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University of Iowa News Release

 

Feb. 13, 2008

Chamber Orchestra will perform music from Brazil on March 2 concert

The University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra will present the original version of the Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra by Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone with soloist Maurita Murphy Mead, as part of a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 2, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

School of Music faculty member David Nelson will conduct the concert. Other works on the program will be the Overture to "La gazza ladra" (The thieving magpie) by Gioacchino Rossini and the Symphony No. 104 in D major by Franz Joseph Haydn.

The performance of the Mignone Concertino will represent the North American premiere of the original version of the work, which is an established repertoire piece in Brazil. Mead has played it once before on campus, with the UI Symphony Band in an arrangement by Kevin Kastens, director of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

The clarinet faculty member in the UI School of Music, Mead has in recent years expanded on her classical training to perform both jazz and various forms of Latin music, particularly music from Brazil. She has traveled to Brazil several times and spent time in study of the characteristic Brazilian musical style known as choros.

Mead said, "Mignone's Concertino is a wonderful piece for the clarinet -- Brazilian in style, which I love, and very passionate and entertaining for the audience. And it shows off the clarinet very well in all ranges."

The Concertino was written for Jose Botelho, a leading clarinet player and teacher in Brazil. Mead met and performed for Botelho in 2000, when she played at the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Born in 1897, Mignone was the son of an Italian immigrant musician in Brazil. He was playing piano and conducting small dance orchestras by the time he was 13. After graduating from the São Paulo Conservatory and studying at the Milan Conservatory in Italy, he held numerous prominent appointments in Brazil, including teaching and conducting positions in São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.

Strongly attracted by the ideals of musical nationalism, Mignone often drew on Brazilian folk and popular traditions in his music. In addition to the clarinet concertino of 1957, Mignone's works include colorful orchestral works, among them other concertos and concertinos; solo songs and works for solo piano; and several operas on Brazilian subjects.

The concertino for clarinet and orchestra follows the standard three-movement outline, with a fantasy-like first movement, a slower second movement labeled "Toada" (a slow country song) and a final movement that is a "choro," one of the most important musical genres in Brazil.

Dating to the last years of the 19th century, the choro is today considered almost a classical style of Brazilian music. Derived from traditional dance styles, choros often feature virtuoso improvisation in a style that is similar to American jazz.

Haydn's Symphony 104, sometimes known as the "London" Symphony, is actually the last of 12 symphonies Haydn composed for his two concert tours to London in the years 1791-95. It is also the last of his symphonies, which actually number at least 108.

The trips to London occurred near the end of Haydn's long and productive life, after his retirement from his full-time job as a court musician to the Esterhazy family of Hungary and Austria. The concert promoter Johann Peter Salomon arranged for the two tours, which capped Haydn's international fame. The toast of London, Haydn was celebrated as composer, performer and dinner guest during his visits.

Conceived on a grand scale, the symphonies Haydn brought with him on each visit were designed to display his skill as a composer. Indeed, Haydn knew his audience well, and the 12 symphonies composed for London have remained in the orchestral repertoire ever since, making them among the earliest symphonies to have a continuous place in concert programs from the time of their composition.

An ensemble for graduate music students, the UI Chamber Orchestra has fewer players than a full symphony orchestra, especially in the string sections. It is based on the standard ensemble format of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its repertoire covers a broad range from Classical and early Romantic to contemporary works. The Chamber Orchestra presents two or more concerts each semester.

Mead has been the artist performer and teacher of clarinet at the UI School of Music since 1983. She has performed by invitation at International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil and the College Band Directors National Association conference. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony. For more information on Mead see http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/WINDmead.htm.

Nelson is currently professor of music education at the UI. He is the founding director of the UI Division of Performing Arts and former director of the School of Music. As a violinist and conductor, he performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Austin (Texas), Omaha, Quad-City and the Madison symphony Orchestras, and he served as associate concertmaster of the Owensboro (Ky.) Symphony. For more information on Nelson see http://www.uiowa.edu/%7Emusic/bios/ADMINnelson.htm.

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 http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, 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; peter-alexander@uiowa.edu.