Archive for November, 2017

Mizzou International Composers Festival gets submissions from around the world

With a flurry of last-minute activity, a total of 244 composers from around the world applied for the eight resident composer spots at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Submissions were received from 22 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The 2018 MICF is scheduled for July 23 – 28 on the University of Missouri campus and at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia, and will feature Chen Yi and Alex Mincek as distinguished guest composers and Alarm Will Sound as resident ensemble. The eight resident composers selected to take part in the festival will be named in January.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble presenting “Words and Music”
and more on Sunday, December 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will premiere new works by seven different Mizzou composers in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus. Admission is $5 for the general public, free for Mizzou faculty, students and staff with ID.

The full Ensemble (pictured) will present the premiere performances of “notfromme” by Mikkel Christensen, a first-year master’s student; “Night Blossoms,” by senior composition major Ben Colagiovanni; “If you have nothing nice to say [say it softly],” by Libby Roberts, also a first-year master’s student and the pianist for the Ensemble; and “Good Vibes,” by freshman composition major Nick Williams.

The concert also will feature four songs created this fall as part of “Words and Music,” a collaborative project between the School of Music and the Department of English.

Overseen by post-doctoral fellow Carolina Heredia and assistant teaching professor Julia Bentley from the School of Music, along with Gabriel Fried, assistant professor of English, the “Words and Music” project involved three teams, each including an MU student poet, composer, singer, and a Mizzou New Music Ensemble member.

The new works they created to be performed at this concert are:

“Katabasis,” with words by Mary Clare Agnew and music by Libby Roberts, which will be performed by Briana Bennett, mezzo-soprano, and Kelariz Keshavarz, flute;

“The Wanderer,” with words by Hannah Cajandig and music by Adam J. Cohen, a sophomore composition major, to be performed by soprano Morgan Owen and percussionist Brianna Trainor; and

“Transience,” with words by Bryn Bartel and music by sophomore composition major Ethan Forte, performed by Matt Ahn, baritone and Daniel Keeler, cello.

In addition, as an example for the students, Gabriel Fried and Carolina Heredia worked together to write “Schoolyard Blessing,” which will be performed at the concert by Julia Bentley with Libby Roberts on piano.

Chen Yi to serve as distinguished guest composer
for 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will welcome Chen Yi as a distinguished guest composer at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), scheduled for Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Chen (pictured) is a distinguished professor of composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her composition “Si Ji” (“Four Seasons”), she was born and raised in Guangzhou, China and is known as a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Along with many orchestral works, Chen has written numerous choral works and pieces of chamber music, including works written for traditional Chinese instruments.

Next July in Columbia, she’ll join Alex Mincek, who was named in October as the MICF’s other distinguished guest composer for 2018. The MICF features three public concerts of music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events. As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will present the world premieres of new works from eight resident composers, with Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, serving as resident ensemble.

The resident composers are selected for the MICF each year through an online portfolio application process. During the festival, they’ll get composition lessons from the distinguished guest composers and Mizzou faculty, and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a professional live recording of their work.

The deadline for submitting an application is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Friday, November 17, 2017. For more information or to apply to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit

The 2018 MICF will be Chen’s second visit to Columbia under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. She previously came to Mizzou in 2015 for a brief residency during which the University Singers presented the world premiere of her composition “The Beautiful West Lake.”

In addition, her husband Zhou Long, also a professor of composition at UMKC’s conservatory and winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for music, was one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2013 MICF, making them the only married couple who both have served in that capacity.

A violinist as well as a composer, Chen Yi earned bachelor and masters degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University.

She received the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005. Other honors include first prize from the Chinese National Composition Contest, Lili Boulanger Award, NYU Sorel Medal Award, CalArts/Alpert Award, and many more.

Chen has won fellowships and commissions from organizations including the Guggenheim Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Ford, Roche, and Rockefeller foundations; Meet The Composer, Chamber Music America;, the BBC Proms; the China National Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center Festival, and Carnegie Hall.

Ensembles and soloists commissioning her work have included the Cleveland Orchestra, Mira Wang and the Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Seattle Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma and the Pacific Symphony, Evelyn Glennie and the Singapore Symphony, the Women’s Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and more.

Chen’s music is published by Theodore Presser Company, and has been recorded and released on more than 20 different labels, including New Albion, CRI, Angel, Koch International Classics, Delos, New World and Naxos.

Alarm Will Sound to play free concert on
Wednesday, December 6 at Missouri Theatre

Alarm Will Sound is returning to Columbia to perform at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 6 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. 9th St. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

As the resident ensemble for the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), Alarm Will Sound (pictured) has been playing in mid-Missouri since 2010, and five of the six composers whose works they’ll perform in December at the Missouri Theatre have a connection to the MICF.

Two of the works were created specifically for the festival by past resident composers. “Paper Pianos I. You are not a kid,” was written by Mary Kouyoumdjian and premiered at the 2016 MICF, and “Urban Sprawl” was written by Clint Needham and was first performed the 2011 festival.

Needham currently is composer-in-residence and assistant professor at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio; Kouyoumdjian is a freelance composer based in New York City.

Alarm Will Sound also will perform new works by two of its own members. “Escape Wisconsin” is by AWS violinist and guitarist Caleb Burhans, and premiered at the 2017 MICF, while “Unremixed” was composed by Stefan Freund, who is the cellist for AWS, professor of composition at Mizzou, and artistic director of the MICF and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Completing the program will be two pieces by well-known contemporary composers, “Try” by Andrew Norman and “Scratchband” by John Adams.

Norman was a distinguished guest composer at the 2015 MICF, and is the winner of the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for outstanding achievement by a living composer, and an assistant professor of composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music; Adams is the Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning composer of “Nixon In China,” “Doctor Atomic,” “Shaker Loops” and more.