The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

April 1, 2005

Gompper, Stalter Share Conducting Duties With Kantorei April 15

Kantorei, the top vocal ensemble at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present a work by David Gompper that was inspired by the first anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as part of a concert at 8 p.m. Friday, April 15 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, which also features works by Henry Purcell and R. Murray Schafer, will be free and open to the public.

Gompper, who is director of the UI Center for new Music, will conduct the second performance ever of his "An Elm We Lost" for piano, harp, percussion and chamber choir, with tenor and baritone soloists. The score is based on poetry by former Iowa Poet Laureate Marvin Bell, who will retire from the post of Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the end of this semester.

Soloists will be tenor Timothy Stalter, UI director of choral activities, and baritone John Muriello from the UI School of Music voice faculty.

Stalter, who is Kantorei's principal conductor, will lead the other pieces on the program: Purcell's "Hear our prayer, O Lord" and "A Medieval Bestiary" by Schafer.

"The first and second parts of this concert couldn't be more opposite in composition and theme," Stalter said. "Part I is very somber with a theme focusing on lament, particularly in relation to the events of 9/11. Gompper's score is an extremely moving setting of Bell's poetry.

"Part II comprises a single chamber work, 'A Medieval Bestiary.' In contrast to the quiet and plaintive tone of Part I, the texts -- based on T. H. White's translation of a 12th-century Latin bestiary -- may sound both sacred and profane to modern audiences. These medieval texts attempted to teach morality by describing the behavior of various animals. The combination of the texts, which could be perceived as crude in places, with Schafer's diverse and wide-ranging style makes for interesting listening. There is never a dull moment in this piece, which offers many surprises."

"An Elm We Lost" was written during the summer of 2002 for a commission from the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls. It uses two of Bell's poems, "An Elm We Lost," which forms the structural framework, and "Catalog with Illustrations," which is embedded in the middle as reflective moment sung by the two soloists.

Schafer wrote that his "Medieval Bestiary" "roams through various styles," ranging from the medieval composer Machaut to Russian Orthodox chanting to Baptist Gospel song. Music of the 12th century-- some of the very earliest part music that has been preserved -- is used prominently at the end.

Kantorei is the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music. It is a touring ensemble of approximately 30 singers, most of whom are graduate students. Kantorei presents four or five concerts on campus each year, tours to off-campus performances and participates in major choral works with the University Symphony. Past tours have been international, including performances in Russia, Korea and Spain.

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999. He directs Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music, teaches graduate conducting courses, and administers the graduate program in choral conducting. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the United States.

In addition to conducting and teaching choral music, Stalter is active as a tenor soloist in the United States and abroad. A specialist in the music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, he is known for his performances as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. He has appeared as tenor soloist with Apollo's Fire, the Newfoundland Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France, the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, the Classical Music Seminar and Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

Gompper studied at the Royal College of Music in London, and after teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan, taught at the University of Texas, Arlington, and since 1991 he has been professor of composition and director of the Center for New Music at the UI. In 2002-03 he was in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, performing and conducting at the Moscow Conservatory.

Gompper's compositions are performed throughout the United States and Europe. In 1999 his "Transitus" for wind ensemble premiered at Carnegie Hall. A number of his works have premiered in London's Wigmore Hall, including "Hommage a W. A. (William Albright)" for piano and "Shades of Love," a song cycle on the poetry of Constantin Cavafy. He is currently completing a violin concerto, the first movement of which was performed in April 2003 at the Moscow Conservatory.

Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997. He has performed operatic and musical theater roles with Opera Carolina, the Banff Centre in Canada, L'Opera Francais of New York, Skylight Opera Theater, Ohio Light Opera and the Southeastern Savoyards of Atlanta. He performed as the Narrator and Mysterious Man in Sondheim's "Into the Woods" and Marcello in "La Boheme" for Lyric Opera Cleveland. Other roles have ranged from Guglielmo in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" to Voltaire in Bernstein's "Candide." He played the title role of the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater production of Tartuffe in 2001, and performed in Riverside Theatre's production of "Sweet and Hot."

He has also performed in concert and recital throughout the Midwest and the Southeast, singing in performances of Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" and "Hodie," the Brahms "Requiem" and the Bach Mass in B minor.

Among Bell's many volumes of poetry are "Iris of Creation," "The Book of the Dead Man," "Ardor (The Book of the Dead Man, Vol. 2)" "Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000" and his most recent book, "Rampant." He has received the Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and Senior Fulbright appointments to Yugoslavia and Australia.

His "Stars Which See, Stars Which Do Not See" was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1977. In March 2000 Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack named Bell the state's first poet laureate. He is a longtime member of the Writers' Workshop faculty. He has also taught at Goddard College and the Universities of Hawaii and Washington. His former students include Rita Dove, James Tate, Jorie Graham, John Irving and current workshop faculty member James Galvin.

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 ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072, peter-alexander@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.