Patrick Clark YES Academy Iraq Report

Patrick David Clark teaching music students at American Voices' YES Academy in Iraq

Day Three: Tuesday, July 3 – Duhok University, Iraq

Today in composition class, my ten students and I listened to Claude Debussy’s Voiles from the first book of Préludes. “What is the scale that Debussy is using in the first part of this piece?” I asked.

A general perplexity prevailed until I explained Debussy’s trademark whole-tone scale and played it up and down the piano like a harp and the generally reticent Jumaah declared it to be “magic.”

Indeed every analysis we make in class reveals magic to these Iraqi students. They are up front in confessing that they’ve never looked at music in this investigative manner and never realized that such structures exist beneath the sounds.

As is turns out, they’ve heard very few of the masterpieces of Western music. I asked if they knew Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and am excited to report that they haven’t—I’m excited because I will have the pleasure of presenting this steamroller to an uninitiated audience tomorrow. I can only hope for a riot (“If that’s a bassoon, then I’m a baboon!” -Saint-Saens at the Rite’s première in Paris, 1913).

I’m hearing everything fresh again myself—a kind of Spring of the senses—because there is a mood of excitement around the University. In the taxis the drivers subversively turn up the radio for the Americans in the backseat, giving us a dose of the exotic sounds of their native instruments: the saz, zurna, and santur. The serpentine timbres and affective decorations are as intoxicating to me as the whole-tone scales are to the Iraqi students. I’m learning how to absorb again, and perhaps growing younger in the process.

– PDC

Patrick David Clark reporting from Iraq

Orientation: Friday, June 29 –  Duhok, Iraq

It is hot and dry in Duhok. I am in the Hotel Mondeal and a wedding celebration is taking place in the lobby below my room. Sounds and smells subtly spice the night air in northern Iraq.

I had the pleasure of meeting two veteran students of the American Voices annual summer program in Iraq this evening: clarinetist Dilan Muhammed, 21, 5th year, and cellist Bashdar Karim, 19, also in his 5th year. Both of these students receive the instruction available in the country through the Institute of Fine Arts, Department of Music in Iraq.

Apparently they continue to place a remarkably high value in their brief two weeks with the American Voices faculty each summer. “It was the first time I had ever seen a serious wind ensemble or full jazz band,” says Dilan of his first year.

It is also the emphasis by American Voices on instrumental technique and literature which exceeds that of the locally available instruction that brings them back. Both have developed their capabilities to play most recently in a Kurdish orchestra visiting Vienna, and the Sulimany Symphony Orchestra inside Iraq.

“So,” I asked, “do you want to be professional musicians?” “Yes. It is my dream.” These words, spoken by Bashdar, rang as authentic as any sound I’ve ever heard—these are among the most committed students I have met.

The diplomacy goes two directions I quickly discovered as they began to teach me of the idiosyncrasies of tuning in Kurdish music. This has long been a fascination of mine. I now know something of the use of the Phrygian mode with its raised third scale degree, and have confirmed that the second scale-degree is indeed raised also, ever so slightly, to produce one of the most haunting and particularly Middle-Eastern sounds in all of music.

Bringing in their instruments, Dilan and Bashdar sang and played their native strains, memorized as a cultural stamp, for me in my hotel room, an audience of one. I begin teaching theory and composition on Monday but for now they are wrapping me around their finger as I look forward to learning more tomorrow.

Teaching, Day One: Sunday, July 1 – Duhok University

To fully appreciate the pleasure of teaching Iraqi music students, one must imagine the following: a music professor walks across the commons finding him- or herself peacefully, but relentlessly, assaulted by young college-aged students asking questions like, “Can you tell me about the Dorian scale professor? And the Phrygian?…” “Can you please teach me contra-point sir?” “Who, Dr., invented modern notation?”

Several gather behind the bold inquisitor to hear how the American teacher will respond. Everyone hangs on every word and any pause is an opportunity to say “Thank you, thank you.”

Now imagine that I’m not making this up—all day long and a teacher has little time for any break in the pattern to have a drink of water. It is a dangerously high boost of self-worth but no less a realization of the responsibility attached to teaching. The moral of this story is, Iraqi students have a voracious appetite for learning and a teacher must be ready.

Facilities are the problem that anyone might have predicted. There are pianos being moved by enthusiastic quintets of students through hallways, messengers delivering news of a broken air-conditioner, perplexed faces and hand-gestures in every direction and one need not enquire because that would only slow one’s own errand pursuing a special power supply that, word on the street is, Ari Kawa can get for you.

Funny thing is that this all adds to the camaraderie that makes the program work. It is here among Iraqis, Kurds, Arabs, Americans, and even Spanish, somehow, all for one and one for all.
PDC

Patrick David Clark traveling to Iraq to teach composition

Patrick David Clark

Composer and Mizzou graduate Patrick David Clark (pictured) will bring new music to an ancient city when he goes to Iraq at the end of this month. His mission: to teach composition to students in the northern Iraqi town of Erbil.

“It’s a kind of cultural diplomacy,” said Clark, who will be traveling under the auspices of the organization American Voices. He will leave for Iraq this Wednesday, June 27 and stay until July 15. “We bring American music and teachers to places where the education system is not its best, due to the country emerging from isolation and conflict.”

Located in a primarily Kurdish region of Iraq, Erbil is the country’s fourth largest city. With a history dating back to 6,000 B.C., it also is one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world. While he’s there, Clark will work with high school students at American Voices’ YES Academy, teaching them composition and music theory.

Clark said that his prospective students already have some musical experience, gained over the past five years thanks to an American Voices program offering training in stringed instruments. His goal is help the students take the next step and begin creating their own compositions. “We’re going to try to get them to write music,” he said.

Clark said he also wants to expose his students to various styles of contemporary American composition, and plans to take plenty of orchestral scores and recordings to share.

Over the last 16 years, American Voices has presented summer youth performing arts academies, workshops, and concerts in more than 110 countries. The organization has offices in St. Louis and Bangkok. Financial support for Clark’s trip is coming from American Voices board member Jeanne Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which also funds the Mizzou New mUsic Initiative.

Clark just completed a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at Mizzou. In 2011 he won the Sinquefield Composition Prize and was one of eight resident composers selected to participate in the Mizzou New Music Festival. Clark was born in 1967 in St. Louis, grew up in Normandy, and attended Clayton High School. He also holds a Bachelors degree in composition from MU, which he earned studying with Dr. Thomas McKenney.

Clark earned a DMA in composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Arthur Gottschalk and Richard Lavenda. He became a Tanglewood Fellow in 1998, and from 1999 to 2001 studied with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague on a Netherlands-America Foundation Grant. Clark also has worked as a composer; as a writer for Andante.com; and as a teacher in the Netherlands, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, NM.

2012 Missouri Summer Composition Institute
to conclude with concert on Saturday, June 23

The Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Missouri Summer Composition Institute will wrap up this year’s session with a concert at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 23. The concert will take place at Whitmore Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, and is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature two resident ensembles giving world premiere performances of sixteen new works created by student composers participating in the Institute. The students will be on campus beginning next Monday, July 18. They will spend the week receiving composition lessons from MU composition faculty and graduate composition students; networking and exchanging ideas with their peers; and composing their pieces.

The Missouri Summer Composition Institute is open to all students in grades 9 –12 and entering college freshmen in Missouri. Eight advanced division composers and eight intermediate division composers are selected each year through a portfolio application process.

Tickets now on sale for 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival

Tickets are now on sale for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival’s concerts on Thursday, July 26; Friday, July 27; and Saturday, July 28.

Now in its third year, the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will take place starting Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28 in Columbia, MO. The MNMSF already is established as one of the most noteworthy contemporary music events in the Midwest, attracting attention from composers, musicians, music educators and media around the world.

This year’s grand finale 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). That concert will take place at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St. in downtown Columbia.

The festival’s other two public performances are:

*Alarm Will Sound and special guest artist soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre; and

* Mizzou New Music, featuring music by MNMSF guest composers Steven Stucky and Donnacha Dennehy and by MU faculty members, performed by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and the Mizzou Concert Jazz Band at 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Festival passes good for admission to all three concerts are on sale for $40 for adults, $20 for students. Single tickets are priced at $16 for adults, $8 for students. 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 New Music Summer Festival events, visit http://newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu/.

(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 $2.50 per ticket will be charged for online purchases. For these fees, a three-concert festival pass is considered one ticket.)

Three local hotels – the Wingate by Wyndham, the Tiger Hotel, and the Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia – are offering discounts on rooms to festival attendees for the nights of July 26, 27 & 28. Rates range from $78 to $135 per night, plus tax. For details, visit http://newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu/hotels.html.

In addition to these three concerts, the MNMSF also will include several free events, such as 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 across the USA through a portfolio review process to participate in the festival and create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. They are:

* Stephanie Berg – Columbia, MO
* Brian Ciach – Bloomington, IN
* David Crowell – New York, NY
* Stylianos Dimou – Rochester, NY
* Ted Goldman – Rochester, NY
* Patrick Harlin – Ann Arbor, MI
* Charlie Piper – London, England
* Asha Srinivasan – Appleton, WI

During the festival, the resident composers will receive composition lessons from guest composers Steven Stucky, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for composition and a professor at Cornell University, and Donnacha Dennehy, a native of Ireland and award-winning composer who founded Dublin’s critically acclaimed Crash Ensemble. 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.

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is made possible through the generous support of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, led by Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. The Missouri Arts Council and the MU Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitors Program also provided financial assistance for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to host
“New Music, New Works” on Saturday, May 19

Inspired by the Great Rivers Biennial 2012 exhibition, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) and the Mizzou New Music Initiative will present “New Music, New Works” at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 19. The event at CAM, 3750 Washington Blvd in St. Louis’ Grand Center district, is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature the world premiere of original compositions by University of Missouri students Grant Fonda, Joe Hills, and Joseph Weidinger, each of whom has created a new piece that attempts to capture the aural essence of one of the three Great Rivers Biennial artists’ projects.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble, directed by University of Missouri associate professor Stefan Freund, will perform all three compositions, along with Ad Parnassum, a piece by 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Stucky that was inspired by sketches by artist Paul Klee.

“There’s been a historic link between the visual and musical arts, and we’re glad to be able to continue that tradition,” said Freund. “Any time we have an off-campus performance, it’s an opportunity for our composers and performers to step out of the academic world and into the real world. That’s a valuable experience for them.”

“Collaborating with CAM provides an interesting challenge for these bright, young composers, while also introducing their talents to new audiences,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides financial support for the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “Composers want their music to be performed in front of audiences. Forging alliances like this one is another way our new music programs in Missouri are helping them achieve their aspirations.”

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Freund, and serves as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, working with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2011-12 season are Stephanie Berg, clarinets; Ryan Borden, percussion; Young Kim, flutes; Matthew Pierce, cello; David Snow, violin; and Renata Tavernard, piano. For this concert, Rachel AuBuchon also will perform on piano, and doctoral candidate Christopher Baumgartner will conduct the Steven Stucky composition Ad Parnassum

Presented in partnership with Gateway Foundation, the Great Rivers Biennial 2012 is organized by CAM and curated by Kelly Shindler, Assistant Curator. The exhibition will be on view May 11 – August 12, 2012. Opening Night for the exhibition is Friday, May 11, 2012, 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) “promotes meaningful engagement with the most relevant and innovative art being made today. As a non-collecting institution, CAM focuses its efforts on featuring local, national and international, well-known and newly established artists from diverse backgrounds, working in all types of media. As St. Louis’ forum for interpreting culture through contemporary visual art, CAM connects visitors to the dynamic art and ideas of our times. As a gathering place for experiencing contemporary art and culture, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis pushes the boundaries of innovation, creativity, and expression.”

Support for CAM’s exhibition program is provided by Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield; Nancy Reynolds and Dwyer Brown; William E. Weiss Foundation; Mary Ann and Andy Srenco; and Étant donnés, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art.

Grant Fonda

Joe Hills

Joseph Wiedinger

C.O.M.P. Winners on TV in St. Louis

Three of the winners in this year’s Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition had the opportunity this week to perform their winning compositions on local TV in St. Louis.

Lily Ibur of Wydown Middle School played her song “Nothing Boy” on Wednesday for the 9:00 a.m. edition of FOX 2 News. You can see that performance in the embedded video window below:

Later that same day, Menea Vladi Kefalov and Ande Celeste Siegel of Reed Elementary Schol could be seen performing their song “War” for a feature story on local NBC affiliate KSDK’s program Show Me St. Louis. You can see that story online here.

All three of these young composers, and most of their fellow 2012 C.O.M.P. winners, will perform their winning compositions at the annual Creating Original Music Project Festival, which will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 21 at the Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.

2012 C.O.M.P. winners in the news

The student composers who submitted winning entries in the 2012 Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) competition are making news throughout the state:

The six winners from the St. Louis area were featured Monday in an item by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Sarah Bryan Miller on the Post‘s Culture Club blog.

Gus Knobbe of Webster Groves High School, who won first place in the High School – Fine Art category, also was mentioned in the Post’s Suburban Journals and the Webster Groves edition of Patch.com.

Meanwhile, the Ballwin/Ellisvile Patch.com site had an article about Anthony Delia of Holy Infant School in Ballwin, who won first place in the High School – Popular category; and the Ladue/Frontenac edition spotlighted Ande Siegel and Menea Kefalov of Reed School, who won first place in the Elementary – Song With Words category for “War.”

In addition, Olivia Bennett of Mathews School in Nixa was featured on her school’s site for her composition “Count Olaf,” which won third place in the Elementary – Instrumental category.

The young composers will perform their winning compositions at the annual Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) Festival, which will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 21 at the Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.