Summer Festival Spotlight: Brian Ciach

A skilled pianist as well as a composer, Brian Ciach has created a wide variety of original music, from solo piano pieces to orchestral works to electronic music. As one of the resident composers for the 2102 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, Ciach (pronounced “SIGH-ack”) has written a new piece for Alarm Will Sound called The Einstein Slide.

Inspired by a slice of Albert Einstein’s brain displayed in the Mütter Museum in Ciach’s home town of Philadelphia, the new work is puckishly termed “an appendix” to Collective Uncommon: Seven Orchestral Studies on Medical Oddities, which Ciach wrote in 2011 for his doctoral dissertation in music composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Ciach’s sly sensibilities also are on display in Blank Slate, another new work composed for the percussion quartet Square Peg Round Hole that is played entirely on “found” instruments and includes a movement called Vegetable Requiem.

An assistant professor of music theory and composition at Murray State University in Kentucky, Ciach (pictured) was selected earlier this year to be the first participant in the Subito Composer Fellowship program, developed in partnership with the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

His music has been performed across the United States and in Germany and Italy by ensembles including The Minnesota Orchestra, the Indiana University Concert Orchestra, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the Percussion Ensembles of Indiana University and the University of Buffalo, and others.

Before receiving his doctorate from Indiana in May of this year, Ciach earned his Master’s degrees in composition and piano performance at Temple University. He previously has taught music at West Chester University, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and Ball State University.

In the embedded video windows below, you can see and hear some examples of Brian Ciach’s music and watch do a presentation about Collective Uncommon.

Ciach performs his Two Berlin Preludes

Ciach’s A Quite Dream of a Place/Un posto da sogno (Venice), the first movement of his extended 2010 composition Road Trip. Recorded April 21, 2011 in Auer Hall at Indiana University by the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, directed by David Dzubay, and soprano Sharon Harms.

Ciach discusses Collective Uncommon

Summer Festival Spotlight: Anne-Carolyn Bird

The guest artist at this year’s Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will be the talented soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird. Bird (pictured) will perform with Alarm Will Sound as part of the concert on Thursday, July 26, helping to bring to life the first part of Donnacha Dennehy’s new work-in-progress, The Hunger.

Known primarily as an operatic singer, Bird got her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, then earned a Masters Degree cum laude from New England Conservatory, where she was a student of acclaimed mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato. She has been a recipient of grants and awards from many organizations, and has twice been a Young Artist with the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers and twice a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Bird first made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2006-2007 Season, singing two roles in a new production of Il Trittico, and has since returned as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos, in Boris Godunov, and Don Carlo, among other productions. This year, she has appeared in Kepler and Pierrot Lunaire at the famed Spoleto Festival USA, and in the fall, she will return to the Met to sing Giannetta in the opening night gala production of Bartlett Sher’s new L’elisir d’amore.

Bird also is known in classical music circles for her blog The Concert, which for several years regularly chronicled her efforts to build her musical career. For more about Anne-Carolyn Bird, read this interview she did last year for the NYC Opera’s website. You also can learn more about her and hear some audio samples at her page on the site of her management firm.

In the embedded video window below, you can hear Bird singing an excerpt from Prima Donna, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s recent venture in opera.

Patrick Clark on the YES Academy Concerts: 11 July 2012–Composers; Duhok, Iraq

Assuming the reaction of an audience is a barometer of the success of a concert, the closing concerts for the YES Academy 2012 in Duhok hit their intended marks quite well. As the inaugural composition teacher for the Academy I had a vested interest in the concert of works by the student composers and so it will be my main focus here.

One might have done well to bring earplugs to this concert, but not because the music was so loud. Rather because the applause was overwhelming. Of course the whistles of support by students are the most deadly of sounds, second only to the piccolo playing fortissimo at close range, and the air was filled with these at the final cadences of each composition.

The program included the works of seven young Iraqi composers and all were charged with the sounds and rhythms of the local traditional music. I may even find myself influenced in my own future compositions by the snake-charming lines of strings in octaves (most pieces were written for a string quartet plus any available complement—two and three to part). These pieces found their appeal through the recognizable conventions so often heard in Middle Eastern music. If we, from the West, might expect more experimentation in composition, and place a premium on originality, we must understand that the sense of community here in Iraq is yet a more highly valued attribute. It is also what can make a brand new arrangement by a homegrown YES Academy student of something familiar at times more appealing than a masterpiece by a composer from the West. But one should not forget that a great favorite of American audiences is Aaron Copland’s treatment of the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts” in Appalachian Spring.

The word “cocktail” came up several times after the program. I suppose it is something like a box of Whitman’s chocolates: you know something of the genre of taste, but the exact flavor is unpredictable—and that is why they can be more exciting than the morsel you already know.

PDC

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival to include free events

In addition to the ticketed concerts at the Missouri Theatre, the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival includes a number of events that are free of charge and open to the public.

At 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 23, guest composer Steven Stucky will present a master class with the vocal ensemble Voices of Prometheus at McKee Auditorium on the MU Campus.

Presentations by the Festival’s guest resident and faculty composers also will be open to the public. All the composer presentations will take place in the Fine Arts Building’s Room 145.

The resident composers will give presentations on their work from 9:00 a.m – 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 – 3:50 p.m. on Monday, and from 9:00 a.m – 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Guest composer Donnacha Dennehy will offer his presentation at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, followed at 8:30 p.m. by MU faculty composer Stefan Freund. Then on Wednesday evening, Steven Stucky will present at 7:00 p.m., with MU faculty composer W. Thomas McKenney discussing his work at 8:30 p.m..

If you’d like to get a close-up look at how new compositions are prepared for performance, the Festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound (pictured) will hold several open rehearsals during the week. Here’s the schedule of open rehearsals, which will be held in room 201 of Loeb Hall on the MU campus.

Tuesday, July 24:
12:45 p.m – 4:00 p.m – Resident composers
4:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m – Steven Stucky

Wednesday, July 25:
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Steven Stucky
10:45 a.m. – 12 15 p.m.- Donnacha Dennehy
1:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.- Resident composers

Friday, July 27:
9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Resident composers
1:45 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.- Resident composers

For a complete schedule of events, please see the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival website.

Summer Festival Spotlight: Donnacha Dennehy

It is a privilege and a pleasure to have Donnacha Dennehy as one of the guest composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.  Along with fellow guest composer Steven Stucky, Dennehy will instruct and mentor the Festival’s eight resident composers during their week in Columbia.

He’ll also oversee the world premiere of the first part of The Hunger,  a large work-in-progress that will be performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound and the Festival’s guest artist, soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, as part of the concert on Thursday, July 26.

Born in 1970 in Dublin, Dennehy is considered one of Ireland’s leading contemporary composers. He recently has earned worldwide acclaim for his 2011 album Grá Agus Bás, which made NPR Music’s list of Top 50 Albums of 2011 (in all genres), and was included in year-end best-of lists from critics Alex Ross and Paul Griffiths and in WNYC’s New Sounds top ten list of the year.

He has received commissions from musicians, ensembles and musical organizations from all over the UK, USA and Europe. Dennehy’s music has featured in festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Bang On A Can in New York, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Sonic Evolutions Festival at Lincoln Center, EXPO, the Ultima Festival in Oslo, Fuse Leeds, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the State of the Nation at the South Bank in London and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam.

After studying abroad at the University of Illinois, IRCAM in France and in the Netherlands, in 1997 Dennehy returned to Dublin to found the Crash Ensemble, a renowned new music group that has premiered many of his best-known works.

You can hear Dennehy talk about the Crash Ensemble, Grá Agus Bás, and much more in this interview recorded in April, 2011 for NPR, and this one recorded the following month for radio station WNYC. In the embedded video windows below, you’ll find three samples of the Crash Ensemble playing Dennehy’s music, as well as a brief interview with him.

An excerpt from Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás, performed at the Samuel Beckett Theatre by Crash Ensemble and Afro Celt Soundsystem’s Iarla Ó Lionáird

Crash Ensemble performing Dennehy’s Junk Box Fraud as part of their tenth anniversary show “Shindig”

Crash Ensemble and Iarla Ó Lionáird perform another Dennehy piece, Aisling Gheal

A 2010 interview with Dennehy, in which he discusses some recent compositions, working with texts and his interest in vocal music.


Summer Festival Spotlight: David Crowell

While some of the resident composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival are recent graduates or still studying for advanced degrees, saxophonist and composer David Crowell already is well along in his professional career.

He has a very active schedule as a performer, touring with the famed Philip Glass Ensemble and leading his own band, and his compositions have been performed frequently in New York City and by various student and professional ensembles across the US.

In fact, Crowell (pictured) will have two major performances of his works on the same night this month.  On Saturday, July 28, Alarm Will Sound will play his new piece Fallout for the grand finale of the MNMSF, and his composition Waiting in the Rain For Snow (originally written for and recorded by the Now Ensemble) will be performed as part of the Bang on a Can Summer Marathon at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

He has issued two CDs as a leader on the Innova Recordings label, 2009’s Spectrum, and Eucalyptus, which features a new work for multiple saxophones and electronics and was released in April of this year. Crowell’s music has received radio play on national and international stations, including New York City’s classical station WQXR and public radio station WNYC, with features on WNYC’s “New Sounds with John Schaefer.”

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Crowell also has performed with the N.Y. Philharmonic, the L.A. Philharmonic, Signal Ensemble, Asphalt Orchestra, L’Arsenale, at the Bang on a Can Marathon and the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. In addition to his solo CDs, he has recorded with the Philip Glass Ensemble, Signal Ensemble, Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean, William Brittelle, and Ken Thomson and Anti-Social Music. And when he’s not composing or performing, Crowell also teaches saxophone, flute, clarinet and composition at the Bloomingdale School of Music and various other locations around New York City.

You can read a review of Eucalyptus from the website Sequenza21 here, and hear more samples of Crowell’s music in the embedded video windows below.

The New York-based Jack Quartet performs David Crowell’s The Open Road (excerpt)

Crowell’s The Day After, Mvt. I performed by the Campbellsville University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Dr. Chad Floyd

Columbia hotels offering discounts during Mizzou New Music Summer Festival

Planning on visiting Columbia for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival? If so, you should know that three local hotels are offering discounts for the nights of July 26, 27 and 28 to Festival attendees. They are:

Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia (at the University of Missouri)
1225 Fellow’s Place (College Ave. & Stadium Blvd.), Columbia, MO 65201
Phone: 573-214-2222
$105/night + tax for a standard king or double room
Ask for “New Music Summer Festival”

Tiger Hotel

23 South 8th Street, Columbia, MO 65201
Phone: 573-875-8888
$135/night + tax for a standard king room
Ask for “New Music Summer Festival”

Wingate by Wyndham
3101 Wingate Court, US 63 & I-70, Columbia, MO 65201
Phone: 573-817-0500
$78/night + tax for a standard king room
Ask for “New Music Summer Festival”

Please contact the hotel of your choice directly for information and reservations.

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival also is offering a discount on concert tickets for patrons who take advantage of these special prices on hotel rooms. To get the discount when purchasing tickets for the festival online or at the box office, use coupon codes Package12 (adults) and Package12S (students).

Mizzou New Music Summer Festival ticket information
Festival passes good for all three concerts are $40 for adults, $20 for students. Single tickets are priced at $16 for adults, $8 for students for all concerts. To purchase tickets by phone, call the MU Concert Series box office at 1-573-882-3781. To buy tickets online, please visit http://newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu/tickets.html.

And if you’re coming to Columbia to attend the Festival, you also may find some of these links useful:

Visitor information
Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau
Columbia Regional Airport
“Virtual tour” of Columbia
I Heart Columbia
Vox Magazine’s guide to Columbia restaurants
Mid-Missouri Dining Guide

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

National Weather Service forecast for Boone County

Summer Festival Spotlight: Stephanie Berg

Today, let’s get acquainted with one of the resident composers for the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, Stephanie Berg. She’s one of eight individuals to earn that designation this year, chosen from nearly 150 applicants from countries around the world, including Israel, France, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Russia, England, Thailand, Canada and China.

As a Missouri native and Mizzou graduate, Berg (pictured) is something of a local favorite at this year’s Festival. She grew up in the Kansas City suburb of Parkville, graduating from Park Hill South High School, and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance from Mizzou in 2008. This May, she completed her Master’s degree in clarinet performance and composition at Mizzou.

Berg was the recipient of the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, which resulted in the commissioned work Motive and Reflection for full orchestra. In 2011, she won the award in the “Young Artist” category of the Missouri State Division of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) composition competition. She was recognized for her piece “Of Air Sweet and Water Deep,” composed in 2010 for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and premiered at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis as part of a tribute to the Garden’s President Emeritus, Dr. Peter Raven.

In addition to her work as a composer, Berg has performed in the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, the University Philharmonic, and the Columbia Civic Orchestra, playing B flat, A, E flat, and bass clarinets. She also has served for three years as project manager for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Creating Original Music Program (C.O.M.P.), a statewide competition for young composers in Missouri elementary, middle and high schools.

Earlier this year, Berg was the subject of a feature story in the Columbia Daily Tribune, which you can see online here. You can hear her award-winning composition “Of Air Sweet and Water Deep” and her piece “Paper Guns,” created for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’ Great Rivers Biennial 2010, in the embedded audio players below.