Spotlight on Christopher Dietz

Here’s another in our series of brief profiles of the eight resident composers who will be part of the inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival:

The music of Milwaukee native Christopher Dietz (pictured) has been recognized with honors and awards from the Camargo Foundation, the Banff Centre, Copland House, ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions and Composer Institute and several other institutions.

Dietz earned a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from the University of Michigan, as well as degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Wisconsin.  He currently is a visiting assistant professor at the Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, OH. Recent commissions include works for the Mellon Foundation, the Toledo Symphony and the Utah Arts Festival Orchestra.

His music also has been performed by the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, L’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne, the Palomar Ensemble, TACTUS Ensemble, and many others.

In addition to being part of the Mizzou New Music Summer Fesitval, Deitz this year also was selected to participate in the Etchings Festival of Contemporary Music in Auvillar, France, and in the Society of Composers Inc. National Conference this November.

There are a few sample recordings of Dietz’ music online. His work Gharra,  commissioned by the Utah Arts Festival Orchestra in 2007 and since performed by three more orchestras, can be heard online here (if you have Apple QuickTime).

Also, percussionist Matthew Peters has put online .mp3 files of his performances of two solo marimba pieces composed by Dietz, “King of the Logs” and “The Peters Variations.”  Lastly, a very short excerpt of Deitz’ piece “De Profundis,” composed for and recorded by the Toledo Clarinets, can be heard here.

Spotlight on Francisco Cortez-Alvarez

The inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will feature the world premieres of new works from eight resident composers selected to be part of the event from a group of more than 120 applicants from around the world. Here’s the first in a series of brief profiles of those composers:

Pianist/composer Francisco Cortes-Alvarez (pictured) was born in Mexico City and received a degree in music composition with honorific mention and the Gabino Barreda Medal from the National School of Music (ENM), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

He currently is pursuing  a master’s of music degree in composition at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

Cortez-Alvarez received two consecutive Susan & Ford Schumann grants to study with Steven Stucky (2005) and George Tsontakis (2006) at the Aspen Musical Festival and School.  He also has participated in workshops with composer Mario Davidovsky and the Cassatt String Quartet, and from 2006 to 2007 served as resident composer for the ONIX Ensemble in Mexico.

His music has been performed in Mexico, the United States, Canada and France by soloists, ensembles and orchestras including the Cassatt String Quartet, Ensamble 3, the Cuarteto Extremo, Tumben Paax, Trio Coghlan, Mexico’s National Symphonic Orchestra, the Aspen Sinfonia Orchestra, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra, and the Carlos Chávez Young Orchestra.

You can hear a recording of his composition “Lepedpteros” on his MySpace page.

Spotlight on Alarm Will Sound

The inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is fortunate to have Alarm Will Sound (pictured) as our resident ensemble.

They’ll kick off the festival with a concert at the Missouri Theater and Center for the Arts on Monday, July 12, and will work with our eight emerging composers throughout the week, culminating in the world premiere of their new works at the concluding concert on Sunday, July 18.

Their performances have been described as “equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity” by the London Financial Times and as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the San Francisco Chronicle.  The New York Times says Alarm Will Sound is “the future of classical music” and “the very model of a modern music chamber band,” and ASCAP recognized their contributions to new music with a 2006 Concert Music Award for “the virtuosity, passion and commitment with which they perform and champion the repertory for the 21st century.”

Alarm Will Sound’s repertoire includes European and American works “from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced.”  They work closely with contemporary composers, which makes them especially well suited for their role working with emerging composers at the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.

The group has commissioned and premiered pieces by Steve Reich, David Lang, Anthony Gatto, Cenk Ergün, Aaron Jay Kernis, Michael Gordon, Augusta Read Thomas, Stefan Freund, Wolfgang Rihm, Payton MacDonald, John Orfe, Gavin Chuck, Dennis DeSantis and Caleb Burhans.

Alarm Will Sound can be heard on four recordings, including Acoustica, which features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin; Reich at the Roxy, a surround-sound DVD/CD recording of a live concert of music by Steve Reich performed in the famed New York nightclub; and their most recent release, 2009’s a/rhythmia. You can hear samples from those recordings here.

The 20 members of Alarm Will Sound began playing together while studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York,  combining their diverse experience in composition, improvisation, jazz and popular styles, early music, and world musics.

Their connection to the University of Missouri is cellist and composer Stefan Freund (pictured), who serves as Associate Professor, Composition & Music Theory and as a faculty member for the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

The other members of Alarm Will Sound are Miles Brown (bass),  Caleb Burhans (violin, viola, voice, electric guitar, composer),  Gavin Chuck (managing director, composer), Michael Clayville (trombone), Michael Harley (bassoon, voice, keyboards),  Bill Kalinkos (clarinet, sax), Jackie Leclair (oboe), Payton MacDonald (percussion, tabla, composer),  Nigel Maister (staging director),  Matt Marks (horn, keyboards, electronics), Courtney Orlando (violin, voice, keyboards, accordion), John Orfe (keyboards, composer), Alan Pierson (artistic director, conductor, keyboards), Jason Price (trumpet, cracklebox, electronics), John Pickford Richards (viola, accordion), Elisabeth Stimpert (clarinet, sax),  Chris Thompson (percussion) and Jason Varvaro (production manager).  You can read more about each member of the ensemble on the Alarm Will Sound website.

Before they come to Columbia in July, Alarm Will Sound will perform in two concerts at The Barbican in London.  On June 24, the group performs at Wilton’s Music Hall, the world’s oldest music hall, playing electronica by Aphex Twin and Autechre, the Beatles’ iconic experimental tape work, Revolution 9, and John Orfe’s Chamber Symphony.  On June 25, the group will perform The Getty Address at the Barbican with indie-rockers Dirty Projectors.

You can see and hear a couple of Alarm Will Sound performances –  and get a sense of their impressive and eclectic musical range – in the embedded video windows below. The first clip is their rendition of  “Four” by the electronic music act Aphex Twin (aka Richard James), arranged by Jessica Johnson and Payton MacDonald, and performed on  July 22, 2009.  Below that, there’s a performance of maverick composer Conlon Nancarrow‘s “Player Piano Study No. 2A,”  arranged by Gavin Chuck and recorded November 19, 2008 at the Moscow Art November Festival.

About the Mizzou New Music Initiative

The Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is just one part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, which brings together a diverse array of programs intended to position the University of Missouri School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music.

The Initiative is the direct result of the generous support of Dr. Jeanne and Mr. Rex Sinquefield, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. The Sinquefields’ vision is to create an incubator for the composition and performance of new music, and to position Missouri as a major center for the music of tomorrow.

In addition to the Festival , the Initiative includes undergraduate composition scholarships, New Music Ensemble graduate assistantships, the Sinquefield Composition Prize, the Creating Original Music Project, and Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that lets composers connect with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

To learn more about the Mizzou New Music Initiative, please visit the MNMI home page on the School of Music’s site.  For more about the Sinquefields’ support for the MU School of Music, click here.

Tickets now on sale for inaugural
Mizzou New Music Summer Festival

Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, which will be held Monday, July 12 through Sunday, July 18 in Columbia, MO.

The weeklong series of events will include four public concerts, culminating in the world premieres of new works written by eight international composers and performed by the acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, July 18 in the newly renovated Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts (MTCA), 203 S. Ninth St. in downtown Columbia.

Other public performances at the MTCA will include the festival’s opening concert by Alarm Will Sound at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 12; a solo performance by pianist and resident performing artist Lisa Moore at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 13; and “Composers That Rock,” a chamber music concert featuring Moore and Maestro Kirk Trevor at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 15.

More than 120 composers, representing countries including the People’s Republic of China, France, Spain, Turkey, Korea, Mexico and the United States, submitted composition portfolios to participate in the festival. Eight were selected to represent a cross-section of the diverse landscape of music being created today. They are:

* Francisco Cortes-Alvarez, who was born in Mexico City and currently is studying music at Indiana University;
* Christopher Dietz, a Milwaukee native who is a visiting assistant professor at the Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, OH;
* Paul Dooley, a Californian and doctoral student at the University of Michigan;
* Moon Young Ha, a PhD student in composition and music theory at New York University;
* Edie Hill, who lives in Minneapolis and is composer-in-residence for The Schubert Club in St. Paul;
* Amy Beth Kirsten, a former Chicagoan now living in New Haven, CT;
* Jeremy Podgursky, born in Louisville, KY and now a doctoral fellow at Indiana University; and
* Zhou Juan, a native of Sichuan, China who recently completed course work for the doctor of musical arts degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

During the festival the eight composers will receive private composition lessons from guest composers Martin Bresnick, recipient of the first Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Derek Bermel, composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Additionally, they will take part in workshops with Alarm Will Sound, participate in master classes and receive a professional live recording of their work.

The Inaugural Mizzou New Music Summer Festival is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, a diverse array of programs launched by the University of Missouri’s School of Music intended to position the school as a leading center for music composition and new music. The initiative is a direct result of a $1 million donation by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation led by Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. Their vision is to create an incubator for the composition and performance of new music, and to showcase Missouri as a center for the music of tomorrow.

“The talent of these new composers is staggering,” said Dr. Sinquefield. “Mixing their talent at the festival with major composers Bresnick and Bermel and Alarm Will Sound will be a crazy, wonderful event. I cannot wait for the resulting concert. This is a concert that cannot be missed. And for the participants, this will be a week they will never forget. Their combined talent is overwhelming. Anyone interested in development of American composition needs to come.”

The participating composers were selected through a portfolio application process by Dr. Stefan Freund, associate professor of music theory and composition, and Dr. W. Thomas McKenney, professor of music theory and composition, electronic music, who both teach at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Music and are resident composers for the festival. The selected composers each will create a new work up to nine minutes long for Alarm Will Sound’s complete instrumentation, which can be viewed at www.alarmwillsound.com.

Festival passes good for admission to all four concerts are on sale for $35 for adults, $20 for students. Single tickets are priced at $10 for adults, $5 for students for the concerts on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; and $15 for adults, $10 for students for the final concert on Sunday. Tickets can be charged by phone by calling the MTCA box office at 573-875-0600 or purchased online at www.motheatre.org. (There is a $2 per ticket fee for online purchases; phone purchases will not be charged a fee.)

For a complete listing of the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival events, visit http://newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu/. The programs of the Mizzou New Music Initiative have been made possible through the generous support of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation . The City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs also provided financial assistance for the Mizzou New Music Festival.

Welcome!

Welcome to the blog of the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.

Here, you’ll find information on the festival, the participating composers and musicians, the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and much more.

The charter members of our blogging team are William J. “Billy” Lackey,  Admissions and Publicity Coordinator for the University of Missouri School of Music (and a composer himself) and Dean Minderman, a Mizzou alumnus, musician and music journalist based in St. Louis.  We’ll add more contributors as we go, including live blogging during the festival from the eight emerging composers whose work will be featured this year.

Please bookmark this site, or add our feed – http://blog.coas.missouri.edu/blog_mnmsf/?feed=rss2 –  to your reader of choice!  If you have comments, suggestions or would like to get in touch for any other reason, please send an email to LackeyW@missouri.edu.

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