Composers Festival spotlight: Wang Lu

Born in Xi’an, the ancient capital of China, 2016 MICF resident composer Wang Lu was raised as part of a musical family immersed in Chinese opera and folk music traditions, and her works “reflect a very natural identification with those influences, through the prism of contemporary instrumental techniques and new sonic possibilities.”

An assistant professor of music at Brown University since 2015, Wang (pictured) graduated in 2005 from the Central Conservatory of Music in Bejing and earned her doctoral degree in composition in 2012 from Columbia University.

Her honors include a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship, first prize at Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s Young Composers Forum in 2010, two ASCAP Morton Gould awards, and more.

Wang’s music has been performed internationally by groups including the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Shanghai National Chinese Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Albany Symphony, and many others.

In 2010, she was selected for a Tremplin commission by IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain, and in 2012, she took part in the International Composition Seminar with the Ensemble Modern.

Wang’s orchestral work “Scenes from the Bosco Sacro” was selected for the 2014 New York Philharmonic Biennial New Music Readings, and her music also has been featured at the Cresc Biennale for New Music, MATA Festival, Gaudeamus Music Week, Tanglewood Music Center, Cabrillo Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Takefu International Music Festival, and more.

In addition to “Backstory,” which she wrote for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s “Eight World Premieres” concert on Saturday, July 30, Wang’s other recent projects include commissions for ICE, Yarn/Wire, the Momenta Quartet, organist Mark Steinbach, and violinist Miranda Cuckson; and a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

For more about Wang Lu, read this short feature about her from last year on ClassicalLite.com; the 2014 interview with her published on the American Composers Orchestra’s website; and her 2011 interview with the Huffington Post.

You can hear samples of Wang Lu’s music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded players below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Daniel Silliman

2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival resident composer Daniel Silliman was born in Syracuse, NY and grew up in Katy, TX, near Houston.

He began studying piano as a child, and upon graduating high school, enrolled in the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, where his composition teachers included Andrew Norman, who was a distinguished guest composer at last year’s MICF.

After graduating summa cum laude from USC in 2015 with a B.M. in composition, Silliman is now a doctoral fellow working on an MFA/Ph.D in composition at Princeton University in New Jersey. His teachers there include Louis Andriessen and another former MICF distinguished guest composer, Donnacha Dennehy, who was part of the 2012 festival.

Silliman’s music has been recognized with a number of awards and honors, including the 2015 William Schuman Prize from the BMI Foundation; an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, for which he was a finalist in 2012 and a winner in 2015; and being selected as a resident composer in New York Youth Symphony’s First Music competition.

In 2015, Silliman was one of seven young composers chosen to participate in CULTIVATE, the annual composers institute at Copland House, which is the former home of composer Aaron Copland in upstate New York that’s now a center for new music. Daniel Silliman’s music also has been presented by the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, American Festival for the Arts, Texas Music Teachers Association, and Access Contemporary Music.

His new work created for the 2016 MICF is titled “Endless Castle Romance,” and will be premiered by Alarm Will Sound along with new pieces from the other seven resident composers at the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 30 at the Missouri Theatre.

You can hear samples of Daniel Silliman’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded media players below.

“strain” for cello and orchestra, featuring Michael Kaufman (cello) and the USC Symphony conducted by Donald Crockett.

“mechanical trees,” a 2014 work for bassoon, percussion, piano and page turns that was premiered and recorded on July 28, 2014 at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, ME.

“scaffold,” recorded February 24, 2015 in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California’s Joyce J. Cammileri Hall, featuring Clara Kim (violin), Michael Kaufman (cello), and Brendan White (piano).

Composers Festival spotlight: Wang A Mao

Coming originally from China, Wang A Mao had to travel a long way from home to study composing in the United States. But her journey to Columbia to serve as one of the eight resident composers for this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival was considerably shorter, for as the latest festival participant from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, she only had to travel another hundred miles or so down the road.

Wang (pictured) earned her bachelor of arts in composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and first came to Missouri to study for a master’s degree, which she earned in 2012. She currently is completing work on her doctorate in Kansas City, where her teachers have included Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long (who was a distinguished guest composer at the 2014 MICF).

Wang’s music has been recognized with awards and performances in both Asia and the United States. In 2011, she was selected as a winner of the Beijing Modern Music Festival‘s Young Composer Project, and her orchestral works have been read by the American Composers Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. In 2015, Wang’s “Characters in Theatre” was played at the NY Phil’s Biennial, a performance that the New York Times called “arresting…a kind of concentrated shot of the music associated with Chinese opera.”

Her chamber works have been premiered by groups including Third Angle New Music, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Music from China, and her commissioned work “The Feeble Breeze, The Sullen Spring” was included on the album East Meets West, Vol. II released by Albany Records.

She received a composition commission from the Missouri Music Teachers Association in 2013, and also has participated in composer fellowships and residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, the Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Banff Centre in Canada.

As a performer, Wang has played her own chamber works at Le Poisson Rouge in New York, Hong Kong’s City Hall Theatre, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and many Chinese venues. She also has performed her solo piano compositions at the Edgar Snow Memorial Fund Symposium and the National Association of Schools of Music concert series.

You can hear Wang A Mao talk about her music and about “Prowesses,’ the new work she’s written for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s grand finale, in the interview she recorded last month for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. For more, read her 2015 interview on the American Composers Orchestra’s website, and listen to samples of her music and another brief interview in the embedded players below.

“Shades of Chinese Essence,” a work for piano composed in 2014 and performed by pianist Zhang Yiming on February 26, 2015 at Temple University.

“Characters in Theatre (excerpt),” performed by the American Composers Orchestra led by George Manahan in June 2014 for the
Underwood New Music Readings at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York, NY.

Wang A Mao describes how her composition “Spirit of Zheng” was inspired by the poetry of Ruan Li.

Jacob Gotlib hired as new managing director for Mizzou New Music Initiative

The University of Missouri School of Music has hired Jacob Gotlib to be the new managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Gotlib, who earned his Ph.D in composition in 2015 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, will start work at Mizzou on Monday, August 15.

As managing director, he will oversee all programs and operations of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, including the Mizzou International Composers Festival, Creating Original Music Project (COMP), the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP), and more.

Currently living in Louisville, KY, Gotlib (pictured) already has some familiarity with the state of Missouri. Before getting his doctorate in Buffalo, he earned his master’s degree in composition in 2008 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and during his time there was one of the co-founders of the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance (KcEMA). Gotlib also holds a B.M. in music technology from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

His compositions have been performed by a variety of groups, including Ensemble Linea, Ensemble SurPlus, Ensemble Dal Niente, Crossfire Percussion Duo, Schlagquartett Köln, and Slagwerk Den Haag, and his music has received recognition from ASCAP/SEAMUS, Ossia, The Acht Brücken Festival, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, and various others.

While attending the University at Buffalo, Gotlib taught courses in composition, theory, and more. He also has served as an adjunct instructor in composition at Indiana University Southeast and Marshall University.

“We are delighted to have Jacob as the new managing director for the Mizzou New Music Initiative,” said Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music. “We were really impressed with both his overall knowledge of the field and his specific experiences as a composer, teacher, and organizer of new music events and festivals.”

Composers Festival spotlight: Trey Makler

Originally from Farmington, Missouri, Trey Makler
is Mizzou’s representative among this year’s group of eight resident composers at the Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Makler (pictured) just completed his senior year in Columbia, earning his bachelor’s degree studying composition with Stefan Freund and oboe with Dan Willett. While an undergraduate, he has served as vice-president of the Mizzou Composers Guild and president of the Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity, and he’s also quite familiar with the MICF, having been a production coordinator for the festival for the past three years.

An avid collaborator, Makler has worked with dancers, writers, and visual artists on a variety of interdisciplinary projects. He performs as an oboist with various ensembles in the Columbia area, including the Exit 128 contemporary chamber orchestra, of which he is a founding member; the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble and Philharmonic Orchestra; and others.

In addition to “Long String of Molecules,” the work Makler has written for Alarm Will Sound to premiere at the 2016 MICF, he also recently composed a piece for flute and guitar for this summer’s Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and completed work this year on “Hatrack,” a one-act chamber opera with libretto by Katie Kull.

Based on an essay by Herbert Asbury about the oppressive religious culture of rural Missouri in the early 20th century, “Hatrack” was premiered by Exit 128 in May 2016 at the Missouri Theatre.

Makler was the winner of the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the top award given to a student composer at Mizzou. He used the resulting commission to write “whatever we lose” for the University Philharmonic, and the work then was premiered at the 2015 Chancellor’s Arts Showcase. Also in 2015, Makler’s “die Sonette an Orpheus” was winner of the annual Boston New Music Initiative Young Composers Competition. It was premiered at the Arlington Center for the Arts in April of this year.

Makler also has written commissioned works for the Sheldon Concert Hall and others, including “Elysium,” composed for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and premiered in 2014 at an event for Forest Park Forever in St. Louis.

For more about Trey Makler, you can listen to the interview he did in May of this year on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program, and read this 2014 profile of him in the Columbia Daily Tribune. You can hear Trey Makler’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded media players below.

The world premiere of “Hatrack,” with music by Trey Makler and libretto by Katie Kull, performed by Exit 128 and conducted by Travis Herd on May 5, 2016 at the Missouri Theatre.

“I remember everything,” recorded at the 2015 Charlotte New Music Festival’s Dance Co-Lab concert.

“It Was There All Along,” premiered by Andrew Cuneo (bassoon) and Peter Henderson (piano) in February 2016 at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.

Composers Festival spotlight: Erin Gee

The innovative composer of vocal music Erin Gee is one of the two distinguished guest composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

In that capacity, she’ll give a public presentation on her music; teach and interact informally with the festival’s eight resident composers; and be in the audience for performances of her work in concerts by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday night and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on Friday night.

Currently an assistant professor of composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Gee (pictured) is known particularly for her series of compositions called “Mouthpieces,” which use “non-traditional vocal techniques, devoid of semantic language, to construct intricate and subtle patterns of a diverse array of vocal sounds.”

In 2014 she was cited by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, as part of his short list of the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century. Since then, she has been awarded the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Bogliasco Fellowship.

Gee graduated from the University of Iowa with BA and MA degrees in piano and composition, then earned a PhD in music theory in 2007 from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz.

“Mouthpieces” began as one piece for solo voice, which Gee began performing as a graduate student, and has grown to more than 25 works for orchestra, opera, vocal ensemble, large chamber ensemble and string quartet. Those works have been performed internationally by some of the top new music ensembles in Europe, North America, South America, Hong Kong and Japan and in the Wittener Tage für Neue Musik; Musik Protokoll in Steirischer Herbst; Klangspuren;, Darmstadt Festival Summer Courses; the SONiC Festival; and the Zurich Tage der Neue Musik. among others.

Gee’s awards for composition include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2008 Rome Prize, Zürich Opera House’s Teatro Minimo, and the Picasso-Mirò Medal, among others. She has written commissioned works for the Zurich Opera House; the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna; the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group under Esa-Pekka Salonen; Klangforum Wien; the American Composers Orchestra; and more.

Gee also has worked with the Latvian Radio Chamber Choir, Ensemble SurPlus, Alter Ego, Either/Or Ensemble, Wet Ink, Metropolis Ensemble, Repertorio Zero, and many others.

Her works are taught in the composition and musicology programs of many leading universities such as MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Mills College, and she has lectured at Harvard, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, and Wellesley.

Gee’s debut CD, also called Mouthpieces, was released in January 2014 on the col legno label in Vienna, and was praised by Gramophone magazine in a review which noted the “tangible virtuosity of Gee’s formidable vocal execution, as well as the comparable (if relatively more orthodox) finesse of the instrumental component” and stated, “Erin Gee clearly has a contribution to make.”

You can hear Erin Gee being interviewed last month on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program here, and see and hear some samples of her music being performed in the embedded players below.

Erin Gee and RepertorioZero perform “Mouthpiece XII” in a concert presented by Tage für Neue Musik in November 2009 at the Tonhalle in Zürich, Switzerland.

The Ecce ensemble performs “Mouthpiece XIXc” during the 2016 nienteForte Contemporary Music Festival in New Orleans.

The U.S. premiere of “Mouthpiece X” for amplified voice and amplified ensemble, performed on November 19 & 20, 2009 at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, featuring Erin Gee on vocals and Metropolis Ensemble, led by conductor Andrew Cyr.

“Mouthpiece XXIV” performed in 2015 by Ryan Muncy and Ross Karre of the International Contemporary Ensemble at Abrons Arts Center in New York City

Composers Festival spotlight: Ryan Lindveit

Resident composer Ryan Lindveit comes to this summer’s Mizzou International Composers Festival with a brand new bachelor of music degree in composition from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, from which he graduated summa cum laude this spring and was selected as Salutatorian for the class of 2016.

Lindveit (pictured) also was named this year’s “Outstanding Graduate” from the Thornton School of Music and received both the Composition Department Award and the USC Discovery Scholars Prize, a competitive postgraduate grant awarded to ten graduating seniors for the creation of outstanding original work in any discipline.

Raised near Houston, TX, Lindveit has had his works performed by ensembles including the United States Marine Band, USC Thornton Symphony, USC Thornton Wind Ensemble, the Donald Sinta Quartet, the City of Tomorrow, and FearNoMusic, in addition to numerous performances by students.

Earlier this year, he was selected as the winner of a BMI Student Composer Award for “Spinning Yarns” and honored at a ceremony in New York City. Lindveit was a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in both 2015 and 2016, and also has received honors and awards from SCI, the American Modern Ensemble, the National Band Association, Tribeca New Music, and more.

In addition to “Spiked,” the piece he composed for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the 2016 MICF’s grand finale on Saturday, July 30 at the Missouri Theatre, he also recently has created new works for the Donald Sinta Quartet and the LA-based trombone ensemble Skinny Lips and the Sound Malfunction.

Lindveit currently is taking a gap year, and in the fall of 2017 will begin work on a master’s degree in composition at the Yale School of Music. For more about Ryan Lindveit, you can read a feature story about him published on the USC website here, and listen to his interview last month on KMUC‘s “Mizzou Music” program here. You can hear samples of Ryan Lindveit’s music on his SoundCloud page and via the embedded players below.

“Word Salads – III” is part of a 2015 work for wind quintet, performed here by Stephanie Bell (flute), Sarah Minneman (oboe), Sergio Coelho (clarinet), Emily Schoendorf (bassoon), Matt Otto (horn), and conducted by Ryan Lindveit on April 4, 2016 at the University of Southern California’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall.

“Like An Altar With Nine Thousand Robot Attendants,” was composed in 2015 and is performed here by by the USC Thornton Symphony on October 16, 2015 at Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus.

“Spinning Yarns,” performed by the United States Marine Band conducted by Joe Higgins on June 16, 2015 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall Marine Barracks Annex in Washington, DC.

Composers Festival spotlight: Missouri Saxophone Quartet

In addition to a performance by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, the Friday night concert of the Mizzou International Composers Festival usually features one or more guest artists, and this year’s “Mizzou New Music” concert will include some selections from the Missouri Saxophone Quartet.

Formed in 2009, the MSQ includes Leo Saguiguit (soprano sax), Adrianne Honnold (alto sax), Joel Vanderheyden (tenor sax), and Matthew Kendrick (baritone sax).

Collectively, they play a variety of musical styles, from baroque transcriptions and traditional French repertoire to jazz, tango, and avant-garde, but are particularly “devoted to exploring and promoting new music, particularly that of Missouri composers.’

In keeping with that interest, the MSQ already have inspired several commissioned works, which they’ve presented at events including the North American Saxophone Alliance‘s Biennial Conference at the University of Georgia; the United States Navy Band’s International Saxophone Symposium in Fairfax, Virginia; the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland; and the Odyssey Chamber Music Series in Columbia.

Individually, the four members are involved in many different performing and teaching activities.

Leo Saguiguit is an associate professor of music at Mizzou who holds music degrees from Emory University and Northwestern University. He performed at last year’s MICF as part of the duo DRAX, and also plays with the Athens (Greece) Saxophone Quartet, Chicago Saxophone Quartet, Trio Chymera, and the Odyssey Chamber Music Series of Columbia.

Saguiguit also has been a soloist with various orchestras and wind ensembles, performing on more than a dozen CD recordings, and has played as an orchestral saxophonist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Milwaukee Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, and more.

Adrianne Honnold earned her bachelor of music education and master of music degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and now teaches saxophone at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Washington University.

A former member of the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band and Rhythm in Blue Jazz, she is one of the founding members and artistic directors of Chamber Project St. Louis and also has performed with the St. Louis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre Saint Louis and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Joel Vanderheyden is assistant professor of music and director of jazz at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, MO. He earned his D.M.A. in saxophone performance from the University of Iowa, a master’s in jazz studies from the University of Maryland, and a B.A. in music education and performance from University of Minnesota, Morris.

A member of the electro-jazz ensemble Koplant No, Vanderheyden previously served as director of jazz and woodwinds at Oakton Community College near Chicago, and director of jazz at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Matthew Kendrick earned his music and accountancy degrees from Mizzou and has been featured as a saxophonist in festivals, recitals, and conferences throughout North America and Europe. He also is a founding member of the Contreras Saxophone Quartet, and serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Northland Symphony Orchestra.

For more on the Missouri Saxophone Quartet, you can “like” their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, and you can see and hear them performing in the embedded videos below.

“Rocket To Venus” by Stefan Freund, recorded in 2012 at the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland

“Primal” by Aaron Perrine, recorded in 2012 at the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland

Excerpt from performance in February 2014 at Saxquest in St. Louis, MO