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University of Iowa News Release


March 19, 2009

UI Center for New Music presents Festival of Contemporary Music, April 2-5

The University of Iowa Center for New Music (CNM) will present a Festival of Contemporary Music, featuring the CNM Ensemble as well as UI faculty and guest artists, Thursday, April 2 through Sunday, April 5.

The Center for New Music is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. Part of the UI Division of Performing Arts, the center supports its own performing ensemble, including both faculty and students of the School of Music, and presents concerts of recent music by guest artists.

The Festival of Contemporary Music is composed of four concerts, at 8 p.m. each evening April 2-5, and will be free and open to the public.

--Thursday, April 2, in the Congregational/United Church of Christ at 30 N. Clinton St.: Solo recital by guest artist Kia-Hua Tan, violin.

--Friday, April 3, in Macbride Hall Auditorium, concert by the UI faculty-guest duo of Katie Wolfe, violin, and Ketty Nez, piano.

--Saturday, April 4, in Macbride Hall Auditorium, concert by the New Music Ensemble of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Young-Nam Kim, director.

--Sunday, April 5, in Macbride Hall Auditorium, concert by the CNM, featuring music by guest composer Bruno Amato.

A faculty member at Ohio State University since 2005, Tan has performed as concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician on five continents. Described in The Strad as a "violinist whose virtuosity was astonishing," she has broadcast live on radio, television and the Internet, recorded soundtracks for film and theater, and freelanced with many orchestras.

Tan will play six works on her Thursday evening solo recital: The Sonata, op. 115, by Prokofiev; "Irkanda I" by Peter Sculpthorpe; "Capriccio" by Joaquin Rodrigo; "II Kaprys" by Grazyna Bacewicz; "Elegie" by Stravinsky; and the Sonata in G by Paul Ben-Haim.

See more information on Tan at

Nez and Wolfe first formed a duo in 2005, when Nez was a member of the UI faculty. Today, the Nez/Wolfe duo continues to perform together even though Nez now is a faculty member at Boston University. They have given several recitals at the UI, most recently in February 2008.

Known for eclectic programming, they will play works Friday evening dating from the mid-19th century to pieces that Nez completed last year. The program will be: "Bird as Prophet" by Martin Bresnick; selections from Robert Schumann's Romantic "Waldscenen" (Forest scenes); "Postcards from the 1930s" and "between," both completed by Nez in 2008; the Duo Concertant by Stravinsky; and "Paired Dreams: All of a Piece," written in 2007 by David Lefkowitz.

Stravinsky, considered one of the leading figures of 20th-century music, also appears on the program to be played Saturday evening by the New Music Ensemble of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Under the direction of Young-Nam Kim, they will perform one of the iconic chamber works of Stravinsky's early neoclassical style, the Octet for Wind Instruments, written in 1923 and revised in 1952.

Other works on the program will be the Phantasy for violin and piano by Arnold Schoenberg; "While We Breathe, We Hope (Fanfare of Obama)" for narrator and chamber ensemble by Steve Heitzeg; and "Camp Songs" for mezzo-soprano, baritone, clarinet, violin, cello, bass and piano by Paul Schoenfeld.

The CNM will conclude the festival Sunday evening with a program ranging from solo works to pieces for chamber ensemble, including works by UI student composers. Featured on the program will be "Cantus Canti" (literally "Song Songs,") for six cellos by Bruno Amato, a guest of the UI School of Music. The score is a set of 14 variations with alternating appearances of the various canti -- i.e., songs -- with the cantus, a melody derived from a group of six pitches known as the hexachord, which is itself varied in each appearance.

"Cantus Canti" will be performed by an ensemble of UI cello professor Tony Arnone with UI students Brett Alkire, Tony Arnone, Christina Craig, Emmalee Hunnicutt, Sam Sidwell and Parker Stanley.

The CNM concert will open with "Songs and Dances of Macondo" for woodwind quintet by Judah Adashi, a young composer on the composition and music theory faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The composer explained: "The fictional town of Macondo is the setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'One Hundred Years of Solitude.' This suite for woodwind quintet (here imagined as a band of street musicians) was conceived as a songbook of sorts, inspired by musical elements and episodes in the novel.

Zachary Fisher, a UI doctoral student in composition, will be represented on the program by "Luna" for solo marimba. The piece is based largely on a reference to a popular Guatemalan waltz. Fisher notes that the piece is "essentially 'about' the marimba itself, without actually resembling most standard marimba literature."

The final piece on the program will be "Through the Turmoil of Liquid Skies" by Christopher Gainey, a guitar instructor at Coe College in Cedar Rapids and a doctoral student in composition at the UI. The title is taken from the novel "The Island of the Day Before" by Umberto Eco, which is about a sailor who goes mad in a ship stranded on the international dateline. In the piece, differences in texture, density and tempo suggest the flexibility of the perception of time.

The complete program for the Contemporary Music Festival, including all performers and program notes for each piece, can be found online at

Amato, a retired professor of composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, studied with many of the luminary teachers of composition of the mid-20th century, including Luciano Berio, Milton Babbit and Gunther Schuller. He holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music (1963), Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome) and Princeton University (1973). He has received many awards and honors, including Meet the Composer grants, a Sinfonia Foundation Award and the Koussevitsky Award.

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks. In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Gompper has been professor of composition and director of the Center for New Music at the UI since 1991. His compositions are performed throughout the United States and Europe, and he has taught, presented lectures, and performed around the world.

For more information visit More information about the Center for New Music is available at

Nez's music has been played at festivals in the United States as well as abroad, including Bulgaria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland and Japan. For more information visit her Web page

Originally from Minnesota, Wolfe joined the string faculty of the UI School of Music in August 2004. She has had a diverse career as a soloist, teacher, chamber and orchestral musician on the national and international stage. For more information visit

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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