Composers Festival spotlight: Henry Breneman Stewart

The University of Missouri’s representative among the eight resident composers for this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival is Henry Breneman Stewart, who just completed a master’s degree in composition at Mizzou.

While at Mizzou, Stewart (pictured) has composed works for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, Columbia Civic Orchestra, University Singers and more, and served as the “composer on call” for the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Composer Connection distance-learning program.

Most notably, he was the winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize – the university’s top honor for a student composer – which resulted in a commission to write a new original work that was premiered at the 2016 Chancellor’s Arts Showcase.

A native of Lancaster County, PA, Stewart came to Mizzou via Goshen College in Goshen, IN, where he earned a BA in music and biochemistry, studying 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, Stewart 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.

When the 2017 MICF is over, Stewart will be staying in Columbia to earn a second master’s degree in music theory while also applying to doctoral programs in composition.

For more about Henry Breneman Stewart, you can listen to him talk about the process of creating a commission and his work that will be premiered at the MICF in an interview recorded in June for KMUC’s weekly “Mizzou Music” program.. You can hear his music in the embedded players below and on his SoundCloud page.

“Sun Will Rise In Black,” commissioned by the Columbia Civic Orchestra with funding from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and performed by Natalia Bolshakova, piano, and the Columbia Civic Orchestra, Stefan Freund, conductor.

“Love Your Enemy,” performed by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble

“Sonnet 73: De Profundis,” commissioned as a result of winning the 2016 Sinquefield Composition Prize, and performed by the University of Missouri University Singers, directed by R. Paul Crabb.