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Release: Feb. 21, 2002

Versatile violinist Leopold La Fosse will perform classical duos and jazz trios March 3, 6

Violinist Leopold La Fosse, who last fall celebrated 30 years on the faculty of the University of Iowa School of Music, is not slowing down.

La Fosse will continue his very active performance schedule with two free faculty concerts, featuring very different styles, during the first week of March. He will perform a program of violin duos with fellow UI music faculty member Timothy Shiu at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 3; and he will perform a jazz program with pianist Dan Knight, bassist Gary Palmer and drummer Dan Moore, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 6. Both performances will be in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The repertoire for violin duo is relatively small -- due perhaps to the natural limits of the duet texture. Nevertheless, there are violin duos from the Baroque period, when duo textures were particularly cultivated, up through the 20th century.

For the March 3 concert La Fosse and Shiu will play works of four composers: the Sonata No. 4 in F minor by the French Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair; Sonata for two violins in C major, op. 56, by Serge Prokofiev; Sonata in A minor by Miklos Rosza; and selected duos from the 44 Duos for two violins by Bela Bartok.

The Leclair Sonata comes from a set of six sonatas for two violins, written in Paris in 1730, which today are among the most often performed violin duos of the Baroque period.

The Prokofiev Sonata was composed in 1932 for the "Society for Advancement of Modern Chamber Music," which was supported by a group of contemporary composers -- Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honneger, Francis Poulenc and Prokofiev.

A native of Budapest, Hungary, Rosza moved in 1935 to London, where he composed for films. In 1940 he emigrated to the United States, settled in Hollywood, and became a very prolific composer for films. He won Oscars for his scores for "Spellbound" in 1945, "A Double Life" in1947 and "Ben Hur" in 1959. In addition to his extensive catalog of film music, Rosza was a successful composer of concert music that still has a loyal following today.

Bartok's 44 Duos were written essentially to familiarize young musicians with modalities and asymmetrical rhythms. They are popular both as learning pieces for students and as lighter concert repertoire.

La Fosse's recent jazz career resulted from a chance meeting eight years ago between Gloria Kottick, who was managing La Fosse's concert career at the time, and jazz pianist Dan Knight. Kottick mentioned La Fosse's previous involvement with jazz to Knight, who encouraged La Fosse to return to performing jazz after a hiatus of more than 20 years.

Knight and La Fosse have performed together since that meeting, most often in a trio with bassist Gary Palmer. With Knight, La Fosse and Palmer, the trio has produced a CD recording, based upon a television concert appearance on Iowa Public Television. For the concert this year they invited Dan Moore, who teaches percussion at the UI School of Music, to join them.

"I love jazz and love playing it," La Fosse says. "Improvisation, which is the essence of jazz performance, is an important part of the history of classical music. In the Baroque period, good performers were expected to improvise, but it's become kind of a lost art for classical players.

"Improvising in a jazz group is so different from the kind of note-by-note accuracy you aim for in classical playing, and the give and take with the other players is really fun for me."

The program for the March 6 jazz concert will feature a tribute to the renowned Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, with arrangements of "Agua de Beber," "Dindi," "Girl from Ipanema," "Triste," "Corcovado," "Wave" and "Desafinado." The remainder of the program will be devoted to American jazz standards.

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His performing career has included extensive solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. La Fosse grew up in a musical family: his father and paternal grandfather were violinists, his mother was a concert and pianist and her father was a concert organist. He began studying violin at the age of three and made his first public appearance at the age of four. At eight he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio. He later studied at the New England Conservatory. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UI he teaches violin and directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and early Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble. He has also done extensive research in string pedagogy. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform, teach and give master classes.

La Fosse continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had performances at Wigmore Hall in London, Sala Cecilia Mireles in Rio de Janeiro, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and a jazz violinist.

Knight, a Steinway Artist, teaches jazz piano at Grinnell College. Claude Nobs, founder and artistic director of the Montreux (Switzerland) Jazz Festival said "Knight is incontestably one of the finest solo pianists in the world. (He) is quietly establishing a place for himself among the masters of jazz piano."

In 1999 he recorded and released a CD of music inspired by nine paintings in the permanent collection of the University of Iowa Museum of Art. The CD, titled "Pictures at an Exhibition" after a famous classical piece by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, features nine pieces by Knight, one inspired by each of the paintings. Knight's other recordings for After Hours Recordings include "Dan Knight: Montreux"; "Dan Knight: Do You Hear What I Hear"; "Dan Knight Duo: Live at Riverside Theatre"' and "Dan Knight Quartet: Live at the Cottonwood Club."

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic and multi-percussion, he is considered a "total percussionist."

As a soloist, Moore has developed a unique new style of marimba performance, using a MIDI set-up that allows him to create layers of electronically triggered and natural acoustic sounds. For the past 12 years he has toured as a member of the Britain/Moore Duo, whose CD "Cricket City" has been described by Pan-lime Magazine as "a brilliant collage of pan-marimba pieces."

Moore joined the UI music faculty in 1996. Only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI, he succeeded Thomas L. Davis, who taught percussion at the UI for more than 35 years. He is a performing artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America, Sabian Ltd., and Innovative Percussion. He has written for Jazz Player, Sticks and Mallets and Percussive Notes magazines.

The principal bass of the Quad City Symphony, Palmer has performed around the Midwest and internationally with both jazz bands and classical orchestras and smaller ensembles. He recently spent several years performing in Brazil.

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>.