Composers Festival spotlight: Daniel Fitzpatrick

The University of Missouri’s representative among the resident composers at this year’s MICF is Daniel Fitzpatrick, who currently is studying for his master’s in composition at Mizzou.

Fitzpatrick also is a music technology graduate assistant and has served as the pianist of the Mizzou New Music Ensemble. A native of Wentzville, MO, he earned his bachelor of music degree at Southeast Missouri State University.

For the MICF, he has written a new work titled “Adapt,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the “World Premieres I” online concert on Tuesday, July 27.

A multi-instrumentalist as well as a composer, Fitzpatrick began playing banjo at age seven, and also plays guitar and mandolin in addition to piano. Bluegrass and folk music have had considerable significance in his life as a composer and performer, but his original music draws on a variety of influences, exploring “many different folk traditions in his compositions along with the genres of dubstep, glitch, pop, and modern classical music.”

These diverse influences come into focus in various ways as Fitzpatrick composes and arranges music for banjo. For example, his 2019 piece “Perplexion” fuses the styles of bluegrass, ragtime, jazz, and contemporary classical music. He also has arranged and performed Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C# minor Op. 3, No. 2” on the banjo, defying the often stereotypical image and perceived limitations of the instrument.

Fitzpatrick has been featured as a banjo soloist and composer in various concerts and recitals at the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri University, and East Central College.

This past year, his composition “Poem of the Phantom Queen,” commissioned by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Sheldon Concert Hall, was premiered by pianist Peter Henderson and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra cellist Bjorn Ranheim in a concert in March at The Sheldon.

He also was part of the 2020 MICF, performing his banjo concertino “Ancient Echoes” with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble in an online concert, showcasing the extended capabilities of the instrument in a setting of acoustic sound effects and modal interplay.

Fitzpatrick in 2017 was featured in a collaborative recital with artist Najjar Abdul-Mussawwir’s “Reconstructed” exhibition at Southeast Missouri State University. During this event, he premiered his piece “Premonition” and performed traditional bluegrass music, as well as works by Béla Fleck and Tony Trischka.

You can hear some samples of Daniel Fitzpatrick’s music in the embedded video windows below.

“Poem of the Phantom Queen,” performed by Bjorn Ranheim (cello) and
Peter Henderson (piano) on March 25, 2021 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“Ancient Echoes,” recorded in 2020 by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, with Daniel Fitzpatrick (banjo), Stephen Landy (percussion), Ann Mozina (flute), Jordan Nielson (percussion), Pedro Ramiro (violin), Cameron Tubbs (cello). and Andrew Wiele (clarinet), directed by Dr. Stefan Freund.