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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 6, 2006

Quintets And Choirs Will Present Music Centennial Concert Oct 18

"Choirs and Quintets," part of the concert series celebrating the centennial of the University of Iowa School of Music, will feature premieres of new works by alumni and faculty of the UI at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the UI Hancher Auditorium.

Performers for the concert will be School of Music resident faculty ensembles -- the Iowa Woodwind Quintet and the Iowa Brass Quintet -- plus University Choirs with an instrumental ensemble. Each group will present the world premiere of music commissioned for the School of Music Centennial Celebration.

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet will present the world premiere of a new Woodwind Quintet by Michael Eckert, a member of the School of Music faculty. They will also perform the Wind Quintet No. 2 by Miguel del Aguila. The quintet's members are Gro Sandvik, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon.

The Iowa Brass Quintet will play the world premiere of "L'homme arme" (The armed man), a new work by UI alumna Marti Epstein that is based on a widely known Renaissance melody. They will also give the first performance of "Annunication," the opening movement of the Quintet for Brass, a work in progress by John Berners, who was a visiting professor at the UI School of Music 2004-06. Current members of the quintet are David Greenhoe and Brian Umlah, trumpets; Jeff Agrell, horn; David Gier, trombone; and John Manning, tuba.

University Choirs with a student ensemble of winds, brass and percussion will perform "For Music" by School of Music alumnus Mark Sirett. The choral ensemble, made up of members of all four major School of Music vocal ensembles -- Kantorei, University Choir, Camerata and the Women's Chorale -- will be directed by Timothy Stalter, the director of choral activities at the School of Music.

Established in 1906, the UI School of Music will celebrate its centennial throughout the 2006-07 academic year. The celebration was inaugurated Sept. 9 with a highly successful Centennial Gala Showcase Concert and will feature a series of concerts throughout the 2006-07 academic year, many of them presenting new compositions that were commissioned from UI alumni for the occasion. The concerts, including performances by UI faculty and many of the major ensembles of the School of Music, are listed on the Web at

Eckert composed his Wind Quintet during the summer of 2006. The piece comprises three movements that progress from a slow to a fast tempo. The first and second movements are related though the frequent use of whole-step motives, expressed in the first movement as trills. The initial idea for the second movement is a long bassoon melody, based on six notes. The third movement is a reworking of a short piece for flute, oboe, horn and piano Eckert wrote in 1998.

Eckert has been on the composition faculty of the UI School of Music since 1985. Before coming to the UI he taught at Colorado State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His awards for composition include a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an NEA fellowship and the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. For more information, see:

"L'homme arme" is a tune of unknown origin that was frequently used by composers of the 15th and 16th centuries as the basis for larger works. It is not clear what the title refers to: Some musicologists believe that it refers to the Archangel Michael; some believe that it refers to a tavern of the same name in Cambrai, France; and some believe that it is a call to arms.

The composer wrote, "I had begun my brass quintet before I realized that there were several ideas in the piece that reminded me of the 'L'homme arme' tune. Once I heard the reference to it, I decided to incorporate the tune in some way in every section. At the end of the piece, the tune is stated in its entirety, but in a canonic way (that creates) dissonances that are against the practice of earlier composers, but are often embraced by composers (and audiences!) of our time."

Berners wrote that in composing his quintet, "I kept in mind the rich sounds of the members of the IBQ and the ringing tones they can create, given a free-blowing melody."

Sirett is an award-winning choral composer and founding director of Cantabile Choirs in Kingston, Ontario. He has taught courses ranging from conducting to 16th-century counterpoint and analysis at Queen's University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Alberta and Bucknell University. He was organist and music director of St. George's Cathedral in Kingston, where his Cathedral Girl Choristers won first prize in the 1996 CBC Choral Competition for amateur choirs.

"For Music" is based on texts by three well-known English poets: Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Alexander Pope.

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the United States. He is also active as a tenor soloist who is known in the United States and Europe for his performances as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. For more information, see

The Iowa Brass Quintet (IBQ), a resident faculty ensemble at the UI School of Music, performs on the UI campus each semester and for schools, universities, civic concert associations, and professional meetings throughout the United States.

Founded in the early 1950s, the IBQ has been widely acclaimed for its artistry in the performance of music of all periods and premieres of new compositions. The quintet's CD "Americana: A University of Iowa Celebration" features works by composers associated with the UI, either as faculty or students in the School of Music, or whose works have been favorites of the group over the years. It was released as part of the celebration of the UI Sesquicentennial in 1997.

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet has been in existence at the UI School of Music since about 1932.

Additional information, including biographies of the faculty members performing on the concert may be found on the UI School of Music Web page,

Tickets for the Oct. 18 concert by the University Symphony, UI Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble are $10 ($7 for seniors; $5 for UI students and youth), and are available at the Hancher Auditorium Box Office.

If purchased together with other tickets for events presented by the UI Division of Performing Arts -- the Mainstage Season of University Theatres, the annual Dance Gala performances, ticketed School of Music concerts in Hancher Auditorium and a production by the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater -- tickets to the concert may be eligible for a series discount.

The events are detailed in a Division of Performing Arts brochure that is available at the Hancher Auditorium Box Office, in the UI Theatre Building and from the division's marketing office at 319-335-3213. As explained in the brochure, patrons who purchase tickets to four, five or six events will receive a 20-percent discount; purchasing tickets for seven or more events earns a 25-percent discount.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. 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 may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

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 on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 319-541-2846;