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Release: Immediate

UI Center for New Music will perform works of Ligeti and Berio Feb. 15

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Center for New Music, the University of Iowa School of Music organization devoted to the performance of 20th-century music, will present works by two post-World War II masters, Gyorgy Ligeti and Luciano Berio, in a concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, in Clapp Recital Hall.

UI faculty, students and guest artists will join forces for the concert, which will be free and open to the public.

Featured on the program will be Ligeti's Trio for violin, horn and piano, with horn player Kristin Thelander, violinist Nancy McFarland Gaub and pianist Eugene Gaub; and Berio's "Folk Songs" performed by mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and an ensemble conducted by David Gompper, the director of the Center for New Music. Among the players in the ensemble will be guest artist Pamela Weest-Carrasco, harp.

The two works on the program have an important feature in common: both are based in some way on older, tonal material. In each case the source material influences the style of the work, so that each of these pieces has a more consonant sound and is more accessible to a general audience than other works of the post-War generation.

Ligeti's Trio, subtitled "Hommage a Brahms," contains a number of specific references to the older composer's own Trio for horn, violin and piano. These include Brahmsian piano sonorities and traditional forms in the first three movements.

More significantly, Ligeti uses an altered form of a motive that Brahms had derived in turn from Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 81a. Known as the "Les Adieux" (Farewell) Sonata, Beethoven's score includes a descending motive that outlines the German word "lebewohl" (farewell). Brahms used a variation of this musical gesture to suggest a musical farewell to his mother, who had died shortly before he wrote the Trio, and it is a distorted variation of this same theme that Ligeti adopts in his Trio.

The previous material that appears in the Berio "Folk Songs" are, appropriately, songs, although not all are strictly speaking folk songs. The first two, "Black is the Color" and "I wonder as I wander," were composed by the classically-trained Kentucky-born folk-song scholar John Jacob Niles. Two others were written by Berio. The remaining songs are genuine folk material and come from Armenia, France, Sicily, Sardinia and Azerbaijan.

The "Folk Songs" were written for Berio's wife, the American singer Cathy Berberian. Known for her wide range, an almost uncanny ability to incorporate non-musical sounds into her vocal performances, and her multi-faceted dramatic abilities, Berberian was a celebrated interpreter of new music. Berio was only one of many composers who wrote works specifically for Berberian to perform.

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks. In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI School of Music.

Gompper joined the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1991. He has received numerous awards for his academic and musical achievements, including the Charles E. Ives Prize for composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His "Transitus" was premiered at Carnegie Hall and his "Flip" was premiered by the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.

He recently returned from Thessaloniki, Greece, where he was invited to perform his several of his works and lecture on current American musical trends in composition. He has also served as a cultural specialist for the United States Information Agency in Kwangju, South Korea.

A native of Akron, Ohio, Eberle has performed internationally in opera, concert and solo recitals. The Atlanta Constitution wrote, "Katherine Eberle was a standout. More than any other performer, she showed what it takes for a solo performer to command the stage."

She has performed with the opera theater of Lille, France, the Academy of the West, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Aspen Festival Opera Theatre, the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria, and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Her compact disc of songs of women composers, "From a Woman's Perspective," has been issued by Albany Records and the Vienna Modern Masters Label.