Archive for July, 2013

Composers Festival Spotlight: Eric Guinivan

Eric Guinivan

Today, we train our virtual spotlight on Eric Guinivan, a percussionist and composer who’s another of the eight resident composers at the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Guinivan earned bachelor’s degrees in composition and percussion performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He then relocated to Los Angeles, receiving a master’s degree and, in 2011, a D.M.A. in composition from the University Of Southern California Thornton School Of Music.

Most recently, he has relocated across the country once again, as in June of this year he took a job as assistant professor of composition at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.

Guinivan’s music has been performed across the United States and in Spain, France, Greece, Estonia, and Japan, by ensembles including the Ovideo Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the Young People’s Symphonic Orchestra of St. Louis, the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra, USC’s Thornton Symphony, Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Quey Percussion Duo, and the New York Symphony Singers, among others.

He has received a number of awards and honors, including three BMI Student Composer Awards and two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and has received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Vicki Ray.

Guinivan began studying percussion at age 10 and has performed with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles around the country. While living in Los Angeles, he was a co-founder of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, and served for three years as principal timpanist of the YMF Debut Orchestra. His debut performance as an orchestral soloist in 2008 was in a premiere of his own Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra with USC’s Thornton Symphony, and will made his Carnegie Hall debut in May 2011 premiering his work Meditation and Awakening with the New York Youth Symphony.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet debut album Rūpa-khandha – which leads off with “Ritual Dances,” a 20-minute work that Guinivan wrote for the group – was nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Chamber Music Performance and Best Surround Sound Album.

Before taking the job at James Madison, Guinivan was an adjunct instructor at USC, where he taught composition, orchestration, music theory, and aural skills, and an instructor at Renaissance Arts Academy in Eagle Rock, CA. He also has presented guest masterclasses and percussion clinics at colleges and universities including Chapman University, San Francisco Conservatory, and Sakuyo Kurashiki University in Okayama, Japan.

You can hear examples of Eric Guinivan’s compositions on his website, his Soundcloud page, and in the embedded video windows below.

Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, as performed in 2010 by Joven Orquesta Internacional, directed by Janko Kastelic with Fernando Arias as soloist.

“Sword Dance” (from Ritual Dances), performed by University of South Carolina Percussion Ensemble (Joe W. Moore III, Nick Guiliano, Tyler Loftin, and Anna Viviano).

Composers Festival Spotlight: Augusta Read Thomas

Augusta Read Thomas

It is a pleasure for everyone associated with the Mizzou New Music Intiative to welcome Augusta Read Thomas as one of the guest composers for the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Thomas, 49, is University Professor of composition at the University of Chicago, and is only the 16th person ever to hold the title of University Professor. She was composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from May 1997 through June 2006, a residency that culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle, one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. One of the most acclaimed composers of her generation, she has won praise for the dramatic, spontaneous quality of her work and her masterful use of instrumental color.

Born in Glen Cove, New York, Thomas studied composition with Jacob Druckman at Yale University, with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

From 1993 to 2001, she was an assistant professor, then associate professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music. In 2001, she became Wyatt Professor of Music at Northwestern University, serving there until 2006. In 2007-2008, Thomas was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Music in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

In addition to teaching in Chicago, she frequently undertakes short-term residencies in colleges, universities, and festivals across the United States and in Europe. For example, in March of this year Thomas served as guest composer for East Carolina University School of Music’s NewMusic@ECU Festival, and last month she was part of the composition faculty of June in Buffalo 2013. Both events featured masterclasses, workshops and performances of her works.

Also in March of this year, the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered “Legend of the Phoenix,” a concerto written by Thomas on a commission from cellist Lynn Harrell and the BSO, and the third Thomas piece the BSO has premiered. For more about that work, check out the coverage from Boston’s NPR affiliate WBUR.

During her residency with the Chicago Symphony, Thomas premiered nine commissioned works, and also co-founded and curated the MusicNOW series. Her music has been championed by leading conductors including the CSO’s Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Christoph Eschenbach, Ludovic Morlot, and Xian Zhang.

Thomas has had works commissioned by leading ensembles and organizations around the world, including Chanticleer, NDR [German Radio] Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, La Jolla Chamber Music Society, National Symphony, Radio France and the BBC Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, London and Boston Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, BBC, Utah Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the ASCAP Foundation.

In addition to the numerous commercial recordings of her music available on major record labels, Thomas has released five of her own albums independently.

In May 2009, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States. Thomas has also been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000, as well as on the boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups.

You can hear samples of August Read Thomas’s music on her website. In the embedded video windows below, you can see and hear Thomas talking about her music and the creative process, as well as performances of several of her works.

“Earth Echoes,” a Franke Institute for the Humanities talk by Thomas on February 13, 2013 at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center. Thomas discusses her creative process and topics including rhythm, counterpoint, harmony, text setting, motivic development, organic transformation, nuance, color, improvisation, spirit, and gestalt.

Thomas talks more about the creative process and the inspiration for her violin duet “Double Helix.”

Thomas’ composition “Of Paradise and Light for String Orchestra,” played by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction Barbara Schubert on May 26. 2012.

Thomas’ “Cathedral Waterfall,” performed in June 2011 by pianist Nicolas Horvath

The University of Illinois New Music Ensemble plays Thomas’ second violin concerto “Carillon Sky.”

Percussionist Ruud Roelofsen playing Thomas’ “Silhouettes” at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Rachel Barton Pine introduces and performs “Caprice” in 2006. The piece was written by Thomas in 2004 as a wedding present for Rachel Barton Pine and Gregory Pine.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Greg Simon

Greg Simon

We start the week with a look at another of the resident composers for the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival. Greg Simon holds a B.A. from the University of Puget Sound and an M.M. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and currently is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Michigan. Before arriving in Michigan, he served on the faculty at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Simon has studied composition with Kristin Kuster, Carter Pann, Daniel Kellogg, and Robert Hutchinson; and with Kevin Puts and Robert Aldridge at the Brevard Music Institute, where he was awarded a fellowship. His works have been performed or commissioned by the Corvallis Youth Symphony; the Playground Ensemble of Denver; the Fifth House Ensemble of Chicago; and groups in California, Washington, Oregon, West Virginia, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and more.

He has presented work at conferences for the American Band College, the College Band Directors’ National Association, the World Saxophone Congress, and the North American Saxophone Alliance, and has been featured in radio and digital broadcasts from Pendulum New Music and WFMT.

Simon has won the Edward Levy and George Lynn Prizes for excellence in composition from the University of Colorado, and received recognition for his works from the Pacific Chorale, CBDNA, the Fifth House Ensemble, and ASCAP. His piece Foolish Fire for wind ensemble, written for Loveland High School, has received more than 20 performances in ten different states since its Colorado premiere. His work also is featured on recordings by the California State University, Fullerton Wind Ensemble and the Fifth House Ensemble of Chicago.

Earlier this month, Simon was named the winner of the POLYPHONOS 2014 Composer Competition sponsored by the Seattle new music vocal ensemble The Esoterics. Meanwhile, his piece “Dragonfly,” for mallet trio, has been named the Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 TorQ Percussion Seminar Composition Competition, and will be premiered this week by the TorQ Percussion Quartet in a performance at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

A jazz trumpeter as well as composer, Simon has studied with Bill Lucas, Brad Goode, and Darmon Meader of the New York Voices. He has played with the Jodi-Renee Band, the Park Hill Brass, and others at jazz venues in Denver, Boulder and elsewhere. He is active as a proponent of new music for improvising musicians, and has performed as featured soloist in world premieres from composers Michael Theodore, Hunter Ewen, Liz Comninellis, and Kari Kraakevik.

You can hear samples of Greg Simon’s music on his website, and he also maintains an active presence on Twitter as @gregsimonmusic. .

In the embedded video window below, you can see and hear a performance of the first section of Three Portraits, a 2008 piece by Simon that he called “my attempt to combine my two sound-worlds, jazz and concert music.”

Each of the work’s three parts is inspired by and uses elements of a specific jazz standard. Part I, “Stella’s Dance,” is based on “Stella by Starlight” by Ned Washington and Victor Young. Part II, “In Memoriam,” is based on Joe Henderson’s “Recorda-me” and can be seen here; while part III, “Speaking of Love,” is inspired by “Secret Love” by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, and can be seen here.

The performances were recorded at the University of Colorado by a group including Julia Barnett, flute; Kristen Denny, clarinet; Filip Lazovski, violin; Psyche Dunkhase, cello; Christopher Hatton, piano; and Adams Collins, percussion, with Michael Boone as conductor.

In keeping with the idea of spontaneous music-making, this clip shows a performance of Simon’s “Le Bateau et Le Soleil,” created in 2008 for Iron Composer. Adapting a notion from the TV cooking competition show Iron Chef, Iron Composer is a music competition held at the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio, in which five composers are given just five hours to write a piece of music. This performance by the Monument Piano Trio helped Simon’s piece win third prize, as judged by David Gompper, James Arey & Bob Fischbach.

Simon’s “27,” as performed by Andrew Allen, tenor sax & electronics

“Kites at Seal Rock,” written by Simon as part of his 2009 Piano Quintet and used as the soundtrack to the final chapter of “Black Violet Act I: The Leagues of Despair.” “Black Violet…” is an original illustrated story/live music event with narrative and art by Ezra Claytan Daniels, produced in collaboration with the Chicago-based chamber group Fifth House Ensemble.

Follow the MICF on Facebook and Twitter

As the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival gets closer, you can get the latest news right up to the minute by following the Mizzou New Music Initiative on Facebook and Twitter.

The Missouri New Music Facebook page will have behind-the-scenes photos, links to media coverage of the Festival, and much more. To get updates from the page in your Facebook news feed, go to http://www.facebook.com/moNEWmusic and click the “Like” button on the right-hand side near the top.

Meanwhile, we’ll also be posting frequent updates, schedule information, and relevant links to the Mizzou New Music Twitter account. You can receive all the latest updates by following us at http://twitter.com/mizzounewmusic.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Alarm Will Sound

Continuing with our series of posts focusing on various participants in the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival, today we catch up with the latest from Alarm Will Sound.

As the resident ensemble for the Festival since it began in 2010, AWS plays a crucial role in bringing to life the new works created by the resident composers. Not many groups would be willing or able to take on the challenge of premiering eight new pieces in one night with limited rehearsal time, but Alarm Will Sound has accomplished the task each year of the MICF with consummate skill and flair.

Former in 2001 by former students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, Alarm Will Sound (pictured) is a 20-member ensemble “dedicated to the creation, performance, and recording of today’s music. It is an advocate for innovative work by established and emerging composers, especially works that incorporate theatrical and multimedia elements by choreographers, visual artists, designers, and directors. It fosters the education and professional development of young musicians through residencies, master classes, readings and workshops. With the goal of cultivating a diverse and sophisticated audience, the ensemble brings intelligence and a sense of adventure to the rich variety of musical expression in the contemporary world.” You can read a detailed history of the group here.

Alarm Will Sound’s connection to the University of Missouri School of Music began with Stefan Freund, associate professor of composition and music theory at Mizzou who’s also the cellist for AWS. In addition to serving as the resident ensemble for the Mizzou International Composers Festival since its inception, AWS maintains an active schedule of touring and recording throughout the year.

Earlier this year, they presented the American premiere of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite in a concert at Stanford University, as well as a program of Reich’s music at the Guggenheim in New York City. Their performance at Carnegie Hall in April featured a program of works written specifically for AWS, including the world premiere of Tyondai Braxton’s Fly By Wire. (You can see a couple of videos related to the Reich premiere, and a conversation between Braxton and AWS’ Michael Clayville, in the embedded windows at the bottom of this post.)

Other recent NYC gigs have included a show for the fifth anniversary of Le Poisson Rouge, playing the music of violinist and guitarist Caleb Burhans; and a set at the annual Bang On A Can new music marathon.

AWS also spent time this past year strengthening their ties to the state of Missouri by presenting a three-concert season in St. Louis, with two performances at the Sheldon Concert Hall and a revival of their multi-media production 1969 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Before the St. Louis performance, AWS took 1969 to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, the alma mater of a number of its members. (You’ll find a video made in conjunction with that concert at Eastman, plus a soundcheck rendition of the Jimi Hendrix version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” featured in the show, below.)

And if all that weren’t enough, AWS also found time in 2013 to release Canzonas Americanas, an album of music by former MICF guest composer Derek Bermel that has received an enthusiastic reception from critics.

Plans for another St. Louis season in 2013-14 already are well underway, with concerts scheduled in October and February at The Sheldon and more to be announced. In another important “first” for the group, AWS also will serve next year as artists-in-residence for 2013-14 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

At the MICF, in addition to premiering eight new pieces at the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 27, Alarm Will Sound will perform a completely different program on Thursday, July 25 at the Missouri Theatre.

That concert will feature Living Toys by Thomas Ades and Stefan Freund’s electronica-inspired Unremixed, as well as works written specifically for Alarm Will Sound by 2013 MICF guest composers Augusta Read Thomas and Daniel Kellogg.

For the latest from Alarm Will Sound, you can follow them on Twitter and/or “Like” them on Facebook.

You also can hear most of the music Alarm Will Sound has premiered at past Mizzou International Composers Festivals via SoundCloud. Audio files from 2010 are here; the tracks from 2011 are here; and 2012’s files are here.

Alarm Will Sound performs Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite, March 16, 2013 at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall.

Alarm Will Sound at Stanford – Steve Reich and Alan Pierson in Conversation

Tyondai Braxton and Michael Clayville discuss “Fly by Wire”

1969 at Eastman School of Music

Miles Brown and Payton MacDonald perform “The Star Spangled Banner” during a dress rehearsal for 1969 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Composers Festival Spotlight: David Witter

David Witter


Today, let’s get acquainted with David Witter, another of the eight resident composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

A native of Holt’s Summit, MO (near Jefferson City) and current resident of Columbia, Witter has studied composition with W. Thomas McKenney and Stefan Freund, earning his bachelor’s degree in music from Mizzou in 2010 and an M.M. degree in 2012. While working this past academic year toward his K-12 teaching certification, he was awarded the 2013 Sinquefield Composition Prize, resulting in a new commission to write a work for the University Philharmonic.

Previously, he was one of three Mizzou composers selected to write a piece inspired by the 2010 Great Rivers Biennial exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. This project was documented in the short film The Sound of Art, which you can see in the embedded video window at the very end of this post.

Witter also has a strong interest in improvised music and jazz. He can be heard playing trombone on recent recordings by the University of Missouri Concert Jazz Band, and also works around Columbia with smaller jazz ensembles. He has led performances of the MU Creative Improvisation Ensemble at conferences in Ann Arbor, MI and Paterson, NJ, and is a member of the Gamma Gamma chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda.

The US Navy veteran and father of two was profiled last year in an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, which you can read online here.

You can hear an audio recording of Witter’s composition “Missouri,” written after he won the Sinquefield Composition Prize and premiered by the University Philharmonic at the Chancellor’s Concert on March 11, 2013, in the embedded window below.

The Sound of Art

MICF on TV

This week, a TV commercial promoting the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival began airing in Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City. The commercial is part of an extensive campaign that also includes ads in daily newspapers and on radio in central Missouri; in Missouri Life, Inside Columbia and the St. Louis Business Journal; and online, as well as posters, social media, a direct mailing of the Festival brochure to music lovers across the state, and more.

Astute listeners may recognize the music in the :30 TV spot as an excerpt from Stephanie Berg’s “Ravish and Mayhem,” written when Berg was a resident composer for the 2012 MICF. The script was written by Jeff Goetz and voiced by L. Harvey Gold. Production was handled by Sean Treni of Pelopidas Media, using photos shot by Pure Exposure.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Elizabeth A. Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly

Today, we begin a series of posts featuring the composers who will be taking part in the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Our first subject is Elizabeth A. Kelly, one of this year’s eight resident composers, and someone who shares with MU’s Stefan Freund and many of the members of the Festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound a connection to the Eastman School of Music.

Born in New York and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Los Altos Hills, Kelly earned her Ph.D. in composition from Eastman with the support of a Jacob Javits fellowship from the United States Department of Education and a Robert and Mary Sproull fellowship from the University of Rochester.

Prior to that, Kelly received her B.A. in music from Yale, and an M.M. in composition from the University of Michigan School of Music. She also was awarded a Frank Beebe Fellowship for studies at The Hague Royal Conservatory, where she earned a Master’s degree.

Since earning that degree, Kelly continues to make her home in The Hague – thus adding to the 2013 MICF’s international flavor – but has had her work performed at venues throughout the U.S. and Europe including Carnegie Hall and the Aspen, Bang on a Can Banglewood, Bowdoin, Brevard, Cabrillo, CCM Music03, Huddersfield, and Ostrava Days Festivals.

For example, earlier this year her piece “Addicted to Wah” received its world premiere performance from the Liverpool Philharmonic’s contemporary music ensemble, 10/10. You can read Kelly’s thoughts about creating the work in a blog entry she wrote for the website of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Other works of hers have been commissioned and performed by ensembles including the Ann Arbor Symphony, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Netherlands Youth Orchestra, Albany Symphony Dogs of Desire, ASKO Schoenberg, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and California EAR Unit.

Kelly has been recognized with numerous honors, including two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, honorable mentions in the ASCAP Frederick Fennell and Rudolf Nissim competitions, second prize at the 2009 Apeldoorn Young Composers Meeting Final Competition and first prize at the 2011 Young Masters XXI competition in the Netherlands.

You can hear samples of Elizabeth A. Kelly’s music on her website, and you can hear an audio interview she did in 2010 with the podcast “No Extra Notes” here.

In the embedded video windows below, you can hear two pieces Kelly created recently for the duo SonoLab, which brings together instrument builders and composers to create cutting edge percussion works.

“SOS”

“Losing Touch” was composed by Kelly for PriZm, a new music instrument developed by Neon & Landa, aka Nanda Milbreta and Léon Spek, a sound-artist duo who make new acoustic instruments, sound sculptures and sound installations.