COMP Festival to showcase award-winning works from
Missouri student composers in streaming concert on Saturday, April 24

In a year of unprecedented challenges for students, teachers, and parents, Missouri’s young composers in grades K – 12 once again have produced a wide variety of creative expressions in sound for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s 16th annual Creating Original Music Project (COMP) Festival.

This year’s COMP Festival showcasing the best of those compositions will take place online, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 24 on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel and the Mizzou New Music Facebook page.

The junior division concert, featuring works from elementary and middle school winners of this year’s competition, begins at 10:30 a.m., with the senior division concert of music by high school winners following at 3:00 p.m.

The online stream, which will be free and open to the public, will feature a mix of performances on video, including some COMP winners performing their own compositions, as well as performances by Mizzou students of other winning works.

COMP was founded in 2005 to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original music and to provide performance opportunities for those works. It is a joint venture of the University of Missouri’s Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides an annual gift of $40,000 to sponsor the competition.

Every year, in addition to having their music performed at the COMP Festival, the winning composers in each age group and category and their schools receive cash prizes. High school winners also receive scholarships to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, Mizzou’s high school summer music composition camp.

“The work of these students under difficult conditions this past year shows that creativity is an unstoppable force,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. “We are delighted to be able to support and promote the state’s youngest composers through the Creating Original Music Project, as we have for the past 15 years, and we look forward to continuing for many years to come.”

The 2021 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition categories and winners are:

Elementary School – Song with Words
1) Lacie Reetz of Williamsburg Elementary in Williamsburg for “The Lion Song.” Sponsor: Sherry Reetz
2) Hannah Reetz of Williamsburg Elementary in Williamsburg for “The Thunderbird.” Sponsor: Sherry Reetz
3) Benjamin Stoker of Crossroads Academy – Quality Hill in Kansas City for “Aria for Nyx.” Sponsor: Erika Williams

Elementary School – Instrumental
1) Conrad Crutchley, a home-schooled student from Fenton, for “Infiltration.” Sponsor: Cynthia Graeler
2) Ian Lundholm of Siegrist Elementary in Platte City for “Endless.” Sponsor: Anna Burnett

Middle School – Fine Art
1) Yueheng Wang of Ladue Middle School in Ladue for “Lingering Reflection.” Sponsor: David Werfelmann
2) Samir Shaik of Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield for “Le Hébétement.” Sponsor: Patricia Nemish
3) Hannah Wolkowitz of Parkway Central Middle School in Chesterfield for “Locked.” Sponsor: Chris Higgins

Middle School – Pop Music
1) Faye Boland of West Middle School in Columbia for “Maybe It’s.” Sponsor: Violet Vander Haar
2) Jocelin Murray of North Kirkwood Middle School in Kirkwood for “Tide.” Sponsor: Leah Luciano
3) Violet Martin of North Callaway Middle School in Auxvasse for “What I Did.” Sponsor: Sherry Reetz

High School – Fine Art
1) Brady Perkins of Ozark High School in Ozark for “Dance in G for Woodwind Octet.” Sponsor: Tom Meyer
2) Brandon Kim of Rock Bridge High School in Columbia for “2020.” Sponsor: Alison Lankheit
3) David McCaulley of Carl Junction High School in Carl Junction for “Brass ‘n’ Gas.” Sponsor: Trey Wadell

High School – Electronic Pop Music
1) Jordin MacKenzie of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park for “’96 DiCaprio.” Sponsor: Daniel Freeman
2) Stone Gill of Arcadia Valley High School in Ironton for “The Moon.” Sponsor: Charles Lee
3) Thomas Libbert of Fatima High School in Westphalia for “Moon Water.” Sponsor: Zack Fincher

High School – Instrumental/Acoustic Pop Music
1) Ovya Diwakaran of Ladue Horton Watkins High School in Ladue for “Cards Are Dealt.” Sponsor: Stephen Howard
2) Rylee Spencer of Capital City High School in Jefferson City for “The Color of You.” Sponsor: Ken Kehner
3) Kaiden Doebelin of Mexico High School in Mexico for “Dear Molly.” Sponsor: David Reetz

(The categories of High School – Electronic Pop Music and High School – Instrumental/Acoustic Pop Music were created by judges to replace the categories High School – Pop Music and High School – Jazz so as to better reflect this year’s entries and allow more students a chance to participate.)

Each student who enters the competition must have the signature and sponsorship of his or her school’s music teacher. Community agencies, churches, after-school programs, private teachers, and other musical mentors also may sponsor their young musicians in partnership with the student’s school music teacher.

Khemia Ensemble to perform new works by
Mizzou student composers during virtual residency

The new music group Khemia Ensemble will perform new works by five student composers in an online concert as part of a virtual residency this month at Mizzou.

The concert of student works will be one of two performances during the residency, which also will include a presentation to the School of Music’s composition seminar as well as individual private lessons and master classes for instrumental students.

In their first performance at 7:00 p.m. CDT on Monday, March 22, Khemia Ensemble will present a program of works for solo instruments, featuring music by composers Nicole Chamberlain, Melissa Dunphy, Reena Esmail, Stacy Garrop, Jennifer Jolley, Emma O’Halloran, Tanner Porter, and Juri Seo.

Then at 7:30 p.m CDT, Tuesday, March 23, the ensemble will premiere all new works by Mizzou student composers Isabelle Borchardt, Holden Franklin, Emily Shaw, Jack Snelling, and Sam Whitty. Both concerts will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel, the Mizzou New Music Facebook page, and the Facebook page and YouTube channel of Khemia Ensemble.

Khemia Ensemble (pictured) is led by co-artistic directors Er-Gene Kahng, violinist, and Amy Petrongelli, soprano, and includes Mizzou assistant professor Eli Lara on cello, as well as Thiago Ancelmo, clarinet; Annie Jeng, piano; Shane Jones, percussion; Chelsea Tinsler Jones, percussion; and Mary Matthews, flute.

As a group, they work to “actively promote both established and emerging composers through concerts, commissions, and collaborative mentorships with the next generation of composers and performers through workshops and residencies.”

Khemia Ensemble in 2019 and 2020 performed as part of the Mizzou International Composers Festival and also served as the resident ensemble for Mizzou’s Summer Composition Institute. They have been featured in venues and festivals such as National Sawdust, Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit, the third annual New Music Gathering, Latin IS America at Michigan State University, and the Biennial New Music Festival at the National University of Cordoba.

They also have had residencies at University of Michigan, Tufts University, Michigan State University, the National University of Bogota, and the National University of Cordoba, as well as two consecutive years at Avaloch Farms.

Mizzou New Music Initiative welcomes
Gahlord Dewald for virtual residency in March

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will welcome Gahlord Dewald for a virtual residency this month and an online concert in April.

Dewald (pictured) is a bassist, electronic musician, composer, and community organizer who is based in Burlington, Vermont. His Mizzou residency during the second week of March will include presentations to the School of Music’s introduction to electronic music class and to the composition seminar.

He’ll follow up those residency activities next month with a free online streaming performance presented by Mizzou at 7:00 p.m. Monday, April 19. Dewald’s concert will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel and the Mizzou New Music Facebook page.

A graduate of Marlboro College with a degree in ethnomusicology, composition, and music performance, Dewald works in both composed and improvised music as a solo artist and as a member of the duos Jaguar Stereo!, Fat Tiger, and The Yes &.

His recent album “Coherent Light Enclosed Without” features a series of free improvisations on bass recorded inside The TANK Center for Sonic Arts, a seven-story steel water tank in Rangely, CO.

Dewald is the founder of a collective of experimental musicians and composers called Community of Sound, and also commissions music, performances, and recordings though a project called New Sound for Double Bass.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform
works by Onishi, Berko in a free online concert
on Wednesday, February 17

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform recent works by Yoshiaki Onishi and Alex Berko in a free online concert at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 17.

The concert will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel and the Mizzou New Music Facebook page.

“Antefenas-Studies” was written in 2018 by Onishi, who is a postdoctoral fellow in composition at the University of Missouri School of Music and serves as the Ensemble’s assistant conductor. Using both live instrumentation and prerecorded electronics, the piece explores “the kinetics of one sound responding to another, eventually forming the perception of a dialogue.”

Berko’s “Living in Color” (2019) was inspired in part by an image by Boston-based artist Melanie Long, and uses variations on an R&B-flavored three-chord progression to develop “a theme of connectedness and tangling of worlds.”

Both works will be performed live by the Ensemble during the stream, which also will include a prerecorded interview with Berko and Stefan Freund.

Freund, a cellist, composer, conductor, professor of composition, and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, is the director of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) is made up of University of Missouri graduate students, and serves as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative. In that capacity, they work with faculty, students, and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community.

The Ensemble’s members for the 2020-21 season are Johanny Veiga Barbosa, violin; Tâmila Freitas, flute; Stephen Landy, percussion; Jordan Nielsen, percussion; Andy Lewis, cello; Andrew Weile, clarinet; and Evie Werger, piano.

Mizzou International Composers Festival announces resident composers for 2021

Clockwise from top left: Ana Paola Santillán Alcocer, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Paul Mortilla & Nina Shekhar

The Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) has selected four resident composers to participate in the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF).

Presented by MNMI and the University of Missouri School of Music from Monday, July 26 through Saturday, July 31 in Columbia, the twelfth annual MICF will feature world premieres of new works written by each of the selected composers. Listed with their current places of residence, they are:

* Ana Paola Santillán Alcocer – Mexico City, Mexico
* Daniel Fitzpatrick – Columbia, MO
* Paul Mortilla – Coral Gables, FL
* Nina Shekhar – Princeton, NJ

These four composers will be featured in the 2021 MICF along with the eight composers who were chosen for the 2020 festival, but whose works could not be premiered when COVID-related restrictions forced the festival to be reconfigured as an online event.

Those composers are Yu Kuwabara (Tokyo, Japan), Pascal Le Boeuf (New York, NY), Shuying Li (Spokane, WA), Celka Ojakangas (Los Angeles, CA), DM R (Diana M. Rodriguez) (New York, NY), Niko Schroeder (Columbia, MO), Andrew Tholl (Los Angeles, CA), and Felipe Tovar-Henao (Bloomington, IN).

The premieres of the new works from all 12 composers will be presented during festival week in two concerts, six per concert, along with music by the distinguished guest composers. However, because the COVID pandemic makes future conditions difficult to predict, MNMI will have several contingent plans for the 2021 MICF if safety concerns, University policy, or state or local laws make it impossible to present the festival “in-person” on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Those plans may include (but are not limited to) an online-only festival, a limited in-person experience, or some combination of online and in-person activities, such as additional concerts featuring music from the guest composers and other contemporary creators, workshops, master classes, and other events.

The Festival’s distinguished guest composers for 2021 will be Chen Yi and David T. Little. Chen is a distinguished professor of composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her composition “Si Ji” (“Four Seasons”), she was born and raised in Guangzhou, China and is known as a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries.

Little currently chairs the composition program at Mannes – The New School in New York City. He previously served as Executive Director of MATA and on the board of directors at Chamber Music America, and from 2014–2017 was composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group.

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 resident composers will receive composition lessons from Chen and Little and, if conditions permit, take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. The composers also will give public presentation on their music, and after the premiere performance, will receive professional live recordings of their new works.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit

Mizzou New Music Initiative to present Duo Cortona
in a free online concert on Friday, February 5

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will present Duo Cortona in a free online concert at 7:00 p.m. Friday, February 5.

The concert will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel and the Mizzou New Music Facebook page. It was recorded in conjunction with a “virtual residency” in November 2020 by the duo that also included reading and recording new works by Mizzou student composers and making a presentation to composition students.

The program will include music by Mizzou assistant professor Carolina Heredia; Evan Chambers, who also had a “virtual residency” with MNMI last fall; Robert Morris, a guest composer at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival; and Annika Socolofsky, who visited Mizzou for a residency in 2019; as well as works by composers Hilda Paredes and John Liberatore.

Duo Cortona, the husband and wife team of violinist Ari Streisfeld and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, is a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to the creation of new works for their unique instrumentation. Both Streisfeld and Calloway are faculty members at the University of South Carolina School of Music.

Founded at and named for the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy, Duo Cortona (pictured) has done performances and residencies across the USA, including at the Resonant Bodies Festival; the SONiC Festival and The Stone, both in New York City; Contemporary Undercurrents of Song Project in Princeton, NJ; New Music on the Point in Vermont; the Southern Exposure Series for New Music; East Carolina New Music Initiative; University of Wisconsin; College of Charleston; and more.

Yoshiaki Onishi chosen as MMTA’s Commissioned Composer for 2021

The Missouri Music Teachers Association (MMTA) has selected Yoshiaki Onishi as their Commissioned Composer for 2021.

Onishi (pictured), a postdoctoral fellow with the Mizzou New Music Initiative, was chosen after submitting a portfolio of works anonymously to a panel of three judges. As the winner of the award, he will be commissioned to write a new work to be premiered in November 2021 at MMTA’s annual conference.

The winners of the Commissioned Composer competition in various states also are eligible to compete for the Music Teachers National Association’s “Distinguished Composer of Year” award, which includes a performance at MTNA’s national conference and a $5,000 cash prize.

Onishi is the third composer/educator from Mizzou to win the MMTA Commissioned Composer award in recent years, following former faculty member Bret Bohman, the 2019 winner, and associate professor Carolina Heredia, who won in 2018 when she was MNMI’s postdoctoral fellow.

Entry deadline for 2021 COMP extended to Friday, February 5

Due to the effects of the pandemic on Missouri schools, the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the University of Missouri School of Music are extending the deadline for this year’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition.

The new deadline for 2021 COMP submissions will be 11:59 p.m., Friday, February 5, which gives student composers and songwriters in grades K-12 two additional weeks to submit their original music.

For more information or to enter, please visit