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$2 Million Gift Provides Continued Support for New Music at MU

Gift will support Mizzou New Music Initiative, position MU as national composition leader

February 1st, 2016

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, residents of Westphalia, Mo., have given a gift of more than $2 million over three years to the University of Missouri to support the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI). The MNMI brings together a diverse array of programs which position the MU School of Music as a leading national and international center in the areas of composition and new music. This latest gift will support the MNMI through 2019.

The Sinquefields are long-time supporters of music and the arts, specifically music composition. The Sinquefields’ support for composition at Mizzou began more than 10 years ago with the Creating Original Music Project (COMP), a statewide K-12 competition and affiliated high school summer camp. In 2009, they gave MU $1 million to create the Mizzou New Music Initiative. With this most recent gift, the Sinquefields have given nearly $4.5 million to support the MNMI and more than $15 million in total giving to MU, including a recent $10 million gift in support of a new School of Music building.

“The Sinquefields’ most recent gift helps position the MU School of Music as a recognized leader in music composition nationally and throughout the world,” MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said. “By combining their love of the arts with their financial support to MU, the Sinquefelds have found a meaningful way to showcase their passion for musical composition and their love of performance arts. We are grateful for their generosity and for their leadership in supporting the arts here in Missouri, nationally and internationally.”

The Mizzou New Music Initiative supports several programs at MU and around the state. These programs include:

  • Mizzou International Composers FestivalThis annual festival brings together composers from around the world for a week of events including three public concerts as well as workshops, master classes and other events. The internationally acclaimed new music group “Alarm Will Sound” serves as the resident ensemble, each year premiering eight new works written specifically for them by the festival’s resident composers.
  • Mizzou New Music Ensemble (MNME)Under the direction of Stefan Freund, an MU associate professor for composition and music theory, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble performs newly composed music frequently on and off campus. The MNME collaborates with MU’s faculty and student composers as well as some of the world’s leading composers and interpreters of new music.
  • Scholarships and Assistantships The MNMI supports two new, four-year, full-tuition scholarships for incoming MU composition freshmen each year. The MNMI also supports assistantships for graduate students who participate in the Mizzou New Music Ensemble, two teaching assistants and several summer positions for students within the School of Music.
  • Sinquefield Composition PrizeAn annual competition for MU students. The winner is given an opportunity to compose an original work for one of Mizzou’s premiere large ensembles and have the music performed and recorded.
  • Creating Original Music Project (COMP)This statewide competition recognizes Missouri students (K-12) who compose original works in a variety of musical styles. COMP also features a week-long summer institute that provides Missouri’s young composers an opportunity to come together to learn and interact with other creative musical minds.
  • Missouri Composers Orchestra ProjectIn collaboration with the Columbia Civic Orchestra, the MNMI presents an annual concert of new music for orchestra, selected via a competitive blind judging process with separate categories open to Missouri residents, Missouri high school students, and students of Southeastern Conference universities.
  • Composer ConnectionThis program is a distance-learning initiative that gives composers around the state a chance to connect with and receive instruction from MU composers. Participants can email works in progress and questions about composing, and receive feedback and suggestions from a MU graduate student composer.

“We want Mizzou and Missouri to become an international mecca for music composition,” Jeanne Sinquefield said. “There are so many talented young composers, but there is a lack of public funding for programs and scholarships to support them. We are thrilled with the success the MNMI has enjoyed in its first seven years, and we are excited to help support its growth into the future.”

Benedetto Colagiovanni, a senior music composition student at MU, won first place at the national level for student composition from the Music Teachers National Association in 2015. He says the Sinquefields’ generosity and vision has played a direct role in helping him earn such a prestigious national award and achieve a first-class education.

“The whole reason that I am a composer is because when in high school I entered the COMP competition, which is supported by the Sinquefields, and I won,” Colagiovanni said. “As a result, I was able to come to Mizzou my junior and senior years of high school and perform my winning compositions. This experience completely changed my outlook on my musical capabilities. The fact that I was then able to attend a great school like Mizzou on a full-tuition scholarship and further my education thanks to the Sinquefields’ support is amazing. I would not be the musician I am today and likely wouldn’t be pursuing music at all were it not for the support of the Sinquefields.”

“The Sinquefields have provided gifts to a variety of programs at MU, and this donation continues their commitment to the future of musical composition,” said Michael O’Brien, dean of the MU College of Arts and Science. “This gift will further position the school as a resource for young composers and performers of new music. We cannot thank the Sinquefields enough for their continued leadership and support toward this goal.”

Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield 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 lifelong benefits for children. Her passion for music is personal. She plays string bass in two mid-Missouri symphonies, the Columbia Civic Symphony Orchestra and the Folk String Orchestra. The late past UM 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. She is serving as a member of the Campaign Cabinet for MU’s current comprehensive fundraising campaign, Mizzou: Our Time to Lead, and also served as a member of MU’s For All We Call Mizzou campaign steering committee, which raised $1 billion for scholarships, professorships, programs and new buildings at MU.