Chamber Music World Premieres at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) 2021 Virtual National Conference

Three members of the MU School of Music were featured recently in premiere performances for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) 2021 Virtual National Conference.  Wes Warnhoff, clarinet; Janice Wenger, piano; and Julia Gaines, percussion, presented Theme and Variations on Shenandoah by E. L. Lancaster and Gayle Kowalchyk, and Jazz Suite No. 3 by Glenda Austin (MU alum BSEd 1973 & MM 1975), video recorded in the Sinquefield Music Center (scroll down to watch).
Begun in 2011, the Collaborative Music Commissioning Project of MTNA was created to promote chamber music study at the intermediate or amateur adult level.  The idea for the project was developed by the steering committee for the MTNA Year of Collaborative Music (YCM), celebrated internationally in 2010-2011.  Led by Dr. Janice Wenger of MU and Ann Rivers Witherspoon, Houston, Texas, the Collaborative Music Commissioning Project was launched.  The goal of the commissioning was two-fold:  to support living composers and their work with teachers and students in MTNA, and to provide accessible repertoire for unusual instrument combinations.

The committee was inspired by its awareness of the fact that many chamber music ensembles are first formed by friends wishing to make music together.  Young students, eager to use their emerging instrumental skills, were particularly in need of compositions that were written for combinations that would accommodate their actual circle of friends.  Beyond the traditional combinations of strings and piano, the catalogue was especially lacking accessible pieces that included woodwinds or brass.  The YCM committee decided to focus on trios including piano, knowing that these ensembles would be the easiest to assemble and would most likely be embraced by the MTNA membership and their students.  

In addition, the leadership wanted to make the commissioned pieces available to the membership and the profession, so they decided to feature well known and widely published educational composers who had an ongoing relationship with a music publisher.  The publishers became an integral part of the process; indeed, those involved have agreed to create and print new editions that are offered for sale at the MTNA exhibits each year.  Those that have supported this project include:  Alfred Music, Hal Leonard, FJH, Willis, and Faber Music.  

In partnership with MTNA, the MU School of Music faculty has presented the premiere performances at the national conference annually for 10 years, with at least two more years currently planned.  Listed below are the 21 compositions commissioned and published; check with publishers for scores and parts.  

                                                  MTNA COLLABORATIVE COMMISSIONING PROJECT PUBLICATIONS

Dennis Alexander “Dance Suite” (2013 Alfred)

Glenda Austin “Jazz Suite 3” (2021 Willis/Hal Leonard)

Bruce Berr “Three Reflections” (2018 Opus)
    alto sax/bassoon or tenor sax/piano

Melody Bober “Suite in Season” (2012 Alfred)
    flute/bassoon/piano or violin/cello/piano with optional percussion mvmt 4

Timothy Brown “Suite Brazilerias” (2015 FJH)
    alto sax/percussion/piano

Nancy Faber “Curiouser and Curiouser” (2011 Faber/Hal Leonard)
    clarinet/sax/piano; also available: flute/viola/piano, flute/violin/piano, flute/cello/piano, violin/cello/piano

Randall Faber “Three Characters” (2016 Faber/Hal Leonard)

Tom Gerou “Trio Capriccioso” (2016 Alfred)

Phillip Keveren “Petit Voyage” (2014 Hal Leonard)

Gayle Kowalchyk & E. L. Lancaster “Theme and Variations on Shenandoah” (2020 Alfred)

Victor Labenske “A Walk Through the Valley” (2019 Alfred)

Jennifer Linn “Serendipity” (2013 Hal Leonard)

Martha Mier “Jazz Suite in Color” (2017 Alfred)

Kevin Olson “Urban Legends” (2012 FJH)
    violin/cello/piano or flute/bassoon/piano

Mona Rejino “Impressions of New York” (2019 Hal Leonard)

Eugénie Rocherolle “Crescent City Connection” (2011 Hal Leonard)
    oboe/bassoon/piano; also available flute/cello/piano

Catherine Rollin “Suite Detroit” (2018 Alfred)

Wynn-Anne Rossi “Skyscrapers” (2014 Alfred)
    clarinet/alto saxophone/piano

Mike Springer “Nola” (2015 Alfred)

Christos Tsitsaros “Fantasy” (2017 Hal Leonard)

Robert Vandall “Fanfare Allegro” (2011 Alfred)


Lancaster/Kowalchyk Trio Composers Introductory information
Lancaster/Kowalchyk Trio Performance
Austin Trio Composer Intro
Austin Trio Performance