Mizzou New Music Ensemble making moves with compositions inspired by chess in concert Monday, April 25 at Whitmore Recital Hall

Three new works by Mizzou student composers inspired by the game of chess will be given a “sneak preview” in a concert by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 25 at Whitmore Recital Hall on the University of Missouri campus. Admission is free for Mizzou students, faculty and staff with ID, $5 for the general public.

All three pieces were composed for the Ensemble’s upcoming concert on Saturday, April 30 at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

“Love Your Enemy” is by Henry Breneman Stewart, a first-year master’s student majoring in composition and winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize. Capturing the tensions found in both the competition of chess and the expression of the arts, Stewart’s work contrasts loud, aggressive, figures with bittersweet melodic lines.

“Caution,” composed by Luke Henderson, was inspired by a Ben Franklin quote about chess. It features carnival-like marches and improvised sections that convey the excitement and delight resulting from being passionate about an interest, like chess. Henderson is a senior at Mizzou majoring in composition and music education. His work “Routine Android” had its premiere performance by the Columbia Civic Orchestra in March 2016 as part of the Missouri Composers Orchestra Project.

Alex Williams’ “The Endgame” is a programmatic work based on the notion of chess as warfare. Opening with a saxophone “call to battle,” it depicts the violence of war with rugged mixed-meter melodies, which then give way to a mournful alto flute solo and the climax. Williams is a sophomore Sinquefield Scholar majoring in composition at Mizzou.

In addition to the three new chess-inspired works, the concert also will include “B&E (with aggravated assault)” by Oscar Bettison, who will be a distinguished guest composer at this summer’s Mizzou International Composers Festival. Performed with guest musician Robbie Lawson on electric guitar, “B&E (with aggravated assault)” is described as “an unabashed heavy metal rock tune,” complete with double-bass drum pedal fills, shredding electric guitar, and wailing bass clarinet.

Rounding out the program will be a special performance of “Off Pist,” a “delightfully jazzy” work by the eclectic Swedish composer and bassist Svante Henryson; and a set by the Mizzou Creative Improvisation Ensemble, directed by Rich Pellegrin.

The eight-member Mizzou New Music Ensemble (pictured) is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. The Ensemble’s members for the 2015-16 season are Rachel Czech, cello; José Martínez, percussion; Rebecca McDaniel, percussion; Gyumi Rha, piano; Jeremiah Rittel, clarinets; Panagiotis Skyftas, saxophones; Erin Spencer, flute; and Britney Stutz, violin.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble serves as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, an array of programs positioning the University of Missouri School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. In that capacity, they work with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community.