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March 14, 2013 Volume 34, No. 23

Missouri couple gives $1.4 million to School of Music

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A GENEROUS GIFT At the Missouri Theatre Monday, Jeanne Sinquefield and her husband, Rex (not shown), donated $1.4 million to help MU’s School of Music expand its composition program. On stage with her were, from left, Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science; Robert Shay, School of Music director; and Brady J. Deaton, MU chancellor. Photo by Rob Hill


Gift will support programs, scholarships

Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield of Westphalia, Mo., have given $1.4 million to the School of Music at MU. The three-year gift, announced March 11 at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia during the Chancellor’s Concert, will expand the Mizzou New Music Initiative (MNMI) and the Creating Original Music Project.The evening also featured the premier of “Missouri,” a new music composition by David Witter, BM ’10, MM ’12.

The Sinquefields have worked with MU for eight years to foster new music composition. Since 2005, they have supported various competitions and summer camps open to kindergarteners through college students. These include the Creating Original Music Project, a statewide competition with cash prizes, in which Missouri K-12 students compose original works in a variety of music styles. In 2009, the Sinquefields gave $1 million to MU for scholarships, ensembles, faculty support and to create an annual international festival of new music composers in Columbia. All together, the Sinquefields have given $3.4 million to the university over the years.

This week’s gift will expand the existing programs and provide funds for professional recordings of new music premiered at MU, said Robert Shay, director of the School of Music. “The gift also will commission more great composers and have their works performed for the first time here by Missouri students. It will bring in more guest composers and guest performers to interact with students and create a laboratory where students can work on film scoring, which is an important career avenue.”

Jeanne Sinquefield, herself a musician, told the crowd she is pleased with the progress so far. “In the last eight years, we’ve had over 300 pieces composed, performed and recorded by Missouri composers. They range to second graders whose feet didn’t hit the pedals on the piano,” she said. “So we’ve been having fun, and I feel that we have to continue because I have a goal that we’re going to make Missouri a mecca for composition.”

— Dale Smith

Editor's note: The total gift funds given to MU by the Sinquefields of $3.4 million was added to this story March 14, 2013.