Composers Festival Spotlight: Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Although resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound understandably attracts a lot of attention during the Mizzou International Composers Festival, let’s not forget that the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre will showcase the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s “home team,” the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

Comprised of graduate students on scholarship, the Ensemble is directed by faculty composer and Alarm Will Sound member Stefan Freund. They serve as the flagship group of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, collaborating with student, faculty and visiting composers throughout the year to perform a variety of new works.

The Ensemble’s members for 2012-13 are Rachel AuBuchon, piano; Stephanie Berg, clarinet; Mary Jamerson, flute; Katherine Jones, violin; Ian McClaflin, percussion; and Matthew Pierce, cello.

During the academic year, the Ensemble performs a series of concerts on campus, and they also play off campus as well. In May, they presented a standing-room-only performance at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, playing original music by Mizzou composers Joe Hills, Haley Myers, and Robert Strobel written in response to Beyond the Humanities, an exhibition of work by St. Louis artist Bill Smith.

They’ve also performed in recent years at the Sheldon Concert Hall, the Shoenberg Theatre at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

For Friday night’s Festival program, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will play music by Mizzou composers W. Thomas McKenney and Paul Seitz and guest composers Augusta Read Thomas and Daniel Kellogg.

The Kellogg work, Divinum Mysterium, is an extended five-movement piece commissioned in 2000 by the chamber ensemble eighth blackbird and based on the 13th century chant melody “Divinum Mysterium.” The Ensemble rehearsed Divinium Mysterium throughout the academic year, presenting individual movements at each of their on-campus concerts in preparation for performing the entire work at the Festival.

Each of those concerts also featured music from student composers at Mizzou, giving both composers and performers valuable hand-on experience in the process of developing new work. In the embedded audio players below, you can hear three examples of pieces that were written at Mizzou during the past year and given their first performances by the Ensemble.

“Reflections” by Trey Anthony Makler

“Penrose Staircase” by Matt Steins

“I’m Back at My Cliff” by Daniel Cox

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