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Release: March 15, 2002

UI faculty/guest trio of flute, viola and guitar returns for free concert March 27

The New Opus Trio, a faculty and guest ensemble at the University of Iowa School of Music that features the unusual combination of flute, viola and guitar, will present a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. The concert will be free and open to the public.

The concert represents a return to the UI campus for the group, which appeared here in January 2001 during their inaugural concert tour.

The members of the trio -- violist Christine Rutledge from the UI School of Music faculty, flutist Eugenia Moliner and guitarist Denis Azabagic -- first got together several years ago to play the premiere of a piece that Rutledge had commissioned. The players later discovered that there was a small but interesting repertoire for flute, viola and guitar that dated back to the classical period.

"We discovered the trio of flute, viola and guitar is not a new one!" Rutledge said. "The guitar was quite popular during Schubert's time, due in part to the Viennese guitarist Wenzeslaus Matiegka, who was an associate of Schubert. Apparently there was an existing trio of flute, viola, and guitar, since Matiegka wrote several works for the combination, as did several other composers.

"Unfortunately the combination went out of fashion until the late 20th century, but there are still a few trios existing, and an abundance of new compositions. The New Opus Trio's mission is to explore this repertoire, as well as the older works, and to record them."

The program on March 27 will include one of Matiegka's pieces, the Serenade for Flute, Viola, and Guitar, op. 26. Other works on the program will be the Organ Sonata BWV 530 by J.S. Bach, transcribed for flute, guitar and viola by Eric Dussault; "Confidencial" No. 2 for flute and guitar by Alejandro Yague; and Sergio Assad's "Winter Impressions" for flute, viola, and guitar.

A Czech native, Matiegka studied law in Prague before he moved to Vienna to make a living in music. Shortly after 1800 he was active in Viennese amateur music circles. The guitar being as popular as the piano at that time, Matiegka perfected himself on both instruments, but the guitar became his favorite. By 1809 he was publishing sonatas for solo guitar with the best printers in Vienna and was billed as a 'piano and guitar master' on these editions.

Matiegka settled in the Viennese suburb of Leopoldstadt, where he became the Kapellmeister (music director) at St Leopold's parish church. His works included 23 published pieces for solo guitar, as well as many chamber pieces with guitar. He also wrote sacred music, which has been found in manuscript. He arranged works by Beethoven and Mozart in versions with guitar, and Schubert in turn arranged Matiegka's Nocturne op.21 for flute, violin and guitar as a quartet by adding a cello part.

The Brazilian-born guitarist Sergio Assad, forms half of a guitar duo with his brother, Odair. Together, they have toured around the world performing in recital and with orchestra in the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, Great Britain, the Far East, Argentina and their native Brazil. They have made many recordings, including one with Yo Yo Ma.

Born in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in November 1972, Denis Azabagic is considered one of the best guitarist of his generation. In 1993, at the age of 20, he became the youngest winner of the Jacinto e Inocencio Guerrero International Guitar Competition in Madrid, Spain. Since then he has won first prize in virtually every other international guitar competition, including contests in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada and the United States.

As a soloist Azabagic has performed as a soloist with orchestras and he performed solo recitals in Europe and United States. He has recorded three solo CDs and appears on a video recording for Mel Bay's Artist Series.

A review of his performance in the Koelnische Zeitung, Germany, described him as "a virtuoso artist of timbres, who masters, as it seems, easily all kind of expressions: from enchanting softness to passion, from deep emotions to enormous joy"

Moliner, described as " an artist of the highest calibre" by the British Flute Society Magazine, has performed solo recitals in Spain, the Netherlands and Bosnia. She has also performed throughout Europe and on Dutch national television as first flute of the Montebello Ensemble, conducted by Henk Guitaart. She was also first flute of the Baroque Ensemble of Rotterdam and played with the National Philharmonic of the Netherlands.

As a member of the Duo Cavatina with Azabagic, Moliner has performed throughout Europe and the United States. In 1996 the duo won the "Young Musicians of the Doelen" competition in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She has completed a CD recording with Azabagic, and her next solo CD will feature composers from South America.

Moliner has taught in Conservatory of Burriana in Valencia, Spain. Since 1997 she has given master classes in Spain and Bosnia, and she recently presented a concert and master class at the University of Northern Illinois.

Rutledge joined the UI faculty in 1998. She had previously been a faculty member at Notre Dame University, where she also played with the Notre Dame String Trio. She is a graduate of the UI School of Music, where she studied with William Preucil.

She has appeared as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She performs as a member of the Fontana Chamber Music Festival ensemble. Her performances and recordings with the Notre Dame String Trio have earned glowing reviews from The Strad, Fanfare and other music publications. Her solo performances have included those before her professional peers at the 23rd International Viola Congress in Bloomington, Ind., the 24th Congress in Germany, and the 2Xth International Viola Congress in Sweden. She has performed the standard viola repertoire, her own transcriptions of Baroque works, several lesser known works for viola, and new works that were written specifically for her.

Rutledge is the former assistant principal viola of the Louisville Orchestra and violist of the Ceruti Chamber Players and the Kentucky Center Chamber Players. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where she studied with the distinguished viola teachers Karen Tuttle and Michael Tree, and the Interlochen Arts Academy, where she was valedictorian of her class and recipient of the Young Artist Award.

She is also a prize winner in the Aspen Festival Viola Competition, and the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist's Fellowship, an Eli Lilly Foundation grant for undergraduate teaching development, and awards from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at Notre Dame. She recently received a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Initiative at the UI, which will assist in a solo CD recording of "Early 20th-Century English Works for Viola and Piano."

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>.