Composers Festival spotlight: Chelsea Komschlies

Fittingly for an international festival located in the heartland of the USA, 2019 MICF resident composer Chelsea Komschlies is a native Midwesterner whose music has been performed in eleven countries on four continents around the world.

The daughter of an artist, Komschlies grew up in Appleton, WI creating and loving all sorts of visual art, and still enjoys drawing, digital painting, and creating hand-sculpted jewelry. She often uses real or imagined images as inspiration for her works, hoping that listeners will “make deep, instinctual associations with her music, be they emotional, visual, or otherwise abstract.”

She recently completed a post-graduate artist diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and this fall will begin studies for a doctoral degree in composition at McGill University.

Komschlies (pictured) previously earned her master of music degree in composition from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in Waverly, IA.

For the Mizzou International Composers Festival,  she has written a new work called “Hexactinellida,” which will be performed along with world premieres from the other seven resident composers by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

In addition to the piece she’s written for the MICF, her recent projects include a work for organ, harpsichord, and orchestra, premiered by the Curtis Institute in 2018; an extended-reality collaboration with Drexel University game design and software engineer students using the Microsoft Hololens; and “Nunc Dimittis,” an oratorio for voices and period instruments commissioned by the Bach Festival of Philadelphia and premiered in February of this year.

Komschlies’ other commissions include creating works for Rock School for Dance Education and One Book, One Philadelphia, and a distinguished composition fellow commission from the Cortona Sessions for New Music.

Her music has been performed at events such as the Ravinia Festival and the finale concert of Make Music Chicago, and she has received fellowships from programs including the Aspen Music Festival, Copland House, the Fontainebleau School (where Nadia Boulanger once taught), the Fresh Inc Festival, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, and a number of other festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

For more about Chelsea Komschlies, listen to her interview broadcast a few weeks back on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program.  You can hear some of her music in the embedded players below.

“Steam,” recorded November 4, 2017 at Bread & Salt in San Diego, CA, featuring Beth Ross Buckley (flute) and Sheryl Renk (clarinet)

“Borealis”, world premiere performance recorded April 6, 2018 at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, PA, featuring Emma Resmini (flute), Julian Tello (viola), and Lena Goodson (bass)

Composers Festival spotlight: Bels Lontano

For the tenth year of the Mizzou International Composers Festival, the Mizzou New Music Initiative has added a number of new events, including teaming up with Columbia-based experimental music organization Dismal Niche to present two free late-night concerts on Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26 after the performances at the Missouri Theatre.

The performance at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25 at Cafe Berlin will feature Bels Lontano curating a program of electronic music including works from MICF resident composers and from current and former students at Mizzou, as well as his own music.

Influenced by “love, anxiety, beats and ambience,” Bels Lontano is an experimental electronic dance music project from composer/producer Bret Bohman (pictured).

Embracing the notion that “music is therapy in both the act of creation and the act of listening,” and drawing on the traditions of IDM, house, hip-hop, contemporary classical, and ambient, “the project explores concepts of liminal spaces, natural beauty, therapy, and personal growth.”

Bret Bohman teaches composition, electronic music, guitar and ear training at the University of Missouri School of Music. He earned his doctorate from the University of Michigan, and with his spouse, composer and Mizzou faculty member Carolina Heredia, is a co-founder of the new music group Khemia Ensemble.

You can hear samples of the music of Bels Lontano in the embedded players below.

Music video for “Hope,” made by Bret Bohman using footage he shot during his 2018 trip to Europe

Composers Festival spotlight: Peter Shin

For resident composer Peter Shin, the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival is more than just the chance to write a new work for the festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound. It’s also an opportunity to pay a visit to, and have his work performed in, his home state, for Shin originally is from Kansas City, MO, just a couple of hours west on I-70.

He recently has been splitting his time between coasts, studying for his master of musical arts degree at the Yale School of Music in New Haven, CT while also serving as a composer fellow of the Berkeley Symphony in California. Shin (pictured) previously earned his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in music from the University of Southern California.

For the MICF, he has written a new work titled “dogwhistling,” which will be performed along with new music from the seven other resident composers by Alarm Will Sound at the festival’s grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Shin describes himself as a composer whose music “navigates issues of national belonging, the co-opting and intermingling of disparate musical vernaculars, and the liminality between the two halves of his second-generation Korean-American identity.”  His works already have received positive attention on a national level, most notably from the New York Times, which in 2018 called him as “a composer to watch” and praised his music as “entirely fresh and personal.”

Shin’s works have been performed at venues including Carnegie Hall through the “First Music” Commission,; Walt Disney Concert Hall through the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Noon to Midnight” series; Chicago’s Symphony Center through the Civic Orchestra New Music Workshop; and at the Cabrillo Festival.

In addition to his piece for the MICF, Shin’s other recent projects include a commission for Roomful of Teeth through the American Composers Forum, which will be premiered next month in a concert at MASS MoCa in Massachusetts, and a chamber orchestra work for the Berkeley Symphony’s 2018-19 season.

His honors and awards include an American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Scholarship, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Fulbright Research Grant, Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship, Aspen Music Festival Fellowship, Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra International Call for Scores, and SCI/ASCAP Commission Competition in the Graduate Division, among others.

For more about Peter Shin, listen to the interview he did recently with KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. You can hear some samples of his music in the embedded players below.

“Screaming Shapes” premiere performance on August 3, 2017 at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, CO, featuring Mehrdad Gholami (flute), Juan Olivares (bass clarinet), Seo Hee Min (violin), Richard Narroway (cello), and Tim Weiss (conductor) with fixed electronics featuring Corey Dundee (saxophone), Graycen Gardner (voice), Liya Khaimova (voice), and Nick Volpert (cello)

“Relapse” performed October 14, 2016 at the University of Southern California by the USC Thornton Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Crockett

Composers Festival spotlight: Khemia Ensemble

Khemia Ensemble will play a prominent role during their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut this year, presenting three performances featuring works by a total of 16 different composers.

Founded and led by University of Missouri School of Music faculty members Carolina Heredia and Bret Bohman, and including Mizzou assistant professor of cello Eli Lara, Khemia (pictured) is “a contemporary chamber ensemble focused on championing the works of living composers through vivid, multimedia performances.”

Members of Khemia will be featured in two afternoon “pop-up” concerts in downtown Columbia, on Thursday, July 25 outside Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and on Friday, July 26 near Uprise Bakery, with the entire group set to perform in a matinee concert on Saturday, July 27 at Whitmore Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus.

Over the course of the three performances, they’ll play music by Heredia, Bowman, and 2019 MICF resident composer inti figgis-vizueta, as well as Andy Akiho, Lembit Beecher, Bjarne Brustad, John Cage, Chris Cerrone, Daniel Fawcett, Ellen Harrison, Tom Johnson, Bruno Mantovani, Patricia Martinez, Emma O’Halloran, Tim Peterson, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.

With an original lineup of musicians featuring members from four different countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, and the United States – Khemia brings diverse approaches to the music of a variety of living composers and to their stated mission, which is to “foster collaborations among the arts by working closely with designers, visual artists, and writers as well as incorporating poetic, visual, and interactive elements in our performances.”

The ensemble’s collective interest in multimedia led to the creation several years ago of “Khemia Lights,” an installation devised in a collaboration between Bret Bohman and Intermedio, a Cincinnati-based sound and visual production company. Employing “audio-visual technology that responds live to the rhythm and intensity of the music we are performing, creating an exciting multi-sensory experience for the audience,” the lighting system has been used as part of interactive concerts in Cincinnati, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Khemia Ensemble has been featured in venues and festivals such as National Sawdust, Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit, the third annual New Music Gathering, Latin IS America at Michigan State University and the Biennial New Music Festival at the National University of Cordoba.

They also have had residencies at University of Michigan, Tufts University, Michigan State University, the National University of Bogota and the National University of Cordoba, as well as two consecutive years at Avaloch Farms.

You can check out recordings of some past Khemia Ensemble performances in the embedded players below.

“Negative Image/Fragil,” composed by Carolina Heredia and Natali Herrera, recorded May 3, 2018 at National Sawdust in New York City

“Visual Abstract” by Pierre Jalbert, recorded in September 2017 at Strange Beautiful Music X in Detroit, MI

“Ear, Skin, and Bone Riddles (excerpt)” by Marcus Balter, recorded in September 2016 at Distler Hall, Tufts University, in Medford, MA, featuring Amy Petrongelli (soprano), Lauren Pulcipher (violin), and Horacio Contreras (cello)

2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival complete schedule

Here is the complete schedule of events for the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Celebrating its tenth year in 2019, the MICF begins on Monday, July 22 and continues through Saturday, July 27. All festival events listed are free and open to the public, with general admission seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Events will take place at the Fine Arts Building and Loeb Hall on the campus of the University of Missouri; at the Missouri Theatre, Cafe Berlin, and two “pop-up” locations in downtown Columbia; and at the Firestone Baars Chapel on the campus of Stephens College.

Monday, July 22

9:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Resident Composer Presentations:
Chelsea Komschlies, inti figgis-vizueta and Peter Shin
Fine Arts Building Room 145 on the Mizzou campus

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Alarm Will Sound – Open Rehearsal with Resident Composers
Missouri Theatre, 203 S. 9th Street

6:00 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.
Resident Composer Presentations:
Theo Chandler, Nicole Murphy and Aaron Mencher
Fine Arts Building Room 145 on the Mizzou campus

Tuesday, July 23

9:30 a.m. – 10:55 p.m.
Resident Composer Presentations:
Charles Halka and Kristina Wolfe
Fine Arts Building Room 145 on the Mizzou campus

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
“0150719 by reference”
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Audio installation by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

7:00 PM
Daniel Neumann, Guest Artist Presentation
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Wednesday, July 24

2:10 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Alarm Will Sound – Open Rehearsal with Resident Composers
Missouri Theatre, 203 South 9th Street

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
“0150719 by reference”
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Audio installation by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

7:00 p.m.
Amy Beth Kirsten, Distinguished Guest Composer Presentation
Fine Arts Building Room 145 on the Mizzou campus

8:15 p.m.
Donnacha Dennehy, Distinguished Guest Composer Presentation
Fine Arts Building Room 145 on the Mizzou campus

Thursday, July 25

1:00 p.m.
Khemia Ensemble “Pop-Up Concert #1”
Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, 21 S 9th Street

Khemia Ensemble members Elizabeth Robinson (flute), Thiago Ancelmo de Souza (clarinet), Er-Gene Kahng (violin), and Amy Petrongelli (soprano) perform works by Lembit Beecher, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Ellen Harrison, Bruno Mantovani and Bjarne Brustad.

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
“0150719 by reference”
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Audio installation by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

7:30 p.m.
Alarm Will Sound
Missouri Theatre, 203 South 9th Street

The festival’s resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound and guest artist Richard Crawford will perform the world premiere of “Jacob In Chains,” a new work written specifically for the festival by MICF distinguished guest composer Amy Beth Kirsten. AWS also will perform the concert version of distinguished guest composer Donnacha Dennehy’s “The Hunger” with guest artists Kate Manley and Iarla O’Lionard, and “Con/Influences” by Mizzou professor of composition, MNMI artistic director, and AWS cellist Stefan Freund.

9:30 p.m.
Bels Lontano
Cafe Berlin, 220 North 10th Street

Original electronic music by Mizzou composers and MICF resident composers. Presented in association with Dismal Niche.

Friday, July 26

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Alarm Will Sound – Open Rehearsal with Resident Composers
Loeb Hall 201 on the Mizzou campus

1:00 p.m.
Khemia Ensemble “Pop-Up Concert #2”
Uprise Bakery, 10 Hitt Street

Khemia Ensemble percussionists Chelsea Tinsler Jones and Shane Jones perform music by Andy Akiho, John Cage, Tom Johnson, and Tim Peterson.

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Alarm Will Sound – Open Rehearsal with Resident Composers
Loeb Hall 201 on the Mizzou campus

5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
“0150719 by reference”
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Audio installation by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

7:30 p.m.
Mizzou New Music
Missouri Theatre, 203 South 9th Street

This concert showcases the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, the flagship group of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, performing music by distinguished guest composers Donnacha Dennehy and Amy Beth Kirsten and Mizzou student composer Jack Snelling. In addition, faculty duo DRAX will perform a work by Mizzou assistant professor of composition Carolina Heredia, and Mizzou Percussion will perform music by Kirsten, Annika Socolofsky, and 2019 MICF resident composer inti figgis-vizueta.

9:30 p.m.
Eli Keszler
Firestone Baars Chapel, 1306 East Walnut Street

Solo performance of original works for percussion and electronics. Presented in association with Dismal Niche.

Saturday, July 27

11:00 a.m.
Khemia Ensemble
Whitmore Recital Hall, 135 Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus

Multimedia chamber group Khemia Ensemble, featuring Mizzou faculty members Carolina Heredia, Bret Bohman, and Eli Lara, will perform a program of works by composers including Heredia, Bohman, Andy Akiho, Chris Cerrone, Daniel Fawcett, Patricia Martinez, Emma O’Halloran, and 2019 MICF resident composer inti figgis-vizueta.

5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
“0150719 by reference”
Missouri Theatre – Second Floor Lobby, 203 South 9th Street

Audio installation by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

7:30 p.m.
Eight World Premieres performed by Alarm Will Sound
Missouri Theatre, 203 South 9th Street

The grand finale concert features the world premieres of eight works created specifically for the acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound by the festival’s resident composers:

* Theo Chandler – “Familiar Punchlines”
* inti figgis-vizueta – “braiding on golden stoops”
* Charles Halka – “Fever Dream”
* Chelsea Komschlies – “Hexactinellida”
* Aaron Mencher – “Haworthia”
* Nicole Murphy – “Dust”
* Peter Shin – “dogwhistling”
* Kristina Wolfe – “A Curation of Finds”

Composers Festival spotlight: Mizzou New Music Ensemble

Occupying their usual spot in the festival lineup, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will be performing during the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival as part of Friday night’s “Mizzou New Music” concert at the Missouri Theatre.

Their portion of the evening’s program will include works by the MICF’s two distinguished guest composers – “The Blotting” by Donnacha Dennehy and “World Under Glass No. 2” by Amy Beth Kirsten – as well as music by Mizzou student Jack Snelling.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, professor of composition and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the MICF. The Ensemble serves as the repertory group for MNMI, working with faculty, students, and visiting composers, and giving public performances on campus and in the community.

In addition to presenting several concerts each year in Columbia, the Ensemble also has performed programs of works by Mizzou composers at the Contemporary Art Museum – St. Louis, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park, the World Chess Hall of Fame, Cortex Innovation Community, and more.

The Ensemble’s current members are Hannah Hutchins, percussion; Ann Mozina, flutes; Pedro Ramiro, violin; Libby Roberts, piano; Brianna Trainor, percussion; Cameron Tubbs, cello; and Austin Wright, clarinets. They will be augmented for this performance by Mizzou graduate student Tyler Hannsz on viola. MNMI’s post-doctoral fellow Yoshiaki Onishi serves as the Ensemble’s assistant conductor.

You can hear some past performances by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble using the embedded player below.

Composers Festival spotlight: Kristina Wolfe

2019 MICF resident composer Kristina Wolfe describes herself as “a composer, wanderer, electronic musician, maker, and multi-instrumentalist.”

A native of Tampa, FL, Wolfe (pictured) currently is a composer and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Scholar working in sound archaeology exhibition and composition at the University of Huddersfield in the UK.

She earned her PhD in multimedia and electronic music experiments from Brown University in 2016, having previously completed an MA in digital music at Dartmouth College and a BA in music technology at Florida International University.

For the MICF, Wolfe has composed a new work titled “A Curation of Finds,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound along with new music from the festival’s seven other resident composers at the grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

Wolfe’s music has been performed at the MATA, Bang on a Can, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music festivals, and can be heard on recordings including her own 2010 CD release Swa Cwæð Eardstapa and the multi-artist collections Transcendigitalism – a compilation of esoteric drones on Silent Records and Music of Ostrava Days 2013.

Her prizes and awards include a commission in 2017 from MATA; winning entries in the 2016 Villiers Quartet New Works Competition and the 2016 Viola da Gamba Society of America Competition for New Music for Viol and Piano; and an honorable mention for the 2014 Pauline Oliveros Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music.

Wolfe will be a composer in residence in 2020 for ISCM-VICC in Visby, Sweden. Her previous residencies include the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival in Massachusetts; the Centre D’Art Contemporani i Sostenibilitat El Forn de la Calç in Catalonia, Spain; the Composit Festival and Institute in Italy; Ostrava New Music Festival in the Czech Republic; and Visiones Sonoras 2008 in Morelia, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico.

For more about Kristina Wolfe, you can listen to her recent interview recorded for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program; read the profile of her published in 2017 by the online magazine Van; and watch a video of her presentation at the Ambient@40 conference last year in Huddersfield.  You can hear samples of some of her music in the embedded players below.

“Record of Ancient Mirrors,” recorded during the MATA Festival on April 29, 2017 at The Kitchen in New York, NY, performed by NOVUS NY with Scott Jarrett conducting and Doug Balliett as soloist on viola da gamba

“Near Sky,” recorded February 28, 2018 at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY, performed by Bearthoven, featuring Karl Larson (piano), Matt Evans (percussion), and Pat Swoboda (bass)

Composers Festival spotlight: “0150719 by reference”

In addition to the expanded schedule of concerts celebrating the festival’s tenth year, another first for the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival is “0150719 by reference,” a generative eight-channel audio installation created specifically for the MICF by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

The installation will be open starting on Tuesday, July 23 and continuing through Saturday, July 27 in the second-floor lobby of the Missouri Theatre. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The sounds for “050719 by reference” are based on a massive archive of samples of extended instrumental techniques that were recorded by members of Alarm Will Sound for a since-abandoned project.

Working collaboratively, Kirschner and Neumann (pictured) constructed their own musical materials from the sample library. Kirschner first produced a reference track with a harmonic structure, which both artists used while creating individual sounds for the piece. With the reference track removed, the two groups of individual sounds were combined, then mixed and spatialized with an algorithmic software player developed by Neumann to create an “unpredictable and continuously evolving” composition.

The title comes from a naming convention adopted by Kirschner when he began releasing his own music in the late 1980s, using the dates on which works are begun as their names. “I wanted my work to remain purely abstract, and for listeners to be able to bring whatever meaning or interpretation they wanted to it,” he said.

Both creators of “050719 by reference” brought extensive experience in music and sound design to the project. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Kirschner began playing piano when he was five years old. He briefly studied composition in college, but found academia too confining, and subsequently moved to New York City in the late 1980s to develop his work independently.

Kirschner spent the 1990s composing and refining his style, doing occasional commissions for ballet and modern dance. An early adopter of online distribution of music, he has made much of his work freely available on the internet, as well on a series of CD releases. You can read more about Kirschner’s DIY approach in his 2013 interview with New Music Box’s Molly Sheridan.

Neumann is a sound artist, organizer, and audio engineer who grew up in Germany and now is based in Brooklyn, NY. He earned a master’s degree in media art from the Academy of Visual Art Leipzig, and also studied electronic music composition under Emanuele Casale in Catania, Italy.

As audio engineer for Alarm Will Sound and others, Neumann is responsible for complex live productions featuring electroacoustic music and multi-channel audio, often requiring elaborate speaker setups and unusual miking techniques. His own work uses “conceptual and often collaborative strategies to explore sound, sound material and its modulation through space, situation and media.” Neumann also curates an event series in NYC and Berlin, CT::SWaM, that engages in “spatial sound works and focused listening.”

Since “050719 by reference” is a brand new work, there are no audio or video recordings available, but you can see Kirschner and Neumann talk about their work in the embedded videos below.

“Pirate This Music” – Kenneth Kirschner interviewed by Molly Sheridan for New Music Box

Daniel Neumann interviewed about his sound installation “Channels”