Posts Tagged ‘Alarm Will Sound’

Youth music programs featured on NewMusicBox

by Dean Minderman
Jeanne Sinquefield with C.O.M.P. award winner HyunJun (John) Yoo of Columbia

Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation with multiple C.O.M.P. award winner HyunJun (John) Yoo of Columbia

Two music programs for young people supported by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation are featured in a recent article on the website NewMusicBox.

The piece spotlights the University of Missouri’s Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.), a statewide composition contest for students in grades K-12 that is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, as well as a collaborative project between members of the ensemble Alarm Will Sound and the Community Music School of Webster University.

NewMusicBox is the online publication of New Music USA, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City that serves the new American music community through grantmaking, advocacy, and media platforms that bridge music makers with their audience.

August 2014
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Mizzou International Composers Festival
announces resident composers for 2014

by Dean Minderman

With resident composers originally from Australia, Colombia, South Korea, Taiwan, and across the USA, the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will bring a world of music to mid-Missouri next year.

Scheduled for Monday, July 21 through Saturday, July 26 in Columbia, the fifth annual MICF will present world premieres of new works from eight resident composers who were announced today by the University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Listed with their current places of residence, they are:

* Ian Dicke, Riverside, CA
* Holly Harrison, Sydney, Australia
* Texu Kim, Bloomington, IN
* José Martínez, Columbia, MO
* Nicholas Omiccioli, Kansas City, MO
* Michael Lee Schachter, Ann Arbor, MI
* Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Urbana, IL
* Christopher Weiss, Ann Arbor, MI

2014 resident composers - B+Wcollage

The eight resident composers were chosen through a portfolio application process that this year attracted 215 entries from around the world, a new record for the MICF.

Four of them were born outside the USA. The University of Missouri will be represented by José Martínez, who is a native of Colombia working on a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou and the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Composition Prize.

The other international representatives among the resident composers will include Australia’s Holly Harrison, a candidate for the Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney; Texu Kim, who’s originally from South Korea and currently is studying for his doctorate in composition at Indiana University; and Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, a native of Taiwan currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Illinois.

The group also includes another Missouri resident, Nicholas Omiccioli, an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City who currently is a resident with the Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project in Kansas City and production coordinator of newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble.

The 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will include a series of public concerts featuring music from the resident composers and other contemporary creators, as well as workshops, master classes, and other events.

The Festival’s guest composers for 2014 will be Beat Furrer, professor of composition at the Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna; and Nico Muhly, a Juilliard graduate and protégé of Phillip Glass known for composing an eclectic range of works for classical and pop musicians, ballet, opera, and more.

The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, once again will serve as resident ensemble, as they have since the MICF began in 2010.

During the festival, the eight resident composers will receive composition lessons from Furrer and Muhly; take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; give public presentations on their music; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of a new work created specifically for the MICF and Alarm Will Sound.

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit

The Mizzou International Composers Festival is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, an array of programs intended to position the University of Missouri School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. The Mizzou New Music Initiative is the direct result of the generous support of Dr. Jeanne and Mr. Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

December 2013
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Alarm Will Sound Signals Long-term, Local Adventure in New Classical Music

by mgaudet

St. Louis Beacon

By Nancy Fowler, November 26, 2012

You don’t often see classical musicians lying down on the job. Literally. As in playing their string and wind instruments on their backs.

Staging supine performances is just one way a contemporary classical chamber ensemble with deepening St. Louis connections sets itself apart.

Another is its name: Alarm Will Sound (AWS). The moniker sprung from a source more concerned with muscle than music: a gym.

Working out one day, managing director Gavin Chuck and artistic director-conductor Alan Pierson spotted the “Alarm Will Sound” sign on the emergency exit. Its reference to urgency was appealing, and the idea ultimately edged out other prospective names, including Walls Have Ears.

“Alarm Will Sound suggests a sense of adventure, maybe a little bit of danger, like if you went through that emergency exit,” Chuck said.

Today’s Beethovens?

One thing famous composers like Mozart, Bach and Stravinsky have in common is that their work is finished.

“People have the idea that most composers are dead,” Chuck said.

But less familiar, more current names — such as John Adams, Derek Bermel and Steve Reich — are making the 21st-century art music that most resonates with Alarm Will Sound.

“These composers are all very much alive and kicking,” Chuck said.

The ensemble, formed in 2001 by Chuck, Pierson and others at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., was described by the New York Times as “The future of classical music.” But it’s a future linked to the past by a strong traditional thread.

“The music is adventurous and on the edge — just as Beethoven was in his day,” Chuck said.

The lying down, video accompaniments and occasional costumes — opera attire, a horse head, T-shirts bearing images of Marcel Duchamp — are also part of the new musical experience. But these staging extras aren’t just gimmicks, according to Pierson and Chuck.

“Our performers are very adventurous: they will sing, they will act, they will move around stage,” Chuck said. “But we do everything for solid artistic reasons.”

“The goal is always to offer the most complete and engrossing and memorable artistic experience we can,” Pierson said. “But it’s best not to stage works that were not designed to be staged.”

Sinquefields secure local connection

While AWS members may don a costume only now and then, they almost always wear several hats. Everyone has a “day job,” many of which are plum positions.

Pierson’s the director for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Chuck’s a visiting music professor at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and cellist Stefan Freund teaches at the University of Missouri. Others play in a variety of bands and orchestras or teach in universities and conservatories in cities including San Francisco, South Carolina, Baltimore and Montreal.

But all roads lead to Missouri at this point in AWS’s journey. The St. Louis focus grew out of Mizzou’s New Music Summer Festival, funded by philanthropist Jeanne Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The foundation sponsors AWS’s St. Louis performances, including its Oct. 18 debut, even footing the bill for re-usable stage extensions at the Sheldon to make room for the 20-piece ensemble. But that’s just a start.

AWS plans to promote local composers by performing more of their works, and to begin an educational outreach program next year. That would include musicians visiting schools and also playing concerts side-by-side with student musicians. Ultimately, AWS could open its own venue or educational facility here, according to Mizzou’s Freund.

“Maybe we’ll have our own hall or performance center. Maybe we’ll have the Alarm Will Sound School of Music or a community music program,” Freund said. “For now, we’re just getting our feet wet.”

The area is a good fit with AWS for three reasons, Chuck noted.

“It’s a combination of the support of the Sinquefield Foundation, seeing a space in the culture in St. Louis for a group like ours, and taking that risk that’s sort of built into the DNA of Alarm Will Sound,” Chuck said.

The Sheldon vs the Stadium

AWS is accustomed to performing for crowds of 500 people but only around 100 saw them at the Sheldon in October.

The low turnout may have been caused in part by a widespread, contagious local affliction: Cardinal Fever. As the ensemble played on the Sheldon stage, the Cards were winning Game Four of the playoffs against the San Francisco Giants.

“That probably didn’t help,” Chuck said. “But the audience was enthusiastic and we had a really great time.”

Baseball season won’t have started on March 20, the date of AWS’s next St. Louis appearance at the Sheldon. The ensemble will preview a program to be featured at Carnegie Hall along with “Radio Rewrite,” a Steve Reich composition influenced by Radiohead.

But AWS will have to compete with the Cardinals-Pirates game at Busch Stadium on the night of their April 26 show at The Touhill. Still, even die-hard baseball fans may find something to like in the ensemble’s “1969,” a multimedia musical examination of the turbulent decade’s end.

The show tells the story of the composers of the time: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Actors play three of them with AWS’s bassoon player taking on the role of Bernstein. Using material from historical texts, the composer-characters grapple with questions about portraying the period in music, as news footage of Vietnam, Woodstock and other galvanizing events plays behind them.

“The role of the video is to immerse the audience in the times,” Pierson said. “It’s really a show unlike anything else.”

Like the Cardinals, AWS is planning a long-term relationship with St. Louis. Working toward that goal includes building a following that includes but extends far beyond classical-music lovers.

“We always hope for broadest audience possible, the kind of audience that enjoys offbeat contemporary original art, be it theater or visual art,” Pierson said. “That kind of adventurous, open-minded audience is ripe for what AWS brings to the stage.”

Watch a video of Alarm Will Sound performing “Cliffs” by Aphex Twin on the stage floor at Bowling Green State Unversity last March.

Original article can be found here

November 2012
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