Mizzou composer Douglas Osmun wins 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Douglas Osmun.

Osmun, who grew up in Zeeland, MI, is a first-year graduate student at Mizzou studying composition with Stefan Freund. He submitted “First Fig,” a work written for alto voice, cello and piano, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2017 competition were:
* Lee Hartman, instructor in music and music theory, University of Central Missouri;
* Allison Ogden, lecturer in composition, University of Louisville; and
* Christopher Stark, assistant professor of composition, Washington University.

Now in its 12th year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou.

As this year’s winner, Osmun (pictured) now will be commissioned to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Philharmonic orchestra, with the premiere performance to be presented as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase on Monday, April 10, 2017 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, he also will receive funding for the production of the score and parts, and a professional recording of his work.

Before coming to Mizzou, Osmun earned a BM in music composition at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. While at WMU, he studied with Lisa Renée Coons and Christopher Biggs, and was named a Beulah and Harold McKee Scholar, one of the school’s three top awards for music students.

Osmun’s other awards and accomplishments include the Ron Nelson Award and Symphonic Band Commission; an international premiere of his work at the highSCORE Festival in Italy; a mini-grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo; and serving as the Region V Student Representative for the Society of Composers, Inc.

The other finalists for the 2017 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Dustin Dunn, Hans B. Heruth, Aaron Mencher, and Jake Smucker.

Aaron Mencher wins Boston New Music Initiative Young Composers Competition

Mizzou composer Aaron Mencher has won this year’s Boston New Music Initiative Young Composers Competition with his work “Uncertainly Yours,” which will be performed by the Boston New Music Initiative ensemble in a concert on November 4 at The Record Company in Boston.

Mencher (pictured) is a sophomore composition major and Sinquefield Scholar from John’s Creek, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.

He’s now the second Mizzou student to win BNMI’s Young Composers Competition, as Trey Makler was last year’s winner for his musical setting of poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Die Sonette an Orpheus.”

Listeners in Columbia can hear “Uncertainly Yours” played by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble as part of the Ensemble’s season-opening concert on Sunday, October 16 at Willmore Recital Hall.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to open 2016-17 season
on Sunday, October 16 at Whitmore Recital Hall

Keith Fitch

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will begin their 2016-17 season with a concert featuring music from a renowned visiting composer, two works written by Mizzou composers, and more.

The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 16 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the University of Missouri campus. General admission is $5 for the public, free for Mizzou faculty, students and staff.

Keith Fitch, who heads the composition department at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music, will be in Columbia that weekend for a residency at Mizzou, and the Ensemble’s concert will include his 1994 work “Dancing the Shadows,” which contrasts eerie, suspended resonances with hard-hitting, driving sections to create music for an imaginary ballet.

Aaron Mencher

The recipient of numerous honors, awards, and commissions, Fitch has had his music performed by ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the League of Composers Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and many others.

The concert also will feature two works from composers associated with Mizzou. “Uncertainly Yours” was written this year by Aaron Mencher, a Mizzou sophomore composition major and Sinquefield Scholar. The work recently won the Boston New Music Initiative’s second Young Composers Competition, and will be performed by the Boston New Music Ensemble as part of their concert season in November.

Phillip Sink

“Flowers of Salt” was composed in 2013 by Phillip Sink, who came to Mizzou in August as the University of Missouri’s first postdoctoral composition fellow. Inspired by microscopic, flower-like structures created from salt and silicon by engineers at Harvard University, the piece captures the fragility of these “nanogardens” with an organic form filled with ornamentation.

Completing the program will be “cheating, lying, stealing” by David Lang, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2008 and co-founder of the new music organization Bang on a Can; and “Study III from Trio No. 3” by Greek-American composer Dinos Constantinides.

Lang’s piece, heralded as a post-minimalist classic, celebrates the dark and the dirty, incorporating two antiphonal brake drums to produce an ominous funk. Constantinides’ work, the first movement of his “Trio No. 3,” is based on a modal tune that resembles a Greek folk melody and uses intervals of fourths and fifths.

The seven-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer, professor of composition, and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. The Ensemble’s members for the 2016-17 season are Victoria Hargrove, clarinet; Daniel Keeler, cello; Kelariz Keshavarz, flute; Renan Leme, violin; Rebecca McDaniel, percussion; Gyumi Rha, piano; and Panagiotis Skyftas, saxophone.

Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) seeks
new orchestral, choral works for performance in March 2017

Columbia Civic Orchestra

For composers of orchestral or choral music, completing a new work often is followed immediately by another formidable challenge: finding an orchestra or choir to perform it.

Recognizing this need, the Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) in 2017 once again is offering performance opportunities for new, large-ensemble music written by Missouri residents. (Founded in 2012 as the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project, MOCOP has been renamed for its sixth year to reflect the inclusion of choral music as well as orchestral works.)

MOCOP is a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Each year, recently composed works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process and are performed by the CCO and Chamber Choir at a concert in Columbia. Each of the composers of the selected works also is awarded a $500 honorarium, and will receive a professional recording of their work.

Columbia Chamber Choir

MOCOP’s 2017 competition is open to composers of orchestral and choral music in four categories – two for Missouri composers currently in high school, and two open to Missouri composers of any age. The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19, 2017 at Broadway Christian Church, 2601 West Broadway in Columbia.

Composers who wish to submit their work to MOCOP can find details on eligibility and instrumentation plus complete application materials online at https://music.missouri.edu/mnmi/mocop.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Monday, December 5, 2016.

The Columbia Civic Orchestra is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

The Columbia Chamber Choir in a subset of the Columbia Chorale, which works to promote choral music of the highest artistic quality and to stimulate a greater community understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of choral music by presenting programs appealing to a wide cross-section of Missouri residents and visitors.

Jacob Gotlib profiled in Columbia Daily Tribune

The Mizzou New Music Initiative’s new managing director Jacob Gotlib (pictured) recently was profiled in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Gotlib, who earned his Ph.D in composition in 2015 from the State University of New York at Buffalo and also holds a master’s degree in composition from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a B.M. in music technology from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, began work at Mizzou in August.

You can read the article, written by the Tribune‘s Aarik Danielsen, here.

A look back at the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival…

Mizzou International Composers Festival in print and on TV

In case you missed them, here are links to some newspaper stories about the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival:

* “Making maps: Composers’ festival charts course of new music” by Aarik Danielsen of the Columbia Tribune.

* Danielsen also penned a sidebar story detailing “Who’s New, Who’s Who” among this year’s MICF participants.

* “New music premieres at Mizzou International Composers Festival” by Rebecca Ferman of the Columbia Missourian.

* The Missourian also published a gallery of pictures of Alarm Will Sound, taken by photographer Youngrae Kim at one of the ensemble’s MICF rehearsals.

* Trey Makler, Mizzou’s representative among this year’s eight resident composers, was profiled by reporter Traci M. Black for his hometown paper, the Farmington Daily Journal, in an article headlined “Local composer’s work to be showcased at festival“.

Once again this year, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also promoted the festival with a TV spot, which ran both online and on broadcast TV in mid-Missouri. You can see the spot in the embedded window below.



Composers Festival spotlight: Oscar Bettison

As one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival,
Oscar Bettison will give a public presentation on his music; mentor and teach the eight resident composers; and work with Alarm Will Sound, who will perform his chamber concerto “Livre des Sauvages” as part of Thursday night’s concert at the Missouri Theatre.

A member of the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University since 2009, Bettison originally is from Jersey, UK. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Royal College of Music in London, then studied for three years at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague before completing his Ph.D at Princeton University.

As a composer, Bettison is noted for his use of found and “junk” percussion and other examples of what he calls “Cinderella instruments” – “instruments that really shouldn’t be the belle-of-the-ball but I make them so” – as well as for using electric instruments more common to rock music than classical.

His works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. Recent commissions include the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, musikFabrik, Tanglewood Music Center, Talea Ensemble, Slagwerk Den Haag, So Percussion, Bang on a Can All-Stars and the New York Philharmonic‘s 2014 Biennial.

Bettison won the the very first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize in 1993, and has gone on to earn numerous other awards and honors including a Chamber Music America Commissioning Award in 2013; the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize in 2009; and more, as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.

His music has been featured on several recordings, including in 2010 a full-length album, “O Death,” featuring the evening-long work of that name performed by Ensemble Klang; and “B&E (with aggravated assault)”, performed by NEWSPEAK on New Amsterdam Records.

For more about Oscar Bettison, read the profile of him published in 2013 by Johns Hopkins Magazine, and his 2009 interview with CompositionToday.com.

You can hear samples of Bettison’s music on his SoundCloud page. In the embedded media players below, you can see a brief video profile of Bettison, produced by the Peabody Conservatory, and
a video interview in which he talks about “Livre des Sauvages,” plus performances of two of Bettison’s works.

Oscar Bettison talks about life as a composer and finding inspiration through teaching. See him give lessons to students at the Peabody Conservatory and listen in as he rehearses his piece “Apart,” written for So Percussion.

Oscar Bettison talks about his chamber concerto, Livre des Sauvages.

The East Coast premiere of Bettison’s “An Inventory of Remnants,”
performed by Choo Choo Hu (piano, percussion) during the New Music Gathering 2016, at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

“Vamp (movement 2)”, performed by Ensemble Offspring, with Lamorna Nightingale (piccolo), Claire Edwardes (percussion), and Jason Noble (clarinet), on March 18, 2014 at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia