Festival of Contemporary Music

featuring works by students from

The University of Missouri at Kansas City
The University of Iowa


Saturday, March 27, 2010, 7:30 pm
UCC Recital Hall


Answers from Nature (2010)   Zach ZUBOW (1984)
  Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano
Casey Rafn, piano
Insights No. 1 (2009)   Nicholas S. OMICCIOLI (1982)
  Keel Williams, bassoon  
Dots and Lines (2010)   Stas OMELCHENKO (1982)
  Rolando-Jose Hernandez-Gaitan, flute  
  — Intermission —  
Water Meditation on Etenraku (2006/2010)   Richard JOHNSON (1978)
  Rebecca Ashe, flute  
Intercessions II (2009)   Daniel HOUGLUM (1983)
  Stephen Page, alto saxophone  
Four Songs from the Caucasian Chalk Circle (2009)   Scott BLASCO (1978)
  Katherine Crawford, mezzo-soprano  


Notes & Bios


Answers from Nature

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry typically follows a lyric poetry style with rhyming schemes that are based on personal feelings. The emotions described in his poetry contain elements of comparison between nature and personal strife. This could be in part due to having lost two wives of untimely deaths, which drove him to burn his own face, inducing the iconic Longfellow beard. The poetry by Longfellow chosen for Answers from Nature begins with a poem describing the close relationship between nature and mother that is followed by a sequence of seasonal change. The poetic feelings imbued throughout appear as though it was sequenced during and after his time with his second wife. It begins with happiness and motherhood that has been taken away abruptly and slowly finds peace through the seasons in the cloudy bosom of the silent, soft snow.

Zach Zubow started his music education at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and recently graduated with a masters in music from Illinois State University in May of 2008. His music has been performed throughout the Midwest as well as Europe in recent years. Zach is now pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at The University of Iowa.


Insights No. 1 for solo bassoon

was commissioned by James Keel Williams, a classmate at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Insights No. 1 is the first in a series of solo pieces that explore advanced instrumental techniques such as multiphonics, quarter tones, timbral trills, and improvisation within the scope of an overall dramatic form. The initial concept for the collection, inspired by the Sequenzas of Luciano Berio, is intended to show off the versatility and virtuosity of the performer. To a certain degree, Insights No. 1 was composed - strictly and loosely - on simple musical premises that dictate pitches and intervals, rhythmic development, and form.

Nicholas S. Omiccioli (b. 1982) has received degrees from Heidelberg University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the artistic director of Musica Nova at UMKC and the coordinator of the Composers in the Schools (CITS) program. Mr. Omiccioli currently studies composition with James Mobberley, Chen Yi, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long. He has previously studied with Joao Pedro Oliveira, Brian Bevelander, and Mark Olivieri. Mr. Omiccioli has received many awards including a commission by the 2010 Wellesley Composers' Conference, winner and judge's choice in the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 UMKC Chamber Music Composition Competitions, 2009 DuoSolo Emerging Composer Award, Kansas City Chorale Crescendo Competition, Brian M. Israel Prize, Ars Nova Composition Award, and the Dance Rochester! Composer/Choreographer Competition. Just recently, Mr. Omiccioli was nominated for an award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music has been performed by DuoSolo, the Kansas City Chorale, The Wellesley Composers' Conference, Society for New Music, Heidelberg New Music Festival, University of Central Missouri New Music Festival, Regional and National College Music Society Conferences, as well as numerous SCI Conferences at the National, National Student, and Regional levels. In addition to composition, Mr. Omiccioli studies guitar with Douglas Niedt and teaches at the UMKC Academy of Music and Dance and Kansas City School of Music.


Dots and Lines

Composed and dedicated to the flutist Rolando Hernandez Gaitan, Dots and Lines is a study of sorts, which explores the vertical and horizontal planes of musical time. As the title infers, the piece is based on two main thematic materials - short, gestural fragments and longer melodic lines - that give it its chaotic yet very lyrical character.

After the initial exposition, both materials are combined and recombined in a myriad of ways to create a sense of global transformation from a more vertical plane to a horizontal one. Contrary to what one might expect, however, with few exceptions, this piece does not transform, does not develop, the actual material; rather, it takes advantage of our mind's ability to interpret the same material as different when appears in different contexts. In other words, this piece assigns different musical functions to the same material. One of the main techniques used in the piece to create such transformation was to stagger short gestures in such close proximity to each other that they would lose their individual character and became a part of a moving line.

In addition, to facilitate such transformation, the piece was constructed using a generative principle: every moment in the transformation, whether motivic, rhythmic, or harmonic, originated in the previous one. Likewise, all pitch material, in all sections, originated in, and extrapolated from the opening five-note set of the piece, which is also transformed in the course of the piece.

Stas Omelchenko (b. 1982) has studied composition with David Gompper, Lawrence Fritts, Stacy Garrop, Kyong Mee Choi, Don Malone, Gyula Fekete, and John Eaton. Additional studies and master classes were with Marta Ptaszynska, Bernard Rands, and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and is currently working on his Master of Arts degree at the University of Iowa where he serves as a teaching assistant in music theory.


Water Meditation on Etenraku

How divine the sound...
a single cloud passing through
a lake's reflection.

Water meditation on Etenraku is composed for any melodic instrument and laptop. The piece is intended as an act of meditation for the performer, building upon a traditional melody (Etenraku) for gagaku (a Japanese court ensemble) and developing into an improvisational response to randomly selected sho chords. The soundworld of the piece consists only of water and manipulations of the live performance.

Richard Johnson (b. 1978) is a composer whose music seeks a balance between the romantic and the meditative. Richard has studied music composition at The Hartt School of Music and Dance and West Chester University, with Robert Carl, David Macbride, Robert Maggio, and Larry Nelson. He is currently pursuing a DMA in Composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at University of Missouri, Kansas City, where he has studied with James Mobberley, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, and Mukai Kohei. He has also had lessons with Joseph Schwantner and George Crumb. For more information, please visit Richard Johnson's website.


Intercessions II

was composed in 2009 for saxophonist, Stephen Page. The premiere performance was given by Stephen at the Society of Composers Region V Conference in Dubuque, Iowa, on October 9, 2009. I would like to thank Dr. Lawrence Fritts, Director of the Electronic Music Studios at the University of Iowa, for his guidance on the project. All of the source material for the fixed electronic media was performed by Stephen Page and recorded in the anechoic chamber at the University of Iowa. The fixed media part largely consists of selected segments generated through controlled randomization in MaxMSP. Three-note gestures on the musical surface inform structural aspects of the work. Intercessions II explores varying modes of communication between the saxophone and fixed media. Interruption plays a key role in the musical discourse of the first section.

Daniel Houglum, from Soldotna, Alaska, is currently in the Ph.D. in Music Composition program at the University of Iowa. He received his B.A. degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and his M.Mus. degree from Northern Illinois University. Houglum has served as an instructor for Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois. His composition teachers include Kevin Waters (S.J.), Robert Fleisher, David Maki, John Eaton and David Gompper. His chamber work, Pieta(s), was premiered at the Midwest Composers Symposium at the University of Michigan (February 2009). Intercessions II, for soprano saxophone and tape, was premiered by Stephen Page at the Society of Composers Region V Conference (November 2009). Houglum currently teaches at the Preucil School of Music as theory instructor for the Certificate Program. For more information please visit Daniel Houglum's website.


Four Songs from the Caucasian Chalk Circle

These four songs are excerpted from music written for a production of Bertolt Brecht's epic play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle. In the context of the play, they are all sung by the heroine, Grusha Vachnadze, a servant girl working in the governor's kitchen at the time of a bloody coup. In the confusion, the murdered governor's infant son is left behind by his horrible mother, who is more interested in which dresses she can save. The child is found and rescued by Grusha, who flees the city, hunted by soldiers who wish the child heir dead. Over the course of her travels and travails, Grusha falls in love with the child, finally claiming him as her own. The Song of the Rotten Bridge, Lullaby, and Song of the Child reflect a progression from her loving and claiming the child, to seeing in him a future of redemption for the sins of his father. In the second song, Song of the Center, Grusha sings of her fiance Simon, who has been conscripted into the military to fend off the invading armies.

The Music for The Caucasian Chalk Circle music was commissioned by the Dordt College Theatre Department. The texts are from Frank McGuinness' adaptation of Stefan S. Brecht's translation of the original play. Where the original play indicated titles (Song of the Rotten Bridge, Song of the Center, and so on), they have been retained in the score. Texts used by permission.

Scott Blasco is currently a doctoral student in composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He holds masters degrees in music composition from Western Michigan University and in theology and art from Fuller Theological Seminary.