Archive for October, 2012

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Previews Alarm Will Sound’s St. Louis Concert Season

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2012

By Sarah Bryan Miller

Another new music series in St. Louis starts up Thursday night at the Sheldon Concert Hall, when Alarm Will Sound performs the first program in its inaugural three-concert “St. Louis season.”

Alarm Will Sound, a critically acclaimed 20-member “contemporary classical” chamber band, will give the initial performance as part of the American Arts Experience Festival. It will include music by John Adams, John Cage, Aphex Twin, Yotam Haber, Conlon Nancarrow, Charles Wuorinen and Stefan Freund, a music professor at the University of Missouri who’s also the cellist for Alarm Will Sound.

The season started with a conversation with the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, says AWS artistic director and conductor Alan Pierson. One of the Foundation’s projects — a special focus for Jeanne Sinquefield, philanthropist and double bassist — is the Mizzou New Music Initiative, including an annual program for young composers, from kindergarten through undergraduate, and the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.

AWS has made the trip to Columbia, Mo., for the last three summers to work with young composers; extending the connection to a St. Louis season, he says, seemed like a natural. “Jeanne Sinquefield has a vision of making Missouri a center for young composers. We just had a feeling that there was an advocate here for contemporary music in a part of the country that doesn’t have the density” of the Northeast.

AWS, which has been around since its members met at the Eastman School of Music in 1996 and became official in 2001, has 17 members (“We really are a band”), divided among string players, brass, woodwinds, percussion and keyboard. The ensemble’s repertoire includes everything from Steve Reich’s minimalism to electronic music by Edgard Varèse, from engaging settings of medieval music to equally engaging jazz-based works.

It is, says Pierson (whose “other big job” is as assistant conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic), “a collectively driven group; we make all the decisions together.”

That includes the band’s name. “We spent a lot of time brainstorming names. We had a list of literally hundreds and hundreds of name possibilities.” They finally settled on a suggestion from managing director Gavin Chuck, who noticed a sign on an exit that proclaimed that an alarm would sound if the door were opened. “It’s a good name,” says Pierson. “It says we’re beyond a limit in some ways, pushing a boundary, always taking risks.”

It goes well with being what he calls “hard to categorize. We’re all classically trained; we work with a lot of composers, and do a lot of projects, that bring music together from all traditions. Many of us take gigs (performing) all kinds of music.” For the most part, they work from written notation.

This concert is part of the Sheldon’s American music festival, which helped shape the program. “We wanted a program that showed the range of what (AWS) does; we wanted to do music from our three years at the Mizzou New Music Festival,” Pierson says. “And we wanted something from someone who’s really a well-known composer. Not everyone knows Alarm Will Sound; everyone knows John Adams.”

The program will conclude with a pair of works written for AWS, Haber’s “We Were All,” from the 2011 Mizzou festival, and “Unremixed,” by AWS cellist Freund.

“That’s typical of us,” says Pierson. “More and more, as we mature as a group, it really is our music.”

Alarm Will Sound

When • 8 p.m. Thursday

Where • The Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Boulevard

How much • $10 to $20

More info • or 314-533-9900. The band’s other St. Louis concerts are March 20 at the Sheldon and April 26 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Online • Hear samples of Alarm Will Sound’s music on their website: Alarm Will Sound

Online at :

October 2012
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Augusta Read Thomas, Daniel Kellogg named as guest composers for the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival

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Continuing its emerging tradition of pairing an acknowledged master and a rising star, the Mizzou New Music Initiative has named Augusta Read Thomas and Daniel Kellogg as guest composers for the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival (MICF).

Formerly known as the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, the MICF will be held from Monday, July 22, 2013 through Saturday, July 27 on the campus of the University of Missouri. As in the past, the 2013 Festival will feature a series of public concerts featuring music from contemporary composers, as well as workshops, master classes and other events. The acclaimed new music group Alarm Will Sound, conducted by artistic director Alan Pierson, once again will serve as resident ensemble.

Thomas currently is professor of composition at the University of Chicago. She formerly taught at Eastman School of Music and Northwestern University, and served as composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2006. Thomas was called “one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American music” on the occasion of her induction in 2009 into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has had her music performed by major orchestras and chamber ensembles all over the world, and is the recipient of numerous awards, honors and prizes for her compositions.

Kellogg is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the Yale School of Music. He currently works as assistant professor of composition at the University of Colorado. Kellogg has been called “one of the most exciting composers around – technically assured, fascinated by unusual sonic textures, unfailingly easy to listen to, yet far from simplistic,” by the Washington Post.

With the 2013 guest composers confirmed, eight resident composers now will be selected for the Festival through a portfolio application process to create a new work for Alarm Will Sound. During the Festival, they’ll get composition lessons from Thomas and Kellogg; take part in rehearsals with Alarm Will Sound; and receive a premiere performance and professional live recording of their work.

The deadline for submitting an application is November 1, 2012. For more information on applying to become a resident composer for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, please visit

A complete schedule of events, times, dates and venues for the 2013 Mizzou International Composers Festival will be made available at a later date. For more information, please visit

October 2012
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Sinquefield Charitable Foundation commissions new works from Mizzou composers to celebrate The Sheldon’s 100th anniversary

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The famous German composer Robert Schumann once said, “In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.” While that may be true, getting that new composition performed and heard once it is written can be another matter entirely. For an emerging composer writing music inspired by the classical tradition, performance opportunities can be few and far between.

To give some of those composers a chance to be heard, the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Sheldon Concert Hall and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation have joined forces to commission a series of new works to commemorate The Sheldon’s centennial. Five composers associated with the University of Missouri will create new short works to be performed at five different concerts at The Sheldon during the hall’s historic 100th year.

Stefan Freund

The first piece comes from Mizzou music professor Stefan Freund, who has written a string quartet to be performed by St. Louis Symphony concertmaster David Halen and three of his SLSO colleagues as part of The Sheldon’s centennial gala on Thursday, October 11. The piece will be accompanied by a slideshow of 100 photographs taken to celebrate the hall’s 100th anniversary.

“One of the goals of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation is to find and grow composers,” said Jeanne Sinquefield. “This new Sinquefield inititative of working with The Sheldon and Mizzou composers is a perfect musical storm.”

The other four commissioned compositions, which range in length from five to seven minutes, will be played during subsequent concerts during the 2012-13 season.

Stephanie Berg

On Friday, November 9, the ArtSounds benefit featuring singer Sylvia McNair and pianist Kevin Cole will include a new work for piano and clarinet written by Stephanie Berg, a Kansas City native who earned her master’s in music from Mizzou earlier this year. Berg’s piece will underscore a slide show of 200 celebrity caricatures by Al Hirschfeld, the famed artist and St. Louis native whose work currently is the subject of a major exhibit in the Sheldon Art Galleries.

Patrick David Clark

Then on Tuesday February 5 and Wednesday, February 6, 2013, pianist Peter Henderson will perform a new work by composer Patrick David Clarkas part of The Sheldon Coffee Concerts “Piano Classics” program. Clark, who grew up in St. Louis, earned his undergraduate degree at Mizzou, and just received his master’s degree in conducting from the University earlier this year.

Next, Mizzou undergrad Grant Bradshaw will perform his new composition for piano as part of the “Pianopalooza” concert featuring Peter Henderson, Alla Voskoboynikova, Daniel Schene and Martin Kennedy on Wednesday, February 27. Bradshaw, a native of Columbia, currently is studying viola and composition at the University, and also is assistant conductor of the Missouri Symphony Society Conservatory.

Michael E. Anderson

The fifth and final work in the series is a composition for brass quintet by Michael Anderson, which will be performed by the Clarion Brass on April 10, 2013 as part of their “Springtime Brass Spectacular.” Anderson, who grew up in Platte City, MO, was the 2012 recipient of the University of Missouri’s Sinquefield Composition Prize and graduated from Mizzou in May with a degree in composition.

All five works will be recorded so they can be shared later online here on the Mizzou New Music Initiative website, as well as on the Sheldon’s website.

October 2012
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