Henry Breneman Stewart wins 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize

The University of Missouri School of Music and the Mizzou New Music Initiative have awarded the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize to Henry Breneman Stewart.

Stewart, a native of Lancaster County, PA, is a first-year graduate student at Mizzou studying composition with Stefan Freund and piano with Janice Wenger. He submitted “Threnody,” a work for string quartet, to the competition and was selected for the prize by a panel of independent judges.

The adjudicators for the 2016 competition were:
* R. Paul Crabb, director of choral activities, University of Missouri; and artistic director, Prometheus;
* Nick Omiccioli, composer;
* John Orfe, assistant professor, Bradley University; and composer and pianist with Alarm Will Sound; and
* Ingrid Stölzel, assistant professor, University of Kansas, and composer.

Now in its eleventh year, the Sinquefield Composition Prize is the top award for a composition student at Mizzou. As this year’s winner, Stewart now will have the opportunity to write an original work for Mizzou’s University Singers, which, in keeping with the theme of the 2016 Chancellor’s Arts Showcase, will incorporate text selected from the works of William Shakespeare.

Stewart’s composition will receive premiere performances on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis and on Monday, April 11, 2016 as part of the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia. With the commission, he also receives a cash prize for the production of the score and parts, and will have his work recorded.

Before coming to Mizzou, Stewart (pictured) earned a BA in music and biochemistry at Goshen College in Goshen, IN, where he studied composition with Dr. Jorge Muñiz of Indiana University South Bend. His interest in music began in childhood, as he grew up singing four-part harmony at East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church in Lancaster and began playing piano at age 5, later learning saxophone, flute and accordion as well.

During his sophomore year at Goshen, he and two friends started the indie-folk band Moral Circus, which released a full-length album in early 2014. In addition to the Mennonite tradition, he cites as significant influences the music of Krzysztof Penderecki, James Blake, Shostakovich, Kanye West, Samuel Barber, Johnny Greenwood, and Run the Jewels.

The other finalists for the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize were Ben Colagiovanni, Hans B. Heruth, and Erin Hoerchler.