Composers Festival spotlight: DM R

2021 MICF resident composer DM R (Diana M. Rodriguez) was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, has lived in Miami and Boston, and currently is based in New York City, where she is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University.

She previously earned a master’s degree from the Boston Conservatory and a bachelor’s degree from the New World School of the Arts at the University of Florida.

DM R (pictured) is a composer of electroacoustic music, influenced variously by pop culture, Colombian folk, Rock en Español, and more. She also is a concert series curator for Columbia Composers and CanvaSounds, as well a member of C3 (Colombian Composers Collective), a group of six Colombian composers currently based in the US that also includes Mizzou alumni José G. Martínez.

For the MICF, she has written a new work called “I watched them burying me,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres II” online concert on Saturday, July 31.

Other recent projects include collaborations with TAK Ensemble and Sound Icon.

Previously, her work has been presented by ensembles and institutions including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Yarn/Wire, ECCE Ensemble, Ludovico Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Berrow Duo, Eric Drescher, Josh Modney at the BANFF Centre for the Arts and Creativity, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the Boston Conservatory, University of North Colorado, the Coral Gables Museum, and the New England Conservatory.

Her past honors include the Houseman and Kirkham Scholarship and the Mrs. Morgan P Gilbert Scholarship, both at the New World School of the Arts; and being a two-time finalist in the Jane Pyle Composition Competition.

You can learn more about DM R by listening to the interview she did in May of this year with the “Lexical Tones” podcast. You can hear samples of her music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded players below.

“YLS,B” for fixed media, piano (synth), bass clarinet, and violin, performed by The Oasi Trio at the Lenfest Center for the Arts at Columbia University.

“Variation X”

“You’ll See Me Return to the City of Fury,” performed by Erik Drescher (flute).

Composers Festival spotlight: Daniel Fitzpatrick

The University of Missouri’s representative among the resident composers at this year’s MICF is Daniel Fitzpatrick, who currently is studying for his master’s in composition at Mizzou.

Fitzpatrick also is a music technology graduate assistant and has served as the pianist of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble. A native of Wentzville, MO, he earned his bachelor of music degree at Southeast Missouri State University.

For the MICF, he has written a new work titled “Adapt,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres I” online concert on Tuesday, July 27.

A multi-instrumentalist as well as a composer, Fitzpatrick began playing banjo at age seven, and also plays guitar and mandolin in addition to piano. Bluegrass and folk music have had considerable significance in his life as a composer and performer, but his original music draws on a variety of influences, exploring “many different folk traditions in his compositions along with the genres of dubstep, glitch, pop, and modern classical music.”

These diverse influences come into focus in various ways as Fitzpatrick composes and arranges music for banjo. For example, his 2019 piece “Perplexion” fuses the styles of bluegrass, ragtime, jazz, and contemporary classical music. He also has arranged and performed Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C# minor Op. 3, No. 2” on the banjo, defying the often stereotypical image and perceived limitations of the instrument.

Fitzpatrick has been featured as a banjo soloist and composer in various concerts and recitals at the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri University, and East Central College.

This past year, his composition “Poem of the Phantom Queen,” commissioned by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Sheldon Concert Hall, was premiered by pianist Peter Henderson and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra cellist Bjorn Ranheim in a concert in March at The Sheldon.

He also was part of the 2020 MICF, performing his banjo concertino “Ancient Echoes” with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble in an online concert, showcasing the extended capabilities of the instrument in a setting of acoustic sound effects and modal interplay.

Fitzpatrick in 2017 was featured in a collaborative recital with artist Najjar Abdul-Mussawwir’s “Reconstructed” exhibition at Southeast Missouri State University. During this event, he premiered his piece “Premonition” and performed traditional bluegrass music, as well as works by Béla Fleck and Tony Trischka.

You can hear some samples of Daniel Fitzpatrick’s music in the embedded video windows below.

“Poem of the Phantom Queen,” performed by Bjorn Ranheim (cello) and
Peter Henderson (piano) on March 25, 2021 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“Ancient Echoes,” recorded in 2020 by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, with Daniel Fitzpatrick (banjo), Stephen Landy (percussion), Ann Mozina (flute), Jordan Nielson (percussion), Pedro Ramiro (violin), Cameron Tubbs (cello). and Andrew Wiele (clarinet), directed by Dr. Stefan Freund.

Composers Festival spotlight: Khemia Ensemble

Khemia Ensemble in 2021 will be part of the Mizzou International Composers Festival for the the third consecutive year, performing as part of the “Mizzou New Music” online concert on Wednesday, July 28.

Their performance will include the premieres of new works by Mizzou professor and MNMI artistic director Stefan Freund, MNMI’s former post-doctoral fellow Phillip Sink, and 2021 MICF resident composer Nina Shekhar.

Khemia (pictured) is “a contemporary chamber ensemble focused on championing the works of living composers through vivid, multimedia performances.”

With an original lineup of musicians featuring members from four different countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, and the United States – Khemia brings diverse approaches to the music of a variety of living composers and to their stated mission, which is to “foster collaborations among the arts by working closely with designers, visual artists, and writers as well as incorporating poetic, visual, and interactive elements in our performances.”

The group is led by co-artistic directors Er-Gene Kahng, violinist, and Amy Petrongelli, soprano, and includes Mizzou assistant professor Eli Lara on cello, as well as Thiago Ancelmo, clarinet; Annie Jeng, piano; Shane Jones, percussion; Chelsea Tinsler Jones, percussion; and Mary Matthews, flute.

In addition to performing during the MICF, Khemia Ensemble also has served for the last two years as the resident ensemble for Mizzou’s Summer Composition Institute, and this past semester took part in a “virtual residency” for MNMI and the School of Music.

They have been featured in venues and festivals such as National Sawdust, Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit, the third annual New Music Gathering, Latin IS America at Michigan State University and the Biennial New Music Festival at the National University of Cordoba.

They also have had residencies at University of Michigan, Tufts University, Michigan State University, the National University of Bogota and the National University of Cordoba, as well as two consecutive years at Avaloch Farms.

The ensemble’s collective interest in multimedia led to the creation several years ago of “Khemia Lights,” an installation devised in a collaboration with Intermedio, a Cincinnati-based sound and visual production company. Employing “audio-visual technology that responds live to the rhythm and intensity of the music we are performing, creating an exciting multi-sensory experience for the audience,” the lighting system has been used as part of interactive concerts in Cincinnati, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

You can hear samples of Khemia Ensemble’s music on their website, their SoundCloud page, and in the embedded video windows below.

Khemia Ensemble Virtual Recital – Mizzou Student Works – March 2021

“Constellations” by Emma O’Halloran

Khemia Ensemble Virtual Recital – Solo Works

Composers Festival spotlight: Celka Ojakangas

Resident composer Celka Ojakangas comes to the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Los Angeles, CA, where she currently is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Southern California, while also serving as a part-time professor of music at Occidental College.

The festival also will be a homecoming of sorts for Ojakangas, a Missouri native who was raised in Springfield and earned her bachelor’s degree at Drury University before heading west.

Active as a composer, conductor, and performer, Ojakangas (pictured) creates music that “plays with hybridism and recontextualization, intentionally exploring and blurring the boundaries between culturally-defined genres for a resultant fun and eclectic palette of textures, rhythms, and grooves.”

Gleaning musical ideas from her collaborative work as a violist in symphonies, new music ensembles, jazz groups, and rock bands, Ojakangas composes “with the intention of bringing creativity and play to the forefront of the listener’s and performer’s experiences.”

For the MICF, she has written a new work titled “Sploopy,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres I” online concert on Tuesday, July 27.

Ojakangas’ compositions have been premiered and commissioned by artists including yMusic, Hocket, Kaufman School of Dance, the Raleigh Symphony, Portland State University Opera, New Opera West, Blackhouse Collective, Bantam Winds, Thornton Symphony Orchestra, and Thornton Wind Ensemble.

In addition to being selected for the MICF, she also has collaborated with musicians at the Oh My Ears! Festival, and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium. Other honors include the Thornton School’s Hans J. Salter Endowed Music Award, Opera America’s Discovery Grant for Female Composers, the American Prize for Wind Band, the IAWM Alex Shapiro Prize Honorable Mention, and multiple finalist awards in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer’s Competition.

You can hear samples of Celka Ojakangas’ music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded video windows below.

“Revival” premiered February 20, 2019 by the USC Thornton Symphony with Dr. Donald Crockett conducting.

“Bellman Strut,” recorded by Blackhouse Collective during their 2019 SoCal Intermedia Workshop, featuring Kimberly Dunning (clarinets), Daniel Lemer (flutes), Hunter Long (recorders), Kenken Gorder (trumpet), Jacob Elkin (bass trombone), Jordan Curcuruto (percussion), Joanna Chen (percussion), John Smigelski (percussion), Zoe Hartenbaum (viola), Dustin Seo (cello), and Rebecca Lawrence (bass),

“HOCKET Joined the Meeting,” recorded by Hocket Ensemble as part of “#What2020SoundsLike,” a project of miniature commissions with a quick turnaround time.

Composers Festival spotlight: Karim Sulayman

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will welcome tenor Karim Sulayman as a guest performer for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Sulayman (pictured) will appear with resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound when they premiere the first part of distinguished guest composer David T. Little’s monodrama “What Belongs to You” as part of the “World Premieres I” online concert on Tuesday, July 27.

The winner of the 2019 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Classical Solo Vocal,” Sulayman has earned international acclaim for his programming and recording projects, while regularly performing around the world in opera, orchestral concerts, recital and chamber music.

A native of Chicago, Sulayman studied violin as a child and teenager, and also sang with the Chicago Children’s Choir, which led to him being hand selected by Sir Georg Solti and Leonard Slatkin to be a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony. He went on to graduate from the Eastman School of Music and later earned a Masters degree from Rice University.

Sulayman has released two solo albums on the AVIE label. The first, “Songs of Orpheus,” earned international acclaim and won the 2019 GRAMMY® Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His second solo album “Where Only Stars Can Hear Us” was released in March 2020 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart.

Described as “a dedicated chamber musician,” Sulayman has been a frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival and has been presented by many of the world’s leading chamber music festivals. His concerts and recordings have been broadcast nationally and internationally on NPR, American Public Media, BBC Radio 3, and WDR 3.

Sulayman has appeared with New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater, as well as with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and National Symphony Orchestras. He has performed at Elbphilharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, International Bach Festival and many other prestigious festivals and venues, collaborating with conductors including Harry Bicket, Marin Alsop, Osmo Vänskä, Helmuth Rilling, Jane Glover, Yves Abel and Robert Spano.

Recent projects include performing chamber music by Hahn and Vaughan Williams with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective in June 2021 with Britten-Pears Arts at Snape Maltings in the UK; and reprising his performances of Frank London’s “Ghetto Songs” on tour this month in Germany. He’ll continue the 2021-22 season with with a role in a new multimedia production of Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” in Miami, and performing Handel’s “Messiah” and Haydn’s “Creation” with the Winston-Salem Symphony. In May 2022, Sulayman will make his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in an original program of Schubert songs, “Where Only Stars Can Hear Us.”

For more about Karim Sulayman, listen to his extended interview from January of this year on the “Unequal Temperament” podcast. You can see samples of his performances on his YouTube channel and in the embedded video windows below.

“Li Beirut” by- Fairuz, arranged by Matthew Duvall and Lisa Kaplan and performed by Karim Sulayman, Matthew Duvall (marimba) and Lisa Kaplan (glockenspiel) on October 20, 2020 for Chicago Artists Workshop (CAW) by Eighth Blackbird.

“L’énamourée” by Reynaldo Hahn in an arrangement by Tom Poster for the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, recorded live in November 2020 at the Wiltshire Music Centre in the UK.

“Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon” by Francis Poulenc, performed by Karim Sulayman, Matthew Duvall (marimba) and Lisa Kaplan (glockenspiel) on October 20, 2020 for Chicago Artists Workshop (CAW) by Eighth Blackbird.

Composers Festival spotlight: Shuying Li

Resident composer Shuying Li comes to the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Spokane, WA, where since 2020 she has served as assistant professor of composition and music theory at Gonzaga University.

Yet her musical journey actually began years ago and much further away, at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in her native China.

In her sophomore year there, Shuying (pictured) won a scholarship to continue her undergraduate studies at The Hartt School in Connecticut. She went on to earn doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan,

She continues to be a research faculty member at the Shanghai Conservatory. And to promote cultural diversity and connections through music, Shuying founded the Four Corners Ensemble in 2017. As artistic director and conductor, her efforts have led to residencies and performances at Carnegie Hall, the Polish Consulate General in New York City, OPERA America, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and more. Shuying also pioneered both the Operation Opera Festival in Ann Arbor, MI and the Jimo Ancient City Classical Music Festival in Qingdao, China.

For the MICF, Shuying has written a new work called “Sweeping and Weeping,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s “World Premieres II” online concert on Saturday, July 31.

Some of her other significant achievements include the premiere in 2017 of her commissioned work “Out Came the Sun” at Carnegie Hall by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; and serving that same year as one of three resident composers in the American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.

In 2015, Shuying’s orchestral piece, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” was named a winning work as part of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, and was performed by the orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta. In 2013, her orchestral work “Overture to ‘The Siege’” won both IAWM’s Libby Larsen Prize and the Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, and was given a world premiere by the Seattle Symphony. And in 2014, Shuying’s work for band “Slippery Slope” won the distinguished ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize.

Other recognition Shuying has received includes awards from The American Prize, the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition, the New Jersey Composers’ Guild Commission Competition, the International Huang Zi Composition Competition, the Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Competition, and numerous others. She also was composer-in-residence for the Romania ICon Arts Festival during the summer of 2014.

Shuying’s compositions have been performed by orchestras and ensembles around the globe, including Hartford Opera Theater, Wellesley Conference Chamber Orchestra, Orkest de ereprijs in the Netherlands, Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra in Finland, and many more.

Her other upcoming projects include performances by Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project and more; an opera with librettist Julian Crouch, commissioned by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; and a band consortium commission by 20 universities, including New England Conservatory, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, and others.

You can hear samples of Shuying Li’s music on her Soundcloud page and in the embedded video windows below.

“Bloodlines Paraphrase” was commissioned by Copland House for the Copland House Ensemble.

Excerpts from large ensemble works “The Last Hive Mind,” “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” and “Out Came the Sun”

Excerpts from the World Map Concerti Series: “The Dryad” (Erika Boysen, flute); “American Variations” (Joshua Anderson, clarinet); “Matilda’s Dream” (Richard Narroway, cello); “Canton Snowstorm” (Annie Jeng, piano); and “The Peace House” (Christina Adams, violin)

Composers Festival spotlight: Paul Mortilla

When Paul Mortilla began his studies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2014, he already had more experience and training as a composer than most undergraduates.

That’s because Mortilla, a Florida native who is one of nine resident composers for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival, actually began writing original music on his own at the precocious age of 11, drawing on a eclectic variety of influences ranging from church hymns to electronic dance music. A couple of years later, he began studying formally with faculty members from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

Mortilla (pictured) went on to earn his BM in music composition at the Jacobs School. receiving several honors while he was there. He won a BMI Student Composer Award in 2016, and also won the Lake George Music Festival Composition Competition. He attended the HighScore music festival and in 2017, was invited to participate in the Tanglewood Music Festival as a composition fellow.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Mortilla subsequently earned a Masters in Music from Yale School of Music. While he was at Yale, his music was performed by ensembles including Callithumpian Consort and Yale Philharmonia, and he coordinated various concerts that premiered all-new works for early instruments. In 2019, his efforts were rewarded with an American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Scholarship.

Mortilla’s composition for the 2021 MICF is called “Rainbow Diamond,” and will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres II” online concert on Saturday, July 31

In another recent premiere, the Albany Symphony’s new music group Dogs of Desire presented the debut performance of Mortilla’s “Transmuting Ether/Quarantine-Dreams.” For some insight into his compositional process, you can watch a video of Mortilla and Albany Symphony Music Director David Alan Miller discussing the work.

You can hear samples of Mortilla’s music on his SoundCloud page and in the embedded video windows below.

“Transmuting Ether/Quarantine-Dreams,” recorded in September 2020 by the Albany Symphony’s new music group Dogs of Desire


“a syntactic harmonicities”

Composers Festival spotlight: Yu Kuwabara

The music of composer Yu Kuwabara explores connections between the personal and the traditional, the past and the present, and Japan and the rest of the world.

One of the nine resident composers for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival, Kuwabara (pictured) is from Tokyo, and completed her master’s degree at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA). She now is a lecturer at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, and also teaches composition courses to children for the Yamaha Music Foundation.

For several years, she has been researching and learning traditional Japanese music and arts. Toward that end, Kuwabara is a composer for Awai-Za, a chamber ensemble that mixes new music and Japanese Edo culture, and she has collaborated with numerous artists who use traditional Japanese art forms, including Noh performers, Rakugo performer Kokontei Shinsuke, the Buddhist chant group Shomyo no Kai, Voices of a Thousand Years, and many others.

For the MICF, Kuwubara has written a new work titled “Nested Time,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the online “World Premieres II” concert on Saturday, July 31.

Her music has been performed by a wide variety of ensembles and musicians, including Enno Poppe and Ensemble Modern, Trio Accanto, soloists from Ensemble Intercontemporain, Talea Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, and dozens more.

Kuwabara’s works have been programmed at prestigious festivals such as Darmstädter Ferienkurse, the CRESC Biennale für Aktuelle Musik Frankfurt Rhein-Main, Ultraschall Berlin, Mostra Sonora Sueca, Tongyeong International Music Festival, Takefu International Music Festival, and more.

She has received commissions from organizations and ensembles including Festival 20/21 Transit, International Ensemble Modern Academy, National Theatre of Japan, Yokohama Minato-Mirai Hall, Riot Ensemble, and numerous others.

Her awards include winning the international composition contest ‘Breaking Music’; the fifth edition of Divertimento Ensemble’s ‘Franco Donatoni’ International Meeting for Young Composers; and neuverBand’s Construct-Radiate International Composition Competition. She also has been recognized with awards in competitions such as Protonwerk, the Asian Composers Showcase, the Japan Music Competition, and Tokyo Arts and Space.

You can hear samples of Kuwabara’s music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded videos below.

“incense efflorescence,” performed by neuverBand, featuring Anja Clift (flute), Valentina Štrucelj (clarinet), Hannah Walter (violin), Anne-Laure Dottrens (viola), Ellen Fallowfield (cello), Lukas Rickli (piano), Victor Barceló (percussion), Alice Belugou ( harp), and Olivia Steimel (accordion), conducted by Mike Svoboda.

“Mizu no Koe (Water Voice),” recorded by violinist Marco Fusi on June 14, 2020 at Vondel Studio in Schaerbeek, Belgium.

“7 Studies about ‘Image’,” recorded December 12, 2019 by Alwyn Tomas Westbrooke (violin), Kyubin Hwang (violoncello), and Michiko Saiki (piano).