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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 3, 2006

Classical Sax Star Rousseau Plays World Premiere With UI Symphony Feb. 15

Eugene Rousseau, a distinguished alumnus of the University of Iowa School of Music who is recognized as one of the world's leading classical saxophonists, will be guest soloist with the UI Symphony on a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, is part of the orchestra's Signature Series of subscription concerts. It is also part of the Biennial Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) -- a professional organization for performers, teachers and students of the saxophone -- which is being held on the UI campus Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 15-18.

Kenneth Tse, the UI saxophone professor, is the host of the conference.

Rousseau will play the world premiere of "Song Concerto" by Libby Larsen, which was commissioned for him as a tribute to his years of teaching. Other works on the program will be:

-- Overture to "Il Guarani" by 19th-century Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Gomes;

-- the Concerto for seven winds, timpani and strings by Frank Martin, with soloists from the UI School of Music faculty; and

-- the Concerto for Alto Saxophone by Leslie Bassett with NASA guest artist Clifford Leaman, who commissioned and premiered the work, as soloist.

Faculty soloists appearing in the Martin Concerto for seven winds will be Tamara Thweat, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Benjamin Coelho, bassoon; Jeffrey Agrell, horn; David Greenhoe, trumpet; David Gier, trombone; and Daniel Moore, percussion.

Jones commented on the Feb. 15 program: "It is still rare for orchestra audiences to have the opportunity to hear two 21st-century American compositions coupled with two 20th-century works.

"A famous Brazilian overture and Martin's brilliant multiple-soloist concerto contribute to a concert of adventure, color and amazing displays of technique."

Larsen's "Song Concerto" was commissioned and funded partly by Rousseau's students and friends, including Tse, to thank him for his years of teaching and service, and also for the occasion of his 70th birthday in 2002. The commission was completed with the assistance of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University.

One of the most successful living American composers, Larsen has received commissions for music covering a variety of genres. She wrote about the "Song Concerto," "The first time I heard Eugene Rousseau perform, I thought to myself that if ever there was a musician completely at one with music it was he. There seemed to be no performer, no instrument, no conductor, no stage, none of the layers we humans have devised, which distance us from music itself. It was simply, purely, music. . . . to hear Eugene Rousseau is very close to being music."

The "Song Concerto" comprises five movements: "In Dance," "Cri de Coeur," "Mozart's Starling," "Noiseless Foot of Time" and "Abandon."

A native of Brazil, Antonio Carlos Gomes was the son of a Portuguese bandmaster. In 1860 he won a composition prize from the Brazilian government, which paid for him to study at the conservatory in Milan, Italy. His most successful work was the opera "Il Guarani," which was premiered to enthusiastic audience approval at the famous La Scala opera house in Milan in 1870. Tunes from the opera were soon heard in Rio de Janeiro, and the overture to the opera has become virtually a second national anthem. To this day it is played daily on Brazilian radio to introduce the government-sponsored program "Voice of Brazil."

Frank Martin's multi-cultural Swiss heritage and strong religious background are strikingly evident in his music, which combines Bach-derived counterpoint, a modernist flirtation with intricate rhythms, an exploration of unusual combinations of instrumental colors and the use of traditional harmonies in untraditional ways.

His Concerto for Seven Winds was premiered 1949 in Bern. In the concerto, all instruments are called upon to contribute both individually and in various combinations, with emphasis naturally on the wind soloists.

Rousseau has performed across America and on five continents. He was the first to give solo saxophone recitals in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, London and Amsterdam. In addition to his long tenure at Indiana University, his teaching includes guest professorships and master classes throughout the world, including the Hochschule fuer Musik in Vienna, the Paris Conservatory and a yearly course at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1993 he was awarded the rank of honorary professor at the Prague Conservatory, and in 2001 was named honorary professor at the Instituto Braga (Italy).

Rousseau served for 25 years as chief consultant to the Yamaha Corporation for research and development of saxophones and has devoted much of his research to the artistic and acoustic characteristics of saxophone mouthpieces. He is co-founder of the World Saxophone Congress (1969) and has served as president of this organization and of the Comite International du Saxophone. His publications include scholarly works, arrangements of music and pedagogical works, many of which have also been published in French, Japanese and German.

He has received a Fulbright Grant, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Edwin Franko Goldman Award. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UI in 1998.

Leaman currently teaches at the University of South Carolina, and has taught at Furman University, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. In great demand as a soloist and clinician, he has performed and taught throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain and most recently in China, where he was a featured guest artist for the 2004 and 2005 Yantai International Winds Art Festival and the 2005 Xi'an International Arts Festival. He has commissioned and given the world premiere performances of numerous works, including the Bassett Concerto and one by Michael Colgrass. Leaman is an artist-clinician for the Conn-Selmer Company, Inc. and performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones.

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 a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland). Jones has conducted more than 70 all-state orchestras with additional festival/clinics in most of the 50 states and Canadian provinces.

Jones is a highly honored musician, having received the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Art Award, the American String Teachers Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota, a music honorary society.

The Feb. 15 performance will be the fourth of five events in the University Symphony's 2005-06 "Signature Series" of concerts in Hancher Auditorium. The final concert, on March 29, will be "Thoroughly Modern Masterworks," a program of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Samuel Barber's choral-orchestral "Prayers of Kierkegaard."

Individual tickets to University Symphony concerts are $8 (UI student and youth $3; senior citizen $6) and are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets also may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hancher box office website: http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu.

Hancher box office orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

A four-day event, the NASA conference will attract literally hundreds of saxophone enthusiasts from around the country and overseas. It will include lectures, workshops, master classes, recitals and competitions for the participants, as well as a series of free concerts on the UI campus.

A complete schedule of events, including all performances, is available on the conference Web site, at www.uiowa.edu/~nasa2006/.

The Division of Performing Arts is part of 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.