Posts Tagged ‘ composer

Creating Original Music Project (COMP) offers awards, cash prizes
for original music from Missouri student composers

From school bands to adjudicated contests, young musicians today have many outlets to demonstrate their instrumental prowess. For young composers, the opportunities to show their talents can be much harder to find, which is why the Mizzou New Music Initiative began the Creating Original Music Project (COMP).

Now in its twelfth year, COMP is an annual statewide competition that 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.

Sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, COMP is now accepting entries for the 2017 competition. 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 15, 2017 at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The postmark deadline for submission of all compositions is Friday, January 14, 2017.

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, Popular Music, Jazz, and Other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. 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 the 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.

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 2016-17 academic year is Henry Breneman Stewart, who can be reached by email at

For more information about the Creating Original Music Project and an application for the 2017 competition, please visit the COMP website at

2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival set for July 24 – 29;
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 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF), which will be held Monday, July 24 through Saturday, July 29 on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Georg Friedrich Haas and Dan Visconti will serve as the distinguished guest composers for the 2017 MICF, which will include three public concerts of contemporary music as well as workshops, master classes and other events.

As in years past, Saturday night’s grand finale at the Missouri Theatre will feature 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 get 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 professional live recording of their work.

Georg Friedrich Haas

A native of Austria, Haas is a professor of composition at Columbia University in New York City, and previously held dual professorships at the Hochschle für Musik in Basel, Switzerland, and the Kunstuniversität in Graz, Austria.

Considered to be one of the major European composers of his generation, Haas has received many national and international awards, including in 2007 the Grand Austrian State Prize for Music, the country’s highest artistic honor.

His compositions include operas, concertos, and a variety of chamber music, including seven string quartets, and his works have been performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles all over the world. One of Haas’ best-known compositions is “In Vain,” written in 2000 for a 24-piece chamber ensemble and praised as “a modern masterwork” by The New Yorker’s influential music critic Alex Ross.

Dan Visconti

Visconti is a Chicago-based composer who currently serves as director of artistic programming at Fifth House Ensemble, a concert organization that presents innovative collaborative, educational, and interactive events. Known as an advocate for addressing social issues through music, he also is a sought-after speaker and writer on the subject of the arts as a form of cultural and civic service.

Visconti has earned numerous honors and commissions as a composer, and his works have been played by orchestras in the United States, Europe and Australia and by top interpreters of contemporary music including eighth blackbird, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and many others.

The deadline to apply to become a resident composer for the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival is 5:00 p.m. Central time, Monday, November 21, 2016. For more information or to submit an application, please visit

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2017 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit

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

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.

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

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

Composers Festival spotlight: Wang Lu

Born in Xi’an, the ancient capital of China, 2016 MICF resident composer Wang Lu was raised as part of a musical family immersed in Chinese opera and folk music traditions, and her works “reflect a very natural identification with those influences, through the prism of contemporary instrumental techniques and new sonic possibilities.”

An assistant professor of music at Brown University since 2015, Wang (pictured) graduated in 2005 from the Central Conservatory of Music in Bejing and earned her doctoral degree in composition in 2012 from Columbia University.

Her honors include a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship, first prize at Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne’s Young Composers Forum in 2010, two ASCAP Morton Gould awards, and more.

Wang’s music has been performed internationally by groups including the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Shanghai National Chinese Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Albany Symphony, and many others.

In 2010, she was selected for a Tremplin commission by IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain, and in 2012, she took part in the International Composition Seminar with the Ensemble Modern.

Wang’s orchestral work “Scenes from the Bosco Sacro” was selected for the 2014 New York Philharmonic Biennial New Music Readings, and her music also has been featured at the Cresc Biennale for New Music, MATA Festival, Gaudeamus Music Week, Tanglewood Music Center, Cabrillo Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Takefu International Music Festival, and more.

In addition to “Backstory,” which she wrote for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s “Eight World Premieres” concert on Saturday, July 30, Wang’s other recent projects include commissions for ICE, Yarn/Wire, the Momenta Quartet, organist Mark Steinbach, and violinist Miranda Cuckson; and a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

For more about Wang Lu, read this short feature about her from last year on; the 2014 interview with her published on the American Composers Orchestra’s website; and her 2011 interview with the Huffington Post.

You can hear samples of Wang Lu’s music on her SoundCloud page and in the embedded players below.