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Release: May 4, 2001

UI percussion students, faculty and graduates will honor Thomas L. Davis May 16

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- World-renowned percussionists Steven Schick and Yousif Sheronik, Iowa natives and graduates of the University of Iowa School of Music, will join with current students and UI faculty member Dan Moore to present the Biennial Thomas L. Davis Percussion Concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

This will be the third concert presented in honor of the former UI percussion instructor, marching band director and jazz studies head since Davis' retirement in 1996. Admission to the concert will be free, but contributions will be solicited for the Thomas L. Davis Percussion Award, a scholarship established in Davis' honor through gifts to the University of Iowa Foundation.

Moore, who succeeded Davis to become only the second percussion faculty member in the history of the UI, commented: "We will be presenting some of Professor Davis' classic compositions with a group of professional musicians, and the UI ensemble with guests will perform his 'Mau Mau Suite' for the grand finale -- there could be as many as 20 percussionists on stage for that one!"

"One highlight is that Schick will be playing a fair amount on the program -- something that you don't generally get for free anymore -- and Sheronick, another successful Iowa alum, will also be performing with the UI ensemble."

Both Schick and Sheronick have gone on to major careers after their studies with Davis, and both returned to campus for performances at Hancher Auditorium in April 2000 as part of the Millennium Festival -- Schick with the Bang on a Can All Stars and Sheronick with the Ethos Percussion Group.

The complete program will fall into four separate sets. To open the concert, Dan Moore and Friends will perform three Davis scores: "Fancy That," a percussion arrangement of "Greensleeves" and "A Taste of Brahms."

Next, Sheronick and the UI Percussion Ensemble will perform "Handance" by Glen Velez, performing on frame drums. One of the oldest and most versatile forms of percussion, frame drums are found in cultures throughout the world. They are single-head drums, stretched on a frame, and are usually played with the hands.

Schick will perform five solo works as the third part of the program: "Temazcal" by Javier Alvarez, "XY" by Michael Gordon, "To the Earth" by Frederic Rzewski, "Bone Alphabet" by Brian Ferneyhough and "Psappha" by Iannis Xenakis.

Davis' "Mau Mau Suite," featuring a stage full of percussionists, will be the concert finale.

Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. "I grew up in northern Iowa which, as you may know, is an easy drive from the middle of nowhere," he says. "My brother Ed and I used to work with my father on the farm on very hot summer days, which was more or less when I decided to become a musician. Now I live in La Jolla, California. I still sail and play the drums and I very often think of Iowa although I will probably never live there again."

For the past 20 years Schick has championed contemporary percussion music as a performer and teacher. He has commissioned and premiered more than 100 new works for percussion and has performed these pieces on major concert series and in international festivals including Warsaw Autumn, the BBC Proms, the Jerusalem Festival, the Holland Festival, the Stockholm International Percussion Event and the Budapest Spring Festival. He has recorded many of those works for SONY Classical, Wergo, Point, CRI and Neuma Records.

From 1984 to 1992, Schick taught at the influential Darmstadt Festival Course for New Music in Germany as co-director of the percussion program. He has been regular guest lecturer at the Rotterdam Conservatory and the Royal College of Music in London and is on the faculty at the University of California, San Diego, and the Manhattan School of Music. He is the percussionist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and also performs with former UI faculty pianist James Avery, the percussion group "red fish blue fish" and the Maya Beiser/Steven Schick Project.

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Sheronick is an eight-year veteran of Handance, a group organized by master drummer Glen Velez to perform, teach and promote hand drumming on frame drums. An extraordinarily diverse artist, Sheronick -- in addition to being a member of the Ethos Percussion Group -- is artist in residence at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a member of the New Ensemble for Early Music and the Italian music and theater company I Giullari di Piazza, and he performs Sephardic music with the group Alhambra.

The Thomas L. Davis Percussion Award was established in 1996 through the efforts of Davis' friends, family, and former students. The fund supports two awards each year: the Thomas L. Davis Freshman award, given each fall to help an outstanding first-year percussion student purchase equipment and music necessary for successful percussion study; and the Thomas L. Davis Upperclassman Award, given each spring to an outstanding upperclassman student who has consistently served the percussion area over and above the call of duty. The upperclassman award is designed to help offset the considerable costs associated with preparation of the senior recital.

Davis was born in Casper, Wyo. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern he helped to create the percussion ensemble with the Percussion Pops Orchestra, of which he was a founding member. In 1958 he was a performer and arranger on the seminal percussion recording of the period, "Music for Bang, Baroom, and Harp."

Davis joined the faculty of the UI School of Music that year, becoming one of the first percussion professors in the country. Over the next 38 years he was percussion-area head and director of the UI Percussion Ensemble. He was also director of the Hawkeye Marching Band and head of the Jazz Studies program, which he originated. His former students include performers, educators, school of music deans and directors, and professionals in a variety of other fields.

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>.