Archive for February, 2019

Mizzou New Music Initiative gets $2.5 million gift
from Sinquefield Charitable Foundation

In a news conference on Thursday, February 21, University of Missouri officials announced that the Mizzou New Music Initiative will receive a gift of $2.5 million from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to help continue the program over the next three years.

The funds will help support all of MNMI’s activities, including the costs of faculty and staff, graduate student assistantships, and two full-tuition scholarships per year for undergraduate composition majors; presenting the Mizzou International Composers Festival; bringing guest composers and performers to campus; funding the Sinquefield Composition Prize; and more.  The University will match the $300,000 portion designated for undergraduate student scholarships, increasing the amount to a grand total of $600,000.

Speakers at the gift announcement event included Mizzou chancellor Alexander Cartwright; Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation; Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences; and Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music. The presentation also included video testimonials from Mizzou composition alumni Grant Fonda, Stephanie Berg and Trey Makler, talking about the opportunities they’ve gained from being part of MNMI.

A brief slide show of photos from the past ten years featured some numbers quantifying what MNMI has done during that time, noting that 70 students have received full scholarships and assistantships; 505 pieces of new music have been performed or created by Mizzou composers; and 164 guest composers and performers of new music have visited campus, including three Pulitzer Prize winners and four Grammy Award winners.

Attendees also enjoyed a performance of sophomore composition major Jack Snelling’s “Stream of Consciousness” (pictured), conducted by the composer and performed by flutist Jane Wang, clarinetist Tricia Carver-Horner, and pianist Danny Singh.

The event was reported in a feature story in the Columbia Missourian, and also got coverage from KOMU, the Columbia Daily Tribune, and various other media outlets around the state.  You can see the entire gift announcement event in the embedded video player below.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble featured
on new album from jazz pianist Rich Pellegrin

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble is featured on Down, the new album by jazz pianist and former Mizzou faculty member Rich Pellegrin that recently was released on the OA2 Records label.

Recorded in 2014 in Seattle, WA and Columbia, MO, the album is Pellegrin’s third as a bandleader for the label. It includes seven tracks of his original music, with the Ensemble performing on the album’s two-part finale, augmenting Pellegrin’s quintet for an “extended alternate version” of the title composition.

The Mizzou musicians on the recording are Erin Spencer (flute), Jeremiah Rittel (clarinet), Britney Stutz (violin), Korin Wahl (viola), Rachel Czech (cello), José Martinez (percussion), and Taylor Burkhardt (percussion), conducted by Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Released on February 6, the album already has received favorable notices from the press, with AllAboutJazz.com’s Dan McClenaghan praising the Ensemble’s contribution, saying that the group “helps create a rich, expansive and beautifully-textured sound experience.”

Down is available from online retailers including Amazon and iTunes and from the OA2 Records website.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works by Socolofsky, Kirsten, Dennehy, Christensen and Forte on Sunday, February 24 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform works by three visiting composers plus two world premieres by Mizzou students in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 24 at Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

The program will feature “Don’t say a word,” a “feminist rager-lullaby” by Annika Socolofsky from 2017 that “invokes the fragility and fury of the female voice.” Socolofsky, a composer and singer who is a doctoral candidate and fellow in composition at Princeton University, will be visiting Mizzou for a residency that week, and will coach and perform with the Ensemble.

Also included on the program will be “World Under Glass No. 2,” composed in 2011 by Amy Beth Kirsten. The piece is inspired by the Distillation series of New York visual artist Thomas Doyle, who creates dark, disturbing miniature scenes displayed in vessels resembling over-sized snow globes. Kirsten will be one of the two distinguished guest composers at this summer’s Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF).

Donnacha Dennehy, who will be the other distinguished guest composer at the 2019 MICF, will be represented by “The Blotting.” a work commissioned in 2004 by the Bath International Music Festival that’s described by the composer as being “quite rhythmically virtuosic in places, making use of manically interlocking hockets.”

Two new works by Mizzou students will complete the concert. “Ozymandias” by Ethan Forte, a junior composition major at Mizzou, “attempts to capture the vivid literary work by Percy Bysshe Shelley,” while “The Dream is More Than Process” by second-year master’s student Mikkel Christensen takes inspiration and its title from a lyric by rapper Kendrick Lamar.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer, conductor, professor of composition, and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2018-19 season are Hannah Hutchins, percussion; Ann Mozina, flutes; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Elisabeth Roberts, piano; Brianna Trainor, percussion; Cameron Tubbs, cello; and Austin Wright, clarinets. They will be augmented for this performance by guest musicians Mitchell Goodman, euphonium; Tyler Hannsz, viola; Kassandra Ormsby, bassoon; and Aubrey Smith, soprano.

Post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi is the Ensemble’s assistant conductor, and will conduct the performances of “World Under Glass no. 2” and “The Blotting.”

Annika Socolofsky visiting Mizzou for concert, residency

Composer and singer Annika Socolofsky is coming to Mizzou later this month for a residency and concert.

During her visit, she will coach the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, make a presentation on her music to composition students, and give private lessons to selected composition majors. Socolofsky will conclude her residency by performing with the Ensemble when they present her work “Don’t say a word” at their concert on Sunday, February 24 at Whitmore Recital Hall.

Currently a doctoral candidate and fellow in composition at Princeton University. Socolofsky previously earned an MFA in composition from Princeton, an MA in composition the University of Michigan, and a BFA in composition from Carnegie Mellon University.

Drawing on both classical and folk traditions, her works are based in “the inflections, gesture, and resonance of the human voice” and range from orchestral compositions to unaccompanied folk ballads. As a researcher, she is focused on physiology in contemporary vocal music, using the music of Dolly Parton to create a pedagogical approach to composition that is inclusive of many vocal styles and techniques.

Her works, projects, and related research have been presented at Carnegie Hall, The Italian Society of Contemporary Music, American Music Festival, Northwestern New Music Institute, Strange Beautiful Music Detroit, and more.

Socolovsky’s current composition projects include new works for the Albany Symphony, So Percussion, Contemporaneous, Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble, Girlnoise, and Shepherdess. She also is a 2019 Stone Composer Fellow for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, for which she will be writing a new work for the Callisto Quartet. Her previous collaborations include the Rochester Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Dogs of Desire, eighth blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Latitude 49, and numerous others.

As a vocalist, she has performed as soloist with the Albany Symphony, Dogs of Desire, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Camerata, eighth blackbird, and composer-vocalist Anna Pidgorna.

Socolofsky’s honors as a composer include a Fromm Foundation Commission, Cortona Prize, and BMI Student Composer Award, as well as fellowships to the Blackbird Creative Lab, Banff Centre for the Arts, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Cultivate at Copland House, and the Brevard Music Center. You can hear some of her music on her SoundCloud page.

St. Louis Symphony musicians to premiere new work by Stephanie Berg

Musicians from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will premiere a new work by Mizzou alumnae Stephanie Berg in a concert next month at Powell Hall in St. Louis.

Berg’s “Three Prayers” was commissioned by SLSO clarinetist Diana Haskell, and will be performed for the first time as part of of a program of chamber music titled “Equal Play: Celebrating Women Composers” at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 1 at Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand in St. Louis’ Grand Center district.

Berg (pictured) will introduce her work during the concert, which also will include music by Jennifer Higdon and Rebecca Clarke.

Performers will include Haskell, violinist Kristin Ahlstrom, and cellist Anne Fagerburg of the SLSO, pianists Peter Henderson and Alla Voskoboynikova, and soprano Christine Brewer. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public, but those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP online at SLSO’s website.

This will be the second performance of Berg’s music at Powell Hall, as the SLSO previously performed her work “Ravish and Mayhem” in 2014 as part of a subscription-series concert.

The concert marks the start of what will be a busy month for Berg, as in addition to the Powell Hall performance, she will have another new work premiered by Chamber Project St. Louis in concerts on Saturday, March 2 at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, IL and Saturday, March 9 at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.

A native of Parkville, MO who now lives in St. Louis, Berg earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mizzou and was the winner of the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the University of Missouri’s highest honor for a student composer. She was a resident composer at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival, for which she originally wrote “Ravish and Mayhem” to be performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound.

During her time at Mizzou, Berg also performed on clarinet with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, University Philharmonic, and Columbia Civic Orchestra, and served for three years as project manager for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP).