Composer Steven Snowden visiting Mizzou for residency from October 1-3

Composer Steven Snowden will visit the Mizzou campus next week for a residency starting Sunday, October 1 and culminating in a “Composer Portrait” concert of his works at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 3 at Whitmore Recital Hall.

The concert will include Mizzou faculty ensemble DRAX performing the world premieres of “Where are Our Mothers” and “We Don’t Have Enough Time,” two new works commissioned from Snowden with support from the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

While on campus, Snowden (pictured) also will give a presentation to composition students about his music, and will coach the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on the performance of his work “Matilda,” which they’ll play at their concert on October 16 at Whitmore.

A native Missourian, Snowden grew up in the Ozarks and earned his undergraduate degree in music at Missouri State University.  After subsequently getting a master’s degree in music from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a doctorate from the University of Texas, he now is a freelance composer based in Boston.

This won’t be his first visit back to his home state in a professional capacity – he was one of the eight resident composers chosen for the 2011 Mizzou International Composers Festival – but he’ll be especially busy this trip, book-ending his residency in Columbia with stops on the campuses of his alma mater in Springfield and Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.

Though he’s received extensive training as a composer, Snowden nevertheless cites vernacular music like bluegrass, folk, and rock as key influences. “It’s really important to me that someone who doesn’t come from a background of listening to classical music can still be intrigued and drawn into the music that I write,” Snowden told the Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen in 2011. “Because of that, I strive to incorporate many possible perspectives of listening that can appeal to the uninitiated as well as seasoned analytical listeners. Hopefully, that also makes for music that can endure multiple hearings in which new details and levels of understanding can continually be discovered.”

Snowden’s works have been performed at venues and festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia, and he has earned honors and awards from the American Composers Forum’s national composition contest, ASCAP’s Morton Gould Awards, New Music USA, and many others.

Other notable accomplishments include helping to found and direct the Fast Forward Austin Music Festival in Texas (with another former MICF resident composer, Ian Dicke, from the 2014 fest), and serving in 2012 and 2013 as a Fulbright Scholar in Portugal, researching the implementation of motion tracking technology as a means to facilitate collaboration between music and dance. Snowden also was a visiting professor and composer in residence in 2013-14 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

You can hear samples of Steven Snowden’s music in the embedded player below and on his SoundCloud page.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble playing works
by Mizzou composers past and present
on Monday, October 16 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble‘s first concert of the 2017-18 season will feature music from two Mizzou alumni, one new faculty member, and more.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 16 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the Mizzou campus. Admission is $5 for the general public, free for Mizzou faculty, students and staff with ID.

Works to be performed will include “Lus in Bello” by Carolina Heredia, who this fall joined the University of Missouri faculty as the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s new postdoctoral fellow. Heredia first composed the piece in 2014 for the acclaimed new music group JACK Quartet, and in 2016 revised the arrangement for the Khemia Ensemble, the group she founded while a graduate student at the University of Michigan.

Also on the program are two pieces by recent Mizzou alumni. “Spherodendron” is by Haley Myers, who graduated in 2015 with a BM in composition. Inspired by the work of artist Bill Smith, it was written in 2013 specifically for a concert at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

“Naturally Synthetic” was premiered in 2012 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and was written by Joe Hills, who earned his master’s degree in composition from Mizzou in 2013.

In addition, Mizzou faculty mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley will join the Ensemble as guest artist for a performance of Steven Snowden‘s “Matilda.” Written in 2010 for soprano and mixed chamber ensemble, the piece incorporates the text of “Matilda Who Told Lies, and was Burned to Death,” a satirical children’s poem by the early 20th century writer Hilaire Belloc.

Snowden is a freelance composer based in Boston who was a resident composer at the 2011 Mizzou International Composers Festival. He’s returning to Mizzou for a guest composer residency in October, which will include a “Composer Portrait” concert of his music on Tuesday, October 3.

Completing the evening, the Ensemble will perform “Damn,” a 1998 work for amplified clarinet and four percussionists composed by John Mackey. Mackey, who lives in Massachusetts and is known particularly for his works for wind ensemble and concert band, visited the Mizzou campus for a residency in 2012.

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, professor of composition, and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. The Ensemble’s members for the 2017-18 season are Victoria Hargrove, clarinet; Hannah Hutchins, percussion; Daniel Keeler, cello; Kelariz Keshavarz, flute; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Libby Roberts, piano; and Brianna Trainor, percussion.

Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) looking for
new orchestral, choral works for concert in March 2018

While writing music may be a solitary activity, composers of new music for orchestra or chorus ultimately need the help of many others to bring their works to life in concert.

That’s why the Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) once again in 2018 will offer performance opportunities for new, large-ensemble music written by Missouri residents.

Now in its eighth year, MOCOP is a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO) (pictured), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Each year, recently composed works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process and are performed by the CCO and Chamber Choir at a concert in Columbia. Each of the composers of the selected works also is awarded a $500 honorarium.

MOCOP’s 2018 competition is open to composers of orchestral and choral music in four categories – two for Missouri composers currently in high school, and two open to Missouri composers of any age.

The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 11, 2018 at First Baptist Church, 1112 E Broadway in Columbia.

Composers who wish to submit their work to MOCOP can find details on eligibility and instrumentation plus complete application materials online at https://music.missouri.edu/mnmi/mocop.

Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, December 4, 2017.

Mizzou faculty ensemble ZouM to perform
Friday, September 8 in Columbia and
Saturday, September 9 in St. Louis

The Mizzou faculty collective ZouM will showcase new music from six living composers with performances next weekend in Columbia and St. Louis.

They’ll play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 8 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the MU campus, then travel to St. Louis for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 9 at Washington University’s 560 Music Center.

Admission to the concert in Columbia is $5 for the general public, free to Mizzou students, staff and faculty with ID. The St. Louis concert is free and open to the public.

In all, fifteen Mizzou faculty members (plus one guest composer/performer) will take part in the concerts, which will feature two world premieres commissioned with support from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The program for the two concerts will include:

* “Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out),” a 2012 work by Mizzou New Music Initiative managing director Jacob Gotlib that will be performed by percussionists Abby Rehard and Megan Arns.

* “Dejate Caer,” written in 2012 by MNMI’s new post-doctoral fellow Carolina Heredia, and performed by violinist Julie Rosenfeld with pre-recorded electronics by Heredia.

* “Southern Harmony,” composed in 2014 by Jacob Bancks and performed by mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and pianist Neil Minturn.

* “Winter Haiku,” composed in 2016 by Dennis Leclaire specifically for the Esterhazy String Quartet, which includes Julie Rosenfeld, Eva Szekely (violin), Leslie Perna (viola), and Eli Lara (cello).

* “Tantrums,” a new work by Asha Srinivasan, who was a resident composer at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF). The piece was commissioned and will be given its world premiere by MU faculty duo DRAX, featuring Leo Saguiguit on baritone saxophone and Megan Arns on percussion, with the composer on electronics.

     Christopher Stark

* “Monday, Midnight,” a new work commissioned from Christopher Stark, who’s an assistant professor of composition at Washington University and was a resident composer at the 2015 MICF.

The world premiere will be performed by an ensemble including Rosenfeld, Lara, Minturn, and Arns, plus Steven Tharp (tenor), Kristine Poulsen (alto flute), and Wesley Warnhoff (clarinet), conducted by Mizzou professor of composition and MNMI artistic director Stefan Freund.

ZouM is a collective of Mizzou faculty members formed in the spring of 2015 to present contemporary chamber music.

After only two seasons, ZouM already has enlisted the talents of more than 25 faculty performers, composers, and academics from the University of Missouri School of Music to present innovative programs that promote contemporary chamber works by living composers.

Recent projects have featured works by Jennifer Higdon, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Dennis DeSantis, and by Mizzou composers Stefan Freund, Trey Makler, Jacob Gotlib, and Carolina Heredia.

St. Louis Symphony musicians to read works by Mizzou composers

Three student composers from the University of Missouri School of Music will get a chance this academic year to have their orchestral works read, critiqued, and then played again by musicians from the St. Louis Symphony.

Under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, student composers Dustin Dunn, Aaron Mencher, and Douglas Osmun (pictured) are writing new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra, which will be read and played by members of the Symphony in a private session this November in St. Louis.

The composers then will get a chance to revise their works for a second, public reading by the same musicians on Sunday, April 29 at Powell Hall.

Dunn, a senior, and Mencher, a junior, are working toward undergraduate degrees in composition at Mizzou, while Osmun, winner of the school’s Sinquefield Composition Prize for 2017, is in his second year of study for a master’s degree.

“This is a unique opportunity for our composers,” said Stefan Freund, professor of composition at the University of Missouri School of Music and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “We’re delighted to be collaborating with the St. Louis Symphony to give these students some real, practical experience working with an ensemble of world-class musicians. ”

“The two-session format makes this program particularly valuable,” Freund said.  “There are other programs that give young composers the chance to have their works read by a professional orchestra, but most provide just one session with the musicians.”

“Here, because the Symphony and their musicians are willing to do two sessions, our composers will have a chance to evaluate everything from their overall orchestration to the notation of individual parts, make revisions, and then hear the results of the changes they’ve made. That’s a learning experience that’s impossible to get any other way,” he said.

Dunn, Mencher, and Osmun already are working on their compositions, Freund said, and are expected to deliver the first versions of their works to the Symphony in October. More details about the public reading in April will be announced at a later date.

A look back at the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival

Composers Festival spotlight: Georg Friedrich Haas

Georg Friedrich Haas, one of the two distinguished guest composers at the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival, is known and respected internationally as one of the major European composers of his generation.

Considered to be a leading exponent of “spectral music” and sometimes compared to György Ligeti for his use of microtonality, Haas has lectured and taught courses on the subject, but also has said he’s uncomfortable being pigeonholed, noting simply that, “I am a composer, not a microtonalist.”

As a distinguished guest composer for the MICF, Haas (pictured) will work with the eight resident composers and resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, and will give a public presentation on his music.

Two of his works will be played during the festival. Alarm Will Sound will perform Haas’ “Remix” as part of their concert on Thursday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre, and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will play his “…aus freier Lust…verbunden” during the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 28.

Haas’ compositions range from chamber pieces, including seven string quartets, to orchestral works, operas, and concertos. His hour-long “in vain,” written in 2000 for 24 musicians, has been called “path-breaking” and is regarded as one of the most important new compositions of the 21st century.

Another notable recent work by Haas is “limited approximations” for orchestra and 6 microtuned pianos, which won SWR Symphony Orchestra Composition Prize in 2010. Haas’s opera “Morgen und Abend,” with a libretto by the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, was jointly commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and premiered on the main stage of the Royal Opera House in November 2015.

Haas’ music has been performed by ensembles and orchestras all over the world, and his works have been part of festivals including Wien Modern in Vienna, Musikprotokoll in Graz, Witten, Huddersfield, Royaumont, Venice Biennale, and Festival d’Automne in Paris, as well as at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse and the Salzburg Festival 2011.

He has received many national and international awards, including the 2007 Grand Austrian State Prize for Music, the country’s highest artistic honor; the Music Award of the City of Vienna in 2012, the Music Award Salzburg in 2013, and numerous others.

Haas, who will turn 64 next month, was born in Graz, Austria and grew up in Tschagguns, a village in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. He studied composition, piano, and music pedagogy at the Musikhochschule in Graz, and then did post-graduate study at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna with Friedrich Cerha, who’s been described as “the doyen of Austrian composers.” He also participated in the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in 1980, 1988 and 1990, and the computer music course at IRCAM in 1991.

He began teaching in 1978 at the Musikhochschule, and in 2005 also started lecturing at the Hochschule in Basel, Switzerland. In 2013, he was appointed MacDowell Professor of Music at Columbia University in New York City, where he continues to teach.

For more about Georg Friedrich Haas, watch this video interview from 2015, and read Alex Ross’ 2010 piece about him in The New Yorker and this 2014 article about him from the New York Times. You can hear some of Haas’ music in the embedded players below.

“In Vain” performed by Ensemble Dal Niente, recorded at the Chicago premiere on February 28, 2013 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

“ATTHIS” (2009), performed for the St. Petersburg International New Music Festival by Ensemble for New Music Tallinn, with Merje Roomere and Eva-Maria Sumera (violins), Talvi Nurgamaa (viola), Jarkko Launonen (cello), Kristin Kuldkepp (double bass), Helena Tuuling (clarinet), Sabina Yordanova (bassoon), Jürnas Rähni (horn), and Rainer Kohlberger, visuals and real-time animation, conducted by Arash Yazdani. Recorded on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg.

“Sayaka” performed by Radar Ensemble, with Jonathan Shapiro (percussion) and Felix Kroll (accordion).

“Neues Werk für 8 Posaunen (Octet for eight trombones),” world premiere performance by Trombone Unit Hannover recorded September 10, 2015 at the Basler Münster in Basel, Switzerland

MICF in the news

With the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival set to start on Monday, July 24, the MICF has been in the news.

The website I Care If You Listen, which has an international following among composers, musicians, and new music enthusiasts, offered extensive coverage of the festival with “5 Questions for Stefan Freund,” which included several photos and a SoundCloud playlist of the 2016 MICF’s eight world premieres.

Freund – the artistic director of the MICF and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, professor of composition at Mizzou, and cellist for Alarm Will Sound – used the opportunity to tell ICIYL’s worldwide audience all about the festival and how it fits into MNMI’s array of programs for composers at all stages of their careers.

On Sunday, July 16, the Columbia Daily Tribune published a feature story, “Face the Music,” previewing the MICF. The article by the Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen, which was the cover story of the paper’s “Sunday Blend” section (pictured), featured interviews with resident composers Carolina Heredia and Christopher Mayo.

The Tribune and Danielsen followed up that story with three sidebars published online: one profiling the MICF’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound, one featuring a wide-ranging Q&A about the festival with MNMI managing director Jacob Gotlib, and one touting the MICF’s “can’t miss” moments.

Gotlib also was interviewed by Connor Lagore of the Columbia Missourian for that newspaper’s preview of the MICF, “Composers descend upon Columbia for new-music festival,”

On Tuesday, July 25, Columbia’s NBC affiliate KOMU aired a story about the festival by reporter Nick Allen, “Mizzou International Composers Festival begins eighth annual showcase.”

In addition, over the past few weeks the festival’s resident and distinguished guest composers all have talked with KMUC’s Trevor Harris for the station’s weekly “Mizzou Music” program, which airs at 6:00 p.m. every Wednesday. Those interviews have been archived on KMUC’s website.