Listening ahead is the aim of the Mizzou International Composers Festival, as established and emerging composers descend on Columbia each July to sound out the future of new music.
At a moment when little is happening on the cultural calendar, the festival also has Columbia looking forward with last week's announcement of its 2021 slate of resident composers.
Four composers will join an existing slate of eight artists who were selected for the 2020 edition but waylaid when the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped MICF, making it a virtual affair.
The newly named resident composers are Columbia's own Daniel Fitzpatrick; Ana Paola Santillán Alcocer of Mexico City; Paul Mortilla of Coral Gables, Florida; and Nina Shekhar of Princeton, New Jersey.
On paper, resident composers make up a sort of youth movement. They interact with two more accomplished guest composers to refine and prepare their work for world premiere at the festival. But, as is the case each year, this roster of resident composers already owns impressive credits and exhibits a fine-tuned sense of invention.
Fitzpatrick's portfolio has expanded while at the University of Missouri; the Mizzou New Music Ensemble has performed his work. Alcocer's compositions have been played by far-flung chamber ensembles and orchestras. From 2016-17, she served as composer-in-residence for the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Montreal's McGill University.
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Mortilla's work has also been performed across the country; and Shekhar has heard her work rendered in the very capable hands of groups such as Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble and JACK Quartet.
This quartet joins a talented fold of composers, previously selected for the 2020 festival:
Yu Kuwabara, Tokyo
Pascal Le Boeuf, New York
Shuying Li, Spokane, Washington
Celka Ojakangas, Los Angeles
DM R also known as Diana M. Rodriguez, New York, NY
Niko Schroeder, Columbia
Andrew Tholl, Los Angeles
Felipe Tovar-Henao, Bloomington, Indiana
These dozen artists will work with 2021 guest composers Chen Yi and David Little. Yi, who teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellow. The world has heard the composer's work via Yo-Yo Ma, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and ensembles across the United States.
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As with many past and present festival composers, Little's music extends beyond the medium. He has composed for chamber opera and musical theater; his "What Belongs to You," a work in progress, is based on the acclaimed Garth Greenwell novel.
The festival is set for July 26-31, and will feature rehearsals, presentations and performances. The culmination of each year's fest comes when vanguard chamber group Alarm Will Sound performs a world premiere by each resident composer; this year, those premieres will be divided between two concerts.
Organizers "will have several contingent plans for the 2021 MICF if safety concerns, University policy, or state or local laws make it impossible to present the festival" in person and on campus, the announcement notes. Those plans could include various combinations of online and "limited in-person" events.
Learn more about the 2021 edition of MICF via the Mizzou New Music Initiative website.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Mizzou International Composers Festival reveals summer roster
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