Trey Makler Receives 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize

Trey Makler, junior oboe and composition major
Makler’s inspiration image of Forest Park (photo curtesy of Calla Massmann/Forest Park Forever)
Kristi Galloway
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science

Trey Makler, a junior oboe and composition major in the School of Music, received the 2015 Sinquefield Composition Prize for his chamber ensemble piece, “Elysium” (click to listen). Every year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is awarded to the top composition student at MU. "This is a prize that has traditionally gone to an older student—a senior or graduate student," says Stefan Freund, associate professor of composition and music theory. "This is a great opportunity for him."

Makler was shocked when he found out he won. “I was shaking,” he says. “I thought I might fall on the floor.” For many years, composing was just a hobby for him. He wrote his first composition at band camp in seventh grade and continued to write in his free time as a hobby. It wasn’t until he came to college that he realized composition could actually be a career possibility. Makler says, “Learning to compose is like learning to play an instrument. You don’t just start out with something great, you have to work at it and practice for years, which is what makes it rewarding.”

Makler composed "Elysium" because the composition faculty commissioned four students to write pieces about Forest Park in St. Louis. For inspiration, Makler found a photo online of whitewashed light streaming through Forest Park's trees. He wanted to compose a piece that used the entire ensemble as a harmonic entity to create a serene and ethereal tone that reflected the photo. To accomplish this, he has many of the instruments enter at niente, meaning nothing, and crescendo out of that silence until another instrument starts to crescendo. Makler says, “This allows one sound to move seamlessly through the entire ensemble.”

As the award recipient, Makler will now have the opportunity to write an original piece for the University Philharmonic Orchestra, which will premiere on April 13, 2015, at the annual Chancellor’s Concert. He has already started on the composition. “I find myself constantly wanting to work on this new composition,” he says. “Composition used to be my hobby, now it is what I want to do all day, every day.”

The Sinquefield Composition Prize is part of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, an array of programs intended to position the MU School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. The initiative is funded thanks to generous support from Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

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