Dean Minderman (1957-2021)

Dean Minderman at the piano
Dean Minderman performing at the Big Muddy Blues Festival in St. Louis, 2018

We at the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the MU School of Music are saddened to learn of Dean C. Minderman’s passing. Dean was the voice of this blog and our Twitter profile for the last 11 years, and as part of Slay & Associates’s team, worked tirelessly to promote MNMI’s activities. If you’ve ever been a visiting composer or performer at Mizzou, or if you’re a student or faculty composer who’s won an award or participated in an opportunity, Dean has written about you. If you’re a writer, journalist, or media outlet in Missouri who’s ever covered our events, you learned about them through Dean. When MNMI embarked on an exciting collaboration with the St. Louis Symphony, the HEC Network in St. Louis aired a segment featuring interviews with our composers — all thanks to Dean. 

“My collaboration with Dean was crucial since my very first week at Mizzou,” says MNMI Managing Director Jacob Gotlib. “He cared about his work so deeply, and over the years taught me what it means to care that much as well. I didn’t understand what an ‘eye for detail’ really meant until I worked with Dean — he never let anything past him, and continually pushed me to be the best I could be.”

“As a graduate of Mizzou, Dean was a perfect fit for spreading the word about the wonderful opportunities of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. He took deep pride in seeing our success and sharing it with the world. We will deeply miss his contributions to Mizzou New Music and to the St. Louis jazz scene,” says Stefan Freund, MNMI Artistic Director.

“We are so appreciative of Dean’s work for our School. He always made us look and sound good and was a stickler for excellence. I’m thankful we were able to work with him and be the subject of his great writing for so many years,” says Julia Gaines, Director of the MU School of Music.

A graduate of Mizzou’s prestigious journalism program (BM 1979), Dean maintained great affection for his alma mater throughout his life. His first contact with new music came from an electronic music course he took with Emeritus Professor of Composition W. Tom McKenney. Dean combined his love of writing and music, writing myriad articles for the St. Louis Riverfront Times, NewMusicBox, and numerous other publications. His first love, however, was jazz and blues — Dean was a staple of the jazz and blues scene in his native St. Louis, playing piano and keys in multiple bands. His most significant contribution to his city’s musical scene was St. Louis Jazz Notes, a blog he maintained for over 16 years that chronicled upcoming events and rising artists, both in St. Louis and nationally. 

Dean’s impact on the Mizzou New Music Initiative — and his efforts to bring the world’s ears, eyes, and words to our activities — has been tremendous. We miss him dearly. If you would like to share any thoughts or stories about Dean, please leave them in the comments below.