Nov. 16, 2006
Horn-Tuba-Piano Combination Produces Unusual Chamber Music Dec. 1 At UI
Two members of the brass faculty at the University of Iowa School of Music -- Jeffrey Agrell, horn, and John Manning, tuba -- will join with pianist Richard Gloss to perform some unusual chamber music for brass, at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
"The sonorities of the horn and tuba are quite complementary, and we feel that we have a very interesting and entertaining program," Manning said. "In the spirit of this celebratory year of the 100th anniversary of the School of Music, we present this joint recital."
The performance will be free and open to the public.
The program features the three instruments in various combinations, from all three playing together down to solo pieces. "Jeff and I have a great time working together in the Iowa Brass Quintet and the improvisatory group Cerberus," Manning said. "This is a chance for us to collaborate and to present two outstanding trios for horn, tuba and piano."
Bookends for the concert -- the first and last pieces performed -- will be two trios for horn, tuba and piano: Suite No. 1 for horn, tuba and piano, composed in 1971 by Alec Wilder at the beginning; and "Dialogue" for horn, tuba and piano, composed in 1992 by Anthony Plog at the end.
Three pieces will feature a more usual recital setting of a solo instrument with piano accompaniment: "Intermezzo" for horn and piano by Rheinhold Gliere; "Call of the River" for tuba and piano; and an arrangement of the Horn Concerto in E-flat by Antonio Rosetti.
Finally, there will be an unaccompanied piece for each of the brass players, both by Agrell: "Eccentric Dances" for solo tuba and "Meditation" for solo horn.
Wilder's trio was written for a close friend, horn player John Barrows, and tubist Harvey Phillips, two legends of brass playing. Barrows played both classical and jazz styles, and encouraged Wilder, who was known early on as a composer of jazz standards, to write new works for the horn. Wilder responded with three sonatas and many smaller works that have all become part of the standard repertoire for horn. This piece is typical of Wilder's quirky, unique style, juxtaposing jazz and classical idioms, with unpredictable melodies and demanding the utmost in agility and lyricism of the performers.
Plog, who began his career as an orchestral trumpet player, has written prolifically for brass instruments. "Dialogue" is a one-movement piece that was written for virtuoso brass players Michael Lind (tuba) and Ifor James (horn).
Agrell said of his two pieces on the program, "'Eccentric Dances' was commissioned by Swiss tuba soloist Remo Capra. The idea of 'dances' for tuba was irresistible, giving the lowest brass instrument a chance to show off its expressive versatility and technical agility. The 'eccentric' adjective promises the performer and listener the chance to hear the tuba in some unusual musical settings.
"'Meditation' is a short piece that started out . . . as a contemplative piece to be played in a large space such as a church or concert hall, using that particular acoustic as an integral part of the piece. That part of it may still apply, but the mood turned out to be more like a lament or expression of grief than of contemplation."
Manning is a founding member of the award-winning Yamaha performing ensemble, the Atlantic Brass Quintet, with whom he has toured across the United States and around the world, including performances at the White House, Tanglewood, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and June in Buffalo. An active freelance musician, he has performed with the Boston Symphony, the Empire Brass and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He joined the UI faculty in 2004. More information: http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/BRASSmanning.htm
Agrell joined the UI School of Music faculty in 2000 after a 25-year career as Associate Principal horn in the Lucerne (Switzerland) Symphony. Besides teaching horn, he currently directs the UI Horn Choir, teaches Introduction to Improvisation, and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet, and the contemporary classical improvising ensembles Duende (horn, cello, piano), and Cerberus (horn, trumpet, tuba). Agrell is also an award-winning writer and composer, and he has been very active in bringing new approaches to improvisation to classical musicians. More information: http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/BRASSagrell.htm
Gloss is a native of Chicago. He holds a master's degree in piano performance from the UI, where he studied with Kenneth Amada. He has accompanied many local artists, including Agrell and Manning, flutists Betty Bang Mather and Claudia Anderson, and tenor Scott McCoy. He is also the box office manager for Hancher Auditorium.
The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music Web site at www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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