Missouri Composers Orchestra Project seeks
orchestral, choral works for performance in March

For the past four years, the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP) has been providing performance opportunities for new orchestral music written by Missouri residents. For its fifth year, MOCOP is expanding, both musically and geographically.

The 2016 competition will include both choral and orchestral works in five categories, three for Missouri composers and two added specifically for composers currently studying at schools in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

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

Each year, recently composed works are selected through a competitive, blind judging process and are performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra at a concert in Columbia. Each of the composers of the selected works is awarded a $500 honorarium, and this year, the composers selected from SEC schools also will receive travel expenses so they can attend the final rehearsal and concert.


New categories added for composers from SEC schools!

The categories for the 2016 MOCOP competition are Missouri Open – Orchestral; Missouri High School – Orchestral; Missouri High School – Choral; SEC Students – Orchestral; and SEC Students – Choral.

The CCO and the Columbia Chamber Choir will perform the selected works in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 20 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 http://mizzounewmusic.missouri.edu/project.html.

Applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. Central time on Friday, December 11, 2015

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.

University Singers to premiere new work by Chen Yi

This weekend, the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the University of Missouri School of Music will have the honor of welcoming Chen Yi for a brief residency on the MU campus and a world premiere.

Chen (pictured) currently 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.

Along with many orchestral works, Chen has written numerous choral works and pieces of chamber music, including works written for traditional Chinese instruments.

While she’s at Mizzou, Chen will give a presentation her works at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in room 146 of the Fine Arts Building, and take in the world premiere of her new composition “The Beautiful West Lake” during a concert by the University Singers at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at First Baptist Church.

The work was commissioned by the University of Missouri School of Music specifically for R. Paul Crabb and the University Singers with funding from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. The lyric is taken from the poem “The West Lake,” written during the Song Dynasty in 1073 by the Chinese poet Su Dong-po (1037-1101).

Chen’s program notes describe “The Beautiful West Lake” like this:

“The shining waves in the lake, and the drizzling rains on the hills from a colorful landscape of the West Lake. It is presented by simple pentatonic melodies, with cluster harmonies and a pattern of reciting nonsense syllables in the background in my choral piece. The sound and voices in the music convey the feeling of enjoying the nature, which symbolizes the beauty in Southeast China, whose presence is just so natural and perfect.”

Following the concert, Chen will wrap up her visit on Monday by leading a morning coaching session at Loeb Hall with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble.

A violinist as well as a composer, she received bachelor and masters degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University.

Chen is the recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005. She has received
fellowships and commissions from organizations including the Guggenheim Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Koussevitzky, Fromm, Ford, Roche, and Rockefeller foundations; Meet The Composer, Chamber Music America;, the BBC Proms; the China National Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center Festival, and Carnegie Hall.

Ensembles and soloists commissioning her work have included the Cleveland Orchestra, Mira Wang and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Seattle Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma and the Pacific Symphony, Evelyn Glennie and the Singapore Symphony, the Women’s Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Chen’s music is published by Theodore Presser Company, and has been recorded and released on more than 20 different labels, including New Albion, CRI, Angel, Koch International Classics, Delos, New World and Naxos.

Also of note is that her husband is Zhou Long, also a professor of composition at UMKC’s conservatory, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for music, and one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

For more about Chen Yi, you can read this 2001 interview with Minnesota Public Radio and this interview conducted at the 2005 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, and listen to this interview she did in 2012 with NYC radio station WQXR.

You can see and hear some samples of her works in the embedded videos below.

“Prospect Overture” for orchestra, commissioned by the China National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing and premiered by the China National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding, on December 31, 2008 at the CNCPA.

“Chinese Ancient Dances” for clarinet and piano, performed by Divan Consort on September 27, 2012 at CSU Fullerton’s Meng Hall.

“Distance can’t keep us two apart,” a 2012 work commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association Endowment and performed here by Montclair State University Singers, conducted by Dr. Heather Buchanan, on February 17, 2012 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, in Providence, RI.

Composer David Maslanka to visit Mizzou

Although the Mizzou International Composers Festival represents the largest gathering of composers taking place each year in Columbia, the School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative also are pleased to be able to host individual composers for short-term residencies during the school year.

Composer David Maslanka (pictured) will be in residence at Mizzou next week, and he’ll have a busy schedule while he’s visiting Columbia.

On Tuesday, October 13, Maslanka will present a seminar for composition students, and that evening, the Missouri Quintet will perform a concert including one of his works at 7:30 p.m. at Whitmore Recital Hall.

On Wednesday, Maslanka will have a coaching session with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, who will be performing one of his works this season, and on Thursday, he’ll take part in a School of Music convocation at 3:00 p.m. at Whitmore Hall.

Maslanka’s visit will be capped by a concert at 7:30 pm. Thursday at the Missouri Theatre, featuring performances of his music by Mizzou’s Symphonic Band, University Band, and Wind Ensemble.

Born in 1943 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, David Maslanka is known particularly for his compositions for winds, a number of which have become staples of band repertoire. Among his more than 130 works are forty pieces for wind ensemble, including seven symphonies, fifteen concertos, a Mass, and many concert pieces. His chamber music includes four wind quintets, five saxophone quartets, and many works for solo instrument and piano. In addition, he has written a variety of orchestral and choral pieces.

His education includes undergraduate work at the Oberlin College Conservatory, a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and masters and doctoral studies in composition at Michigan State University.

Maslanka served for more than 20 years on the faculty at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, and also has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and State University of New York at Geneseo.

Now a freelance composer who has worked solely on commission since 1990, Maslanka currently lives in Missoula, Montana. His compositions are published by Maslanka Press, Carl Fischer, Kjos Music, Marimba Productions, and OU Percussion Press. They have been recorded on labels including Albany, Reference Recordings, BIS (Sweden), Naxos, Cambria, CRI, Mark, Novisse, AUR, Cafua (Japan), Brain Music (Japan), Barking Dog, and Klavier.

For more about David Maslanka, check out this interview from back in 1998, and his interview with The Musicalist podcast, recorded in May 2014.

You can see and hear some performances of Maslanka’s music in the embedded videos below.

“Symphony No. 4,” performed by the United States Navy Concert Band, guest conducted by Mallory Thompson, on September 19, 2010 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, VA.

“Requiem,” performed by the University of North Texas Wind Symphony, conducted by Dominic Talanca, on November 21, 2013 at Winspear Hall, University of North Texas.

“Hell’s Gate” for alto, tenor and baritone saxophones and wind ensemble, performed in 2012 by members of Zzyzx Quartet and the Arizona State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Gary Hill.

Henry Breneman Stewart wins 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Henry Breneman Stewart.

Stewart, a native of Lancaster County, PA, is a first-year graduate student at Mizzou studying composition with Stefan Freund and piano with Janice Wenger. He submitted “Threnody,” a work for string quartet, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2016 competition were:
* R. Paul Crabb, director of choral activities, University of Missouri; and artistic director, Prometheus;
* Nick Omiccioli, composer;
* John Orfe, assistant professor, Bradley University; and composer and pianist with Alarm Will Sound; and
* Ingrid Stölzel, assistant professor, University of Kansas, and composer.

Now in its eleventh year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou. As this year’s winner, Stewart now will have the opportunity to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Singers, which, in keeping with the theme of the 2016 Chancellor’s Arts Showcase, will incorporate text selected from the works of William Shakespeare.

Stewart’s composition will receive premiere performances on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis and on Monday, April 11, 2016 as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, he also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work recorded.

Before coming to Mizzou, Stewart (pictured) earned a BA in music and biochemistry at Goshen College in Goshen, IN, where he studied composition with Dr. Jorge Muñiz of Indiana University South Bend. His interest in music began in childhood, as he grew up singing four-part harmony at East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster and began playing piano at age 5, later learning saxophone, flute and accordion as well.

During his sophomore year at Goshen, he and two friends started the indie-folk band Moral Circus, which released a full-length album in early 2014. In addition to the Mennonite tradition, he cites as significant influences the music of Krzysztof Penderecki, James Blake, Shostakovich, Kanye West, Samuel Barber, Johnny Greenwood, and Run the Jewels.

The other finalists for the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Ben Colagiovanni, Hans B. Heruth, and Erin Hoerchler.

2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 25 – 30;
applications for eight resident composers now open

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is now accepting applications for eight resident composers to take part in the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), which will be held Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

British/American composer Oscar Bettison (pictured) will serve as one of the MICF’s two distinguished guest composers, teaching and consulting with the resident composers and ensemble. The second distinguished guest composer will be announced at a later date.

The MICF features three public concerts of music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes and other events. As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will present the world premieres of new works from each of the eight resident composers, with the acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, serving as resident ensemble.

The resident composers are selected for the MICF each year through an online portfolio application process. During the Festival, they’ll receive composition lessons from the distinguished guest composers and Mizzou faculty, and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a copy of a professional live recording of their work.

Born in the UK, Bettison has served on the composition faculty of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute since 2009. His music has been described as possessing “an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty” and a “unique voice,” and has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world.

Bettison’s works have been featured and reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and British, Dutch and Italian media outlets, and has received airplay on radio throughout the US, Australia, Britain, The Netherlands and Brazil and on British and Dutch TV.

The application period for resident composers begins September 21, 2015, and the deadline for submitting an application is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Monday, November 23, 2015. For more information or to apply to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit https://app.getacceptd.com/mizzou.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.

Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform music by Chen Yi and David Maslanka, plus new student works on Monday, October 12 at Whitmore Recital Hall

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform music written by two upcoming composers-in-residence in a concert at 7:30 p.m., Monday, October 12 in Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the University of Missouri campus. Admission is free for Mizzou students, faculty and staff with ID, $5 for the general public.

The concert will feature performances of “Out of This World” by David Maslanka, a work inspired by the poets Seamus Heaney and Czeslaw Milosz, and “Sparkle” by Chen Yi, described by its composer as “bright” and “nimble.”

Maslanka, a Montana resident and freelance composer known particularly for his music for winds, has written more than 130 published works and served on the faculties of universities including Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. He will be in residence at Mizzou from October 13 through October 15, working with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Missouri Quintet, and University wind ensembles.

Chen, a native of China who currently is a professor of composition at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music. She will be in residence at Mizzou from October 24 to October 26, working with the Ensemble and the University Singers.

The concert also will include two premieres by Mizzou composition students. “Titan Arum” by junior Luke Henderson is a three-movement concerto for trumpet and chamber ensemble written for graduate trumpeter Adam Matejek, who will join the Ensemble as a guest performer for this concert. It reveals the influence of Sumatran music as it depicts the growth, blooming, and withering of the Sumatran “corpse flower” that give the piece its name.

“Illegal Cycles” was written by master’s student José Martínez for the chamber orchestra wildUp as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Next on Grand” National Composers Intensive. The work features grooves from traditional Latin American music, and now has been rearranged in a version for chamber ensemble for this premiere performance.

Rounding out the program will be encore performances of recent Mizzou graduate Grant Bradshaw’s “Colors of Nature” and master’s student Kay Cypret’s “Predator,” two works composed for the Ensemble’s concert in May, 2015 at the St. Louis Zoo. Bradshaw, a violist as well as a composer and conductor, will join the Ensemble as a guest performer on both works.

The eight-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. The Ensemble’s members for the 2015-16 season are Rachel Czech, cello; José Martínez, percussion; Rebecca McDaniel, percussion; Gyumi Rha, piano; Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets; Panagiotis Skyftas, saxophones; Erin Spencer, flute; and Britney Stutz, violin.

In addition to the guest musicians mentioned previously, bassist Sam Copeland will augment the Ensemble in this concert for their performance of “Sparkle,” which will be conducted by Mizzou senior Travis Herd.

Photo of Mizzou New Music Ensemble by Gene Royer.

Composers Festival spotlight: New Muse Piano Duo

The New Muse Piano Duo is another relatively recent addition to the University of Missouri’s ensembles in residence, and will be making their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut this year as part of Friday’s “Mizzou New Music” concert.

Individually, Paola Savvidou serves as assistant professor of piano pedagogy at Mizzou, while Jonathan Kuuskoski is an assistant teaching professor and director of entrepreneurship and community programs.

Savvidou received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned MM and DMA degrees in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while Kuuskoski earned both a BA in music and an MBA from UNC-Greensboro, and an MM from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As a performing duo, they specialize in music of the 20th and 21st centuries, seeking to expand the repertoire available for four hands and two pianos by performing newly composed works across the United States and abroad.

During their inaugural season in 2013-14, the New Muse Piano Duo toured with a program consisting exclusively of new works by living composers, selected from a call for scores that drew more than 90 submissions from across the Americas and Europe.

They also did guest artist residencies at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Truman State University, Missouri State University, and the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece, as well as a lecture recital at the European Piano Teachers Association Conference in Oslo, and guest artist recitals at the European Association for Music in Schools Conference and Biennial Euro-Mediterranean Musicological Conference at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

This past season, the Duo has premiered new works by Amy Williams, Jeffrey Hoover, Robert Honstein, and Haley Myers in performances in Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Baltimore.

Before coming to Mizzou, they helped found the New Music Everywhere ensemble, based in Madison, WI, collaborating with composers including Laura Schwendinger, Jeff Herriott, and Robert Honstein, visual artist Shinique Smith; with faculty from UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater; and with Madison-based troupes including the Deer Heart Dance Company, The Weather Duo, Mad Town Ballroom, and the UW First Wave Hip Hop Learning Community. Kuuskoski and Savvidou also have performed across the Midwest with the UW-Madison Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

You can hear samples of the New Muse Piano Duo’s music in the embedded SoundCloud players below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Andrew McManus

A native of Massachusetts, 2015 MICF resident composer Andrew McManus currently lives in Chicago, where he earned his PhD at the University of Chicago, studying with Marta Ptaszynska, Augusta Read Thomas, Shulamit Ran and Howard Sandroff. He also holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University.

The work McManus has composed for Alarm Will Sound to play at the festival is called “embers, fused to ash,” and you can read some of his thoughts about it and see a bit of the score here.

McManus’ acoustic works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, Pacifica Quartet, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, Minnesota Orchestra and the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program. His electronic works have been presented at the University of South Florida and the Aries Composers Festival in Fort Collins, CO.

Notable performances include the premiere of his orchestral work “Strobe” in June 2014 by the New York Philharmonic, which was called “riveting” and “breathless…surging…hazy… sometimes all at once” by the New York Times. And in May 2014 his opera “Killing the Goat,” based on the novel La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat) by Mario Vargas Llosa, was premiered by eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, and members of the Contempo Chamber Players at the University of Chicago.

McManus’ electronic work “Mesospherics” (2011-2013) was featured at the University of South Florida New Music Festival, and other compositions of his have been performed at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

For more about Andrew McManus, read this interview with him, done in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Arts, Science and Culture Initiative. You can hear samples of Andrew McManus’ music in the embedded Vimeo and SoundCloud players below.

“Killing the Goat,” a chamber opera recorded May 16, 2014 at Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. Performed by the Contempo Chamber Players of the University of Chicago; Julia Bentley, mezzo soprano; Chad Sloan, baritone; Ricardo Rivera, baritone; eighth blackbird; the Pacifica Quartet; and Jesse Langen, guitar; conducted by Cliff Colnot.