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Release: Feb. 9, 2001

Two bassoonists will be featured with UI Chamber Orchestra Feb. 25

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The bassoon is not often featured in concertos, but the University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra will have not one but two bassoon soloists when it presents its next free concert, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

In fact, there will be three bassoonists on stage, since the concert will be under the direction of William LaRue Jones, who began his musical career as a bassoonist and still performs occasionally with his UI faculty colleagues.

The bassoon soloists will be guest artists Kim Walker, who teaches bassoon at the Indiana University School of Music, and Benjamin Coelho, who teaches bassoon at the UI School of Music.

Walker will be featured in a piece written for her, "Trilogy for Bassoon" by David Baker. Together, Coelho and Walker will perform the Concerto in F major for two Bassoons by Viennese classical composer Johann Baptiste Wanhal. And the orchestra alone will open the concert with the well known "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" by Claude Debussy.

Award-winning performer/composer/educator David Baker is distinguished professor of music and chair of the Jazz Studies Department in the Indiana University School of Music. He is the recipient of many honors, including Down Beat magazine's New Star, Lifetime Achievement and Jazz Education Hall of Fame awards; the National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award; and the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Award. He is the conductor and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

Baker has written more than 2000 compositions and has been nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Awards. He is president-elect and past vice president of the International Association of Jazz Educators, president of the National Jazz Service Organization and senior consultant for music programs for the Smithsonian Institution.

A contemporary of Joseph Haydn, Wanhal was born in Bohemia in 1739. After studies in Italy, he spent most of his professional life in Vienna, where he was well known as an accomplished organist, violinist and cellist. Although his works are little known to the public, he earned an enduring place in music history in 1785, when he played cello in an informal string quartet that introduced Mozart's quartets to the composer's father, along with Haydn (first violin), Carl Dittersdorf (second violin) and Mozart (viola).

Wanhal composed more than 700 works including nearly 100 symphonies, an equal number of quartets, chamber music for strings and wind instruments, numerous sonatas and occasional pieces for violin, viola and solo piano, and chamber concertos for violin, cello, keyboard, flute, clarinet and bassoon.

One of the most familiar pieces in the orchestral repertoire, Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" was inspired, not as is often imagined, by a mythological pastoral scene, but rather by Stephane Mallarme's symbolist poem "Afternoon of a Faun." Thus, the musical work is at least one step removed from the woodland scene it is often thought to describe.

The opening melody on the flute is vaguely descriptive, in the sense that the faun -- a figure from Greek mythology, half goat and half man -- is often portrayed playing pan pipes. In all other respects the music follows its own logic entirely, although the piece has become so familiar to audiences that its indistinct harmonies seem highly expressive of the faun's lazy, dreamy state.

Walker is chair of the woodwind department of the Indiana University School of Music. Before taking that position, she spent 17 years in Europe, performing internationally and teaching at the Geneva Conservatory.

She has performed as first bassoonist with several major European orchestras. Appearances at international festivals including Ravinia, Schleswig-Holstein, Lucerne, Hong Kong, Sydney, Monte Carlo, Prades, Marlboro, Wolf Trap, Newport and others throughout Europe, have established her as an internationally known soloist. Her extensive list of CD recordings include concertos by Mozart, Strauss, Hummel and Wolf-Ferrari; previously undiscovered solo works from the Baroque and Classical bassoon repertoire; and arrangements for the female bassoon quartet "Queens of the Night," whose repertoire extends from Scheidt to Elvis.

Coelho has worked extensively as performer and teacher of bassoon, in both the United States and his native Brazil. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Wind Quintet, with whom he played a sold-out concert in Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. As a soloist, Coelho has played recitals and concertos in Brazil, the United States, Canada and Portugal.

In Brazil, Coelho has played principal bassoon with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais and the Gramado Woodwind Quintet. He taught bassoon at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he served as the elected vice-dean of the School of Music.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

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>.