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Release: Feb. 9, 2001

Center for New Music to premiere piece written for Voxman

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present three world premiere performances -- written by or for current and former UI faculty members -- on a free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

In addition to UI faculty and student performers of the Center for New Music (CNM), the Feb. 25 concert will feature bassoonist Kim Walker and the New Opus Trio, an ensemble of Eugenia Moliner, flute, Christine Rutledge, viola, and Denis Azabagic, guitar.

World premieres on the program will be:

-- "Elegies and Dances" by Martin-Beatus Meier, which was commissioned in honor of the 87th birthday of Himie Voxman, the former director of the UI School of Music, performed by the CNM Ensemble;

-- "Hamadryad" for alto flute, viola and guitar by Jeremy Dale Roberts, who was a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music 1999-2000, performed by the New Opus Trio; and

-- "Life-Drawing" for flute and tape by Lawrence Fritts, the director of the UI Electronic Music Studios, performed by Tadeu Coelho.

Walker will be the featured performer with the CNM Ensemble in "Life of the Party: A Concerto for Bassoon and 16 Friends," which was written for her by Don Freund.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the CNM is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. Part of the new UI Division of Performing Arts, the center supports its own performing ensemble, including both faculty and students of the School of Music, and presents concerts of recent music by guests artists.

Meier, a native of Bern, Switzerland, has lived and worked in the United States since the early 1960s. Now retired from tenured positions at the University of Texas and Washington State University, he continues to be active as a composer.

"Elegies and Dances" was commissioned for Himie Voxman by his son, Bill Voxman, and Joanne Reece. Meier said, "It has been an honor to invent this music for Himie Voxman, with whom I had the pleasure to read duo music a few years ago, and who is known for his dedicated and enlightened work in the clarinet world.

"The composition follows a zigzag path alternating between pensive and whimsical domains. The idea of interplay among such opposites, and of doing so in a framework of folk music-like tonalities and structures, enticed me upon hearing a live performance of Klezmer music. Thinking in symmetric phrases, transparent textures and predictable pitch sets made for a novel but delightful enterprise."

Roberts recently retired as the distinguished head of composition at the Royal College of Music in London. Recognized as one of England's most important composers. Roberts has had works performed throughout Europe, including performances at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve, and the festivals of Avignon and Paris.

He wrote about the origin of "Hamadryad," "When Christine Rutledge -- one of my colleagues at the UI last year -- asked me to write a trio for her group, I was delighted. It was an extremely enticing, not to say seductive, line-up of instruments -- flute, viola and guitar -- and I was very keen to write for these particular players.

"The inclusion of the guitar, with its more restricted range and more muted dynamic range, colored my whole approach. I decided to bring all three instruments into its orbit: the use of an alto flute, instead of the more brilliant ordinary flute, biased the whole conception towards a rather shadowy texture."

Fritts has been director of the Electronic Music Studios at the UI School of Music since 1995. He has composed for a wide variety of electronic and computer media, including concrete tape, instruments and tape, voltage-controlled and MIDI-controlled analog and digital synthesizers, and digitally processed instruments. His recent works for tape and instruments utilize real-time computer sound transformation technology. His music has been performed at festivals and conferences in the U.S. and broadcast in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe.

Freund is chair of the Composition Department at Indiana University. He has composed more than 80 performed works, ranging from solo, chamber, and orchestral music to pieces involving live performance with electronic instruments, music for dance and large theatre works. He is also active as a pianist, conductor and lecturer.

Of "Life of the Party" he wrote, "Life of the Party was inspired by the incomparably vivacious personality and astounding virtuosity of Kim Walker.

"This composition could be described as an instrumental mini-opera with two identifiable layers of musical activity. One layer is the 'Party Music,' a series of 'songs' in varied vernacular styles which recede into the background to allow the more intimate party 'chats' to be heard."

The characters of the mini-opera are represented by instruments. The bassoon and its date, the contrabassoon, show up at a party, and before long engage in "small-talk" with the other woodwinds. Each of the 'Party Music' songs -- identified by style, including "Hard Rock," "Techno," and "Cool Jazz" -- leads to an "intimate chat." The scenario ends with movements headed "Soliloquy: Broke-up," "Ballad: Make-up" and "Finale: Celebrate!"

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 major orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. 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 and Hummel, and Wolf-Ferrari; previously undiscovered solo works from the Baroque and Classical bassoon repertoire, which she researched in European libraries; and arrangements for the female bassoon quartet "Queens of the Night," whose repertoire extends from Scheidt to Elvis.

Within the contemporary realm, she is actively enlarging the bassoon's repertoire, working with the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, Sofia Gubaidulina, Richard Rodney Bennett, David Baker and others.

Coelho joined the UI music faculty in 1997. An international touring artist sponsored by the Miyazawa Flute Company, he has appeared as soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and the Americas. He has performed as first solo flutist with the Santa Fe Symphony, the Hofer Symphoniker in Germany and the Spoletto Festival Orchestra in Italy. In the summer of 1996 he was invited to play with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood under conductors Bernard Haitink, Robert Shaw and Robert Spano.

Coelho's performances have consistently earned high critical praise. Following a series of concerts in Brazil, one critic commented that "there is no doubt about his virtuoso abilities, topped with a degree of musicianship that was magnificent and complete."

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. In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it has received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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.

The Center for New Music and the School of Music 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>.