St. Louis Symphony Orchestra presenting public reading of new works
by Mizzou composers on Wednesday, April 3 at Powell Hall

From left: Colagiovanni, Roberts, Christensen

Three University of Missouri student composers will have their works played by musicians with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in a public reading session at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at Powell Hall in St. Louis. The public is invited to attend, with no admission charge or RSVP required.

As part of a joint educational venture between the orchestra and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, student composers Mikkel Christensen, Ben Colagiovanni, and Libby Roberts were selected last year by SLSO Resident Conductor Gemma New to write new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra drawn from the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony.

The resulting compositions are “The Lament of Orpheus” by Roberts; “Fourteen Trees” by Christensen; and “Slow Burn” by Colagiovanni. The three works were first read, played and critiqued in a private session in October, and the composers then had a chance to revise their music for this second, public reading.

Colagiovanni, who grew up in the St. Louis area and attended Clayton High School, is a senior working toward an undergraduate degree in composition at Mizzou. Christensen, who’s from Lockhart, TX, and Roberts, a native of Philadelphia, PA, both are in their second year of study for a master’s degree. They are the second group of Mizzou students to take part in the composer reading program, following Dustin Dunn, Aaron Mencher, and Douglas Osmun in 2017-18.

Mizzou’s COMP Festival presenting award-winning works from
Missouri student composers on Saturday, April 13 in Columbia

Audio from the 2018 COMP Festival will stream live online on Saturday, April 13 at

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will present new works from Missouri’s best young composers at the 14th annual Creating Original Music Project (COMP) Festival from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, April 13 in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of the University of Missouri.

Admission is free and open to the public. The junior division concert, featuring works from elementary and middle school winners of this year’s competition, begins at 11:30 a.m., with the senior division concert of music by high school winners following at 3:30 p.m.

The festival also will be streamed live online at, with the audio stream going live 10 minutes before the start of each concert.

COMP was founded in 2005 to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original music and to provide performance opportunities for those works. It is a joint venture of the University of Missouri’s Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides an annual gift of $40,000 to sponsor the competition.

Every year, in addition to having their music performed at the COMP Festival, the winning composers in each age group and category and their schools receive cash prizes. High school winners also receive scholarships to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, Mizzou’s high school summer music composition camp.

“The Creating Original Music Project competition and summer camp were the beginning of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and the first steps toward making Missouri a center for musical composition,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. “Over the years, more than 220 young Missouri composers have won the K-12 composer competition, and though the Initiative now includes many different programs for collegiate and career composers, COMP still is a special and very important part of it.”

The 2019 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition categories and winners are:

Elementary School – Song with Words
1) Aiden Assel of Siegrist Elementary, Platte City, for “People Not Seeing Me.” Sponsor: Anna Burnett
2) Ben Zerega, Harrison Ringkor, and Brayden Fisk of Bristol Elementary, Webster Groves, for “Undefeated.” Sponsor: Sara Wichard
3) Annabel Merideth of Thomas W. Kelly Elementary, Benton, for “The Mountain.” Sponsor: Heather DiStefano

Elementary School – Instrumental
1) Benjamin Stoker of Crossroads Academy- Quality Hill, Kansas City, for “Tough Times.” Sponsor: Anna Arnold
2) Kate Bresler of Rogers Elementary, St. Louis, for “A Dark Winter.” Sponsor: Donna Buehne
3) Ethan King of Thomas W. Kelly Elementary, Benton for “Downfall.” Sponsor: Heather DiStefano

Middle School – Fine Art
1) Claire Li of Gentry Middle School, Columbia, for “Little Creek.” Sponsor: Amber Quest
2 (tie) Eli Minasian, a home-schooled student from Springfield, for “Through the Eye of the Hurricane.” Sponsor: Reese Ancheta-Minasian
Yueheng Wang of Parkway Central Middle School, Chesterfield, for “Wading in Water.” Sponsor: Sue Chiu

Middle School – Popular
1) Stone Gill of Arcadia Valley Middle School, Ironton, for “Wonder What It’s Like.” Sponsor: Charles Lee
2) Holly Travers & Grace Ensor of Hixson Middle School, Webster Groves, for “Stuck on the Verge of Glory.” Sponsor: Emily Tokos
3) Lucy Gray Hamilton of Eugene Field Elementary, St. Joseph, for “Back to You.” Sponsor: Janell Becerra

High School – Fine Art
1) Brandon Kim of Rock Bridge High School, Columbia, for “Diabolical Dances.” Sponsor: Alison Schmidt
2) Olivia Bennett, a home-schooled student from Nixa, for “Three Cryptics.” Sponsor: Carlyle Sharpe
3) Thomas Whitty of Staley High School, Kansas City, for “Chicago in F Major.” Sponsor: Carrie Shuck

High School – Popular
1) Katherine Vlamis of Liberty High School, Liberty, for “Lighthouse.” Sponsor: Rika Heruth
2) Jordin MacKenzie of Blue Valley North High School, Overland Park, for “Just Like the Rain.” Sponsor: Jason Sickel
3) Cooper Carr of Lee’s Summit West High School, Lee’s Summit, for “Waves of Distortion.” Sponsor: Shawn Harrell

High School – Jazz
1) Samuel Luetkemeyer of Calvary Lutheran High School, Jefferson City, for “Dichotomy.” Sponsor: Paul Hinman
2) Adam Routt of Timberland High School, Wentzville, for “Rad World.” Sponsor: Ronda Fields
3) Hyunjae Justin Hahm of Rock Bridge High School, Columbia, for “Dreary at 5 in the Morning.” Sponsor: Patrick Sullivan

Each student who enters the competition must have the signature and sponsorship of his or her school’s music teacher. Community agencies, churches, after-school programs, private teachers, and other musical mentors also may sponsor their young musicians in partnership with the student’s school music teacher.

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’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).

Mizzou New Music Ensemble performs at 2019 MMEA Conference