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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 students

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 and

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.'

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"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.

2/14/97