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Alumni Profile: 113 Composers Collective

December 9, 2019

113 Composers Collective aims to change the way we think about and experience experimental music.

People are fundamentally misunderstanding experimental music. The 113 Composers Collective exists precisely because the support and the context for it didn’t exist.

“[People think] that it’s esoteric, nerdy stuff and that no one else cares about it, but that’s really not the case,” says artistic director Tiffany Skidmore.

Case in point: Since 2012, the collective has presented more than 60 world premieres of notable global and local composers, and when 113 has put out calls for scores, they’ve gotten responses from around the globe. “When we say community, we really mean international,” Skidmore adds.

Joey Crane, Sam Krahn, Joshua Musikantow, and Tiffany Skidmore are all School of Music alums who saw the need for more experimental music programming, even as students. “We realized that even though those opportunities weren’t available to us, we could make those opportunities,” Crane, 113’s executive director, says.

“Things were happening for me when I graduated but I was ending up as a token avant-garde piece and I don’t think that allowed people to hear my music in the right light,” Musikantow says. “But by making a group, people could listen to my music more carefully.”

Skidmore says, “We’re creating a better context for much better work.”

The focus on better access to performances and professional development begins to take care of the gigantic job of shifting the perspective for adults and professional composers and performers and creating a community for new music enthusiasts. But how do you change the misconceptions for new music generally?

113’s answer? Kids.

NANYI NEIL QIANG AND JEFFERY KYLE HUTCHINS PERFORM.
Nanyi Neil Qiang and Jeffery Kyle Hutchins perform.

“I didn’t know I would be able to work with young kids doing this type of music,” Musikantow says. “I was terrified of that. I thought, If adults can’t understand this how would kids? But it was easier. They have far fewer ingrained assumptions and were much more receptive to it. It definitely changed my views a lot,” he says of 113’s residency at Minneapolis’s Folwell School, a performing arts magnet.

The residency involved helping kids write and notate their own pieces, and performing them. “Several of us, along with students, put on a concert of student works,” Crane says. “One of the students showed up and brought their entire family. At the end of the concert, the mother said ‘We’re so happy [113 is] providing these opportunities for students’—that it made her think more deeply about music could be.”

That was gratifying for everyone involved, especially because, as Skidmore says, “Fundamentally, we are about the art.” Maintaining the integrity of the art has been paramount to the group’s success overall.

They just had to find ways to make it sustainable. “If you have the will, you will have the way,” Crane says. “If it’s important to you, then you have to be the one to find a way.”

Find out about upcoming 113 Composers Collective performances at 113collective.com or follow them on Facebook @113MN

Header photo of 113 Members, Left to Right: Michael Duffy, Jeremy Wagner, Adam Zahller, Collin Arneson, Joey Crane, Tiffany Skidmore, Benjamin J. Mansavage Klein, Jefferey Kyle Hutchins, Nanyi Neil Qiang, Joshua Musikantow.
Cover of the 2019-2020 volume of Tutti Magazine.

Tutti. (Italian) all. every musician to take part.
Tutti is the annual magazine of the University of Minnesota School of Music.

Read the 2019-2020 volume of Tutti.