St. Louis Symphony Collaborates with MU Composers

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to read works by Mizzou composers Mikkel Christensen, Ben Colagiovanni, and Libby Roberts
Mikkel Christensen
Ben Colagiovanni
Libby Roberts

Student composers Mikkel Christensen (top), Ben Colagiovanni, and Libby Roberts were selected by SLSO Resident Conductor Gemma New to write new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra drawn from the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony. 

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Columbia, MO - Three University of Missouri student composers will have their works played this year by musicians with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as part of a joint educational venture between the orchestra and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.  Student composers Mikkel Christensen, Ben Colagiovanni, and Libby Roberts were selected by SLSO Resident Conductor Gemma New to write new works for a 40-piece chamber orchestra drawn from the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony.  The three works will be read, played and critiqued in a private session on Wednesday, October 31 in St. Louis. The composers then will get a chance to revise their music for a second, public reading by the same musicians at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Powell Hall.

Colagiovanni is a senior from St. Louis working toward an undergraduate degree in composition at Mizzou, while Christensen, who's from Lockhart, TX, and Roberts, a native of Philadelphia, PA, both are in their second year of study for a master's degree. They are the second group of Mizzou composers to take part in the program, following Dustin Dunn, Aaron Mencher and Douglas Osmun in 2017-18.  “We're very grateful to the St. Louis Symphony and Gemma New for the opportunity to give our students some practical experience working with an ensemble of world-class musicians,” said Stefan Freund, professor of composition at the University of Missouri School of Music and artistic director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative.  “Because there are two sessions, this program is particularly valuable as a learning experience,” Freund said. “There are other programs that give young composers the chance to have their works read by a professional orchestra, but they provide just one chance to work with the musicians.  With the two-session format, our composers are able to hear their music played and get feedback directly from Gemma New and the musicians.  Then they can make revisions, and can hear the results of the changes they've made in the second session. It's the sort of lesson that just can't be delivered in a classroom.”  Christensen, Colagiovanni, and Roberts already are working on their compositions, Freund said, and are expected to deliver the first versions of their works to the Symphony in early October.

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Celebrated as one of today’s most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, celebrating its 139th year in the 2018/2019 season. Widely considered one of the world’s finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connection – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music. Today, the SLSO builds on the institution’s current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève.

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is an array of programs positioning the University of Missouri’s School of Music as a leading center for music composition and new music.  The programs of the Mizzou New Music Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, led by Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield (http://www.sinquefieldcharitablefoundation.com/).

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