Composers Festival spotlight: Justin Pounds

Resident composer Justin Pounds is the University of Missouri’s representative at the 2015 Mizzou International Composers Festival, and along with Christopher Stark, one of two resident composers this year with ties to Missouri and St. Louis.

A St. Louis native who grew up in the suburb of Oakville, Pounds earned his bachelor of music degree at Mizzou, and currently is pursuing a master of music in composition, studying with Dr. Thomas McKenney and Dr. Stefan Freund. 

This past November, his chamber opera “The Outlaw” was premiered by at Mizzou by the Show-Me Opera. Pounds also recently completed a commissioned work for solo piano inspired by the rhythms of Africa, which was performed at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Pounds spent August 2013 to August 2014 as the resident composer for the town of Lexington, Missouri, scoring original music for audio tours of the city’s historic districts as part of a two-year program in which the University is helping Lexington brand itself as a destination for tourists and artists.

Also in 2014, Pounds and three other Mizzou composers wrote a group of commissioned works for Forest Park Forever in St. Louis, with Pounds’ composition “A Leaf on the Wind” getting performances at The Jewel Box in Forest Park and subsequently at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Pounds’ work “Electric Brain” was choreographed for dancers at Stephens College by Stephanie Reynolds and presented at the central region American College Dance Festival, and his choral piece “Music, When Soft Voices Die”‘ was selected by The C7 Prize as a Recommended Work.

Justin Pounds’ music also has been featured in masterclasses with composers John Orfe and Tod Machover, and given premiere performances by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Mizzou’s Concert Chorale, and various chamber groups.

During the 2013-14 academic year, he served as “composer on call” for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Composer Connection distance learning program. Pounds also was a finalist for the Sinquefield Composition Prize in 2013, 2014, and 2015; and was a finalist for the 2014 MU Collaborative Arts Initiative.

You can hear samples of Justin Pounds’ music in the embedded YouTube and SoundCloud players below.

“The Outlaw,” performed November 15, 2014 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia.

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