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Release: Feb. 9, 2001

Maia Quartet branches out for Feb. 23 concert at the UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet will branch out from the standard string-quartet repertoire, joining with University of Iowa faculty colleagues to present a piano trio, a work for quartet with string bass and narrator, and a string sextet in a free public concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The members of the Maia String Quartet -- Amy Kuhlmann Appold and Timothy Shiu, violins; Elizabeth Oakes, viola; and Amos Yang, cello -- are visiting assistant professors at the UI School of Music. They are currently in their third year as the UI quartet in residence. The Feb. 23 concert is the second of three concerts on campus during the current academic year. The final concert of the series will be at 8 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Clapp Recital Hall.

The Maia Quartet's guests for the Feb. 23 concert will include both new and long-time members of the School of Music faculty. The program begins with Robert Schumann's Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, op. 80, featuring violinist Timothy Shiu and cellist Amos Yang from the quartet with pianist Rose Chancler, who performed on the program of Magisterra!, the first UI International Chamber Music Festival and Academy in May, 2000.

Next, the full quartet will perform "Lucy and the Count: lovedreams from transylvania" for solo bass and string quartet by Jon Deak, featuring bassist Diana Gannett and narrator Eric Forsythe from the UI Department of Theatre Arts.

A single work will fill the second half of the program, the String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major, op. 18, by Johannes Brahms, featuring the Maia Quartet with violist William Preucil, who retired from the UI School of music in 1997 after more than 35 years on the faculty, and cellist Uri Vardi, who became a visiting faculty member in January.

This eclectic program represents a form of celebration for the quartet. "We have tried to make this concert a collaborative gala," Shiu said. "That's why we are not only including current and former UI Music School faculty, but also reaching across disciplines in the new Division of Performing Arts to include Eric Forsythe from the theater department."

Shiu characterized Schumann's Trio in F major as "the sunnier half of a pair of trios he wrote in 1847. In contrast to the more dark and brooding D Minor Trio, there is a lighthearted exuberance to the F Major Trio, especially in its outer movements.

"I find the middle movements to be particularly memorable gems: the slow movement for its touching beauty and un-self-conscious intimacy; the minuet movement for its rapturous elegance and charm.

Jon Deak is the associate principal bass player for the New York Philharmonic and is known for his playfully imaginative compositions based on children's tales including Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling" and A. A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh."

"Lucy and the Count" takes its inspiration from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and includes among its many vivid effects a dinner party scene in which the instruments imitate fully inflected speech in a syllable-for-syllable rendering of the dinner conversation.

Brahms' B-Flat Sextet was written in 1859-60, during what historians have called his "first maturity." An intensely self-critical composer who felt intimidated by Beethoven's stature, Brahms was not yet ready to put before the public any string quartets or symphonies -- the genres in which Beethoven particularly excelled. But the string sextet was unencumbered with the weight of significant precedent. Consequently, Brahms was able to compose with ease and assurance, which is reflected in the genial expansiveness and melodic generosity of the First Sextet.

Founded in1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In 1999 they gave a concert at the German Embassy in Washington, in honor of the Czech Republic's entry into NATO. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School. Prior to coming to Iowa, they also taught on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.

Chancler has performed throughout the United States as both a soloist and a collaborative artist. She has played concertos and recitals in Alaska, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Oklahoma and Massachusetts. She has played chamber music performances with notable artists, including Paul Rosenthal, Jeffrey Solow and Harvey Pittel. She has been an invited guest artist and teacher at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

A graduate of the UI School of Music, Gannett returned to the UI to teach double bass in the fall of 1992. She also is the principal double bass of the Quad City Symphony. As a teacher and performer she has had an active career including appointments at Yale University, the Hartt School of Music, Oberlin College and the University of South Florida. She has been principal double bass of the Gulf Coast Symphony, the Black Hills Festival Orchestra, the Eastern Music Festival and the Bronx Symphony, and been a member of the New Haven and New Jersey symphonies.

Forsythe heads the acting and directing programs for the UI Theatre Department and is the artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep. His acting credits include productions at major theatres across the country from the McCarter and Philadelphia Drama guild to Boston's Charles Playhouse and the St. Louis Rep. He has performed with Jason Robards, Geena Davis and David Straithairn, and has directed actors as diverse as Sylvia Sidney, Betsey Palmer, Ted Danson and John Sayles. Favorite roles include King Lear, Sherlock Holmes and George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He has appeared in many commercials, films, television and radio productions and industrial films.

Preucil taught on the UI music faculty for more than 35 years, served as violist for the Stradivari Quartet at the UI and as principal violist of the Cedar Rapids Symphony. Before coming to the UI he was principal violist of the Detroit Symphony. He made his New York recital debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1960.

He has toured throughout North America, and to more than 25 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He had a solo recital tour of Japan in 1982, and is the recording artist for books of the Suzuki Viola School, a world-wide string teaching method based on principles put forward by the Japanese music teacher Shinichi Suzuki. An acclaimed teacher, Preucil has presented master classes throughout the world, from Russia to Australia. In 1992 he was awarded the M.L. Huit Faculty Award at the UI for his dedication and service to his students.

A member of the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Vardi has given cello and chamber music master classes at Indiana University, the New England Conservatory, Yale and the Eastman School of Music, and at summer festivals around the world. His students have been successful as soloists, chamber players and members of major orchestras including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic.

Although born in Hungary, Vardi grew up on a kibbutz in Israel. He studied cello at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, and later with the master teachers Janos Starker at Indiana University and Aldo Parisot at Yale University. He has served as principal cellist of the Israel Sinfonietta and the Israel Chamber Orchestra, in addition to appearances as soloist with both orchestras.

Vardi has also recorded and toured Israel and Italy with the Sol-La-Re String Quartet, founded a chamber music series in Tel Aviv and taught for many years at the Israel Conservatory and the Jerusalem Music Center. He has toured the United States and Israel with "Fusions," a concert of western Jewish music and Arabic art music for cello, oud (a stringed instrument characteristic of Arabic North Africa) and piano.

Vardi has visited the UI campus several times, performing with UI faculty and presenting a master class for cello students.

The School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts are 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>.