CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 2, 1999
Retiring UI music faculty member D. Martin Jenni will
be honored at concert April 11
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New
Music will present a concert in honor of Donald Martin Jenni, a professor
of music theory and composition in the UI School of Music who is retiring
at the end of the current semester. The performance, which will be free and
open to the public, will be at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 11 in Clapp Recital Hall
on the UI campus.
The program will feature music by Jenni, current and former
students, and a colleague on the School of Music faculty. Performers will
include pianist Rene Lecuona, a member of the School of Music faculty, playing
a piece that Jenni wrote for her. Other performers from the Center for New
Music will be students in the School of Music.
Jenni, who has a master's degree in medieval studies from
the University of Chicago and a doctorate in composition from Stanford, has
been on the UI School of Music faculty since 1968. He has composed several
works for the Center for New Music, the University Symphony and his School
of Music faculty colleagues. Among the latter have been "Musica dell'Autunno"
for organist Delbert Disselhorst, "Long Hill May" for flutist Betty Mather,
"Night Music" for string bassist Eldon Obrecht, "Canto" for pianist Lecuona
and "RAGAMALIKA" for clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead.
Jenni also founded and continues to direct the Cantores,
a choir specializing in the performance of Gregorian chant. For several years
he directed the Composers Workshop, a collaborative project between composers
and performers in the UI School of Music devoted to the performance of music
written at the UI.
The April 11 concert will open with a series of pieces
performed in Jenni's honor. Four were composed just this year as a tribute
to his retirement and will be receiving their premieres on the concert: "Homage
a Martin Jenni (multum amas)" for voice, flute, cello, piano and percussion
by Jenni's former student Curt Veeneman; ". . . then ease down . . ." for
string quartet by former student Jonathan Monhardt; "Falleluia" for vibraphone
by former student Robert Rowe; and "Forma Partis" for clarinet solo by Lawrence
Fritts, the director of the UI Electronic Music Studio.
Also on the first half of the program will be "Three Prisms"
for clarinet solo from 1977 by Jenni's former student Christopher Hills.
Several of the scores written in honor of Jenni's retirement
are accompanied by written tributes to his qualities as a teacher and colleague.
Rowe wrote in the program notes for "Falleluia," "I was a composition student
of Martin Jenni from 1976-78 and a friend ever since. I learned more from
him than I can possibly list."
Veeneman began his program
note "I have always had great respect and admiration for my one-time teacher
and now friend and colleague Martin Jenni." Veeneman explains that his homage
to Jenni is based on a text by the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen that
so "neatly fit the purpose of the present work that I had to incorporate it:
'O fortunate soul and O sweet creation of God, you who have been created in
the profound height of God's wisdom, you love many things'.
"What has always impressed me most about Martin," Veeneman
continues, "is, as the text states, his love for many things."
Four of Jenni's works will be performed as the second
half of the concert: "Musique Printaniere" for flute and piano; "Canto" for
piano solo, performed by Lecuona; "Per Elysios:
Wm. H. in Memoriam" for oboe, horn, viola and harpsichord; and "Cucumber Music"
for alto flute/piccolo, viola/toy piano, glockenspiel/vibraphone and piano/celeste.
"Per Elysios" was written in memory of William Hibbard,
musical director for the Center for New Music from its founding in 1966 until
his death in1989. Jenni described the piece as "gentle, singing, spacious,
haunted by the pitches B-flat, B-natural (B, H as the Germans call them).
It reflects, modestly, lessons learned from two beloved masters (French 17th-century
composer) Francois Couperin and William Hibbard himself, who, over two collegial
decades, shared many discoveries."
Jenni has written about "Cucumber Music," "Anyone who
has made music with others in a small ensemble knows the remarkable intimacy
of mutually discovering a composition (and oneself and one's fellow musicians).
In' Cucumber Music' I meant to explore that experience as a shaping element
of the work.
"I made 'Cucumber Music' during my third semester at Iowa,
in 1969. It was the second work composed expressly for the CNM. I have long
since forgotten how on earth it came to bear its working title, though I do
The Center for New Music is directed by UI music faculty
member David Gompper. 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 November 1998, an East Coast tour by the center included
a performance at Merkin Hall in New York City and by invitation at the final
performance of the Region I Conference of Society of Composers, Inc., at Connecticut
College in New London. Critic Paul Griffiths opened his New York Times review
of the Merkin Hall concert by observing that "an ensemble of faculty and graduate
students from the University of Iowa performed strongly Tuesday night," and
he praised Gompper for "the concert's clarity and directness."
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.