St. Louis Symphony performs Stephanie Berg’s “Ravish and Mayhem”

Mizzou alumna Stephanie Berg‘s composition “Ravish and Mayhem” was performed by the St. Louis Symphony on January 10 and 11 at Powell Hall in St. Louis to standing ovations from the audiences and rave reviews from local critics.

Writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, classical music critic Sarah Bryan Miller found “Ravish and Mayhem” to be “a really delightful work…It’s a fun, creative piece, and (guest conductor Andrey) Boreyko and the orchestra rendered it with accuracy and elan.” Miller also called Berg “a promising new compositional voice,” concluding, “We can trust that this won’t be the last we hear from Berg.”

Meanwhile, in his review on the website of KDHX (88.7 FM), critic Chuck Lavazzi noted that the performance “drew enthusiastic ovations for both the orchestra and—when Mr. Boreyko persuaded her to appear on stage—Ms. Berg as well.”

“This unabashedly cinematic and vivid piece was a delight from the opening Coplandesque fanfares and melismatic woodwind figures to the brass glissandi near the end that conjured up images of trumpeting elephants,” said Lavazzi.

Berg (pictured), who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mizzou and won the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, wrote “Ravish and Mayhem” to be performed by Alarm Will Sound at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival. It’s the first work created under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative to be performed by a major symphony orchestra.

(It’s also one of two pieces the St. Louis Symphony played this season from composers involved with the 2012 MICF; in September, they performed “Rapture” by Patrick Harlin of the University of Michigan, who also was a resident composer for the festival that year.)

The reviews culminated a week of media attention for Berg, in which she was interviewed on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis’ “Friday With the Arts” and St. Louis Public Radio/KWMU’s “Cityscape”; appeared on KSDK’s “Show Me St. Louis” and the mid-day news broadcasts on KTVI and KPLR; and was the subject of articles in St. Louis magazine, Alive magazine and the weekly South County Times and Webster-Kirkwood Times newspapers.

Berg also was interviewed during the intermission of KWMU’s broadcast of the Symphony’s concert on January 11. You can listen to that interview, and see the SLSO program notes for the entire concert, here.

Mizzou International Composers Festival announces resident composers for 2014

With resident composers originally from Australia, Colombia, South Korea, Taiwan, and across the USA, the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will bring a world of music to mid-Missouri next year.

Scheduled for Monday, July 21 through Saturday, July 26 in Columbia, the fifth annual MICF will present world premieres of new works from eight resident composers who were announced today by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Listed with their current places of residence, 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

The eight resident composers were chosen through a portfolio application process that this year attracted 215 entries from around the world, a new record for the MICF.

Four of them were born outside the USA. The University of Missouri will be represented by José Martínez, who is a native of Colombia working on a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou and the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize.

The other international representatives among the resident composers will include Australia’s Holly Harrison, a candidate for the Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney; Texu Kim, who’s originally from South Korea and currently is studying for his doctorate in composition at Indiana University; and Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, a native of Taiwan currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Illinois.

The group also includes another Missouri resident, Nicholas Omiccioli, an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City who currently is a resident with the Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project in Kansas City and production coordinator of newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

The 2014 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.

The Festival’s guest composers for 2014 will be Beat Furrer, professor of composition at the Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna; and Nico Muhly, 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 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 Furrer and Muhly; 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 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

Ian Dicke

Holly Harrison

Texu Kim

José Martínez

Nicholas Omiccioli

Michael Lee Schachter

Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang

Christopher Weiss

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform five new works by student composers on Monday, December 2 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble’s second concert of the 2013-14 season will take place at 7:30 p.m., Monday, December 2 in Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission is free for Mizzou students, $5 suggested donation for the general public.

The program will include a new work from 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize winner José Guillermo Martínez Rubiano, plus encore performances of four compositions written by Mizzou students for the recent collaboration between the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Stephens College dance department.

Martinez’ “Canciones de la Ausencia” (“Songs of Absence”) is a 2013 composition that evokes and explores different aspects of absence and longing. The three sections of the work are named after poems by the 20th century writers Xavier Villaurrútia (of Mexico), Jorge Gaitán Durán (Colombia), and Mariano Brull (Cuba).

The four works created for the Mizzou-Stephens collaboration also were all written in 2013.  Trey Makler’s “Southern Portraits” draws on influences including Aaron Copland and Bela Fleck in an effort to capture the essence of Okeechobee, Florida, hometown of choreographer LeeAnn Davis. “Phoenix,” by Haley Myers, was written for a dance choreographed by Samantha Bennett.  It deals with the theme of creation and destruction, and integrates imagery of the mythological bird that gives the work its title.

David Witter’s “Visions of Progression” was composed in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Samari Jackson Preston, and is meant to suggest a passing of seasons or journey under the watchful eye of a guiding spirit. “Blank Slate,” written by Shaun Gladney while working with choreographer Kramer Pruitt, “works to encapsulate the rise and fall of human emotions.”

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. However, while Freund is on research leave this semester, Patrick David Clark is directing the group. Clark earned his master’s degree in conducting at Mizzou in 2012; was the winner of the 2011 Sinquefield Prize; and also holds a bachelor’s in composition from Mizzou and a DMA in composition from Rice University.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2013-14 season are Rachel Czech, cello; Hsu Shun Jung, piano; Mary Jamerson, flute; Katherine Jones, violin; Ian McClaflin, percussion; Shawn Nemati-Baghestani, oboe; and Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets. For this concert, the Ensemble will be augmented by guest performers Sam Jennings, guitar; Nathan Ward, tenor; and Shaun Gladney, percussion.

Ninth annual Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition
offers prizes, recognition for Missouri student composers

2013 C.O.M.P. winner HyunJun Yoo gets his award from Jeanne SInquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation

Whether it ends up being played on a synthesizer, a Stratocaster or by a symphony orchestra, every piece of music begins with an idea from a composer – and every composer needs a place to begin.

Helping young composers find that place is the purpose of the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.), an annual statewide competition now in its ninth year.

Sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, C.O.M.P. recognizes Missouri students in grades K-12 who compose original music in a variety of styles.

Information has been mailed this month to music teachers across the state inviting students to participate in the 2014 competition. The winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 19, 2014 on the Mizzou campus.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in two categories, Songs With Words and Instrumental Pieces. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music and Popular Music; and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Popular Music, Jazz, and Other.

All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though the submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher.

Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. The postmark deadline for submission of all compositions is January 10, 2014.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and an application for the 2014 competition, please visit the C.O.M.P website at http://music.missouri.edu/COMP/.

For students looking for additional guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

Students can e-mail works in progress and ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2013-14 academic year is Justin Pounds, who can be reached by email at composerconnection@missouri.edu.

Mizzou composers, Stephens College choreographers
team up for performances November 15-17

Next month, student choreographers and dancers at Stephens College will perform a recital of new works set to original music written especially for them by student composers from Mizzou.

The six Mizzou composers taking part in the project are Benedetto Colagiovanni, Shaun Gladney, Trey Makler, Haley Myers, Justin Pounds, and David Witter.

To select their collaborators, the composers and choreographers got together this past summer for what amounted to a creative speed-dating session. After Mizzou’s William Lackey and Stephens’ Carol Estey set the scene, each composer spent a few minutes talking with each choreographer, and then all the participants ranked their preferences in potential partners.

The works resulting from those collaborations will be presented as part of Stephens’ Senior Dance Concert the weekend of November 15 through November 17 at Macklanburg Theatre on the Stephens campus. You can read more about the project in this article from Stephens’ Janese Silvey: http://www.sc-scene.com/2013/10/mu-composers-stephens-choreographers.html

(Photos by Stefan Freund.)

José Guillermo Martínez Rubiano wins 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize to José Guillermo Martínez Rubiano.

Martínez (pictured), a composer and percussionist currently studying for a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou, submitted his orchestral work “Mutaciones I” to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2014 competition were:
* Warren Gooch, professor of music, theory and composition at Truman State University;
* Forrest Pierce, associate professor of composition at the University of Kansas; and
* Ingrid Stölzel, director of the International Center for Music at Park University.

Now in its ninth year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou. As this year’s winner, Martínez now will have the opportunity to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Philharmonic, which will receive its world premiere on Monday, April 7, 2014 at the Chancellor’s Concert in Columbia. With the commission, he also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work recorded.

José Guillermo Martínez Rubiano was born in 1983 in Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. He earned his diploma at the Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá in 2009. That same year, he received Colombia’s national composition prize for young composers from the National Ministry of Culture. His other significant awards include winning a Colombian national composition contest in 2011, and the National Cultural Prize from the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, which he received earlier this year for “Mutaciones I.”

Martinez was co-founder of the Bogotá conservatory’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and is music director for the percussion ensemble Ictu5. As a percussionist, he also won a national performance contest in 2004; has been a member of the percussion ensembles Contempo, Sinergia Ensamble, and Octopus; and for five years was timpanist for the Bogotá Symphonic Orchestra Foundation (FOSBO).

The other finalists for the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Justin Pounds, Matthew Stiens, and Robert Strobel.

St. Louis Symphony plays work by 2012 MICF resident composer Patrick Harlin

Patrick Harlin takes a bow on stage at Powell Hall. (Photo courtesy of Adam Crane, St. Louis Symphony)

This past weekend, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performed Patrick Harlin‘s work “Rapture” as a part of their concerts on Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28 at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis.

Harlin, who currently is working on a DMA at the University of Michigan, was a resident composer at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival. His work was brought to the attention of the SLSO and music director David Robertson though a new collaborative effort launched this year by the orchestra and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Arriving in St. Louis on Tuesday night, Harlin was able to attend rehearsals with the orchestra during the week and discuss his composition in depth with guest conductor Stéphane Denève, who led the SLSO for the program. He also was interviewed about the concerts on Radio Arts Foundation – St. Louis, and by Michigan Radio, the NPR affiliate in Ann Arbor, MI.

During the concerts, Harlin was introduced from the stage by Denève, and got to take a bow before an appreciative audience (pictured, above left). The work also was heard on radio by listeners throughout the region as part of the orchestra’s Saturday night broadcast on KWMU (90.7 FM).

Reviewing the weekend’s program for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, classical music Sarah Bryan Miller had nice things to say about Rapture, noting the work’s “minimalist roots, jazzy elements and strong hints of the ‘Dies irae.’ ”

“It grows from simplicity into complexity, with a boffo finish, and it got a smart performance from all concerned: groovy indeed,” Miller wrote.

From left, Stéphane Denève, Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, and Patrick Harlin, backstage at Powell Hall

Harlin’s next project involves a trip to the Amazon River in South America, where he’ll record environmental sounds as part of his work toward his doctorate.

Here in Missouri,  the collaboration between MNMI and the St. Louis Symphony will continue when the orchestra plays “Ravish and Mayhem,” written by Mizzou alumnae and 2012 MICF resident composer Stephanie Berg, at concerts on January 10 and 11, 2014 at Powell Hall.

Fifth annual Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 21-26, 2014

The Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF) will celebrate its fifth year in 2014, and composers Beat Furrer and Nico Muhly will be among those attending the party. Furrer and Muhly have been named guest composers for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s signature event, which will be held Monday, July 21 through Saturday, July 26 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The 2014 MICF once again will present a series of public concerts featuring music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes and other events. As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will present the world premieres of new works from each of the festival’s eight resident composers. The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, will serve as resident ensemble.

Beat Furrer is a Swiss native who studied music in his home country and in Vienna before co-founding one of Europe’s leading contemporary music ensembles, Klangforum Wien, which he still conducts. He has written a variety of critically acclaimed works, including operas and musical theater, and has received numerous awards and honors for his music in Europe.

Since 1991, Furrer has served as professor of composition at the Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts, and he has been guest professor in composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt since 2006. In 2004 Furrer was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Vienna, and in 2005 became a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.

Nico Muhly was born in Vermont and earned a master’s in composition at Juilliard studying with Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. He also worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years.

Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists and organizations including the American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony, countertenor Iestyn Davies, violinist Hilary Hahn, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, and designer/illustrator Maira Kalman.

With the 2014 guest composers confirmed, eight resident composers now will be selected for the Festival through a portfolio application process to create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. During the Festival, they’ll get composition lessons from Furrer and Muhly and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a copy of a professional live recording of their work.

The application process for resident composers begins September 26, 2013, and the deadline for submitting an application is Friday, November 15, 2013. For more information on applying to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/application.html.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.