Commissioned Composers

Annual Commissioned Composer Project Since 1967

The project, which began in 1967 by Professor Emeritus Conrad De Jong, is the longest standing program of its kind within the United States, putting a national spotlight on the UW-RF Music Department.  Every year, the student members of the Commissioned Composer Project select and commission a composer to write a piece of music for the student body, and arranges for that composer to come to the campus in the spring to interact with the students and take part in the premiere performance of that work.

Conrad De Jong is a highly acclaimed and accomplished composer of international renown.  He has 30 published commissions to his credit and, since 1970, has received annual awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. In 1980 he was a featured composer at New Music America.  His music has been performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Town Hall in New York City, and on the Today Show.  Internationally, his works have been performed in Canada, South America, Europe, Australia and Japan.  One of his numerous commissions, Variations on the Spanish LaFolia, has been recorded by the Dorian Wind Quintet on its Summit Records CD, American Premiers.

As a teacher, he was especially proud of his students' work in composition and their performances with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls New Music Ensemble.  He also takes great personal gratification from the establishment and continuation of the UW-RF Commissioned Composer Program.

49th Annual Commissioned Composer

Mark Applebaum (b. 1967, Chicago) is Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Stanford University where he served as John Philip Coghlan Fellow and received the 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied with Brian Ferneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Rand Steiger, and Roger Reynolds. He received his baccelaureate, magna cum laude, from Carleton College where he studied composition with Phillip Rhodes and completed a senior thesis that took him to Mexico City to interview Conlon Nancarrow.

His solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia with notable performances at the Darmstadt summer sessions, the Bourges Festival in France, ICMC in Beijing and Singapore, Italy's Festival Spaziomusica, the Young Nordic Music Festival in Sweden, Sonorities in Belfast, Sonic Circuits in Hong Kong, Amsterdam's Great Virtuoso Slugfest, SEAMUS, strictly Ballroom series at Stanford University's CCRMA, the Woodstockhausen Festival in Santa Cruz, ISCM, the BONK Festival, the College Music Society, the Southeastern Composers League, NWEAMO, the Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, the Northwestern University New Music Marathon, the Digital Arts Concert series at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the Kansas City Electronic Music Festival, Piano Spheres, SIGGRAPH, the Time Canvas Festival in Antwerp, the North American Saxophone Alliance, Stockholm New Music, the Harvest Moon Festival in Montreal, the Minneapolis SPARK Festival, the American Composers Orchestra's OrchestraTech, UC Berkeley's CNMAT, Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center, the Essl Museum in Austria, the Unyazi Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, Belgium's TRANSIT Festival, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., at Electronic Music Midwest where he served as the 2002 visiting artist, as featured composer at the 2004 University of Michigan Eclectronica Microfestival, and as featured composer at the 61st Festival of Contemporary Music at Louisiana State University.

He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Vienna Modern Festival, the Fromm Foundation, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Zeitgeist, MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Harmida Trio, duo runedako, Belgium's Champ D'Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, the Third Practice Festival, the Jerome Foundation, and the American Composers Forum, among others. His music has been played by the Arditti String Quartet, Speculum Musicae, Musica Nova, Zeitgeist, newEar, SONOR, inauthentica, Piano Possible, red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, the NYU New Music Ensemble, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Callithumpian Consort, Skin & Bones, players under the direction of Harvey Sollberger, Mark Menzies, and Dennis Russell Davies, and some of the finest solo artists of our time, including Steven Schick, Irvine Arditti, Gloria Cheng, Craig Hultgren, Helen Bledsoe, Magnus Andersson, and Bertram Turetzky. Performances of his chamber music can be heard on his Tzadik CD Catfish and his Innova CDs 56 1/2 ft and Asylum. His orchestral works appear on the Innova CD Martian Anthropology, and solo acoustic works appear on the Innova CD Disciplines.

In 1997 Applebaum received the American Music Center's Stephen Albert Award and an artist residency fellowship at the Villa Montalvo artist colony in Northern California. He has engaged in numerous intermedia collaborations, including That Brainwave Chick (with neural artist Paras Kaul), Archittetura Redux (with film-maker Iara Lee, Caipirinha Productions), Concerto for Florist and Ensemble (with florist James DelPrince), The Bible without God (with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), Aphoristic Fragment (with animator Anna Chupa), Interactive Sound Pavilion (with architect David Perkes), Spring Migration (with choreographer Brittany Brown), and projects with the laptop DJ ensembles Digital Cutup Lounge (Hong Kong) and Tricky OL (Japan).

Since 1990 Applebaum has built electroacoustic instruments out of junk, hardware, and found objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. This research is described at length in his article for New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century. His latest instrument—the Mouseketier—is a musical Frankenstein consisting of threaded rods, nails, combs, doorstops, springs, squeaky wheels, ratchets, a toilet tank flotation bulb, and other unlikely objects which are plucked, scratched, bowed, and modified by a battery of live electronics. Mousetrap Music, a CD of sound-sculpture improvisations can be heard on the Innova label, as well as the double CD The Bible without God that includes a 2005 collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Also on Innova is The Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering, a CD of eleven electronic works whose source material corresponds exclusively to recordings of the eleven acoustic compositions that constitute his Janus Cycle (1992-1996). Hybrid pieces featuring both acoustic and electronic instrumentation can be heard on the 2003 Innova CD Intellectual Property, a recording that also features his piece Pre-Composition that earned the 2005 second place emsPrize from Electronic Music Stockholm.

Applebaum is also active as a jazz pianist. He has concertized from Sumatra to the Czech Republic, most recently performing a solo recital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso sponsored by the American Embassy. In 1994 he received the jazz prize of the Southern California Jazz Society and in 1999 the Mark Applebaum Trio performed in the first Mississippi arts event broadcast live over the World Wide Web. At present he performs with his father, Bob Applebaum of Chicago, in the Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo. The duo made its Tunisian debut at the Municipal Theater in Tunis and has recently performed in Singapore. Their first studio recording, The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree, is available on Innova.

At Stanford Applebaum also serves as the founding director of [sic]—the Stanford Improvisation Collective. Prior to his current appointment, Applebaum taught at UCSD, Mississippi State University, and Carleton College where he served as Dayton-Hudson Visiting Artist. He has been invited to give lectures and master classes at various institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Duke, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Brooklyn College, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, Hong Kong University, the JML/Irino Foundation in Tokyo, the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, the Universities of Toronto, Michigan, Illinois, North Texas, Oregon, California at San Diego, California at Berkeley, San Francisco State, Bowling Green State University, Lawrence University, DePaul University, the College of Santa Fe, the Janacek Akademie, Czech Republic, and at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. Additional information and announcements of upcoming performances may be found at

Commissioned Composer Concert:
April 11th, 2015, time: 7:30 PM
William Abbott Concert Hall
Free Admission

 49 Years of Commissioned Composers

2015 Mark Applebaum ~ CLICKTRACK
2014 Guy Klucevsek ~ LITTLE BIG TOP (SUITE)
2011 Conrad DeJong ~ EARTHSONGS II
2010 Michael Colgrass ~ ZULULAND
2009 Julia Wolfe ~ GUARD MY TONGUE
2008 Mark Melllits ~ PRIME
2007 Lars Jansson ~ RIVER FALLS SUITE
2006 John Luther Adams ~ ...AND BELLS REMEMBERED...
2005 Stephen Paulus ~ JUBILATE!
2004 Michael Torke ~ FOUR WHEEL DRIVE
2003 Christian Wolff ~ PEACE MARCH 9
2002 Anthony Braxton ~ COMPOSITION NO. 307
2001 Pauline Oliveros ~ SOUND PATTERNS AND TROPES
2000 Jared Spears ~ LEGACY
1999 Judith Lang Zaimont ~ PARALLEL PLAY
1998 Fred Sturm ~ RIVERSCAPE
1997 Joseph Turrin ~ SOUNDINGS
1996 Conrad De Jong ~ EARTH SONGS
1995 Jennifer Higdon ~ WILD MAN DANCES
1994 David Revill ~ ORENDA
1993 James Fritschel ~ COME LET US SOUND WITH MELODY
1992 Lois V. Vierk ~ PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS
1991 Mary Ellen Childs ~ IN EACH OTHER'S PRESENCE
1990 Joel Chadabe ~ JAM
1989 John Zorn ~ RUAN LINQYU
1988 Libby Larson ~ BAC
1987 Morton Feldman ~ FOR STEFAN WOLPE
1985 Irwin Bazelon ~ FOURSCORE
1984 Fisher Tull ~ QUODLIBET
1983 Frederic Rzewski ~ SATYRICA
1982 Sydney Hodkinson ~ ALTE LIEBESLIEDER (Book III)
1981 Stephan Chatman ~ SCREAMS AND WHIMPERS
1980 Edwin London ~ PSALM OF THESE DAYS V
1979 Barbara Kolb ~ CHROMATIC FANTASY
1978 Richard Felciano ~ THE SEASONS
1977 John Cage ~ QUARTET
1976 Leslie Bassett ~ WIND MUSIC
1975 Henry Brant ~ A PLAN OF THE AIR
1972 Mel Powell ~ SETTING
1969 Chou Wen-Chung ~ YUN
1968 Donald Erb ~ THREE PIECES
1967 Vincent Persichetti ~ CELEBRATION

Conrad De Jong


Conrad De Jong, composer and professor emeritus, initiated the commissioned composer event in 1967 at the school's Spring Fine Arts Festival.  De Jong's intention from the beginning was to ensure that contemporary trends in American music would become part of the repertoire of River Falls music students.

For more information.  See the article" Bravo Maestro!" by Kevin Bertelsen, Director of Publications at UW-River Falls.


Mark Applebaum, 2015 Commissioned Composer  


We will be preforming Mark Applebaum's work "Clicktrack"  on April 11th at 7:30.

The Applebaum Jazz Duo will be performing on April 9th


Several UWRF Commissioned Composers have been featured on the Minnesota Public Radio program American Mavericks.

Listen to the music as well as personal interviews with these and other composers at MPR's American Mavericks' web site.

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Department of Music
B46 Kleinpell Fine Arts

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