Archive for October, 2019

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works from Missouri, South America, and more on Sunday, November 17 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will offer new music from Missouri, South America, and more in concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 17 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. The concert is free and open to the public.

From close to home, the Ensemble (pictured) will perform the two winning works written for the 2019 Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) Collegiate Composition Competition.

“Cadencia” was composed by Truman State University student Samuel Tillman, the 2019 winner in the undergraduate category winner, and “Hitt Street Harangue” is by Daniel Vega, a master’s student in composition at Mizzou and this year’s graduate winner. Both works were selected in a competitive judging process open to all student composers enrolled at MADSM member institutions.

The concert also will include two works from South American composers that will be featured when the Ensemble tours that continent in May, 2020. “I come from afar” was composed by Sofia Scheps, who teaches at the Escuela Universitaria de Música in Montevideo, Uruguay; and “Expansion” is by Patricia Martínez, a composer, pianist and professor of composition at the National University of Quilmes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the tour, both composers will host concerts by the Ensemble at their respective institutions.

In addition to those four compositions, assistant conductor Yoshi Onishi will lead the Ensemble in a performance of “Talea” by French composer Gérard Grisey. Considered a late-20th-century classic, it alternates “between ferocity and quietude,” so as to – in the composer’s words – “express two aspects or, more precisely, two auditory angles of a single phenomenon.”

Two more new pieces of music from Missouri will complete the program. “Love Is Love, The Pedro Zamora Story” was composed by Daniel Vega originally for a film soundtrack; and “Pentatonic Sonata” is by Harry Tyrer, a retired Mizzou engineering professor now studying composition with Mizzou’s Carolina Heredia.

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 2019-20 season are Daniel Fitzpatrick, piano; Stephen Landy, percussion; Ann Mozina, flute; Jordan Nielsen, percussion; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Cameron Tubbs, cello; and Andrew Wiele, clarinet. Mizzou New Music Initiative post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi serves as the Ensemble’s assistant conductor.

Ken Thomson Sextet to perform with Concert Jazz Band
on Monday, November 4 at Stotler Lounge

Clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer Ken Thomson is bringing his sextet to Mizzou for a performance with the university’s Concert Jazz Band at 7:00 p.m. Monday, November 4 at Stotler Lounge in the Memorial Union building on campus.

The concert will feature sets from both Thomson’s group and the Concert Jazz Band, and some students from the band also will sit in with the sextet. Admission is free and open to the public.

In addition to the performance, Thomson during his visit will give a presentation to jazz and composition students, and teach a composition master class, and members of the sextet will rehearse with and coach students in the Concert Jazz Band.

Based in New York City, Ken Thomson moves between jazz and new music as both leader and collaborator in a number of different ensembles. In addition to his sextet, he also leads the group Slow/Fast; is a member of the new music ensemble Bang On A Can All-Stars and the punk/jazz quartet Gutbucket; and is musical director for the Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-piece “next-generation avant-garde marching band.”

Along with Thomson as alto saxophonist and composer, the sextet (pictured) also includes tenor saxophonist Anna Webber, trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, trombonist Kalia Vandever, bassist Adam Armstrong, and drummer Ron Wiltrout. Their self-titled debut recording was released in September 2018.

As a composer, Thomson has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, Doug Perkins, Mariel Roberts, and others, and has received awards from New Music USA, ASCAP and Meet the Composer. “Thaw,” a CD of his compositions recorded by the JACK Quartet for Cantaloupe Music, was named the #1 Classical CD of 2013 by, and was featured in NPR’s “10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.”

As an instrumentalist, he has performed across the US and Europe at major jazz festivals including Jazz a Vienne, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, Warsaw Summer Jazz Days and the Saalfelden, London, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Belgrade Jazz Festivals. Thomson’s credits also include performing and recording with Ensemble Signal (conducted by Brad Lubman), working directly with composers from Steve Reich to Helmut Lachenmann, and performing on CDs for Harmonia Mundi, Mode, Orange Mountain, and Cantaloupe Records.

Tesla Quartet coming to University of Missouri
for residency, concert on Sunday, November 3

The internationally acclaimed Tesla Quartet is coming to the University of Missouri for a Mizzou New Music Initiative residency that will include a concert at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, November 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall on campus. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

The group’s visit to Columbia comes as they’ve just released their second album, “Joy & Desolation,” on the Orchid Classics label. A collaboration with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, the disc features a recording of “Ius in Bello” by Mizzou assistant professor of composition Carolina Heredia, as well as works by Mozart, Finzi, and John Corigliano.

Their concert at Whitmore Recital Hall will include a performance of “Ius in Bello,” plus compositions by Michael Ippolito, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Giovanni Sollima.

In addition to their public performance, while in residence at Mizzou the members of Tesla Quartet also will do a reading session of string quartets written by student composers; give lessons and master classes to student string players; and make a recording of another of Heredia’s works, “Ausencias.”

Former in 2008 at The Juilliard School, the Tesla Quartet (pictured) is Ross Snyder (violin), Michelle Lie (violin), Edwin Kaplan (viola), and Serafim Smigelskiy (cello). They perform regularly across North America and Europe, with recent highlights including their debut at New York’s Lincoln Center, a return to London’s Wigmore Hall, and performances at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall, plus tours of Brazil, China, and South Korea, and a residency in the UK.

Praised by The International Review of Music for their “superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style or technical demand,” the Tesla Quartet has won top prizes in numerous international competitions, most recently taking second prize plus the Haydn Prize and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Their debut album, released in 2018 on Orchid Classics, featured works by Haydn, Ravel and Stravinsky and won wide critical acclaim, including a double 5-star rating from BBC Music Magazine and praise from Gramophone magazine for its “tautness of focus and refinement of detail.”

Samuel Tillman, Daniel Vega chosen as winners
of the 2019 MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition

From left: Samuel Tillman, Daniel Vega

The Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) and the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) have chosen the winners in the 2019 MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition.

The winning work in the Undergraduate category is “Cadencia” by Samuel Tillman, a student at Truman State University, and the winner in the Graduate category is “Hitt St. Harangue” by Daniel Vega of the University of Missouri.

The two winning compositions will be workshopped by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble with help from the composers; recorded; and then performed in concert next month on the Mizzou campus. The Ensemble will play the winning works again in January at the annual Missouri Music Educators Association conference in Osage Beach, with the goal of attracting future opportunities on concert programs around the state.

Tillman, a native of Alton, IL, is a junior at Truman State. He is a cellist as well as a composer whose musical inspirations include Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Steve Reich. This past summer, he attended the Young Artist Seminar at Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, Colorado, for an intensive four-week program of chamber, solo, and orchestral music. Tillman is an active member of the Upsilon Phi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and enjoys listening to vinyl in his spare time.

Vega, who is a saxophonist as well as a composer, originally is from Ward, CO. He earned his bachelors of music composition from Portland State University before coming to Mizzou, where he now is in his second year of study for a masters degree in composition. He was the winner last year in the Graduate category of the inaugural MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition for his work “Natales.” Vega also is one of three Mizzou student composers this year to have a new work read and critiqued by musicians from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and resident conductor Gemma New as part of an ongoing collaboration between the orchestra and MNMI.

The MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition is intended to encourage the creation of original chamber music that can be played by high-school level musicians. The competition is open to all students currently enrolled in any MADSM member institution, with separate categories for undergraduate and graduate students.

Submitting composers were asked to write a new work from five to seven minutes in length for a group of three to five musicians. The judges for the 2019 competition were Stefan Freund, artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and professor of composition at the University of Missouri; Anthony Maglione, associate professor of music and director of choral studies of William Jewell College; and Jocelyn Prendergast, assistant professor of music and music education at Truman State University.

The Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) includes all institutions in the state of Missouri that offer post-secondary music study. MADSM offers a regular forum for leaders from these institutions to discuss issues pertaining to music study; to provide mutual support for each other; and to advocate for music education at the collegiate level, presenting a strong and unified voice for music education in Missouri.

2020 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) offers
awards, cash prizes for Missouri student composers

2019 COMP High School division winners

From parchment and quill to pen and paper to computer and software, the tools used by composers to set down their musical ideas may have changed over the years, but one thing remains the same: every composer still needs a chance to be heard.

That’s why the Mizzou New Music Initiative is inviting young composers from across Missouri to take part in the 2020 Creating Original Music Project (COMP).

Now in its 15th year, COMP is an annual statewide competition sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. COMP showcases new, original music from Missouri student composers and songwriters in grades K-12, offering positive recognition and prizes, performance and educational opportunities, and more.

Both the winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 25, 2020 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Winners in high school also are eligible for scholarships to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, which will take place in June 21-27, 2020 on the Mizzou campus.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in two categories, Songs With Words and Instrumental. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music and Popular Music; and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Jazz, and Pop Music/Other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Both notated pieces and music made electronically are eligible. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher.

Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. All entries must be submitted online by Sunday, January 19, 2020.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and how to submit an application for the 2020 competition, please visit the COMP website at

For students looking for more guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

Students can e-mail works in progress, ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2019-20 academic year is Niko Schroeder, who can be reached by email at

Olivia Bennett wins 2019-20 Luna Composition Lab fellowship

Missouri student composer Olivia Bennett has been named one of five 2019-20 fellows by Luna Composition Lab, a program at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City that provides mentorship and performance opportunities to young composers who are female-identifying, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.

Bennett (pictured), a 17-year-old home-schooled student from Nixa, Mo (just south of Springfield), has won multiple awards in competitions sponsored by the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Those awards include a total of five prizes in the annual Creating Original Music Project (COMP), a statewide composition competition for students in grades K-12, and two wins in the “High School” division of the Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP), which each year showcases recent large ensemble works by Missouri composers in a concert by the Columbia Civic Orchestra and the Columbia Chamber Choir.

In addition to the COMP and MOCOP performances, Bennett’s works have been played by ensembles including the Mizzou String Quartet, Springfield Youth Symphony, Interlochen Philharmonic, and Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra. She is an alumna of the 2018 Interlochen Arts Camp and Boston University’s 2019 Tanglewood Institute, and was selected as a 2019 American Composers NextNotes winner. A pianist and cellist as well as a composer, Bennett plays cello in the Missouri Philharmonic Orchestra in Springfield.

Now in its fourth year, Luna Composition Lab was founded by composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, with composers Reena Esmail, Kristin Kuster, Gity Razaz and Tamar Muskal set to mentor the 2020 fellows.

As part of their fellowships, Bennett and the other young composers will receive one-on-one mentorship and bi-weekly Skype lessons throughout the year; a week of masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours, concerts, and networking events in New York City; a performance opportunity in NYC as part of the Kaufman Music Center’s “Face the Music” concert season; high-quality recordings of their work; and more.

Michael Harley visiting Mizzou for residency, concert on Monday, October 21

Bassoonist Michael Harley is coming to Mizzou for a residency and concert on Monday, October 21.

While he’s on campus, Harley (pictured) will teach a bassoon master class, work with composition students, and perform in a concert at 7:30 p.m. at Whitmore Recital Hall.

The concert will feature music from Harley’s upcoming album Come Closer, which is set for release on October 18, including works by Reginald Bain, Carl Schimmel, Fang Man, Caleb Burhans, and Mizzou’s own Stefan Freund. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

Harley already is quite familiar with Mizzou, having visited many times over the past decade as the bassoonist for Alarm Will Sound, the resident ensemble for the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival. A founding member of AWS, Harley currently serves as associate professor of bassoon at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, where he also teaches courses in American music, coaches chamber music, and is artistic director of the Southern Exposure new music series.

Having grown up in northern Indiana and Michigan, Harley earned his undergraduate degree in English and music at Goshen College, a master’s in music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and his D.M.A. from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  Before joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina, he previously taught music at Ohio University, Wright State University, and at his alma mater Goshen College.

With Alarm Will Sound, Harley has performed at major venues around the world, done educational residencies at universities and other institutions throughout the U.S., and premiered works from dozens of today’s most distinguished composers.

As a recitalist, chamber, and orchestral musician, he has played in venues on five continents, ranging from New York City nightclubs and bars to concert halls including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican in London, Musiekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, and many more. He also has worked with artists including the indie rock group Dirty Projectors, jazz/funk trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, percussionist and composer Tyshawn Sorey, Dance Heginbotham, and orchestras in Charleston; Columbus; Fort Wayne; South Bend; Augusta, GA; Rock Hill, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC.

Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) seeks
new orchestral, choral music for concert in April 2020

. The Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) is looking for new, large-ensemble music written by Missouri residents to be performed in a concert in April.

Now in its tenth year, MOCOP is a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to bring attention to new large ensemble works written in the state of Missouri. By identifying composers and providing opportunities for the performance of their work, MOCOP showcases emerging talent from Missouri and shares it with the world.

Each year, recently composed orchestral and choral works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process to be performed by the CCO and Chamber Choir (pictured) at a concert in Columbia and professionally recorded. Each of the composers of the selected works also is awarded a $500 honorarium.

MOCOP’s 2020 competition has four categories: High School Choral and High School Orchestral, for Missouri composers currently in high school, and Open Choral and Open Orchestral, for Missouri composers of any age.

The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 5, 2020 at the Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St, in Columbia.

Composers who wish to submit their work to MOCOP can find details on eligibility and instrumentation plus complete application materials online at

Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, December 2, 2019.

The Columbia Civic Orchestra is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

The Columbia Chamber Choir in a subset of the Columbia Chorale, which works to promote choral music of the highest artistic quality and to stimulate a greater community understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of choral music by presenting programs appealing to a wide cross-section of Missouri residents and visitors.