Posts Tagged ‘ composer

A look back at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival

Here’s a comprehensive look back at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival via news coverage and social media:

Even more media coverage of the 2014 MICF

With the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival now over, there still are a few items of media coverage of the festival to share.

In addition to their preview story on the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival (linked here), Vox magazine sent writer Caleb O’Brien to the festival’s grand finale on Saturday night, and his recap of the evening can be read online here.

If you’d like to get a pictorial look behind the scenes of the 2014 MICF, resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound has posted on their Facebook page two albums of photos from the week. (The photo of resident composer José Martínez and AWS music director and conductor Alan Pierson accompanying this post is from the first set.)

Meanwhile, Seth Boustead and Jesse McQuarters, respectively the host and producer of the radio program Relevant Tones, were in Columbia for several days during the festival, recording material for an episode about the MICF that will air sometime this fall. The program is broadcast weekly at 5:00 p.m. Saturdays on WFMT (98.7 FM) in Chicago, and also can be heard online and on other subscribing stations around the country.

In addition to gathering material for later, the Relevant Tones crew also put together five short “Mizzou Minute” podcasts covering different aspects of the MICF. You can hear all five of them via the embedded SoundCloud players below.

More media mention MICF

Media attention for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival continued into the week of the fest, with St. Louis magazine publishing a preview story, including quotes from guest composers Zhou Long and Nico Muhly, online on Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, the Columbia Missourian ran their story about the festival, while a separate feature in the accompanying Vox Magazine focused on three of this year’s resident composers.

On Friday, the festival was featured in a report on the morning newscast of local NBC affiliate KOMU.

As for the photo accompanying this post, it’s not from the news media, but rather was shot by Christopher Weiss on Tuesday night when he and his fellow resident composers went out for dinner at Chim’s Thai Kitchen and encountered themselves, in poster form, on the restaurant’s front door.

From left, that’s Nick Omiccioli, Holly Harrison, Ian Dicke, Michael Schacter, Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Texu Kim and José Martínez. Weiss, while not visible in the photo, can be found on Twitter at @weisscomposer.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Zhou Long

Zhou Long

It’s an honor to have Zhou Long as one of the two guest composers at this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Currently the Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Zhou won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2011 for his opera “Madame White Snake.” He graciously agreed to serve as one of this year’s guest composers on short notice after Beat Furrer, who originally had been scheduled to appear, was unable to attend for medical reasons.

During the MICF, he will give a public presentation about his music; instruct and interact with the eight resident composers in individual and group sessions; and work with Alarm Will Sound on the performance of his composition “Bell Drum Towers,” which they’ll play as part of their concert on Thursday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre.

Zhou is recognized internationally for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Drawing deeply on his Chinese heritage, he is a pioneer in combining the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions with contemporary Western ensembles and compositional forms.

Born in 1953 in China, he began piano lessons as a young child, but his musical studies were interrupted by the Cultural Revolution, the movement started in 1966 by Mao Zedong that attempted to enforce communism in the country by suppressing capitalist, traditional, cultural and intellectual influences.

Zhou was sent to drive a tractor on a rural state farm, where the bleak landscape, roaring winds and ferocious wild fires made what he describes as “a profound and lasting impression” on him. He was able to resume his musical training in 1973, eventually enrolling in the first composition class at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when it reopened in 1977. After graduating in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China.

Zhou first came to the United States in 1985 to study music at Columbia University, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music From China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award in 1999, and its prestigious Concert Music Award in 2011.

He has taught at UMKC since 2001, and has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2012-2013 Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the 2003 Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the CalArts/Alpert Award; and first place in the Barlow International Competition, with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Zhou has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and numerous others, and has been commissioned to compose new music by major presenting organizations, ensembles and orchestras all around the world.

Recent works include 2012’s “University Festival Overture” and “Beijing Rhyme – A Symphonic Suite,” commissioned by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and recorded on EMI in 2013; the solo piano work “Pianobells,” premiered at the Musica Nova concert in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; and a chamber work, “Cloud Earth,” which was commissioned and premiered by the New York New Music Ensemble.

In 2013, Zhou composed an evening-long symphonic epic “Nine Odes,” based on poems by Qu Yaun (ca. 340 BCE – 278 BCE), for the Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation. He also recently completed a new work for the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, and his piano concerto “Postures,” was premiered on July 4 by the Singapore Symphony and will be performed in September at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Zhou Long’s music has been recorded on Warner, Naxos, BIS, EMI, CRI, Teldec (1999 Grammy Award), Cala, Delos, Sony, Avant, Telarc and China Record. He is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
You can hear some samples of his music and see a brief feature about the Pulitzer-winning “Madame White Snake” in the embedded videos below.

“The Rhyme of Taigu” performed by Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui and recorded in October 2010 at the Philharmonie in Berlin.

“Pianogongs,” performed by pianist Chi-Ling Lok

“Five Elements,” recorded by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jeffery Meyer with Luisa Sello (flute), in July 2012 during the Thailand International Composition Festival at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Dhyana,” performed by Contemporary Enclave with James Ogburn, conductor, on July 10, 2012 at the Thailand International Composition Festival.

The Birth of “Madame White Snake”

Composers Festival Spotlight: Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly

It’s a great pleasure to have Nico Muhly as one of the two guest composers for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

One of the most talked-about individuals on the contemporary music scene, often provocative and occasionally controversial, Muhly will work with the MICF’s eight resident composers both as a group and individually during the festival.

He’ll give a free public presentation on his music at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday in the Fine Arts Building on campus, and also will be present at the Missouri Theatre for performances of his “Seeing is Believing” by Alarm Will Sound on Thursday and “I know where everything is” by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble on Friday.

(For more about Muhly at Mizzou, read this interview he did with the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Aarik Danielsen that was published on Sunday.)

Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Nico Muhly earned a degree in English Literature from Columbia University and a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. From his sophomore year of college, Muhly worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years.

Muhly has composed for the Chicago Symphony, The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theater, violinist Hilary Hahn, percussionist Colin Currie, and many other individuals and organizations throughout the world. He worked with Icelandic pop star Björk in 2004 on the DVD single “Oceania,” and also has lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to Antony and the Johnsons, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doveman, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, and Usher.

In 2011, Muhly’s first full-scale opera, “Two Boys,” was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and the English National Opera. With a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by Bartlett Sher, “Two Boys” chronicles the real-life police investigation of an online relationship and ensuing tragedy; it premiered in London in spring 2012.

In more recent news, earlier this year Muhly’s score for the revival of “The Glass Menagerie” won a Drama Desk award for “Outstanding Music in a Play,” and he recently received a commission to write a piece of music for the Utah Symphony, using Southern Utah’s national parks and landscapes as inspiration. The work will be performed during the 2015-16 season, coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary.

Recordings of Muhly’s work include “A Good Understanding,” an entire disc of his choral music from the Los Angeles Master Chorale; “Seeing is Believing,” by The Aurora Orchestra; and the evening-length “I Drink the Air Before Me,” all released on Decca.

Among Muhly’s most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson, which was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Muhly’s first album, “Speaks Volumes.” Since then, Muhly has released a second album, “Mothertongue,” and worked with labelmates Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon on their respective solo releases. In spring 2012, Bedroom Community released Muhly’s three-part “Drones & Music,” in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and Alarm Will Sound violist Nadia Sirota.

Muhly’s film credits include scores for “Joshua” (2007), “Margaret” (2009) and Best Picture nominee “The Reader” (2008); all have been recorded and released commercially.

For more about Nico Muhly, read the interviews published recently by the Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, along with Muhly’s response to the latter, and check out the videos in the embedded windows below.

An Evening With Nico Muhly, ‘Two Boys’ And Other Works

Nadia Sirota and Valgeir Sigurðsson performing “Varied Carols” from “I Drink The Air Before Me” during Iceland Airwaves 2011.

Vasily Petrenko leads the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in the London Premiere of Muhly’s “Gait” at the 2012 BBC Proms.

Nico Muhly interviewed by NPR’s Ira Glass at the New York Public Library

Composers Festival Spotlight: Christopher Weiss

Christopher Weiss

2014 MICF resident composer Christopher Weiss may have been born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and grown up in the northeast, but as it turns out, his musical beginnings have a connection to the Show-Me State.

His paternal grandfather, a fisheries biologist here in Missouri, was an amateur violin-maker who enjoyed experimenting by constructing violins using unconventional woods. When Christopher was five, his grandfather presented him with a handmade, one-quarter-size violin, and he began taking his first music lessons.

Christopher taught himself to play the piano at age 12, and first developed an interest in composing during high school, going on to earn degrees from Rollins College in Florida and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

For the MICF, Christopher has written a new work called “Colors of the Waking Earth,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s grand finale concert next Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

In other recent performances, Act II of his opera “In a Mirror, Darkly” was presented in May as part of the Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers series of new works, with Tyson Deaton conducting; and his work “Three New Hampshire Postcards,” was performed earlier this year for a Rutgers University faculty recital by Bart Feller (flute), Rebecca Young (viola) and Stacey Shames (harp).

Christopher’s music has been hailed by the New York Times as “wonderfully fluid [with a] cinematic grasp of mood and lighting.” He has received commissions and performances from the Huntsville Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, the Boston Chamber Orchestra, the Lancaster Symphony, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Columbia Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has been Composer-in-Residence at Twickenham Fest and Young Composer-in-Residence at Music from Angel Fire.

His opera “In a Mirror, Darkly,” written with librettist S. O’Duinn Magee, was awarded a Domenic J. Pellicciotti Prize by SUNY Potsdam. Excerpts from the opera have been performed by the New York City Opera at their VOX showcase; at the John Duffy Composer Institute as part of the Virginia Arts Festival; and by the Fort Worth Opera, and will be presented by the Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra in November at SUNY Potsdam.

Christopher has been in residence at Yaddo, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. He was a recipient of a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, and was the youngest competitor ever to win the Jacksonville Symphony’s “Fresh Ink” competition. His music has been played on many local radio stations and was featured on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.”

Christopher also is active as a professional music copyist and publisher and has produced scores for G. Schirmer, the Washington National Opera, the Spoleto Festival USA, the Huntsville Symphony, and composers Marvin Hamlisch and Torrie Zito, among others. He also works as a freelance arranger for choirs, orchestras, and other performing organizations.

You can learn more about Christopher Weiss and hear samples of his music at his website.

Composers Festival Spotlight: José Martínez

José Martínez

Resident composer José Martínez is representing the University of Missouri and the Mizzou New Music Initiative at this year’s MICF.

Originally from Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, José earned his diploma at the Conservatory of Music at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, and currently is studying for a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou. For the festival, he has written a new work, “Dances Torridas” that will be one of eight world premieres performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound at the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

José is the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize, Mizzou’s top honor for composers, for which he received a commission to write a new work, “Interferencias,” for the University Philharmonic to premiere at the annual Chancellor’s Concert in April

That was the second orchestral performance of José’s work this year, as the Columbia Civic Orchestra also played his composition “Mutaciones I” as part of the annual Missouri Composers Orchestra Project (MOCOP) concert in March.

Before coming to Mizzou, José’s honors included winning the National Cultural Prize for “Mutaciones I” from the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín; receiving Colombia’s national composition prize for young composers from the National Ministry of Culture in 2009; and winning a Colombian national composition contest in 2011.

A percussionist as well as a composer, José was co-founder of the Bogotá Conservatory’s Contemporary Music Ensemble and is music director for the percussion ensemble Ictu5. As a percussionist, he also won a national performance contest in 2004; has been a member of the percussion ensembles Contempo, Sinergia Ensemble, and Octopus; and for five years was timpanist for the Bogotá Symphonic Orchestra Foundation (FOSBO).

You can hear some of José Martínez’ music via the SoundCloud player embedded below.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang

Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang

Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang is another of the resident composers helping to put the “international” into this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival.

A native of Taiwan, Ashley comes to the MICF via the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she’s studying for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Ashley also holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and SooChow University, and her work draws on an eclectic musical palette, ranging from Western and non-Western classics to jazz and pop.

In a statement on her website, she says she seeks to “capture the transience of momentary beauty and individual identity through the juxtaposition of musical oppositions and through constant transformation and flow, revealing complexity within simplicity.”

Ashley’s composition “Illusional Control” will be one of eight new pieces from this year’s resident composers to get a world premiere from Alarm Will Sound at the festival’s grand finale.

Some of her other recently performed works include “Antares Falling,” which was played by the Locrian Chamber Players in May at Riverside Church in New York City, and is set to be performed again in October during the 35th annual Bowling Green New Music Festival; and “Meta-Meta,” commissioned by Nicolas Horvath and performed in April as part of the GlassWorlds Homage Project at the Palais de Tokyo Museum in Paris, France. Also, her composition “Lost Touch With Oneself,” was played in June at the Errant Bodies project space in Berlin, Germany.

Ashley’s music has been performed across North America, Europe, and Asia at venues including Carnegie Hall, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Aspen Music Festival, MASS MoCA, Logos Foundation, Herz Jesu-Kirche, Kitara Hall, and Hong Kong Arts Centre. She has collaborated with performers such as Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, MIVOS Quartet, conductors David Gilbert, Brad Lubman, Paul Chiang, and visual artists Alice Grassi and Takeshi Moro.

Ashley has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, Domaine Forget, Composit Music Festival, MusicX Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Pacific Music Festival, Tutti New Music Festival, Bang on a Can Music Festival, Festival of Women Composers, and the Society of Composers National Conference, and an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Her honors and awards include the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music competition, 21st century piano commission, Look and Listen Festival Composition Prize, an Encore Grant from the American Composers Forum, and a Composer Assistance Program of New Music USA Award, among others. Her music has been recorded on the ArpaViva Foundation Inc label and received radio airpaly on WQXR, and WNYC, and her scores are available on BabelScores.

You can hear Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang’s music on her website, and see a performance of “Antares Falling” in the video window below.

“Antares Falling,” recorded February 12, 2014 at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts in Urbana, IL, featuring Ya-Wen Wang (piano) and Melody Chua (flute).