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Local composer’s work to be showcased at festival

Trey Makler

Trey Makler of Farmington, a student at the MU School of Music, competed with composers from around the world to become one of only eight finalists.

Music composer Trey Makler has been selected to have his work showcased at the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival.

The performance is part of a six-day festival July 25-30, this year at the Missouri Theatre on the University of Missouri main campus in Columbia.

Makler, of Farmington, is a student at the MU School of Music and competed with over 220 composers from around the world to become one of only eight selected for the festival.

“He is wonderful,” Laura Slay, president of the Mizzou New Music Initiative at the MU School of Music said. “Such a talent.”

His and the other seven musical compositions will be played by new music ensemble “Alarm Will Sound” on the final day of the festival July 30. All of the composers were required to write a piece of new music just for this performance.

“We each submit multiple pieces of music and a resume,” Makler said. “The judges narrowed it to eight people from all over the world.”

Accomplished composers from “Alarm Will Sound” (AWS): Oscar Bettison and Erin Gee, will provide mentoring to the eight participants at the festival. Traveling all the way from their home base in New York City, AWS will complete a residency during their stay at Mizzou.

The Mizzou International Composer’s Festival (MICF) uses "festival" as a descriptive term because it is made up of three concerts and some teaching sessions.

According to Makler, during the first concert, the 20 members of AWS perform music from their own repertoire. At the second, MU School of Music faculty and students give their performances. The grand finale is the Saturday performances of the eight finalists’ musical compositions.

“Alarm Will Sound will perform eight world premieres by resident composers of the festival, which are the eight selectees,” Makler explained. “The entire concert will last about an hour and a half.”

Makler said “we were limited to eight minutes.”

Makler just completed a composition for a chamber opera over the last two months.

“It was performed at the Missouri Theater by the Show-Me Opera Company and Exit 128 Chamber Orchestra,” Makler said.

Since he was accepted into the Mizzou composition program his main interest now lies in contemporary classical music and opera.

“Sometimes there is a reason behind the music I write,” he said. “I may write music that is influenced by outside things. Sometimes I just like to write music because I like to write music.”

Makler discussed his younger years and of how he went from oboe player to composer.

“All of my band and choir directors were encouraging and told me to apply to the Mizzou composition program,” Makler said. “I’ve never looked back."

“I write music very intuitively,” Makler explained. “ I don’t do a lot of pre-writing or sketching. I think about the sound I want to achieve.”

Makler doesn’t use musical instruments while he is composing, but rather writes on the computer using a music notation software program. The program has a playback feature which allows him to hear each segment.

According to, composers usually start working from behind a computer in their recording studio, using software to write music, scores, or programs. They may conform music to picture edits and director or producer-mandated changes in musical direction. Most composers rely heavily on sample libraries, although those working on bigger budget projects are sometimes able to hire musicians for live instrumentation.

Makler has a pretty long resume for a young composer. He is a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, a student-led group based at MU which started in 2014. While he has been studying at the University of Missouri, he has made time for membership in the university’s ensemble; philharmonic orchestra; creative improvisation ensemble and new music ensemble. The City of Columbia Civic Orchestra has also welcomed Makler’s talents.

The 2012 graduate of Farmington High School is the son of Robert Makler and Sandy Buchanan of Farmington. At Farmington, he was a member of the school’s concert, symphonic, and marching bands. He also performed with the Jazz Lab and Jazz Ensemble. Makler sang with the A Capella Choir and Choaliers.

Makler plans to continue studying composition and work toward completion of his degree. Through his work he is learning about himself and hopes it will continue.

“(Composition) it is not always viewed as a stable career path,” Makler said. “You can make opportunities for yourself.

“The Mizzou Composition Program is really spectacular. There are very substantial scholarships and a wealth of opportunities because of the new music initiative and the generous donors.”

The New Music initiative is a large program to benefit students with idea of making Mizzou a center for new music and composition. New music has come to mean classical music written after 1985, according to Makler’s definition. 

Links to all of Makler’s work can be found at A link to his final performance will also appear on Soundcloud after some time for finalizations.

Traci M. Black is a reporter for the Democrat News and can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at


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