MICF alumni in the news

Clockwise from top left: Browne, Simon, Kouyoumdjian, figgis-vizueta, Chandler, LeBoeuf

Although the resident composers for the Mizzou International Composers Festival are with us here in Columbia for only a short time each summer, MNMI continues to follow the progress of their careers as the years pass. Congratulations to these MICF alumni on their recent accomplishments:

* Works originally written for the MICF by Matt Browne (MICF 2016) and Greg Simon (MICF 2013) won first and second prizes respectively in the “new classics” division of the 2020 International Competition of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory for young composers.

You can see a video of the conservatory’s orchestra performing Browne’s “Writer’s Room,” Simon’s “Draw Me The Sun” and the other competition winners on YouTube.

* Mary Kouyoumdjian (MICF 2016) and inti figgis-vizueta (MICF 2019) recently took part in a roundtable discussion called “Understanding Intersectionality: Gender and Other Identities” that was presented online by the new music publication I CARE IF YOU LISTEN and American Composers Forum as part of their “UNEVEN MEASURES” discussion series. They were joined on the panel by violinist Jennifer Koh, composer Melissa Dunphy, and facilitator Amanda Cook, the editor-in-chief of ICIYL.

* figgis-vizueta also recently was selected to be part of the composition faculty for the 2021 Sewanee WinterFest at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN

* Theo Chandler (MICF 2019) recently was awarded a residency at Copland House, the former home of composer Aaron Copland in Cortlandt Manor, NY. Chandler will have the opportunity to live and work in the home next year for several weeks, expenses paid, as will Pascal LeBoeuf (MICF 2020) who previously was announced as a resident in 2019, had to postpone his stay due to the pandemic shutdown, and will be rescheduled for the coming season.

Mizzou New Music Initiative presenting American Wild Ensemble
in free online concert on Thursday, December 10

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will present the American Wild Ensemble performing “The American Aviatrix” in a free online concert at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, December 10.

The program commemorates the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment by honoring the achievements of American women aviators. It will celebrate the lives of two of these groundbreaking women, pilots Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, with world premiere performances of two new works, “Il n’y aura pas de regrets” by Mizzou assistant professor Carolina Heredia and “Livid Loneliness of Fear” by Ingrid Stölzel. The concert also will include a performance of “Solitude of Self,” composed in 2018 by Caroline Mallonee.

As part of the online event, viewers also will be able to see interviews with the composers before each work is performed, as well as an online discussion including the composers and performers following the concert.

The entire program will be available to view on the University of Missouri School of Music’s YouTube channel, the American Wild Ensemble’s YouTube channel, and the Facebook pages of Mizzou New Music and the American Wild Ensemble.

Formed in 2016 with a commissioning project inspired by American national parks, the American Wild Ensemble (pictured) celebrates American places, historic figures, and events by commissioning new works and performing them in site-inspired and site-specific locations. They have received support from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America for performances in both traditional and nontraditional venues across the country.

The group is led by flutist Emlyn Johnson and cellist Daniel Ketter, who both are faculty members at Missouri State University in Springfield. The ensemble also includes Mizzou assistant professor Megan Arns on percussion; Bill Kalinkos on clarinet; Sarah Peters on violin; and mezzo-soprano Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn.

“The American Aviatrix” is generously funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival
gets submissions from around the world

A total of 300 composers from around the world have applied for the four resident composer spots at the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Submissions were received from 24 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The 2021 MICF will be held Monday, July 26 through Saturday, July 31, and will feature Chen Yi and David T. Little as distinguished guest composers and Alarm Will Sound as resident ensemble.

Depending on travel and regulatory conditions next summer, the festival may be held in person on the University of Missouri campus and at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia; as a series of online events; or some combination of the two. That decision will be made as soon as there’s sufficient information to do so. In the meantime, the four resident composers selected to take part in the festival will be named in January.

Documentary scored by Mizzou alumni is a YouTube hit

Haley Myers, Tim Pilcher

A science documentary with a musical score by two Mizzou alumni has proved to be a major hit with online viewers, this month passing one million views on YouTube.

Living Soil, a documentary funded by the national not-for-profit Soil Health Institute, features music written by Haley Myers, a pianist and composer who graduated from Mizzou in 2016 with degrees in music and geography, plus additional works for solo guitar by Tim Pilcher, a musician and sound designer who earned his degree in Spanish at Mizzou.

The film is something of a family affair, as it was directed and shot by MU School of Journalism alumnus Chelsea Wright, who is Myers’ older sister, and co-produced by Chelsea’s husband Josh Wright, also an MU Journalism grad.  In addition, Rob Myers, who is NCR-SARE Regional Director of Extension Programs at Mizzou as well as Haley and Chelsea’s dad, served as a science advisor.

Adding to the local connection, parts of the film were shot in Columbia, including a scene in the soils lab at Mizzou’s Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources building and segments at nearby farms and the Columbia Farmers Market.

Released in November 2018, Living Soil is believed to be the most viewed video on soil health in the world, with a 97% “thumbs up” rating on YouTube.

Myers, who was a Sinquefield Scholar at Mizzou, currently lives in Columbia and works as a composer, performer, accompanist, and teacher. She released Etudes, her first album of original solo piano music, in 2019, and now is working on a follow-up release.

She also collaborated with former MU piano instructor Paola Savvidou on the book At the Piano with Yoga, writing a series of introductory piano pieces that can be combined with yoga exercises to help avoid repetitive stress injury.

Pilcher also resides in Columbia, working as a musician, producer, and sound artist across multiple disciplines including podcasting, film, theater, dance, and multimedia performance and installations.

Duo Cortona, Evan Chambers doing virtual residencies for Mizzou

While the current pandemic-related restrictions may be limiting some in-person interactions, Mizzou students still are getting opportunities to work with and learn from composers and performers from throughout the world of new music.

For example, this month new music ensemble Duo Cortona and composer Evan Chambers both will take part in virtual residencies for MNMI.

Chambers (pictured, top left) is a professor of composition at the University of Michigan whose works have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, New Hampshire, and Albany Symphonies, among others. Recordings of his music have been released by labels such as Albany Records, the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Cambria, Clarinet Classics, Equilibrium, and Centaur.

During his residency, Chambers will give private lessons to composition students; make a presentation to this semester’s composition seminar; and coach the Mizzou New Music Ensemble in the performance of his work “longing for peace in the garden of lost children.,” which they’ll perform as part of the School of Music’s online “Monday Mashup” concert on Monday, November 16.

Duo Cortona, the husband and wife team of violinist Ari Streisfeld and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway (pictured, bottom left), is a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to the creation of new works for their unique instrumentation. Both Streisfeld and Calloway are faculty members at the University of South Carolina School of Music.

Founded at and named for the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy, Duo Cortona has done performances and residencies across the USA, including at the Resonant Bodies Festival; the SONiC Festival and The Stone, both in New York City; Contemporary Undercurrents of Song Project in Princeton, NJ; New Music on the Point in Vermont; the Southern Exposure Series for New Music; East Carolina New Music Initiative; University of Wisconsin; College of Charleston; and more.

During their residency for Mizzou, the duo will read and record new works from student composers Isabelle Borchardt, Ben Rouder, and Sam Whitty, with other composition students also observing the session. In addition, they’ll make a presentation to composition students on Friday, November 13, and record a concert on video that will be available for viewing online at a later date.

The concert will feature works by Evan Chambers and Mizzou professor Carolina Heredia, as well as pieces by Amadeus Regucera, who was a resident composer at the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival; Robert Morris, a guest composer at the 2018 MICF; and Annika Socolofsky, who visited Mizzou for a residency in 2019.

Mizzou’s 2021 Creating Original Music Project (COMP)
offers awards, cash prizes for Missouri student composers

COMP winners receive personalized plaques, and they and their schools both receive cash prizes

At a time when live performances have become scarce, young composers still need opportunities to present their new works, which makes the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s 2021 Creating Original Music Project (COMP) especially timely and relevant for music students from across Missouri.

Now in its 16th year, COMP is an annual statewide competition sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. COMP showcases new, original music from Missouri student composers and songwriters in grades K-12, offering positive recognition and prizes, performance and educational opportunities, and more.

Both the winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Winners in high school also are eligible for scholarships to attend the Missouri Summer Composition Institute, which will take place June 21-26, 2021 on the Mizzou campus.

Because the COVID pandemic makes future conditions difficult to predict, MNMI will have several contingent plans for the COMP Festival and the Summer Composition Institute if safety concerns, University policy, or state or local laws make it impossible to present the events “in-person.” Those plans may include (but are not limited to) online-only events, a limited in-person experience, or some combination of online and in-person activities.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in two categories, Songs With Words and Instrumental. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music and Popular Music, and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Jazz, and Pop Music/Other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Both notated pieces and music made electronically are eligible. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher.

Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. All entries must be submitted online by Friday, January 22, 2021.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and how to submit an application for the 2021 competition, please visit the COMP website at https://mizzounewmusic.missouri.edu/comp.

For students looking for more guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU.

Students can e-mail works in progress, ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2020-21 academic year is Luis Hermano Bezerra, who can be reached by email at bezerral@mail.missouri.edu.

Santiago Beis wins 2021 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2021 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Santiago Beis.

Beis is a first-year graduate student working toward a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou. He submitted “La sed y el Agua” (“Thirst and Water”), a work for piano and string orchestra, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2021 competition were Yigit Kolat, composer and lecturer at the University of Washington; Wendy Richman, violist with the International Contemporary Ensemble and The Rhythm Method; and Evan Williams, assistant professor of music and director of instrumental studies at Rhodes College.

Now in its 16th year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou.

As this year’s winner, Beis (pictured) will be commissioned to write a new work for the string section of the MU Philharmonic to be recorded in Spring 2021. With the commission, Beis also will receive a cash prize for the production of the score and parts.

Born in Rivera, Uruguay, Beis earned his bachelor’s degree in composition and conducting from EMBAP – UNESPAR (Escola de Música e Belas Artes do Paraná – Universidade Estadual do Paraná) in Curitiba, Brazil. As an undergraduate, he collaborated with a number of local and regional new music ensembles, and won first prizes in two Brazilian national composition festivals, the Funarte Prémio de Composição Clássica and the Bienal Música Hoje.

Also a performer who plays piano, flute, saxophone, trumpet, and synthesizers, Beis has recorded his jazz compositions with various groups including his own trio, which was recognized as one of the top five groups in the “Made in NY Jazz Gala” competition at the Tribeca Center of Performing Arts in New York City.

The other finalists for the 2021 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Daniel Fitzpatrick, Daniel Vega, Oswald Huynh, and Luis Hermano Bezerra.

Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 26 – 31, 2021;
applications for resident composers now open

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is accepting applications for resident composers to take part in the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), which will take place starting Monday, July 26 through Saturday, July 31.

Reprising their roles from the online-only 2020 edition of the MICF, Chen Yi and David T. Little (pictured) will serve as the festival’s two distinguished guest composers for 2021, teaching and consulting with the resident composers and ensemble. Little also has written a new commissioned work specifically for the festival.

The week-long MICF will feature concerts of music from contemporary composers, along with workshops, master classes, and other events. Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia will present the world premieres of new works from each of the festival’s resident composers, with 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 get composition lessons from the distinguished guest composers and take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound. Each composer also will receive a professional live recording of their work.

For 2021, MNMI will select four resident composers to take part in the festival. These four composers will be featured along with the eight composers who were chosen for the 2020 MICF, but whose works could not be premiered when COVID-related restrictions forced the festival to be reconfigured as an online event.

Because the COVID pandemic makes future conditions difficult to predict, MNMI will have several contingent plans for the 2021 MICF if safety concerns, University policy, or state or local laws make it impossible to present the festival “in-person” on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Those plans may include (but are not limited to) an online-only festival, a limited in-person experience, or some combination of online and in-person activities.

The deadline to apply to become a resident composer for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival is 11:59 p.m. Central time, Friday, November 20, 2020. For more information or to submit an application, please visit https://app.getacceptd.com/mizzou.

Chen Yi 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. A violinist as well as a composer, Chen Yi earned bachelor and master’s degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University.

Chen received 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. Ensembles and soloists commissioning her work have included the Cleveland Orchestra, Mira Wang and the Sachsische 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, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and more.

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

David T. Little currently chairs the composition program at Mannes – The New School in New York City. He previously served as Executive Director of MATA and on the board of directors at Chamber Music America, and from 2014–2017 was composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group.

Little’s music has been presented by the LA Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, LA Opera, Park Avenue Armory, Lincoln Center Festival, Kennedy Center, Holland Festival, and Opéra de Montréal, with upcoming engagements at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Opera Theater. He is the founding artistic director of the ensemble Newspeak, and recordings of his music can be heard on labels including New Amsterdam, Innova, Sono Luminus, Centaur, and National Sawdust Tracks.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates, and venues for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit http://composersfestival.missouri.edu/.