Composers Festival Spotlight: Michael Schacter

Michael Schachter

Michael Schacter is one of eight resident composers at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival, and comes to Columbia from Ann Arbor, MI, where he currently is working towards a Ph.D. in music theory and composition at the University of Michigan.

Originally from Massachusetts and an enthusiastic Red Sox fan, Michael is a pianist as well as a composer whose music draws from “an eclectic brew of influences including jazz and New Orleans, Renaissance polyphony, Jewish liturgy and klezmer, and South Indian classical music.”

He earned his BA in 2009 from Harvard, where he directed the Harvard Chamber Singers and founded and directed the Harvard Jazz Collective, performing in concerts and master classes with Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and many others.

As a scholar, Michael’s research interests include the philosophy of music (especially aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics), pedagogy, early music, jazz, New Orleans music, and the classical music of South India. He spent the 2009-2010 academic year in Chennai, India, studying South Indian classical singing and vina playing. He returned there earlier this year to continue his research on melodic structures in South Indian classical music and work on a joint project transcribing and cataloging ragas with vina virtuoso Karaikudi S. Subramanian.

As a composer, Michael has received recognition from BMI, ASCAP, and the American Composers Forum, and his orchestral work “Freylekhe Tanzen” was selected for the ill-fated 2013 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

In 2013, the University of Michigan in partnership with the Gershwin family commissioned him to compose a mash-up of the University’s fight song “Hail to the Victors” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The resulting “Rhapsody in Maize and Blue” was premiered by Kenneth Kiesler and the University Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring singer Audra McDonald.

Other recent and upcoming projects include premieres with the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers, and the Aurea Silva Trio, as well as collaborations with Subramanian, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, the Jameson Singers, bass-baritone Davone Tines, and saxophonist Eddie Goodman.

For the 2014 MICF, Michael has written a new work called “Five-Six-Seven-Eight,” that will be one of eight world premieres performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound for the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

“The opportunity to write for an ensemble with the timbral palette of a full orchestra but the locked-in tightness of a Pro Tools session perhaps overly piqued my imagination, and I wanted to use this piece to explore a greater range of textures and ideas than one coherent movement could reasonably accommodate,” he said. “As such, the work consists of four miniatures, each between one and two minutes in length. The title, a reference to the common bandstand count-in, reflects the different dance-inspired characters of each miniature.”

You can hear more of Michael Schacter’s music on his website, and in the videos below.

The world premiere performance of “Three Wallace Stevens Songs”
on March 30, 2014 by The New York Virtuoso Singers

The final three minutes of “Oseh Shalom Bimromav,” winner of the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra’s Young Composer Competition, performed in May 2013 by the BCCO.

“II. Jig, for Cello and Piano” (2011) performed by Schachter (piano) and Pierre Derycz (cello) at 2012 Midwest Composers Symposium at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Zhou Long to serve as guest composer
for 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival;
Beat Furrer unable to attend for medical reasons

The Mizzou New Music Initiative announced today that Swiss composer Beat Furrer, who had been scheduled to be one of the guest composers later this month at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival, will be unable to attend the festival due to medical reasons.

In place of Furrer, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Zhou Long, Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, has agreed to serve as a guest composer for the 2014 MICF.

“We regret that Beat Furrer won’t be able to participate in this year’s festival, as his doctor has advised him not to travel, and we hope he’s feeling better soon,” said William J. Lackey, managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “However, we feel extraordinarily fortunate that a composer of Zhou Long’s stature happened to have space in his schedule at this time, and we are most grateful that he has agreed to join us in Columbia on such short notice.”

Zhou (pictured) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2011 for his first opera, Madame White Snake. Born in 1953 in China, he first came to the United States in 1985 to study music at Columbia University, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993.

He has taught at UMKC since 2001, and has received awards, fellowships and commissions from major organizations and musical ensembles all around the world, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Cary Trust, and the Copland Fund for Music.

For MICF ticket buyers, the change in guest composers means that they’ll hear a different program during the concert by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre, as the festival’s resident ensemble will perform Zhou’s Bell Drum Towers in place of one of the Furrer compositions previously scheduled. That concert also will include music by Nico Muhly, the MICF’s other guest composer this year.

For the festival’s eight resident composers, Zhou’s participation in the festival will give them a chance to study and interact with a composer and teacher who has been recognized internationally for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West.

A pioneer in combining the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions with contemporary Western ensembles and compositional forms, Zhou served as music director for the presenting organization Music From China for more than a decade while living in New York. During the MICF, he will give a public presentation about his music; instruct and interact with the eight resident composers in individual and group sessions; and work with Alarm Will Sound on the performance of Bell Drum Towers.

To buy tickets for the Mizzou International Composers Festival online, or to see a complete listing of events, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Alarm Will Sound

Alarm Will Sound

It’s been a busy year for Alarm Will Sound since the last Mizzou International Composers Festival.

For starters, the MICF’s resident ensemble (pictured) recently completed a year-long residency at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, performing there four times during the 2013-14 presenting season.

The concerts at the Met included “Permanent Collection,” revisiting key works written for the sinfonietta throughout musical history, in October; an all-Steve Reich program in November; a collaboration with Dance Heginbotham in February; and “I Was Here I Was I,” a music and theater piece composed by Kate Soper with a libretto by Nigel Maister, in June.

AWS over the past year also presented their second season of performances in St. Louis, playing three different programs at the Sheldon Concert Hall and making their debut at the top rock venue The Pageant with music from Aphex Twin, Steve Reich and Tyondai Braxton.

As part of their effort to get more involved in St. Louis, members of Alarm Will Sound conducted an ongoing series of workshops with students at the Community Music School of Webster University, culminating with selected students from CMS joining AWS on stage to perform in season’s final concert at The Sheldon. The program’s eventual goal, according to AWS managing director Gavin Chuck, is to form a student ensemble  – sort of an “Alarm Will Sound Jr,” if you will – to give CMS students continuing opportunities to learn and perform music by living composers.

And as if all that weren’t enough, AWS also managed to travel to Europe twice, to perform last September at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland, and in November to play at the Cresc Biennale in Frankfurt, Germany.

Other 2014 performances included a concert at NYC’s Carnegie Hall in June, featuring works by Donnacha Dennehy, Kate Moore, Kaki King, and Richard Ayres; and Alarm Will Sound’s Chicago debut over the Independence Day weekend in a concert at Millennium Park.

Last but certainly not least, AWS managed to make it to Columbia for the first time during the academic year, playing February 7 in a free concert at the Missouri Theatre.

Looking ahead, this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival once again will feature two performances by Alarm Will Sound at the Missouri Theatre.  On Thursday, July 24, they’ll present a program including music from 2014 guest composer Nico Muhly, John Adams’ “Scratchband,” and more.

Then for the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26, AWS will will perform eight world premieres of works written especially for them by this year’s eight resident composers. Tickets for both concerts are on sale now.

For the latest from Alarm Will Sound, you can follow them on Twitter and/or “Like” them on Facebook.

You also can hear some of the music Alarm Will Sound has premiered at past Mizzou International Composers Festivals via SoundCloud. Audio files from 2010 are here; the tracks from 2011 are here; and 2012’s files are here.

Twinned: Alarm Will Sound/Dance Heginbotham
Recorded February 20, 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alarm Will Sound at the Community Music School of Webster University

Ives “Ragtime Dance No. 4”
Recorded October 11, 2013 during the “Permanent Collection” performance at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Audio of the complete “Permanent Collection” concert

If you’re coming to Columbia…

If you’re planning coming to Columbia for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival, you can get advance tickets online for all three concerts, which will be presented again this year at the Missouri Theatre:

Thursday, July 24: Alarm Will Sound
Friday, July 25: Mizzou New Music
Saturday, July 26: Eight World Premieres

Also, you may find these links useful for planning and/or during your visit:

Visitors information
Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau
University of Missouri Visitors Guide
Columbia Regional Airport
Vox Magazine’s guide to Columbia restaurants
City of Columbia official site
2013-2014 Columbia Missouri Visitor & Area Guide

Media
Columbia Tribune
Columbia Missourian
Columbia area radio stations
KOMU-TV (NBC)
KMIZ-TV (ABC)
KRCG-TV (CBS)
KMOS-TV (PBS)

National Weather Service forecast for Boone County, Missouri

Tickets now on sale for 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival
concerts on July 24, 25 & 26 at Missouri Theatre

Alarm Will Sound

Tickets are now on sale for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival’s concerts on Thursday, July 24; Friday, July 25; and Saturday, July 26.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2014, the Mizzou International Composers Festival will take place starting Monday, July 21 through Saturday, July 26 in Columbia. Already considered one of the most noteworthy contemporary music events in the Midwest, the MICF attracts attention from composers, musicians, music educators, and media around the world.

Once again, the grand finale of the week will feature the world premieres of eight new works written by the festival’s resident composers and performed by the acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound (pictured, top left).  That concert will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St.

Beat Furrer

The festival’s other two public performances will feature Alarm Will Sound at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre; and “Mizzou New Music,” featuring works by MICF guest composers Beat Furrer and Nico Muhly, and by MU faculty and student composers, performed by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 25 at the Missouri Theatre.

Festival passes good for admission to all three concerts are on sale for $80 for the VIP package, which includes reserved premium seating; $40 for an adult general admission pass; and $20 for a student general admission pass.

Nico Muhly

Single tickets are priced at $18 for adults, $10 for students, and are all general admission. Tickets can be charged by phone using Visa, MasterCard or Discover by calling 1-573-882-3781*. To buy tickets online, or to see a complete listing of Mizzou International Composers Festival events, visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

In addition to these three concerts, the MICF also will feature several free events, including open rehearsals and presentations by the participating composers. A complete schedule of those events will be released at a later date.

The eight resident composers were selected from more than 200 applicants from the USA and overseas to participate in the festival and create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. They are:
* Ian Dicke, Riverside, CA
* Holly Harrison, Sydney, Australia
* Texu Kim, Bloomington, IN
* José Martínez, Columbia, MO
* Nicholas Omiccioli, Kansas City, MO
* Michael Lee Schachter, Ann Arbor, MI
* Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Urbana, IL
* Christopher Weiss, Ann Arbor, MI

During the festival, the resident composers will receive composition lessons from guest composers Beat Furrer (pictured, center left), professor of composition at the Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna; and Nico Muhly (pictured, below left), a Juilliard graduate and protégé of Phillip Glass known for composing an eclectic range of works for classical and pop musicians, ballet, opera, and more.

The resident composers also will take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of their work.

*A $2.00 service fee and Missouri sales tax of 7.35% already are included in the price of each ticket. An additional fee of $3.00 per ticket will be charged for online purchases.

Mizzou composers, New Music Ensemble
develop new works inspired by Forest Park

Forest Park in St. Louis is the site of all sorts of musical performances, from the sounds of Broadway at the Muny to the St. Louis Symphony’s annual concert on Art Hill to the rock, pop and hip-hop of LouFest, and more.

Now, the park itself has become the subject of music, as four Mizzou students have been commissioned by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation to compose new works for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform at “The Sounds of Forest Park,” a private event next month for members of Forest Park Forever‘s Leffingwell Society.

In February, the four composers and associate professor Stefan Freund, who is supervising the project, toured Forest Park and visited the Jewel Box (pictured), which will be the site of the performance. Each of the four composers then focused on a specific aspect of the park.

Sophomore Benedetto Colagiovanni wrote “Forest Park Rhapsody” to recall the park’s history, while the natural world of trees, plants and animals helped inspire “Elysium,” composed by sophomore Trey Makler.

Matt Steins, a junior at Mizzou, used the park’s architecture as creative fuel for his piece “Structural Symbiosis,” and master’s candidate Justin Pounds’ “A Leaf on the Wind” is meant to evoke all the different activities enjoyed by visitors in search of “fun in the park.”

While the event next month at the Jewel Box is invitation-only, you can get a sneak preview of “The Sounds of Forest Park” compositions at the Mizzou New Music Ensemble’s concert at 7:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 27 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the Mizzou campus.

Oratorio premiere draws media attention

The impending premiere this week of Stefan Freund’s Civil War oratorio is drawing plenty of attention from Columbia media.

Last week, Freund was interviewed by Trevor Harris of KBIA, and on Sunday, the Columbia Tribune published a feature story by Amy Wilder previewing the production.

Mizzou’s news service also had a preview story about the premiere, as did the Columbia Missourian. Though the latter article now is available only to subscribers, the Missourian also produced a short video to go with it, which you can view in the embedded video window below.

The world premiere of “The War Amongst Families and Neighbors: The Civil War in Missouri” takes place at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 24 in Jesse Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased online here, or at the door.

Listen to the 2014 C.O.M.P. Festival online

Emma Reinagel performs at the 2013 C.O.M.P. Festival

The ninth annual Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) Festival will take place starting at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday, April 19 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the Mizzou campus in Columbia.

The concert is free and open to the public, but if you can’t be there in person, you still can hear the performances of all of this year’s winning compositions from Missouri elementary, middle school and and high school students via the School of Music’s online audio streams.

There are two streaming options available. You can listen via your web browser by clicking here. (Safari and Chrome are the recommended browsers for Mac users; Firefox is the recommended browser for Windows users. Functionality may be altered on certain browsers as updated technology is implemented.)

If you want to listen with iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media or another default audio player, click here. (Access through Safari web browser for Windows users is NOT recommended.)

The audio links will go live shortly before the scheduled concert start.

You can see the concert program for the 2014 C.O.M.P. Festival, with a complete running order for the show, credits, biographies, and more, in PDF format here.