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Release: April 8, 2002

UI Chamber Orchestra features student concerto competition winners April 14

The two winners of the 2001-2002 All-University Concerto/Aria Competition at the University of Iowa School of Music will be showcased on a concert by the UI Chamber Orchestra at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The co-winners came from the woodwind and keyboard areas of the contest. From the woodwind area, Joan Blazich will be the soloist in the Clarinet Concerto of Aaron Copland, conducted by UI doctoral conducting student Lucia Matos; and from the keyboard area, Agnes Wan will be the soloist for the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor of Frederic Chopin, conducted by William LaRue Jones.

Blazich and Wan are graduate students in the School of Music, majoring in their respective performance areas.

The 2001-2002 All-University Concerto/Aria Competition was held in November 2001. The competition was open to all students enrolled in a performance studio in the School of Music, with the recommendation of their studio faculty. Following an initial round of competition, nine entrants were selected for a final round of competition, from which the two winners were selected.

The competition judges were four retired music faculty: Charles Wendt, Edward Kottick and Eldon Obrecht from the UI and Marcella Lee from Cornell College.

Blazich is currently pursuing a master’s degree as a student of Maurita Murphy Mead while serving as a performance associate with the UI Center for New Music. Blazich was first-prize winner in the 2002 James F. Jakobsen Graduate Forum Humanities Division for research papers, and won first prize in the 1997 Durham Symphony Young Artists Concerto Competition. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors. Her principal teachers include Mead and Donald Oehler.

Currently a first-year doctoral student in piano performance, Wan studies with Uriel Tsachor and holds a teaching assistantship in piano. Born in Hong Kong, she holds a bachelor’s degree from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and master’s degrees in piano and music therapy from Loyola University in New Orleans. At Loyola she received awards as Outstanding Graduate Student and Outstanding Keyboardist, and was included in the "2001 Who’s Who among Students in American Universities/Colleges." As a 1999 concerto competition winner she performed with the Loyola Chamber Orchestra. She gave her formal debut recital in Hong Kong in June 2001 and has also become a board-certified music therapist.

Aaron Copland is widely regarded as the most "American" of composers. Through such deliberately nationalist works as the ballets "Appalachian Spring," "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid," and

such patriotic works as the World-War-II vintage "Fanfare for the Common Man" and the evocative "Lincoln Portrait," he achieved wide popularity with American concert audiences.

But that is only one side of a complex composer, who also wrote abstract instrumental works that have no national agenda. Among these is the Clarinet Concerto, composed in 1948 for the great jazz player Benny Goodman.

An eclectic musician, Goodman had strong fundamental training on the clarinet and wide-ranging interests. One of the first "cross-over " artists, he played Mozart with the Budapest Quartet and the Boston Symphony, and he commissioned concertos from several leading composers, including Copland and Paul Hindemith. Copland certainly treated Goodman as a soloist of the highest level: The concerto is one of the most challenging showpieces in the clarinet repertoire, requiring virtuoso technique and great musical sensitivity.

Lucia Matos was born in Ourinhos, S.P, Brazil. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Campinas, Brazil. From 1997 to 1998 she worked as assistant conductor at the Campinas Symphony Orchestra and University of Campinas Symphony Orchestra. In 1998 she was awarded with a Brazilian scholarship from CAPES for continuing her studies. She received a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the UI, and she is currently completing the requirements for a doctorate as a student of UI Symphony conductor William LaRue Jones. She has conducted the Des Moines Symphony, Americana Symphony and Campinas Symphony Orchestra.

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, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

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

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>.