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University of Iowa News Release

March 29, 2006

Faculty Woodwind Quartet Will Be Soloists With Symphony Band April 12

Four woodwind faculty members from the University of Iowa School of Music will be featured soloists for the spring concert of the UI Symphony Band at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of Myron Welch, will be free and open to the public.

The soloists -- Tamara Thweatt, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon -- are members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet, a resident faculty ensemble. They will perform the Concerto Grosso for Woodwind Quartet and Wind Orchestra by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos

Other works on the concert program will be the "New England Triptych" by William Schuman, the Symphony No. 7 by David Maslanka and Henry Fillmore's rousing circus march "The Circus Bee."

"We are excited to present the Iowa premieres of the Concerto Grosso by Villa-Lobos and the Maslanka Symphony No. 7," Welch said. "There are few works that feature a woodwind quartet and this work by a major composer is a great showcase for our outstanding woodwind faculty.

"The symphonies for band by David Maslanka are very challenging and draw upon the full resources of this colorful ensemble. This engaging, extended symphony draws heavily on hymn tunes, makes great demands on the piano and challenges the technical ability of the entire band, especially the percussion section."

Maslanka has written about the Symphony No. 7: "I am strongly affected by American folk songs and hymn tunes, and I think of this symphony as 'old songs remembered.' With one exception all the tunes are original, but they all feel very familiar. The borrowed melody is from the '371 Four-Part Chorales' by J.S. Bach. Each song has a bright side and a dark side, a surface and the dream underneath. Each is a signal or call that evokes an inner world of associations."

The symphony comprises four movements, described by the composer as "Sunday night church services from my youth . . . In the manner of an American folk song . . . A ferocious fast music . . . (and) A simple song of peace and healing."

William Shuman was one of the most prominent American musicians of the 20th century, both as a composer who wrote 10 symphonies and numerous other works, and as president of both the Juilliard School of Music and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.

The "New England Triptych" is a transcription by the composer of an orchestral work of the same name. It is in three movements, all based on the music of William Billings, a singing schoolmaster in 18th-century New England. The movements are based in turn on Billings' "Be Glad Then America," the round "When Jesus Wept" and the Revolutionary War marching song "Chester."

Villa-Lobos is widely considered one of the landmark composers of the 20th century. His style shows the strong influences of native Brazilian music blended with traditional European compositional techniques. His stature was reflected in the comments of Leonard Bernstein, who said "he was not only a great composer but also a great Brazilian and an eminent personality of the world artistic community."

The solo quartet for the Villa Lobos is made up of members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet, which has been in existence at the UI School of Music since about 1932. Its current members -- Tamara Thweatt, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon -- are all members of the UI School of Music faculty.

Of the four soloists on April 12, Thweatt came to the UI in 2003. She was a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 2000-2002 and has also performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and many regional ensembles. She has studied the Baroque flute and has performed the solo flute part in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 with the Michigan Chamber Players. She also enjoys chamber music of all styles and periods, and has performed George Crumb's "Vox Balaenae" (The voice of the whale) at Interlochen, Mich.

Since coming to Iowa in 1988 Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions and won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY). The first oboist to serve as an Artistic Ambassador through the U.S. Information Agency, Weiger performed recitals in Nepal, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Sri Lanka. He has recorded for the CRS, Crystal, Chandos and Centaur CD labels.

Mead has performed by invitation at International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. She has been principal clarinet of several midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony. As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. She had made several recordings, including two CDs of Brazilian choros with pianist Rafael Dos Santos, a UI alumnus.

Benjamin Coelho has worked extensively as performer and teacher of bassoon, in both the United States and his native Brazil. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Wind Quintet, with whom he played a sold-out concert in Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has played with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He taught bassoon at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he served as the elected vice-dean of the School of Music.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch coordinates the graduate program in band conducting, and he teaches courses in instrumental methods, conducting and band literature. He was named a Collegiate Fellow in the UI College of Liberal Arts in recognition of years of distinguished teaching, research and service to the college.

Prior to joining the UI faculty Welch was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States..

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.