Archive for March, 2017

Creating Original Music Project to present award-winning works
from Missouri student composers in concert on Saturday, April 15

Some of the winners at the 2016 COMP Festival

Whether heard on a concert stage or in a theater, on film or TV, or in a video game or app, every piece of music starts with a composer – and every young composer needs a start.

That’s why Mizzou’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP) will present performances of award-winning original works by young Missouri composers at the twelfth annual COMP Festival, held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, April 15 in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of the University of Missouri.

Admission is free and open to the public. The junior division concert, featuring works from elementary and middle school winners, begins at 10:30 a.m., with the senior division concert of music by high school winners following at 2:30 p.m.

The festival also will be streamed live online at https://music.missouri.edu/concert-audio-streaming, with the audio stream going live 10 minutes before the start of each concert.

COMP was founded in 2005 to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original music and to provide performance opportunities for those works. It is a joint venture of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides an annual gift of $80,000 to sponsor the competition.

Every year, in addition to having their music performed at the COMP Festival, the winning composers in each age group and category and their schools receive cash prizes. High school winners also receive a scholarship to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, Mizzou’s high school summer music composition camp.

“The Mizzou New Music Initiative began with the Creating Original Music Project competition and summer camp, and COMP still is fundamental to our efforts to help composers of all ages grow and develop,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. “Hundreds of Missouri students have enjoyed opportunities from these programs over the last 12 years, and it’s encouraging to see both repeat winners and first-time entrants among this year’s group of winning young composers.”

The 2017 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition categories and winners are:

Elementary School – Song with Words
1) Brooke Noelle Eck of Woerther Elementary School, Ballwin, for “Full Blown Storm.” Sponsor: Rachel Puleo.
2) Jackson Smith of Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School, Columbia, for “Pokémon.” Sponsor: Sarah Nolke.
3) Landon Irvin of Reeds Spring Elementary School, Reeds Spring, for “Game of Life.” Sponsor: Susan Gillen.

Elementary School – Instrumental
1) Yueheng Wang of Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, Columbia, for “Echoing in the Sky.” Sponsor: Pam Sisson.
2) Natalie Johnson of Rogers Elementary School, St. Louis, for “Winter Snow.” Sponsor: Donna Buehne.
3) Stone Gill of Arcadia Valley Middle School, Ironton, for “Grab a Mic.” Sponsor: Chuck Lee.

Middle School – Fine Art
1) Brandon Kim of Jefferson Middle School, Columbia, for “The Quarrel.” Sponsor: Jaime Canepa.
2) Ammar Farra of Smithton Middle School, Columbia, for “Brass Trio in C Minor.” Sponsor: Emily Ebrecht.

Middle School – Popular
1) Grace Ensor, Holly Travers, Posey Bischoff, and Katie Downey of Steger Sixth Grade Center, Rock Hill, for “The Path of Life.” Sponsor: Kevin Cole.
2) Elsa Kelley-Marcum of Jefferson Middle School, Columbia, for “Deal with the Devil.” Sponsor: Christine Nichols.

High School – Fine Art
1) Brandon Thibodeau of Kearney High School, Kearney, for “Kaleidoscope.” Sponsor: Chris Heil.
2) Olivia Bennett, a home-schooled student from Nixa, for “The Hare.” Sponsor: Gabe Fleetwood.
3) Cheyenne Stumpf of Cuba High School, Cuba, for “Ki Bhavi Ragini.” Sponsor: Shannon Moore.

High School – Popular
1) Cooper Carr of Lee’s Summit West High School, Lee’s Summit, for “I See You.” Sponsor: Kirt Mosier.
2) Julia Riew of John Burroughs School, St. Louis, for “No More.” Sponsor: Robert Carter.
3) Menea Kefalov of Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, for “Storm.” Sponsor: Twinda Murry.

High School – Jazz
1) Jack Snelling of Webster Groves High School, Webster Groves, for “Lovesick.” Sponsor: Kevin Cole.
2) Samuel Luetkemeyer of Calvary Lutheran High School, Jefferson City, for “Playin’ Hooky.” Sponsors: Melisa Ahlers and Calee Gerth.

Each student who enters the competition must have the signature and sponsorship of his or her school’s music teacher. Community agencies, churches, after-school programs, private teachers, and other musical mentors also may sponsor their young musicians in partnership with the student’s school music teacher.

William Averitt’s “Black Pierrot” inspired by poet Langston Hughes

Mizzou musicology professor Stephanie Shonekan leads a discussion with William Averitt on the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Mizzou musicology professor Stephanie Shonekan (at left) leads a discussion with composer William Averitt (second from right) on the poetry of Langston Hughes.

For his latest commissioned work “Black Pierrot,” composer William Averitt once again has drawn inspiration from the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Scheduled for a world premiere on Saturday, March 18 at First Baptist Church in Columbia, “Black Pierrot” was commissioned by Mizzou’s director of choral studies Paul Crabb for the University Singers and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, directed by Stefan Freund, with funding from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Averitt, who’s now professor emeritus of music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA after serving on the faculty there from 1973 to 2012,  is known particularly as a composer of choral works.

He has received commissions from a wide range of organizations and artists, including Texas Lutheran University, Choral Arts of Seattle, Virginia Music Teachers Association, organist Dudley Oakes, the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Opus 3 Trio, Murray State University Concert Choir, and the Shenandoah Conservatory Chamber Choir.

Other commissions include works for the Virginia-based contemporary music ensemble Currents, Shippensburg (PA) Summer Music Festival, Paducah Symphony Orchestra, First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, SC, Sonus Ensemble of Washington, DC, the Youth Orchestras of Prince William (VA), choreographer Elizabeth Bergmann, Shenandoah University, Winchester (VA) Musica Viva, and the Hans Kindler Foundation of the Library of Congress.

Averitt has incorporated his interest in the work of Langston Hughes into several of his compositions.  His “Afro-American Fragments,” composed in 1991 with the text of a 1930 poem by Hughes,  has been performed by a number of professional choruses, including the Grammy winning ensemble, Conspirare, which in 2004 released three movements of the work on their CD through the green fuse.

“Afro-American Fragments” also has been performed by the Washington Singers, the Desert Chorale, the New Texas Festival, the Air Force Singing Sergeants, Kantorei (Denver, CO), Winchester Musica Viva and by numerous university choruses throughout the country, including last year by the University Singers.

More recently, Averitt has written two more works based on Hughes’ poetry. “The Dream Keeper” was composed in 2009 for Choral Arts of Seattle and included on their CD Mornings Like This, while “The Deepness of the Blue” originally was composed in 2012 for Texas Lutheran University, with subsequent performances from Choral Arts Northwest and the Evansville University Choir.

All three of Averitt’s Hughes-related cycles were recorded by the UMKC Conservatory Singers and released as an album titles The Deepness of the Blue on MSR Classical.

Performing Hughes’ work in Missouri actually brings the poet back to his roots, for though he is identified in the popular imagination with the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes in fact was a native Midwesterner, born in Joplin, Missouri and raised in Lawrence, Kansas.

A prolific poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright as well as a social activist, Hughes wrote a wide variety of works ranging from personal to political, chronicling the lives and feelings of 20th century African-Americans, as well as the social conditions they endured, in a way that still resonates today.

Hughes during his lifetime was closely associated with jazz music, not only as a listener, but as a participant – reciting his poetry on record with Charles Mingus, contributing lyrics to pianist Randy Weston’s album Uhuru Afrika, and even writing a children’s book called The First Book of Jazz.

More recently, his epic poem “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz,” written in 1960, was performed for the first time with music by composer  Laura Karpman in March 2009 at Carnegie Hall, and subsequently became the centerpiece of “The Langston Hughes Project”, a multimedia concert presentation.

Averitt’s “Black Pierrot” is based on seven poems by Hughes, each incorporated into a movement of the work. It begins with a celebratory feeling via the poet’s “A Black Pierrot” (1923), “Breath of a Rose” (1944), and “Jazzonia” (1923).

As Averitt writes in his program notes, “the mood changes abruptly and profoundly with the fourth movement,” which features Hughes’ brief 1923 poem, the ironically titled “Justice.” and is followed by musical settings of “Song for a Dark Girl” (1927), “Silhouette” (1944), and the concluding “To a Dead Friend” (1922).

As a side note, while the title and text of “Black Pierrot” come from Langston Hughes, the title and the work’s instrumentation also reference another significant cultural figure of the 20th century, composer Arnold Schönberg.

Specifically, “Black Pierrot” is written for soprano, choir and a sextet of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion, an instrumental ensemble that sometimes is called a “Pierrot plus percussion,” after Schönberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire,” which was written in 1912 for a single vocalist accompanied by a similarly configured quintet of two winds, two strings, and piano.

University Singers, Mizzou New Music Ensemble
to premiere new work by William Averitt
in concert on Saturday, March 18

The University of Missouri’s University Singers and Mizzou New Music Ensemble will present the world premiere of “Black Pierrot,” a newly commissioned work from composer William Averitt, in a concert at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 18 at the First Baptist Church, 1112 East Broadway in Columbia.

General admission to the concert is $5 for the public, free for Mizzou faculty, students and staff.

“Black Pierrot” was commissioned by Mizzou director of choral activities Paul Crabb for the University Singers and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble with funding from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Inspired by seven poems written by Langston Hughes, the famed African-American poet, novelist and playwright who was born in Joplin, MO, it is scored for soprano, choir, and an instrumental sextet of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion.

William Averitt, who will be in Columbia for the premiere, has composed numerous works that have received performances throughout the United States and in Western Europe, Russia and Asia. He has received composer fellowships, grants and commissions from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and many others. Averitt (pictured) is professor emeritus of music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, where he was on the faculty from 1973 to 2012.

In addition to attending Saturday’s concert, while he’s visiting the Mizzou campus Averitt also will give a presentation on his music at 3:00 p.m. Friday, March 17 in Loeb Hall, and will give private lessons to selected student composers.

Mizzou New Music Initiative seeks high school students
for Missouri Summer Composition Institute

Mizzou’s Tom McKenney with COMP Camp students

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is looking for Missouri high school students interested in music composition to attend this year’s Missouri Summer Composition Institute, which will be held from Sunday, June 18 through Saturday, June 24 on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.

Known informally as “COMP Camp,” after MNMI’s annual Creating Original Music Project contest for student composers, the Institute is open to students entering grades 9-12 and entering college freshman.

The week-long program offers young composers from across the state the opportunity to receive composition lessons from MU faculty, learn from and interact with other creative minds, and compose a new work to be premiered at the end of the week by the camp’s resident ensemble.

The program also is an outstanding value, as the fee is just $100 and includes all instruction and activities, plus six nights in a double room in one of Mizzou’s newest, air-conditioned residence halls and meals.

Class size is limited so participants can receive personal attention. All current and former Creating Original Music Project contest winners of high school age receive a full scholarship to the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, and additional scholarships are available based on financial need.

The application deadline is Monday, April 24. Applicants must complete the online application form (https://goo.gl/forms/KfMuhUZgeKDuP7JM2) and submit a score and a recording of a representative composition, plus a list of completed works.

Materials can be emailed to MNMI managing director Jacob Gotlib at gotlibj@missouri.edu, or sent by postal mail to: COMP Camp c/o Jacob Gotlib, 138 Fine Arts Building, University of Missouri School of Music, Columbia, MO 65211

For more information, visit https://music.missouri.edu/CMP/camps, or contact Jacob Gotlib via email at gotlibj@missouri.edu or by phone at 573- 884-9478.