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Matthew Sintchak, colleagues will present 'The Contemporary Saxophone'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Saxophonist Matthew Sintchak, a visiting professor at the UI School of Music, will be joined by guest pianist Judy Siebert and the Iowa Brass Quintet to present a free public performance of contemporary concert music for the saxophone at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Sintchak's program, which he is presenting under the title "The Contemporary Saxophone," consists entirely of works composed in the past two decades: "Sequenza IXb" for solo alto saxophone by Luciano Berio, composed in 1980; "Lilith" for alto saxophone and piano by William Bolcolm from 1984; the Concerto da Camera (Chamber Concerto) for saxophone and brass quintet by Fisher Tull from 1989; and "San Antonio" for saxophone and piano by John Harbison from 1994.

Sintchak selected this program to highlight both the variety and the quality of music recently written for the saxophone.

"For several reasons the quality and quantity of saxophone music has grown tremendously during the last 20 years," he explained. "For one thing, there are more saxophonists than ever before, and I feel that the composers writing for the instrument better understand its innate and diverse qualities.

"This is a terrific development for saxophonists," Sintchak said. "We are playing an instrument that doesn't have a classical repertoire, because it didn't exist until the 1840s. It's exciting to see so much good music becoming available recently."

Luciano Berio's "Sequenza IX" was composed for clarinet in 1980, then rewritten for saxophone by the composer a year later. It is one of an ongoing series of works Berio is writing for solo instruments, starting with "Sequenza I" for solo flue, written in 1958.

Composer William Bolcolm writes that Lilith "is identified in a Canaanite charm of the 8th century B.C., and likewise in post-Biblical Jewish literature, with the child-stealing witch of world-wide folklore." In his score, he depicts Lilith through five contrasting character pieces: "The Female Demon," "Succuba," "Will-o'-the-Wisp," "Child Stealer" and "The Night Dance."

Fisher Tull's Concerto da Camera was commissioned in 1987 for saxophonist Michael Jacobson, who teaches at Baylor University, and it is one of the few works to feature the saxophone as both solo and chamber music instrument.

As doctoral students at the Eastman School of Music, Sintchak and Siebert participated in the world premiere of Harbison's "San Antonio." The score was commissioned through the World-Wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund and subsequently premiered on the same day in different locations around the world.

Harbison describes the work's three movements:

"I. The traveler has a free afternoon in San Antonio. It is August, 105 degrees. Expecting to start with a cool promenade along the river, he is instead lured by a sound. He follows it up a long stairway and finds himself in a little fiesta.

"II. The first dancers finish, exhausted. Then, as if on cue, the whole crowd gets into a line of people of all ages, nine to ninety. They all know the steps, which change with the phrases.

"III. The music changes again to become slower. The people continue on in couples. . . . Towards the end, a young girl asks the traveler to dance. He declines."

A visiting professor at the UI, Sintchak has previously taught at the University of Hartford; Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y.; and at Eastman, where he won a 1996-97 Teaching Prize. An avid performer of contemporary music, Sintchak has also given traditional solo recitals on the East Coast and performed with Hartford and Portland symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic, and with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on two tours to Japan. He has also performed with several alternative groups including the Jupiter Saxophone Quartet, the first honors/scholarship saxophone ensemble in the history of the New England Conservatory of Music.

Sintchak studied at Boston University, the New England Conservatory, and the Paris Conservatory on a grant from the Beebe Foundation. He recently completed his doctorate in saxophone performance with a Performer's Certificate from Eastman.

Siebert is assistant professor of piano and music history and literature at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada. She has performed across North America and Europe as both soloist and chamber musician.

An enthusiastic proponent of contemporary music, Siebert has commissioned and premiered new works by leading Canadian and American composers, often assisted by Manitoba and Canada Arts Council grants. She has recorded for CBC radio and is featured on CD with duo-piano partner Shirley Sawatzky and the Winnipeg Symphony. At the most recent Maurier Arts Ltd. New Music Festival in Winnipeg she premiered a piano concerto by Heather Anne Schmidt. She also performs and tours across North America as a member of the Quarks! Trio, a contemporary music ensemble that features a unique combination of piano, saxophone and computer effects.

The Iowa Brass Quintet performs on the UI campus each semester and for schools, universities, civic concert associations, and professional meetings throughout the United States. Founded in the early 1950s, the group has been widely acclaimed for its artistry in the performance of music of all periods and premieres of new compositions.

Members of the Iowa Brass Quintet are David Greenhoe and Barbara Deur, trumpets; Kristin Thelander, horn; David Gier, trombone; and Robert Yeats, tuba.

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/.

1/14/99