Composers Festival Spotlight: José Martínez

José Martínez

Resident composer José Martínez is representing the University of Missouri and the Mizzou New Music Initiative at this year’s MICF.

Originally from Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, José earned his diploma at the Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, and currently is studying for a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou. For the festival, he has written a new work, “Dances Torridas” that will be one of eight world premieres performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound at the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

José is the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize, Mizzou’s top honor for composers, for which he received a commission to write a new work, “Interferencias,” for the University Philharmonic to premiere at the annual Chancellor’s Concert in April

That was the second orchestral performance of José’s work this year, as the Columbia Civic Orchestra also played his composition “Mutaciones I” as part of the annual Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP) concert in March.

Before coming to Mizzou, José’s honors included winning the National Cultural Prize for “Mutaciones I” from the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín; receiving Colombia’s national composition prize for young composers from the National Ministry of Culture in 2009; and winning a Colombian national composition contest in 2011.

A percussionist as well as a composer, José 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 Ensemble, and Octopus; and for five years was timpanist for the Bogotá Symphonic Orchestra Foundation (FOSBO).

You can hear some of José Martínez’ music via the SoundCloud player embedded below.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Mizzou New Music Ensemble

One week from tonight, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will take the stage at the Missouri Theatre as part of the “Mizzou New Music” concert of the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Comprised of graduate students on scholarship, the Ensemble is directed by faculty composer and Alarm Will Sound member Stefan Freund. They serve as the flagship group of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, collaborating with student, faculty and visiting composers throughout the year to perform a variety of new works.

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, clarinet.

(Mizzou alum and former MICF resident composer Patrick David Clark also made a valuable contribution to the group during the fall of 2013, directing the ensemble while Freund was on sabbatical to finish writing his Civil War Oratorio.)

For the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 25, the Ensemble will play “The Rising of the Moon,” a brand-new work by Mizzou faculty composer W. Thomas McKenney; “I know where everything is,” written in 2007 by MICF guest composer Nico Muhly; and “A Leaf on the Wind,” a new work by Justin Pounds, who’s currently pursuing his master’s in composition at Mizzou.

During the academic year, the group performs a series of concerts on campus, and they also play off campus as well. Most recently, in May of this year they premiered four new works by Mizzou composition students that were commissioned for a Forest Park Forever event in St. Louis. The four compositions – Pounds’ “A Leaf on the Wind”; “Elysium” by Trey Makler; “Structural Symbiosis” by Matt Stiens; and “Forest Park Rhapsody” by Benedetto Colagiovanni – were recorded for inclusion on a fundraising DVD planned for release by Forest Park Forever.

The Ensemble also has performed in recent years at the World Chess Hall of Fame, the Sheldon Concert Hall, the Shoenberg Theatre at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Just about all of the Ensemble’s concerts, whether on campus or off, include music from student composers at Mizzou, giving both composers and performers valuable hand-on experience in the process of developing new work. In the embedded audio players below, you can hear three examples of pieces that were written at Mizzou during the past year and given their first performances by the Ensemble.

Composition major Trey Makler’s “Southern Portraits” was created for this past year’s collaboration between MNMI and the Stephens College dance department. Guest musician: Sam Jennings (guitar).

“Inception, Conception, Create” by Luke Wayne Henderson, a Mizzou freshman studying for degrees in music education and composition.

“#YOLO” by Trey Makler

Composers Festival Spotlight: Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang

Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang

Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang is another of the resident composers helping to put the “international” into this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

A native of Taiwan, Ashley comes to the MICF via the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she’s studying for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Ashley also holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and SooChow University, and her work draws on an eclectic musical palette, ranging from Western and non-Western classics to jazz and pop.

In a statement on her website, she says she seeks to “capture the transience of momentary beauty and individual identity through the juxtaposition of musical oppositions and through constant transformation and flow, revealing complexity within simplicity.”

Ashley’s composition “Illusional Control” will be one of eight new pieces from this year’s resident composers to get a world premiere from Alarm Will Sound at the festival’s grand finale.

Some of her other recently performed works include “Antares Falling,” which was played by the Locrian Chamber Players in May at Riverside Church in New York City, and is set to be performed again in October during the 35th annual Bowling Green New Music Festival; and “Meta-Meta,” commissioned by Nicolas Horvath and performed in April as part of the GlassWorlds Homage Project at the Palais de Tokyo Museum in Paris, France. Also, her composition “Lost Touch With Oneself,” was played in June at the Errant Bodies project space in Berlin, Germany.

Ashley’s music has been performed across North America, Europe, and Asia at venues including Carnegie Hall, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Aspen Music Festival, MASS MoCA, Logos Foundation, Herz Jesu-Kirche, Kitara Hall, and Hong Kong Arts Centre. She has collaborated with performers such as Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, MIVOS Quartet, conductors David Gilbert, Brad Lubman, Paul Chiang, and visual artists Alice Grassi and Takeshi Moro.

Ashley has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, Domaine Forget, Composit Music Festival, MusicX Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Pacific Music Festival, Tutti New Music Festival, Bang on a Can Music Festival, Festival of Women Composers, and the Society of Composers National Conference, and an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Her honors and awards include the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music competition, 21st century piano commission, Look and Listen Festival Composition Prize, an Encore Grant from the American Composers Forum, and a Composer Assistance Program of New Music USA Award, among others. Her music has been recorded on the ArpaViva Foundation Inc label and received radio airpaly on WQXR, and WNYC, and her scores are available on BabelScores.

You can hear Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang’s music on her website, and see a performance of “Antares Falling” in the video window below.

“Antares Falling,” recorded February 12, 2014 at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts in Urbana, IL, featuring Ya-Wen Wang (piano) and Melody Chua (flute).

Composers Festival Spotlight: Nicholas Omiccioli

Nicholas Omiccioli

Although this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival is in one sense the most international to date, with resident composers who were born in Australia, Colombia, South Korea and Taiwan in addition to the USA, it’s also the first MICF with two resident composers currently living in Missouri.

One is José Martínez, who came to Columbia, MO from Colombia to study for his masters degree, and is representing Mizzou in this year’s festival. (More about him in this space soon.)

The other is Nicholas Omiccioli, who will be making the trip to Mizzou from Kansas City, where he currently is a resident with the Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project and production coordinator of newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

Born in Belleville, IL, Nick holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he was a Preparing Future Faculty Fellow, and Heidelberg University. A guitarist as well as a composer, he will have two works played during the 2014 MICF. In addition to “fuse,” the piece he wrote for Alarm Will Sound to play as part of Saturday night’s grand finale, the vocal ensemble Prometheus will perform his composition “a song of joys” at Friday’s “Mizzou New Music” concert.

“a song of joys” also was performed by KHORIKOS at the “A Breath of Fresh Air” concert in May at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Other recently performed works of Nick’s include “hommage à c. debussy,” by the COSMOS Trio at Ohio State University and at the American Harp Society’s Harp Carnivale 2014 in New Orleans; “push / pull,” at the ensemble mise-en music festival held in June at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City; and “funeral symphony,” which is being used this weekend and next by choreographer Erin Muenks for her show “Dwell” at the 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival.

Nick’s music has has been performed in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Lithuania, Thailand, New Zealand, China, Sweden, and the United States by groups such as the Jasper String Quartet, Calder Quartet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Curious Chamber Players, DuoSolo, Ensemble Platypus, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and numerous others.

He has been commissioned by the Wellesley Composers Conference, Aspen Music Festival and School, Shouse Institute at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, National Arts Centre in Canada, Third Angle Ensemble, and Animus Ensemble.

Nick’s awards and honors include being a finalist for the 2013 Rome Prize. two nominations for awards by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award, plus many more.

You can read an interview with Nick, conducted by Patrick Neas in 2012 for the Kansas City Star‘s “Classical Beat” column, here, and listen to some of his music on his SoundCloud page and via the embedded videos below.

“Invisible Worlds” – Winner of the joint 2013 call for scores between Riot Ensemble & ECCE Ensemble, performed by Kate Walter (flute) and Adam Swayne (piano) for Transatlantic Collaborations 1 at The Forge, in Camden (London).

“Wild Nights”

“Danza di Fuoco,” performed by Omar Fassa (guitar) in 2011 at the highScore Festival in Italy.

A promotional video for KHORIKOS’ performance of “a song of joys.”

Composers Festival Spotlight: Prometheus

Prometheus: An American Vocal Consort will be the guest performers for the 2014 MICF’s “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 25 at the Missouri Theatre.

The 12-member ensemble “aims to inspire, enlighten, heal, and share through intimate performances of blazingly communicative a cappella music from the renaissance to the brightest examples of music from today’s leading composers.”

Prometheus is conducted by artistic director R. Paul Crabb, who in his “day job” serves as the University of Missouri’s Director of Choral Activities. Now six years old, the group was founded by Kyle Stegall, who also coordinates administrative activities, with assistant conductor Emily Edgington Andrews completing the leadership troika.

Prometheus also includes Jordan Black (bass), Eric Dalbey (countertenor), Frank Fleschner (tenor), Christine Jarquio (mezzo-soprano), Lindsey Lang (soprano), Gabe Lewis-O’Connor (bass), Arwen Myers (soprano), Laura Thoreson (mezzo-soprano), and Timothy Whipple (baritone).

All of the members are professional singers and conductors who live in different parts of the country, but come together at selected times for intensive rehearsals and performances. This summer, Prometheus is celebrating the release of their self-titled first album with performances in Columbia, Oak Park IL, and Chicago.

You can hear samples of their music in the embedded SoundCloud player below.

2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival to include free events

In addition to the ticketed concerts at the Missouri Theatre, the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival once again will include a number of events that are free of charge.

All the presentations by the Festival’s guest, resident and faculty composers are free and open to the public, and will take place in Room 145 of the Fine Arts Building on the MU campus.

The resident composers will give presentations on their work from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, July 21; and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22.

Guest composer Nico Muhly will discuss his work at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, followed at 8:15 p.m. by MU faculty composer Stefan Freund.

Then on Wednesday, July 23, guest composer Zhou Long will give his presentation at 7:00 p.m., with MU faculty composer W. Thomas McKenney to follow at 8:30 p.m.

To get a behind-the-scenes look at how the Festival’s eight world premieres and other new works are being prepared for performance, you can see the Festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound in several rehearsals during the week that will be open to the public at no charge.

Open rehearsals will take place from 9:00 a.m to noon on Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Missouri Theatre; and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 25 in Room 201 of Loeb Hall on the MU campus.

For a complete schedule of events, please see the Mizzou International Composers Festival website.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Texu Kim

Texu Kim

A native of South Korea, 2014 MICF resident composer Texu Kim currently is pursuing a doctorate in composition with minors in electronic music and music theory at Indiana University, where he also serves as an associate instructor in music theory.

Before coming to the USA, Texu earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from Seoul National University. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the same university, and in 1998 was a silver medal winner at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Melbourne, Australia.

In March, he was appointed composer-in-residence for the Korean Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, which will premiere two of his orchestral pieces in 2015. For the MICF, he’s written a new work called “Bounce” that will be performed by Alarm Will Sound, along with new works from the festival’s other resident composers, at the festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

Texu also is looking forward to upcoming performances of his work at the ACDA Cincinnati Regional Convention, Ensemble Reconsil’s Exploring World Festival, and at the AGO National Convention in Boston.

Previously, his music has been been performed by Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble TIMF, NOTUS Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at Indiana University, and the Contemporary Directions Ensemble. 

Texu’s awards and honors include the OSSIA New Music Composition Prize and Sang Yun International Composition Prize, as well as recognition from organizations such as the C4 Commissioning Competition, Gamma-UT Conference and Concert, Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the Aspen Music Festival and School, ITongyeong International Music Festival, and Joong-Ang Music Concours. 

In addition to his contemporary compositions, his arrangements and orchestrations have been commissioned for and performed at events including the Innsbrook Music Festival and Piece & Piano Festival, and by groups such as Ensemble Mode and the Chamber Music Society of Kumho Art Hall.

His arrangements are featured on three albums by soprano Sumi Jo, and on recordings by harpist Jung Kwak, violinists Chee-Yun and Suyoen Kim, pianist Yeol-Eum Son, daegum (Korean traditional wind instrument) player Jeong-Seung Kim, and more. Texu also has written more than 50 songs for toddlers that were published by Bicycle Korea.

You can hear more of Texu Kim’s music in the embedded audio player and video windows below.

“Shake It!!” (2014), recorded January 21, 2014 at Indiana University’s Auer Hall.
Conducted by Texu Kim, featuring Heath White (flute), Mayu Isom (oboe), Nick Morandi (Bb clarinet, bass clarinet), Felipe Brito (trombone), Andreas Foivos Apostolou (piano), Augusta McKay Lodge (violin), Yoni Gertner (viola) and Timothée Berte-Renou (cello).

“Chopsaltok” (2012), premiered February 17, 2013 by Indiana University Symphonic Choir at Auer Hall, conducted by Jaeeun Kim and featuring Xie Zhizhong (tenor).

Composers Festival Spotlight: Ian Dicke

Ian Dicke

Resident composer Ian Dicke comes to this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival from the University of California, Riverside, where he just completed his first year as an assistant professor of digital composition.

A native of New Jersey, Ian earned degrees in music from the University of Texas at Austin (D.M.A), University of Michigan (M.M.), and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (B.M.). In addition to teaching and composing, he also helps run two presenting organizations, founding and curating the Outpost Concert Series in Riverside while also continuing to co-direct the annual music festival Fast Forward Austin.

Drawing inspiration from social-political culture and interactive technology, Ian has written music in a variety of genres integrating acoustic ensembles with cutting edge audio processing techniques. Called “refreshingly well-structured” by Feast of Music and “uncommonly memorable” by Sequenza 21, his music has been performed by ensembles and festivals around the world, including the New World Symphony, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, ISCM World New Music Days, and the Atlantic Coast Center Band Director’s Association.

Ian has received grants, awards, and recognition from the Fulbright Program, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, New Music USA, New York Youth Symphony, ASCAP, and BMI, among others. He has been an artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and at Art342, and spent the 2012-2013 academic year living in Sweden as a Fulbright scholar researching interactive musical interfaces and environments.

In addition to writing “86′d” to be performed at the 2014 MICF by Alarm Will Sound, Ian’s other recent projects include a new work for the Friction Quartet and an interactive electronics and video piece for the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

You can hear some of Ian Dicke’s music on his website and in the embedded videos below.

“Grand Central” (2012), recorded March 2, 2013 by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble; Nicole Paiement, conductor. Commissioned by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and scored for chamber orchestra, live audio processing, and video projections.

“Eight Oh Eight” (2011), performed by Dicke on September 27, 2013 at the Craft in America Study Center in Los Angeles.

“Assembly Lines” (2011), performed by the Boston New Music Initiative; Ray Daniels, conductor, on October 1, 2011

“Song of the Telegraph” (2010), performed by the University of Memphis Wind Ensemble, Albert T. Nguyen, Conductor.
l. Across the Wires; ll. Song of the Clouds; lll. Bluebird’s Halo