Earlier this week, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble (MNME) traveled to the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) conference in San Antonio to perform "Forest Park Rhapsody" by MU senior composition major, Ben Colagiovanni. In January, Ben was named the national winner of the "Young Artist" competition in composition through MTNA and part of his "prize" was to have the winning piece performed at the national conference. This competition was a three step process requiring statewide and regional competitions as well. The members of the MNME that traveled to San Antonio were Gyumi Rha, Rebecca McDaniels, Erin Miller, Rachel Czech, Britney Stutz, Jeremiah Rittel, and Trey Makler. The ensemble was directed by MU composition professor, Dr. Stefan Freund. Also in attendance at the conference was Ben's composition teacher, Dr. W. Thomas McKenney. Ben is Dr. McKenney's sixth student to be named a National Young Artist winner in composition.
Ben is a graduate from Clayton High School in the St. Louis area. He won Mizzou’s Creating Original Music Project (COMP) competition twice before enrolling in the MU School of Music as a Sinquefield Scholar which provides a full-tuition scholarship. “Forest Park Rhapsody” was one of four works originally commissioned in 2014 by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble to perform at an event for members of Forest Park Forever’s Leffingwell Society.
The Music Teachers National Association was founded in 1876 to advance the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music. The organization currently has nearly 22,000 members and more than 500 local affiliates in 50 states, and each year conducts several different competitions for student musicians and composers.