CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Classical clarinetist will play 'over the fence' in jazz program Feb. 28
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Clarinetist and University of Iowa faculty member
Maurita Murphy Mead will play "Over the Fence," an all-jazz program
with pianist Rafael dos Santos, at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, in Clapp Recital
Hall on the UI campus.
Mead, a classically-trained clarinetist, has been exploring the jazz tradition
of her instrument more and more. Last year she presented a mixed classical
and jazz program that she titled, noncommitally, "On the Fence."
This year she decided to go completely "Over the Fence" and devote
an entire recital to the jazz tradition.
The first half of the program will feature clarinet and piano, and the second
half will add a jazz rhythm section of drums and string bass, played by UI
Matt Bernemann and Anton Hatwich.
The program will include transcriptions of performances by some of the leading
jazz clarinetists, including Benny Goodman, Buddy De Franco, Pete Fountain
Eddie Daniels. Mead and dos Santos will also perform some Brazilian choros
-- improvised pieces from the pianist's native country -- as well as a series
of improvisations with the combo and the premiere of an original jazz waltz.
Mead said her exploration of the jazz style comes from a desire to master
different aspects of the clarinet. "I'll understand the instrument better
if I tackle all of the great music the clarinet has inspired," she said.
She also recognizes the risk of "crossing over" to the jazz style
from the classical style in which she was trained. "Except for Richard
Stolzman, the few examples of clarinetists who cross over have almost all
gone from jazz into the classical repertoire, like Benny Goodman and Eddie
Daniels," she explained.
"It's unusual for clarinetists who are active professionally as classical
musicians to take the risk of going into the jazz style. I'm willing to take
that risk, because both styles are a part of the instrument's history, and
the jazz style is bringing out new emotional elements in my playing."
Mead admits that the uncertainty of improvised performance was a little scary
for a classically-trained musician. "I really don't know what's going
to happen at the concert, and that's a little scary," she said. "But
it's also jazz, and if I want to really understand that style of performance,
I have to go completely 'over the fence.'
"This performance will be one of discovery for me. Unlike my classical
recitals, the repertoire will not be settled until two weeks before the performance,
and no two rehearsals of any piece have felt or sounded harmonically the same.
So, for me, there is a mixture of inquiry, apprehension, curiosity, fear of
the unknown and adventure. But since I'm driven by the passion I feel for
the music, this is a logical progression for me to make.
"The fear, anxiety and adventure are all part of the process, which
is tremendously rewarding."
Mead is in her 14th year teaching clarinet on the faculty of the UI School
of Music, where she is also associate director for undergraduate studies.
Her many solo invitations have included International Clarinet Association
conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop
and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. She
has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the
Cedar Rapids Symphony.
As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other
ensembles. Her recent "On The Fence" performance with pianist Arlene
Shrut, combining jazz, jazz-influenced compositions and classical works on
a single program, was a featured recital at the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium.
She has been elected secretary of the International Clarinet Association and
has been invited to appear as guest soloist at the 1997 ICA convention.
As recipient of the UI Collegiate Teaching Award, Mead was the invited speaker
at the UI College of Liberal Arts commencement in 1990. Her students have
won first prize in competitions sponsored by the International Clarinet Association
and ClarFest. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where she
received the Performer's Certificate, and from Michigan State University.
Dos Santos is a professor of piano at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil
and a doctoral student in the UI School of Music. Since coming to Iowa City
in 1992 he has also been teaching improvisation in the UI jazz program. He
has played with some of the leading jazz musicians in Brazil, including Paulo
Moura and Novaldo Ornelas.
In Iowa City he has played with the OftEnsemble and his own group, the
Bons Amigos Trio. He also played for two years in the UI Jazztet, which he
took to Recife, Brazil, for a two-week workshop in May 1996.