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UI Center for New Music presents music by Jeremy Dale Roberts Feb. 14

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present a free concert of music by Jeremy Dale Roberts, head of composition at the Royal College of Music in London at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

A variety of works will be on the program, including songs, pieces for solo piano and ensemble pieces.

Several School of Music faculty will be among the performers: baritone John Muriello will sing "In the Same Space -- 9 Poems of Constantin Cavafy," with piano accompaniment played by David Gompper, director of the Center for New Music; and a mixed instrumental ensemble performing "Winter Music" will be conducted by Gompper and will include Mark Weiger, oboe, and David Greenhoe, trumpet. Other members of the ensemble include UI music students Kara DeRead, flute; Christine Bellomy, clarinet; and Laura Tiong, piano.

Five other works will be featured on the program: four pieces for solo piano will be performed by Brook Cuden; and selections from "Croquis" for string trio will be performed by Miki Yuasa, violin, Nathalie Cruden, viola, and Cora Kuyenhoven, cello.

Gompper, who studied composition with Roberts in London 1978-80, commented that "his music is, for the most part, interior in nature and very reflective."

"Croquis" was written for members of the Arditti Quartet, an ensemble noted for their passionate devotion to contemporary music. Roberts said that because he had just completed a largescale work, "I wanted to refresh myself by working on the minutest scale. . . . I started 'doodling,' composing what I thought would be a modest collection of bagatelles. Four years later, with 27 such bits of pieces on my hands, I still felt the medium of the string trio to be inexhaustible.

"'Croquis' means 'sketch,' and in this collection there is to be found not only finished work, precisely organized, but also the odd scribble, dashed off: as it were, provisional."

For the Feb. 14 concert the Center for New Music will perform 13 of the 27 "bagatelles" that make up the complete score of "Croquis."

Constantin Cavafy, considered one of the greatest modern Greek poets, spent most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. His poetry is characterized by restrained emotion and simplicity. Similarly, Roberts says his settings "are subdued in expression and intentionally understated."

The composer explained, "I have wanted to emulate the neutral tone of Musorgsky's (songs from the ) 'Sunless' cycle, in which an essentially conversational style does not preclude impassioned melody. Except in very rare moments, therefore, the singer is asked to aim for a tone of voice (that suggests) solitude, self-absorption, only remembered warmth, detachment, irony . . . "

Roberts was born in Gloucestershire, England, and studied with William Alwyn and Priaulx Rainier at Marlborough College and the Royal Academy of Music. His works have been performed at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh festivals, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve, and the festivals of Avignon and Paris. He has written music for pianist Stephen Bishop Kovacevich, baritone Stephen Varcoe, the Arditti Quartet, the contemporary ensemble Lontano and guitarist Charles Ramirez.

Roberts was the subject of a "Composer's Portrait" on the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1981. He will retire from the faculty of the Royal College of Music at the end of the current year.

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 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."

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. He was invited to perform several of his works and lecture on current American musical trends in composition in Thessaloniki, Greece, and will do so again in Thessaloniki, at the Moscow Conservatory of Music and Auckland University in New Zealand. He has also served as a cultural specialist for the United States Information Agency in Kwangju, South Korea.

2/5/99