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Release: Oct. 20, 2000

UI Symphony Band to feature student soloist Wach, euphonium, Nov. 3

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- One of the most outstanding students in the University of Iowa School of Music will be the featured soloist with the UI Symphony Band in a concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of Myron Welch, will be free and open to the public.

Jessica Wach, a senior studying euphonium with faculty member Robert Yeats, will perform the Euphonium Concerto by Martin Ellerby. Other works on the concert will be a band arrangement of Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to "La forza del destino’ ("The force of destiny"), "Colonial Song" and "Molly on the Shore" by Percy Grainger, "Huntingtower Ballad" by Ottorino Respighi and the Sinfonietta of Ingolf Dahl.

Wach won both the 2000 National Collegiate Brass Competition of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), held March 27 during the organization’s national convention in Minneapolis, and the 1999-2000 University of Iowa Concerto Competition, which led to a performance with the University Chamber Orchestra in April. She has also received an Iowa Center for the Arts music scholarship at the UI.

Wach currently is principal euphonium in the Symphony Band and a member of the Hawkeye Marching Band. She has appeared as soloist with the University Band, the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band and the Iowa City Community Band.

A graduate of Davenport West High School, Wach is the daughter of Tom and Janice Wach of Davenport, both of whom were tuba majors studying with Yeats at the School of Music in the 1970s.

Verdi received a commission to write an opera for the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg in 1861, when he was at the height of his fame and popularity in Italy. The previous 10 years had seen the premieres of most of his best known and best loved operas, including "Rigloetto" (1851),
"Il Trovatore" (1853), "La Traviata" (1857) and "Un ballo in maschera" ("A masked ball," 1859). In addition, Verdi and his music had become identified with Italian nationalism, and he was elected to the first Italian parliament in 1860.

"La Forza del destino," one of his more melodramatic works, was written for the commission from the Imperial Opera and premiered in St. Petersburg Nov. 22, 1862, with the composer in attendance. The overture, which captures the drama and strong emotions of the opera, is a staple of orchestral programs.

An eccentric personality and a sensational pianist, Percy Grainger was born in Australia. He came to the United States in 1915 and served in the U.S. Army Music School during World War I, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1919. He lived near New York City and was for many years head of the music department at New York University. He was one of the first composers to write original works for the modern concert band.

Grainger wrote of his "Colonial Song," "In this piece I have wished to express feelings aroused by thoughts of the scenery and people of my native land, and also to voice a certain kind of emotion that seems to me not untypical of native-born Colonials in general."

"Molly on the Shore" is based on two Cork reel tunes, Irish folk melodies that had been collected and published in the early years of the 20th century. Grainger, who made use of folk melodies in several of his compositions, once wrote that "in setting ‘Molly on the Shore’ I strove to imbue the accompanying parts that made up the harmonic texture with a melodic character not too unlike that of the underlying reel tune."

Until his death in 1936, Respighi was considered the most significant of modern Italian composers. He studied composition with Martucci in Italy, under Rimsky-Korsakov in Russia and under Max Bruch in Germany. He visited the United States several times, and once supervised the production of his opera "The Sunken Bell" at the Metropolitan Opera.

One his last works, "Huntingtower Ballad" was written at the suggestion of the American band leader Edwin Franko Goldman for performance at the 1932 convention of the American Bandmasters Association. It was inspired by a stay at a small place in Scotland called Huntingtower, and includes a Scottish theme near the middle of the composition.

Ingolf Dahl was born in Germany of Swedish parents. He moved to the United States in 1928 and became an American citizen in 1943. He spent the war years as a radio conductor and arranger in Hollywood and began teaching at the University of Southern California in 1945. He also conducted the university’s orchestra from 1945 to 1960 and 1968-69. He died in Switzerland during a sabbatical leave in 1970.

The Sinfonietta was commissioned by the Western and Northern Divisions of the College Band Directors National Association in 1961. The score contains many surprises and musical references to band traditions. For example, the first movement opens with the band tuning note,
b-flat; features off-stage trumpets; and has a dynamic march lifted from the composer’s memory of his childhood in Stockholm, when he watched the changing of the palace guard.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band. Prior to joining the UI faculty he was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.