Composers Festival Spotlight: Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Mizzou New Music Ensemble

One week from tonight, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will take the stage at the Missouri Theatre as part of the “Mizzou New Music” concert of the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

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 the 2013-14 season are Rachel Czech, cello; Hsu Shun Jung, piano; Mary Jamerson, flute; Katherine Jones, violin; Ian McClaflin, percussion; Shawn Nemati-Baghestani, oboe; and Jeremiah Rittel, clarinet.

(Mizzou alum and former MICF resident composer Patrick David Clark also made a valuable contribution to the group during the fall of 2013, directing the ensemble while Freund was on sabbatical to finish writing his Civil War Oratorio.)

For the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 25, the Ensemble will play “The Rising of the Moon,” a brand-new work by Mizzou faculty composer W. Thomas McKenney; “I know where everything is,” written in 2007 by MICF guest composer Nico Muhly; and “A Leaf on the Wind,” a new work by Justin Pounds, who’s currently pursuing his master’s in composition at Mizzou.

During the academic year, the group performs a series of concerts on campus, and they also play off campus as well. Most recently, in May of this year they premiered four new works by Mizzou composition students that were commissioned for a Forest Park Forever event in St. Louis. The four compositions – Pounds’ “A Leaf on the Wind”; “Elysium” by Trey Makler; “Structural Symbiosis” by Matt Stiens; and “Forest Park Rhapsody” by Benedetto Colagiovanni – were recorded for inclusion on a fundraising DVD planned for release by Forest Park Forever.

The Ensemble also has performed in recent years at the World Chess Hall of Fame, the Sheldon Concert Hall, the Shoenberg Theatre at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Just about all of the Ensemble’s concerts, whether on campus or off, include 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.

Composition major Trey Makler’s “Southern Portraits” was created for this past year’s collaboration between MNMI and the Stephens College dance department. Guest musician: Sam Jennings (guitar).

“Inception, Conception, Create” by Luke Wayne Henderson, a Mizzou freshman studying for degrees in music education and composition.

“#YOLO” by Trey Makler

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