Mizzou International Composers Festival announces resident composers for 2019

The Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) has selected eight resident composers to participate in the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF).

Presented by MNMI and the University of Missouri School of Music from Monday, July 22 through Saturday, July 27 in Columbia, the tenth annual MICF will feature world premieres of new works written by each of the selected composers. Listed with their current places of residence, they are:

* Theophilus Chandler, Houston TX
* Inti Figgis-Vizueta, Brooklyn NY
* Charles Halka, Bellingham WA
* Chelsea Komschlies, Philadelphia PA
* Aaron Mencher, Columbia MO
* Nicole Murphy, Brisbane, Australia
* Peter Shin, New Haven CT
* Kristina Wolfe, Huddersfield, UK

Two of the resident composers are originally from outside the US. Nicole Murphy is a native of Sydney, Australia, while Inti Figgis-Vizueta, though raised in Washington DC, was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Aaron Mencher, a senior composition major at Mizzou, will represent the University of Missouri. Mencher was the winner of the 2018 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the university’s highest honor for a student composer. Resident composer Peter Shin also has a Missouri connection, as he was born and raised in Kansas City.

The 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival will include a series of public concerts featuring music from the resident composers and other contemporary creators, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events.

In celebration of the festival’s tenth year, Donnacha Dennehy and Amy Beth Kirsten will return to the MICF to serve as the two distinguished guest composers for 2019, teaching and consulting with the resident composers and ensemble.

Dennehy, who is considered one of Ireland’s top living composers, is the founder of the new music group Crash Ensemble and an associate professor of music at Princeton University. He previously was a guest composer at the MICF in 2012.

Kirsten is a member of the composition faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Her works explore theatrical elements of creation, performance, and presentation through music, language, voice, and theatre. She was part of the festival’s first group of resident composers in 2010.

The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, once again will serve as resident ensemble, as they have since the MICF began in 2010.

During the festival, the eight resident composers will receive composition lessons from Dennehy and Kirsten; take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give public presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of a new work created specifically for the MICF and Alarm Will Sound.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

Mizzou composers Libby Roberts, Niko Schroeder
featured in Columbia Daily Tribune

From left: Roberts, Schroeder

Mizzou composers Libby Roberts and Niko Schroeder both were featured recently in stories published by the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Roberts, a second-year masters student in composition who also serves as the pianist for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, was the subject of a story by features editor Aarik Danielsen under the headline “Whole notes: MU student unites mind, body and soul in musical pursuits.”

She is one of three Mizzou composers taking part in this year’s program of readings by musicians of the St. Louis Symphony and resident conductor Gemma New, and will have the work she composed for the Symphony read for the second time in a public event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Powell Hall in St. Louis.

Schroeder, who’s in his first year working toward a masters in composition, was profiled by the Tribune‘s Elena K. Cruz in a story headlined “Art and craft: Sinquefield Prize winner combines history with theory and simplicity.”

As the winner of this year’s Sinquefield Composition Prize, Mizzou’s highest honor for a student composers, Schroeder is writing a new, original work for the University Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Barry Ford, which will premiere it as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia.

Producer for Mizzou faculty members earns Grammy nomination

One of the nominees this year in the Grammy Awards’ “Classical Producer of the Year” category has a Mizzou connection.

Veteran producer Judith Sherman, a 12-time Grammy Award nominee and winner of the award for Classical Producer of the Year for 1993, 2007 and 2011, is nominated again for her work in 2018, including the Albany Records release New Music for Violin and Piano by violinist Julie Rosenfeld and pianist Peter Miyamoto.

Miyamoto is a professor of piano and Rosenfeld an assistant professor of violin at Mizzou, and one of the eight new works included on the album (pictured) is “Life (Still) Goes On,” written by Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Released on April 1, 2018, New Music for Violin and Piano has earned positive reviews from critics, with American Record Guide calling Rosenfeld’s performances “earnest and lovely, wholly embodying the spirit of each work,” and praising Miyamoto’s playing as “sensitive and balanced, with silkiness and aggression in all the right places.”

As for the verdict of Grammy Award voters, that will be revealed at the 61st annual awards ceremony, which is scheduled for February 10, 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in part on CBS.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform works
from MADSM competition, Mizzou and more
on Sunday, December 2 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform four new student works plus two pieces from acclaimed contemporary composers in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 2 at Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

Two of the student works were selected for the performance through the first-ever Collegiate Composition Competition co-sponsored this year by the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM).

Ryan Jeschke, a senior composition major at Truman State University, won the MADSM competition’s undergraduate division with “Gunkanjima.” named for an island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan that for nearly a century was a densely populated center for coal mining, then completely abandoned in the 1970s. The Ensemble will perform the work’s first movement, “The Shamisen.”

Daniel Vega, a first-year master’s student in composition at Mizzou, was the MADSM competition winner in the graduate division for “Natales,” which draws inspiration from the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

The other two student works were written by University of Missouri undergraduates. “Starry Night” by Ben Dawson, a junior working toward a composition degree at Mizzou, depicts “a cloudy, lonely night” with teasing fragments of a melody that is fully revealed at the end, while “A Dance Through Desire” by Holden Franklin, a freshman composition major, evokes feelings of a missed connection following a brief encounter.

Completing the program will be “à propos,” a work in four parts by French composer Fabien Lévy that was inspired by Arte Povera, an Italian artistic movement of the 1960s; and “Rising Tide,” written in 2015 by Nina C. Young, who will visit the Mizzou campus on November 30 and coach the Ensemble in preparation for the performance.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) 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, augmented for this performance by guest musicians Kassandra Ormsby, bassoon; and Morgan Owen, viola. Post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi is the Ensemble’s assistant conductor, and will conduct the performance of “à propos” at this concert.

Composer Nina C. Young coming to Mizzou for residency, concert

Composer Nina C. Young will visit Mizzou at the end of this month to coach the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and give a pre-concert talk before a performance of one of her works.

Young (pictured), who is an assistant professor of composition and director of the electronic music studios at the University of Texas at Austin and a visiting composer at the Peabody Institute, will be in Columbia starting Friday, November 30.

She’ll spend some time during the day on Friday working with the Ensemble, which will perform her composition “Rising Tide” as part of their concert on Sunday, December 2 at Whitmore Recital Hall.

Then on Friday evening, Young will present a pre-concert talk starting at 7:00 p.m. before the Mizzou Electronic Music Showcase at 7:30 p.m. at the A.P. Green Chapel. The showcase will include a performance of Young’s piece “Sun Propeller” by violinist and MU faculty member Julie Rosenfeld.

Born and raised in Rockland County, NY, just outside New York City, Young earned degrees from McGill University in Montreal and from Massachusetts Institute of Technology before getting her DMA at Columbia University. Her music draws on a variety of influences, from classical to minimalism to pop and more, frequently combining electronics and conventional acoustic instruments.

Young’s works have been performed by ensembles including the American Composers Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, JACK Quartet, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, and many others. She also is co-artistic director of the New York-based new music group Ensemble Échappé. Her honors include the 2015-16 Rome Prize, a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Salvatore Martirano Memorial Award.

Her interests in recent years have expanded to include collaborative, multidisciplinary works such as “Temenos,” a site-specific piece involving music, ballet, and the architecture of the Tempietto Del Bramante in Rome; and “Out of whose womb came the ice,” a work “commenting on the ill-fated Ernest Shackleton Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17,” written for baritone, orchestra, electronics, and generative video and premiered in 2017 by the American Composers Orchestra Underground.

Fall 2018 Student Composers Recital set for
Monday, November 26 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Fall 2018 edition of the University of Missouri School of Music’s Student Composers Recital will present new works written and performed by students at 7:30 p.m. Monday, November 26 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the Mizzou campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

The program will include:
“The Wooden Playground” by Nathan Andrzejewski
“Numbers” by Mikkel Christensen
“The Struggle of a Painter” by Zach Davis
“When Icarus fell it was Spring” by Aaron Mencher
“Duck Your Modernism” by Niko Schroeder
“The Exquisites” by Emily Shaw
“Stream of Consciousness” by Jack Snelling
“The Bounds of Tonality” by Harry Tryer

The concert also will feature a performance of “Exquisite Corpse I,” a collaborative work written by first-year composition students Nathan Andrejewski, Ross Dryer, Holden Franklin, Emily Shaw, Jack Snelling, Nathaniel Swan, and Harry Tryer under the supervision of assistant professor Carolina Heredia.

The concept of “Exquisite Corpse” is derived from the Surrealist parlor game of the same name, in which the first participant would write a phrase or make a sketch on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for their contribution.

As Heredia explains in the program notes, “Each student worked on a variation of the Happy Birthday song. The first collaborator wrote the introduction and passed on the last two bars only to the second collaborator. Then, the second collaborator repeated this action, and so on. At the end, our copyist and arranger took all the materials, put them together, and worked on the transitions to make them smoother.” The students dedicated the work to Dr. Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and presented it to him for his birthday on October 31.

Ryan Jeschke, Daniel Vega named winners
of MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition

From left: Ryan Jeschke, Daniel Vega

The Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM) and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have selected the winners in the first-ever MADSM Collegiate Composition Competition.

The winning work in the Undergraduate category is “Gunkanjima” by Ryan Jeschke, a student at Truman State University, and the winner in the Graduate category is “Natales” by Daniel Vega of the University of Missouri.

The two winning pieces 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 Missouri Music Educators Association conference in Osage Beach, with the goal of attracting future opportunities on concert programs around the state.

Jeschke, a native of Gladstone, MO, is a senior working toward a BM in composition at Truman State. As a composer, he’s interested in “challenging the traditional roles of instruments and exploring the possibilities of timbre within them,” and cites inspirations including rock and electronic music, video game soundtracks, and Japanese language and culture.

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 currently is in his first year of study for a masters degree in composition. His works explore “the intersections between contemporary music, humor, and nonviolent dissent” and are intended to provide “implicit messages about global citizenship through juxtaposition of musical ideas and styles.”

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 2018 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.

Composer Joseph Joubert to visit Mizzou
for premiere of new commissioned work

Composer and pianist Joseph Joubert is coming to Mizzou at the end of this month for a residency that will include the world premiere performance of “Freedom’s Plow,” a new commissioned work written by Joubert for Mizzou’s Concert Chorale.

On Thursday, November 29, Joubert (pictured) will speak at a convocation of the music department, and then take part in a recording session with the Concert Chorale. While he’s in Columbia, he’ll also attend rehearsals of the Chorale and the University Singers, as well as the Concert Chorale’s performance featuring his new work on Saturday, December 1 at First Baptist Church in Columbia.

A native New Yorker and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Joubert probably is best known for his involvement in musical theater, having served as the conductor of “Motown The Musical” on Broadway; as keyboardist and assistant conductor for “Billy Elliot” and “The Color Purple”; and for two seasons as staff pianist for the Metropolitan Opera Company’s revival of “Porgy And Bess.”

As a pianist, he has appeared in New York City’s major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, and with the Manhattan Symphony, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the New Philharmonia, the West Palm Beach Symphony, the Mobile Symphony, the Marin Symphony, and more.  Joubert also has been active as a recording artist, providing arrangements and keyboards for well-known performers including Ashford & Simpson, Patti Labelle, Jennifer Holliday, Nancy Wilson, Diana Ross, Judy Collins, George Benson, The O’Jays, Nnenna Freelon, Boys Choir of Harlem, Dixie Hummingbirds, and more.