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Missouri Couple Gives $1.4 Million to Continue New Music Initiative

The gift will support programs and scholarships directed toward promoting the creation of new music

March 11th, 2013

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, residents of Westphalia, Missouri, have given a $1.4 million gift to the University of Missouri. Through the generous gift from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, Jeanne and Rex will continue and expand the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) and the Creating Original Music Project at MU. The gift announcement was made at the annual MU Chancellor’s Concert Monday evening.

The Sinquefields’ support for composition at Mizzou began more than eight years ago with a K-12 competition, the Sinquefield Prize for composition and a high school summer camp. In 2009, they gave $1 million to MU to expand university scholarships, ensembles, and faculty support, and create an international composer festival. To continue the work, the Sinquefields are giving a new gift of $1.4 million over the next three years.

“I have been overwhelmed by the success of the MNMI,” Jeanne Sinquefield said. “Since the program began, more than 300 new pieces of music have been written, performed and recorded – some more successful than others, but all providing valuable learning experiences for their composers. And when a composer succeeds, there is nothing better than listening to a beautiful piece of music that you have encouraged to be written.”

“The Sinquefields’ generous gift allows us to provide diverse opportunities to composers across various stages of their careers,” William Lackey, managing director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative, said. “The Mizzou New Music Initiative has played a pivotal role in the lives of many composers, and this gift not only supports Missouri composers but composers around the world. During the past four years, it has been an honor to witness the impact of the Initiative, and I look forward to working with Thomas McKenney and Stefan Freund, co-artistic directors of the Initiative, to build upon our current programs funded through this renewed gift.”

The Mizzou New Music Initiative brings together a diverse array of programs intended to position the MU School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. The Sinquefields’ vision for the initiative is to create an incubator for the composition and performance of new music, and to position Missouri as a major center for the music of tomorrow. The Creating Original Music Project is a statewide competition that recognizes Missouri K-12 students who compose original works in a variety of musical styles. Winning composers and their schools are awarded cash prizes.

“At MU, we are dedicated to promoting and proliferation of the arts,” said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton. “The Sinquefields’ gifts and vision have helped position the university as a leader in the education and creation of new music and we are ever grateful for their generosity.”

Beyond supporting the MNMI and the Creating Original Music Project, the Sinquefields’ gift will support graduate assistantships, undergraduate full-tuition scholarships, and the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival, as well as provide support for faculty and staff positions and for various special projects including visiting composers, visiting performers, recording projects, and commissions of new works.

“Through their inspiring support, passion, and vision, the Sinquefields have established MU as a destination for composers of all ages,” said Robert Shay, director of the MU School of Music. “The programs of the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the Creating Original Music Project are the direct result of their past generosity. This new gift will allow the School of Music to take its programs to next level, nationally and internationally.”

“Rarely do you see such a long-term commitment to a project like the Sinquefields have shown with their dedication to promoting the creation of new music,” said Michael O’Brien, dean of the MU College of Arts and Science. “Their gifts to MU have given the School of Music a tremendous advantage in attracting top-notch students and faculty. Students now know MU is the place to be if they want to study music composition.”

Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield received a Masters in Business Administration and a doctorate in demography from The University of Chicago. She has a long history of supporting organizations that enhance music, art and education. She believes strongly that exposure to the arts and quality learning opportunities have life-long benefits for children. Her passion for music is personal, too. She plays string bass in two mid-Missouri symphonies, the Columbia Civic Symphony Orchestra and the Folk String Orchestra. She serves on MU’s Campaign Planning Committee for One Mizzou. The late past President Gordon Lamb named her one of the “Missouri 100” for promoting the University’s missions of excellence in teaching, world-class research, and service through scientific discovery. Sinquefield also served as a board member for the For All We Call Mizzou steering committee, which raised $1 billion in eight years for scholarships, professorships, programs and new buildings at the University of Missouri.