Archive for July 9th, 2010

Spotlight on Zhou Juan

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

A native of Sichuan, China, Zhou Juan (pictured) was raised in Kelamayi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Composition, studying with Guo Wenjing.

In 2007 she was named the first Edgar Snow Scholar from CCOM and began doctoral studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with Zhou Long, Paul Rudy, Chen Yi and James Mobberly, ultimately earning her degree in May 2010.

In addition to winning numerous awards for her music in China, Zhou has received the Staunton Music Festival Emerging Composer Award and is a two-time winner of UMKC Chamber Composition Competition. She also has won commissions and fellowships from the Nieuw Ensemble, Kansas City Electronic Music & Arts Alliance, New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, Virginia Arts Festival, California Summer Music, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arts, Chinese Education Ministry, Viacom-Sumner M. Redstone Scholarship, Bao Steel Education Award, Fu Chengxian Commemorate Scholarship Foundation and Edgar Snow Foundation.

Zhou’s music has been performed in Beijing, Hong Kong, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. You can hear samples of some of her compositions on her website. (Note: An embedded music player will start when the page loads.)

The video in the embedded window below features one of Zhou’s works performed in 2008 by ADORNO Ensemble as part of their program ScoreXchange, an online workshop for young composers. (The members of Adorno Ensemble offer follow-up comments for the composer here, providing some interesting insights into the process of developing a new composition.)

More news coverage of Mizzou New Music Summer Festival

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is the subject of two more stories published yesterday by Columbia’s newspapers.

The Missourian‘s Mallory Benedict wrote a story about the Festival highlighting the contribution of Thomas McKenney, MU professor of composition and music theory. McKenney’s new piece “Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird” (“loosely inspired” by a Wallace Stevens poem) will receive its world premiere at the Festival’s opening concert on Monday, July 12 at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. You can read that article online here.

Also, the Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen continues his extensive coverage of the festival with an interview of resident composer Moon Young Ha for the paper’s Art Axis blog. You can see that interview here.

Mizzou New Music Initiative on Facebook, Twitter

In addition to this blog, the Festival website, and the main website for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, we’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

You’ll find our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/moNEWmusic. If you’re a Facebook member, click on the “Like” button, and you’ll get updates from the page as part of your Facebook news feed.

You can follow the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival’s Twitter feed at: http://twitter.com/MizzouNewMusic.

Spotlight on Jeremy Podgursky

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

Jeremy Podgursky (pictured) is a composer and performer of acoustic and electro-acoustic concert music who originally is from Louisville, KY. He currently lives in Bloomington, IN, where he has a Jacobs School of Music doctoral fellowship (D.M.) at Indiana University. Podgursky has studied acoustic composition with Don Freund, Steve Rouse and Marc Satterwhite, and electronic music with John Gibson and Alicyn Warren.

After completing his masters degree, Podgursky taught music theory, aural skills and private composition lessons at the University of Louisville, as well as after-school composition programs in Louisville area public high schools.

In addition to his interest in concert music, Podgursky says he has “a love/hate relationship with rock ‘n’ roll,” and finds himself “writing and singing his own songs at the most inopportune times.” His rock band The Pennies has shared stages with many leading indie rock acts, toured in the United States and Europe, and has issued four CDs.

You can hear samples of Podgursky’s concert music on his website and on his MySpace page.

As part of the paper’s coverage of the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, Podgursky was profiled in last Sunday’s Columbia Daily Tribune by staff writer Aarik Danielsen, and you can read that story online here. (A complete transcript of the interview is available here.)

For more, go here to see and hear Podgursky and fellow composer Derek Bermel (one of the guest composers at the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival) discussing the first reading of Podgursky’s piece Our Bliss, It Comes in Waves at the Earshot festival in Denver, CO.

Spotlight on Derek Bermel

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is privileged to have Derek Bermel (pictured) as one of the guest composers and instructors working with our eight resident composers this year.

Described by the Toronto Star as an “eclectic with wide open ears” and by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as “one of America’s finest young composers”, Bermel has been widely hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. His works draw from a rich variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk, and gospel.

From 2006 to 2009 Bermel was Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, and Saint Louis Symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri String Quartet, Music from China, De Ereprijs (Netherlands), Jazz Xchange (U.K.), Figura (Denmark), violinist Midori, electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans, cellist Fred Sherry, and pianists Christopher Taylor and Andy Russo, among others.

Bermel’s awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center, the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lili Boulanger Award, commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, Meet the Composer, and residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri.

A clarinetist as well as a composer, Bermel performed in 2008 as soloist alongside Wynton Marsalis in his Migration Series, a work commissioned by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and ACO. He also appeared as clarinet soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in conductor/composer John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, and as soloist in his own concerto Voices at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. The Philharmonia Orchestra also produced an all-Bermel concert as part of its Music of Today series at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Other recent highlights include the Pittsburgh Symphony’s premiere of The Good Life for chorus and orchestra, and two premieres at Carnegie Hall: a Koussevitzky Commission for ACO conducted by Maestro Dennis Russell Davies, and as soloist in the world premiere of Fang Man’s clarinet concerto.

In 2009, Bermel served as composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and as artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Voices, a disc of his orchestral music on the BMOPsound label, was hailed as “magnificent” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Bermel’s music is published by Peermusic (Americas & Asia) and Faber Music (Europe/Australia).

You can listen to recorded excerpts of a number of Bermel’s compositions on his website. For more on Derek Bermel, read this profile, written before a concert with American Composers Orchestra, and this interview with Composition Today,

In the first embedded video window below, you can see and hear Bermel performing “Voices” at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. The second video clip shows a performance of Bermel’s “Tied Shifts” by the new music ensemble eighth blackbird.