate in the American Composers Orchestra’s 16th Annual Underwood New Music Readings and won the 2006-07 Volti Choral Arts Lab Commissioning and Residency competition in San Francisco. She also recently was named a 2010 Composer Fellow for the Music10 New Music Festival in Switzerland with 8th Blackbird.

In addition to participating in the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, Kirsten has another recent Missouri connection. Previously, she was commissioned by Missouri Verses and Voices to create a musical setting for “Hall of Waters” by Missouri Poet Laureate Walter Bargen, which had its debut performance in February 2010 at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Before moving to the East Coast, Kirsten was a regular fixture on the Chicago singer/songwriter scene, performing at such venues as Fitzgerald’s Nightclub, Quenchers Saloon, The Subterranean, Katerina’s, and Uncommon Ground. She got her start as a singer by studying the great improvisors of jazz, and continues to use the skills developed in her jazz training as a tool in her work as a composer of contemporary concert music.

To hear samples of Amy Beth Kirsten’s music, you can visit her website.

In the embedded video window below, you can see a performance of part one of Kirsten’s composition “Little Falling Red,” which was written for Norfolk New Music Workshop. (For more about the piece, see Kirsten’s comments to NYC classical music radio station WQXR here.) The video was made July 3, 2009, and features soprano Alice Teyssier and the Norfolk New Music Ensemble, withe Sarunas Jankauskas, clarinet; Jennifer Griggs, trombone; Chun-Chien Chuang, violin; Brian Ellingson, double bass; Julia Den Boer, piano; and Ian Rosenbaum, percussion.

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival featured in Columbia Daily Tribune

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival was the subject of a couple of stories published this past Sunday, July 4 in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Staff writer Aarik Danielsen penned an extensive overview of the festival, covering its concept and origins, guest composers and performers, and more. You can read his article online here.

Danielsen also wrote a profile of one of the Festival’s resident composers, Jeremy Podgursky, which you can see here.

UPDATE: You can read the entire unedited Q&A session with Podgursky on the Tribune‘s “Art Axis” blog. The Tribune‘s Danielsen also promises ongoing coverage throughout the festival, so you may want to bookmark the Art Axis main page.

About the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts

The venue for the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival’s public performances will be the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, an historic, newly restored former movie palace at 203 S. Ninth St. in downtown Columbia.

First opened in 1928, the MTCA had a six-decade run as the city’s most prominent movie house, but by the late 1980s, the single-screen theater had fallen out of favor with moviegoers as new multi-screen cinemas were built in Columbia.

The building was purchased in 1988 by the Missouri Symphony Society to serve as the home of the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. However, the once-grand facility was in dire need of renovation and restoration. Plaster was crumbling; seats were worn; the plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems were outdated; and the stage, backstage and wing spaces were inadequate for a modern performing arts facility.

After some major fund-raising, extensive construction and remodeling work, the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts celebrated its grand opening in May 2008 with a concert by singer Tony Bennett.  The MTCA now serves as artistic home for the  Missouri Symphony Society and the Columbia Art League; presents performances by a variety of local, regional and touring performers; and offers arts education programs for the community’s youth and adults.

You can take an online “virtual tour” of the restored Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts here.

As the performance venue for the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, the MTCA is handling ticket sales for all Festival concerts. Festival passes good for admission to all four concerts are on sale now for $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.)

Spotlight on Moon Young Ha

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

Moon Young Ha (pictured) combines classical instruments, video and electronics to create ethereal contemporary concert music.

His work has been presented at festivals and concerts in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Lithuania, Canada and the United States, including the International Computer Music Conference, Bang on a Can Marathon, Vilniaus Veidai Festival, NoiseFloor Festival, KoMA Festival, the Society of Composers Inc. conference and others.

Recently,  Ha has collaborated with visual artist/composer Dennis Miller, and his music also has been performed by the LOOS Ensemble, Eric Mandat, Florida International University Symphony Orchestra and the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble. Ha also is the founder of MEANS, a contemporary music ensemble that performs new music by young composers.

He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and this fall he will be starting his Ph.D in Music Composition/Theory at New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Science. You can hear some samples of Moon Young Ha’s music on his website.

Also, you can see two performances of Ha’s music in the embedded video windows below. The first clip is from 2008, and shows Ha conducting a “pickup choir” of fellow University of Illinois students in a performance of “Wild Nights,” a musical setting composed by Ha for an Emily Dickinson poem.

The second clip is a performance of Ha’s composition “The Island,” recorded in June, 2009 at Etchings: A New Festival for Contemporary Music in Moulin a Nef, Auvillar, France. Once again, Ha conducts his own composition, as played by The East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE), featuring Beth Wiemann, clarinet; Florence Cooke, violin; and James Barralet, cello.