Mizzou New Music Initiative

The Mizzou New Music Initiative brings together a diverse 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 Initiative is the direct result of the generous support of Dr. Jeanne and Mr. Rex Sinquefield, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. The Sinquefields’ vision is to create an incubator for the composition and performance of new music, and to position Missouri as a major center for the music of tomorrow. Read more about the Sinquefields’ support for the MU School of Music.

The Initiative is the result of a long-standing relationship between the Sinquefields and the Mizzou School of Music. The Sinquefields’ involvement with the School of Music began with a $50,000 gift in 2005 to launch the Creating Original Music Project (COMP), a program intended to identify and develop young composers through a competition and festival. The COMP Festival has been held every spring since 2006, bringing winners of the COMP competition to campus to hear their works performed by MU student performers.

Along with COMP, the Sinquefield Prize was founded in 2006 to recognize Mizzou’s most outstanding student composer. Each year qualified judges from outside the University select one Mizzou student to write a piece for a Mizzou large ensemble (University Philharmonic, University Wind Ensemble, or University Singers) that is premiered at the annual Chancellor’s Concert. The work is later professionally recorded and edited, giving the composer an excellent representation of his or her work.

The Sinquefields’ support grew in 2008 with the inaugural Mizzou Summer Composition Institute (Summer COMP). This weeklong workshop brings Missouri high school students to campus for a week to study contemporary repertoire, computer music notation, and composition. Through the week, each student composer works closely with MU faculty and writes a piece that is premiered by MU student performers on a final concert in Whitmore Recital Hall.

Due to the success of these programs, the Sinquefields gave $1 million to the MU School of Music to establish the Mizzou New Music Initiative in 2009. The Initiative funds a variety of programs including student scholarships, assistantships for members of the New Music Ensemble, guest performer and composer residencies, and the Mizzou International Composers Festival. The Initiative has allowed Mizzou to attract top undergraduate composition students and elite performers to campus. Guest performers have included some of the most important artists in contemporary music, including JACK Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, Eighth Blackbird, and SO Percussion. Three Pulitzer prize-winners and two Chicago Symphony Orchestra Composers-in-Residence have been among the distinguished composers that have visited Mizzou.

In recent years, the Initiative has been pleased to partner with The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries in St. Louis. Each season, four or five Mizzou student and faculty composers are commissioned to write new works, to be premiered at the Sheldon by St. Louis-based musicians, including members of the St. Louis Symphony.

The success of the Mizzou New Music Initiative has been demonstrated by the Sinquefields’ continued support of the School of Music. In 2013 the Sinquefields sustained the NMI with an additional gift of $1.4 million. In 2015 the Sinquefields gave $10 million, the largest gift ever to MU to support the fine arts, towards the construction of a new music building. The next gift for the NMI, in excess of $2 million, was given in 2016.


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