Composers Festival spotlight: Alex Mincek

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is pleased to welcome Alex Mincek as one of the two distinguished guest composers for this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

In addition to composing, New York-based Mincek also is the saxophonist, bass clarinetist, and artistic director of the Wet Ink Ensemble, a contemporary music group he founded in 1998.

Two of his works will be performed during the MICF. Thursday night’s concert by Alarm Will Sound will feature the world premiere of “Chimeras,” a newly commissioned work by Mincek. Then on Friday, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform “Portraits and Repetitions,” which he wrote in 2007.

While he’s in Columbia, Mincek also will give a public presentation about his music; teach the seven resident composers in individual and group sessions; and consult with Alarm Will Sound and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on the performances of his works.

Born and raised in Florida, Mincek moved to New York City in 1995 to study saxophone at the Manhattan School of Music. After receiving his undergraduate degree, he pursued a master’s degree in composition at the Manhattan School, followed by doctoral studies at Columbia University, where in 2011 he earned his DMA.

Mincek’s music has been programmed at major venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, the Musica festival in Strasbourg, Festival Présences of Radio France, Festival Archipel in Geneve, Voix Nouvelles at the Abbaye de Royaumont in Paris, Festival des Musiques Démesurées in Clermont-Ferrand, the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD), Unerhörte Musik in Berlin, the Contempuls Festival in Prague, and the Ostrava New Music Days.

He has collaborated with ensembles including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Janacek Philharmonic, Ensemble Cairn, Ensemble Le Balcon, Ensemble Linea, Ensemble XXI, SEM Ensemble, Present Music, Talea Ensemble, Dal Niente, Yarn/Wire, Mivos Quartet, and the JACK Quartet.

Mincek’s awards and commissions include an Alpert Award in the Arts in 2013, as well as recognition from institutions such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, MATA, Radio France, the Barlow Endowment, Meet The Composer, and the Issue Project Room.

Along with three albums by Wet Ink and several early recordings as a member of the band Zs, Mincek has put out two albums under his own name: an eponymous set in 2011 on Carrier Records, and Torrent, released in 2017 with deluxe packaging and a 28-page booklet to launch Sound American’s Young Composer Portrait (YCP) series.

For more about Alex Mincek, read music journalist and critic George Grella’s essay on his music, published in 2016 in Music & Literature magazine; watch an interview with Mincek after his Alpert Award win, and listen to his 2013 interview on NYC radio station WQXR. You can hear some samples of his music via the embedded players below.

Excerpt from “Color-Form-Line,” recorded December 15, 2015 at St. Peter’s Church in New York City by Wet Ink Ensemble, featuring Erin Lesser (flutes), Alex Mincek (saxophone), Ryan Muncy (saxophone), Eric Wubbels (piano), Ian Antonio (percussion), Josh Modney (violin), and Kate Soper (voice)

“String Quartet No. 3,” performed by Mivos Quartet on February 8th, 2013 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City

Composers Festival spotlight: Douglas Osmun

The University of Missouri’s representative among this year’s group of resident composers at the Mizzou International Composers Festival is Douglas Osmun, who recently earned his M.M. in composition from Mizzou.

Originally from Zeeland, MI, Osmun previously received his bachelor’s degree in music from Western Michigan University, where he was named a Beulah and Harold McKee Scholar.

He is a composer of both acoustic and electronic music who describes his work as “deeply concerned with elements of sound embodiment, spatialization, and perception.” Osmun’s new work for the MICF is called “in effigies,” and it will be performed along with new music from the six other resident composers by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound on Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

Osmun also recently has written works for SPLICE Ensemble and for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, which performed his composition “ghost. receding. (unto a shaded landscape)” along with music from fellow Mizzou students Aaron Mencher and Dustin Dunn this spring at Powell Hall as part of a year-long collaborative project involving SLSO and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

In addition, his music has been heard at the BGSU Graduate Conference in Music, the SEAMUS National Conference, the Society of Composers Inc. National Conference, NYCEMF, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and the St. Louis Science Center.

Osmun’s honors include the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize, the University of Missouri’s top award for a student composer, and the 2014 Ron Nelson Composition Award.

For more about Douglas Osmun, listen to his interview aired last week on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program, and read the feature story about him published in 2016 by the Columbia Missourian. You can hear some of his music via the embedded players below.

“spaces of an absent voice,” performed by Douglas Osmun

“Three Short Conversations,” recorded during the 2014 fresh inc festival at Bedford Concert Hall at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and performed by The Magic Deuce, featuring Caitlin Phillips (flute) and Eric Salazar (clarinet)

Composers Festival spotlight: Amanda Feery

If there were a prize for “longest distance traveled to take part in the Mizzou International Composers Festival,” resident composer Amanda Feery would be the winner for 2018, coming to Columbia all the way from Dublin, Ireland.

Originally from County Offaly in Ireland, Feery recently moved back to her home country after completing her PhD in composition here in the USA at Princeton University. She previously earned a B.A. in music and an M.Phil in music and media technologies from Trinity College Dublin.

For the MICF, Feery has composed a new work titled “This is the House of,” which will be performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound along with new music from the fest’s other resident composers as part of the grand finale concert on Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

Working variously in acoustic, electronic, and improvised music, her past collaborations include Third Coast Percussion, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland, Crash Ensemble, Fidelio Trio, Ensemble Mise-en, Bearthoven, RTÉ Contempo Quartet, Dither Quartet, Dublin Guitar Quartet, Mivos String Quartet, Orkest de Ereprijs, Quince Vocal Ensemble, This is How we Fly, Lisa Moore, Michelle O’Rourke, and Paul Roe.

Feery’s previous fellowships and residencies include the Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic, Soundscape Festival in Italy, Bang on a Can Summer Festival in the United States and the International Young Composers Meeting in the Netherlands. She was the winner of the West Cork Chamber Music Composer Award in 2009, and the Jerome Hynes Young Composers Award in 2013.

You can hear Feery discuss her new work for the Mizzou International Composers Festival in the interview she recently did with radio station KMUC for their weekly “Mizzou Music” program.

For more about her, check out her video interview from 2016 at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, in which she discusses her piece “The Very Air Tastes Different,” and her interview on Athena Media’s podcast special about Irish women composers, “Cross Currents,” also from 2016. You can listen to some samples of Amanda Feery’s music via the embedded players below.

Excerpt from “Stray Sods,” recorded March 25, 2016 at Mount Tremper Arts in Phoenicia, NY by Amanda Gookin (cello).

“On Shuffle,” recorded December 9, 2017 at the Mathewson Street Theater in Providence, RI by Verdant Vibes, featuring EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks (violin), Zan Berry (cello), Jacob Richman (bass), Alexander Dupuis (guitar), and Chuck Furlong (bass clarinet).

Robert Morris to serve as guest composer for 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival; Chen Yi withdraws for medical reasons

Composer Chen Yi, who had been scheduled to be one of the distinguished guest composers later this month at the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival, has withdrawn from the festival due to medical reasons.

In place of Chen, Robert Morris, composer and professor at the Eastman School of Music, has agreed to serve as a guest composer for the 2018 MICF.

“We regret that Chen Yi is unable to participate in this year’s festival. She recently had surgery and though a full recovery is expected, it’s taking longer than originally anticipated,” said Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the MICF. “We hope she’ll be feeling better soon, and we’re very grateful to Bob Morris for being willing to come to Columbia on such short notice.”

Morris (pictured) was born in Cheltenham, England and received his musical education at the Eastman School and at the University of Michigan, where he earned his masters and doctoral degrees in composition and ethnomusicology.

He has taught at Eastman since 1980, serving as chair of the composition department from 1999 to 2005 and again from 2008 to 2011. Before his appointment at Eastman, Morris taught composition, electronic music, and music theory at the University of Hawaii; at Yale University, where he was chairman of the composition department and director of the Yale Electronic Music Studio; and at the University of Pittsburgh, where he directed the Computer and Electronic Studio.

Morris has composed more than 160 musical works, which have been performed in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and recorded on labels including CRI, New World, Music Gallery Editions, Neuma, Music and Arts, Fanfare, Centaur, Open Space, Innova, Yank Gulch, Albany, and Attacca.

For MICF ticket buyers, the change in guest composers means that they’ll hear a slightly different program during the concert by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre, as the festival’s resident ensemble will perform Morris’ “In Concert” in place of the Chen Yi work that had been announced previously. In addition, “Mountain Streams,” an electronic work composed by Morris, will be added to the program for the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 27.

For the MICF’s seven resident composers, Morris’ participation in the festival will give them a chance to work with a composer and teacher who has written for many musical forms and types of media. Spanning the gap from academic to experimental, his compositions range from orchestral and chamber works to computer and improvisational music to works heavily influenced by non-Western music from Asia and the Middle East.

In addition to his music and teaching, Morris has written four books and more than 50 articles and reviews on subjects including musical analysis and aesthetics; compositional design; electronic and computer music; the Carnatic music of south India; and more.

During the MICF, he will give a public presentation about his music; teach the seven resident composers in individual and group sessions; and consult with Alarm Will Sound on the performance of “In Concert.”

Composers Festival spotlight: Missouri Clarinet Quartet

The Missouri Clarinet Quartet will make their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut as a part of the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Founded in 2017 under the guidance of assistant teaching professor Wesley Warnhoff,  the MCQ is committed “to community engagement and the expansion of the clarinet quartet repertoire.”

The members of the quartet include Victoria Hargrove, a Mizzou alum now entering the DMA program at Michigan State University; music educator and Mizzou alum Erin Rhomberg; Andrew Mahonen, a Mizzou graduate student and teaching assistant; and Austin Wright, a graduate student and the new clarinetist for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble. (For their performances this summer, Warnhoff has substituted for Rhomberg.)

The MCQ has performed outreach concerts and clarinet workshops at venues throughout Missouri, and earlier this month made their European debut with a performance at the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFEST 2018 in Ostend, Belgium.

Their ClarinetFEST concert featured two new works commissioned by the MCQ in 2018 from Mizzou composers, which also will be performed at the MICF. The commissions for Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of MNMI and MICF, and for student composer and clarinetist Aaron Mencher, were funded by MNMI with support for Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

You can hear a recording of the MCQ playing Mencher’s commission work “Checkerboard” via the embedded player below.

Yoshi Onishi answers “5 Questions” from I Care If You Listen

The Mizzou New Music Initiative’s new postdoctoral fellow Yoshiaki “Yoshi” Onishi is the subject of a “5 Questions” interview published last week by the new-music website I Care If You Listen.

In the interview, Onishi (pictured) talks with ICIYL’s Alexander Rothe about his compositional process and his ongoing project “Les Six Aspects du Néant” (“The Six Aspects of Nothingness”).

The work is a cycle of six pieces for string quartet, parts of which will be performed this fall at the Vertixe Sonora Festival in Spain, the 45th International Viola Congress in Rotterdam, and the Trieste Prima Festival in Italy.

You can read the complete interview here.

Composers Festival spotlight: Viet Cuong

Resident composer Viet Cuong comes to the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Philadelphia, where he currently is studying in the Curtis Institute of Music‘s Artist Diploma program and finishing his PhD at Princeton University.

Born in West Hills, CA and raised in Marietta, GA (near Atlanta), Cuong also holds an MFA from Princeton. He earned his bachelor and master of music degrees from the Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University, where he won the Peabody Alumni Award for being valedictorian and the Gustav Klemm Award for excellence in composition.

The piece Cuong has written for the MICF is called “Electric Aroma,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new works from the six other resident composers as part of the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

Cuong has had works performed by musicians and ensembles such as Sō Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, Gregory Oakes, Mimi Stillman, Albany Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, among others.

His music has been featured in prestigious settings such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Aspen Music Festival, New Music Gathering, Midwest Clinic and many others, as well as on American Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”

Cuong’s previous residencies include the Yaddo Artist Retreat, Copland House, Ucross Foundation, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. He was a scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals, and has also been a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab  and the RED NOTE composition workshop.

Earlier this month, Cuong was selected to be one of seven young composers taking part in the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2019 Composer Institute. Other honors include the ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Music Award, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Call for Scores, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, the Cortona Prize, and more.

He enjoys composing for wind ensemble, and is a member of the Blue Dot Collective, a group of composers who focus on writing adventurous new music for wind band. His works for winds have amassed over one hundred performances by conservatory and university ensembles worldwide.

For more about Viet Cuong, listen to his recent interview with KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program, and watch video of an interview from June 2017 in which he and members of Sandbox Percussion discussing Cuong’s concerto “Re(new)al.” You can hear some of Viet Cuong’s music in the embedded players below.

“Water, Wine, Brandy, Brine” performed on May 18, 2015 at Princeton University by So Percussion

“Wax and Wire” performed for Composers, Inc by Diane Maltester (clarinet), Hrabba Atladottir (violin), Thalia Moore (cello) and Renee Witon (piano)

Composers Festival spotlight: Christine Burke

Like many contemporary composers, Christine Burke does more than write music. Burke, who’s one of the seven resident composers for the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival, also is a clarinetist and bandleader of the Christine Burke Ensemble, giving her a ready outlet for new musical ideas.

Burke is a fellow Midwesterner, coming to the MICF from Iowa City, IA, where she earned her master’s degree from the University of Iowa and still resides.

Previously, the Indiana native in 2014 got her bachelor of music degree in clarinet performance from Duquesne University. While in Pittsburgh, she was actively involved as a performer in new music and chamber ensembles, most notably appearing with Alia Musica as the soloist for Krzystof Penderecki’s “Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio.”

For the MICF, Burke has written a new work called “Ah! The hovering…!” to be performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s “Seven World Premieres” concert on Saturday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

Previously, her music has been performed by the JACK Quartet, The Living Earth Show, NOW Ensemble, Cola Guitar Quartet, Kamratōn Ensemble, the Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra, and numerous others.

Her works have been presented at events including the New Music on the Point, soundSCAPE and Pittsburgh New Music festivals, and have received recognition from the Earle Brown Music Foundation’s International Summer Academy, Talea Ensemble, Núcleo Música Nova, the John Donald Robb Composer’s Symposium, the Chicago Civic Orchestra Composers Project, and the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra’s composition competition.

For more about Christine Burke, listen to her recent interview with KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. You can hear some of her music in the embedded players below.

Excerpt from Christine Burke Ensemble performance on March 30, 2018 at The Java House in Iowa City, IA.

“Here,” performed in 2016 by JACK Quartet.