COLUMBIA — It's that time of the summer when new music comes to Columbia.

The Mizzou International Composers Festival, which started in 2010 as the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, showcases the music of eight resident composers and two guest composers.

The resident composers this year were chosen from about 240 applications, and each had to submit three original works to be considered.

"One of the unique things about the festival is that composers get to work with Alarm Will Sound, which is one of the world’s best ensembles for this genre — contemporary fine arts music," Drew Worden, interim managing director of the festival, said. "That’s very rare that the composers spend so much time with an ensemble to compose their music."

Alarm Will Sound, a 20-piece resident band ensemble, has been part of the festival since the beginning. For the final concert on Saturday evening, Alarm Will Sound will debut eight works written by the resident composers.

Resident composer Trey Makler, an MU senior from Farmington, Missouri, said he's enjoyed working with the other composers and musicians over the past couple of weeks.

"It's a never-ending humbling experience, and everyone is super-friendly," Makler said. "More often than not, this is a very warm and supportive community."

Public rehearsals and guest presentations have been held throughout the week at MU. Performances begin Thursday evening with Alarm Will Sound playing works by Stefan Freund, a co-artistic director for the festival and a composition professor at MU and founding member of Alarm Will Sound, as well as guest composers Oscar Bettison, from the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, and Erin Gee, an assistant professor of composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The program will include Freund's 1998 "Three Urban Images," Bettison's 2012 "Livre des Sauvages" and Gee's 2009 "Mouthpiece XI." 

Friday will showcase the talents of other guest performers, including the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, violinist Julie Rosenfeld, an associate professor of violin at MU; pianist Peter Miyamoto, a professor of piano at MU; and the Missouri Saxophone Quartet.

Thomas McKenney, the other co-artistic director and a professor emeritus in composition at MU, said the most rewarding part is watching the eight pieces being performed on Saturday.

"It's an exciting evening, and this ensemble (Alarm Will Sound) plays with such energy and precision that even if you don’t know anything about contemporary music, you’d come away impressed because of how the ensemble performs," McKenney said.

In addition to Makler, this year's resident composers are: Wang A-Mao, Matthew Browne, Takuma Itoh, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Ryan Lindveit, Wang Lu and Daniel Silliman.

"It'll be nice to see a culmination of all their work," Worden said.

The festival is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, which promotes the composition and performance of new music.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

  • I'm a summer reporter for the Columbia Missourian. My major is journalism with an interest in the arts and culture.

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