Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP) announces winners of 2022 competition

The Missouri Composers Project (MOCOP), a collaborative effort involving the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Columbia Civic Orchestra (CCO), the Columbia Chamber Choir, and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation designed to bring attention to new large ensemble works written in the state of Missouri, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 MOCOP competition.

This year’s winners competed in four categories: High School Choral and High School Orchestral for Missouri composers currently in high school; and Open Choral and Open Orchestral for Missouri composers of any age.

Here are the four winners and the two composers who received honorable mention:

Open Orchestral: Devin Cholodenko, Mountains in the Distance

High School Orchestral: Henry Rusten, Themes of Imagination

Open Choral: James Davidson, O Oriens

High School Choral: Thomas Libbert, Fire Doesn’t Always Have to Burn

Orchestral honorable mention: Brady Wolff, A Heartfelt Prayer

Choral honorable mention: AJ Harbison, Rainlight

Devin Cholodenko

The winner in the 2022 Open Orchestral category is Devin Cholodenko for his composition, Mountains in the Distance. His works have been performed, read, and recorded across the United States and internationally and he was the recipient of the 2021 Gerald Kemner Prize in Orchestral Composition. He is an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he studied composition with Chen Yi, Zhou Long, and Yotam Haber.

James Davidson

James Davidson is the 2022 Open Choral winner for his composition, O Oriens. Dr. Davidson is an Assistant Professor of Music and the Director of Choral Studies and Music Education at Drury University where he conducts the Drury Singers, Drury Chorale, and the Chamber Ensemble and teaches coursework in music education and conducting. Additionally, Davidson also serves as Associate Conductor of the Missouri Philharmonic Orchestra and Associate Conductor and Chorus Master of Ozarks Lyric Opera.

Henry Rusten

Henry Rusten is this year’s High School Orchestral winner for his composition Themes of Imagination. Rusten is a 15-year-old junior at Central High School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He plays piano, guitar, drums, and viola and enjoys composing. He hopes to write music for tv shows, video games, and films.

Thomas Libbert

Thomas Libbert, the winner of this year’s High School Choral composition, is a senior at Fatima High School in Westphalia. In the last two years, Libbert has composed more than a dozen songs under the stage name ‘siKda’. His first album, Fire Falls, is due sometime in late March or early April and features a recorded version of “Fire Doesn’t Always Have to Burn” as the opening track.

Each year, recently composed orchestral and choral works are selected through MOCOP’s competitive, blind judging process to be performed by the Columbia Civic Orchestra and Columbia Chamber Choir at a concert in Columbia and professionally recorded. Each of the composers of the selected works will also be awarded a $500 honorarium.

The CCO and Columbia Chamber Choir will perform works by the four winners in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 20, 2022, at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway, in Columbia. Since the 2020 and 2021 MOCOP concerts were canceled because of COVID protocols, the 2022 concert will also feature performances of the winning compositions from the 2020 competition.

Here are the winners and their compositions in tthe 2020 competition:

Open Orchestral: Dan Viggers (St. Louis, MO), New Elegance

High School Orchestral: David McCaulley (Carl Junction High School, Carl Junction, MO), ‘Till the End of Time

Open Choral: Jiyoun Chung (Kansas City, MO), My Beautiful One, Come Away With me

High School Choral: Robyne Sieh (Fort Zumwalt North High School, O’Fallon, MO), Peace

The Columbia Civic Orchestra is a volunteer group located in Columbia, Missouri, dedicated to providing enjoyment for its members and audiences with the presentation and preservation of high-quality symphonic music.

The Columbia Chamber Choir is an ensemble of the Chorale Arts Alliance of Missouri, which works to promote choral music of the highest artistic quality and to stimulate a greater community understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of choral music by presenting programs appealing to a wide cross-section of Missouri residents and visitors.