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 in the United States, putting a national spotlight on the UWRF Music Department. Each year, 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 UWRF Commissioned Composer Program. 

Commissioned Composer Student Organization

The University of Wisconsin River Falls hosts the longest running collegiate commissioned composer project in the USA.   Founded by Conrad de Jong, we celebrated the 50th anniversary in 2016 with Amy Williams, composer and Mr. de Jong on campus with another amazing premier.  

Students participate in all aspects of the Commissioned Composer Project.  Guided by advisor Patti Cudd, the composers come to campus and share a new work created for the UWRF Music Department.   Students of this organization meet on a regular basis to plan, prepare, and host the week long residency in spring semester.   Join this group of creative thinkers who make a difference in the world of music.


 50th Annual Commissioned Composer

Amy Williams was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1969, the daughter of Diane, retired violist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Jan,   percussionist and professor emeritus at the University at Buffalo. She started playing the piano at the age of four and took up the flute a few years later (her first teacher was the legendary Robert Dick, so she could soon play "Chopsticks" in multiphonics). She grew up in the heyday of the Center for the Creativeand Performing Arts, hearing all the latest contemporary music and meeting composers who would later become influential to her: John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Elliott Carter and many others. She went to Bennington College and, while there, decided to devote her life to performing and composing contemporary music. After a fellowship year in Denmark, she returned to Buffalo to complete her master's degree in piano performance at the University at Buffalo with pianist-composer Yvar Mikhashoff and her Ph.D. in composition, working primarily with David Felder. She returned to Bennington in 1998 as a member of the music faculty and she then moved on to a faculty position at Northwestern University in 2000. Since 2005, she has been teaching composition and theory at the University of Pittsburgh, where she recently was named associate professor.

Amy's compositions have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe, including Ars   Musica (Belgium), Gaudeamus Music Week (Netherlands), Dresden New   Music Days (Germany), Musikhøst Festival (Denmark), Festival Aspekte   (Austria), Festival Musica Nova (Brazil), Thailand International Composition Festival, Music Gallery (Canada), LA County Museum of Art,   Piano Spheres (Los Angeles) and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Her works have been performed by leading soloists and ensembles,   including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Aleph, JACK Quartet, Duo Diorama, Ensemble Dal Niente, Wet Ink Ensemble, Talujon, Empyrean Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit, Dinosaur Annex, International   Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Due East, H2 Saxophone Quartet, Bent Frequency, pianists Ursula Oppens and Amy Briggs, and bassist Robert   Black. Amy's pieces appear on the Parma, VDM (Italy), Blue Griffin and New Ariel labels. A portrait CD of recent solo and chamber works, titled "  Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings," was released by Albany Records in April 2013.

She formed the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo with Helena Bugallo, while both were graduate students at the University at Buffalo. The Duo has been   featured at important contemporary music festivals and series throughout Europe and the Americas, including the Ojai Festival, CAL Performances (California), Miller Theatre, Symphony Space, Le Poisson Rouge (New York), Musica Contemporanea Ciclos de Conciertos (Buenos Aires), Festival Attacca (Stuttgart), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), Warsaw Autumn Festival, Cologne Triennale, and Wittener Täge für Neue Kammermusik. The Duo's debut CD of Conlon Nancarrow's complete music for solo piano and piano duet (Wergo, 2004) garnered much critical acclaim. Wergo released the Duo's second CD (music of Stravinsky) in 2007 and their third (music of Morton Feldman and Edgard Varèse) in 2009. Their recording of the complete piano duets of György Kurtág will be released in 2014.

Amy has won the Wayne Peterson Composition Prize (Sextet), Audio Inversions Composition Prize (Cineshape 1), Thayer Award for the Arts, an ASCAP Award for Young Composers (verre-glaz , and grants from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, American Music Center, Greater   Pittsburgh Arts Council, Pro Musica Viva (Germany), Meet the Composer, and the Heinz and Pittsburgh Foundations. She was the recipient of a   Howard Foundation Fellowship for 2008- 09 and received a 2009 Fromm Music Foundation Commission to write a piece for the JACK Quartet. An avid proponent of contemporary music, she served as assistant director of June In Buffalo, director of New Music Northwestern, and is currently on the artistic boards of the Pittsburgh-based concert series, Music on the Edge, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. She recently became the artistic director and composer-in-residence with the New Music on the Point festival in Vermont. Her latest work, Flood Lines for full orchestra, was premiered in February 2014 by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Manfred Honeck. Upcoming projects include the completion of her Cineshape series of chamber pieces inspired by different films—a solo piano work based on Run Lola Run and a new video collaboration—as well as a new piece for the New Muse Piano Duo and a duo for Jan Berry Baker (saxophone) and Stuart Gerber (percussion).

Commissioned Composer Concert

Thursday, April 7, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.
William Abbott Concert Hall
Free Admission

49 Years of Commissioned Composers

2016 Amy Williams
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 UW-River Falls music students.

For more information, view "Bravo Maestro!"


Amy Williams, 2016 Commissioned Composer  

 Amy Williams

Concert: April 7 at 7:30 p.m.


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' website.

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B46 Kleinpell Fine Arts

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