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Release: Immediate

UI Center for New Music opens 1997-98 concert season Aug. 31

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Center for New Music at the University of Iowa School of Music will open its 33rd season of concerts on the UI campus with a free performance featuring guest percussionist Lee Forrest Ferguson at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

An organization that promotes 20th-century music through premieres of new works and performances of established masterworks from throughout the century, the Center for New Music presents approximately four to six free concerts on the UI campus during each academic year.

A native of Grinnell, Ferguson received a bachelor's degree in percussion from the UI in December 1995. His most recent performance project was the opera "Phenic Crush" by playwright Eric Ehn and composer Lisa Bielawa, who collaborated on "Ideas of Good and Evil" in the UI department of theatre arts in 1996. He currently has a Fulbright Scholarship to study percussion in Freiburg, Germany.

The program for the Aug. 31 concert features five new works for percussion from Europe and America, including a piece by Bielawa and works by former composition students at the UI:

-- "City Mouse" for marimba by UI graduate James Romig was commissioned by Ferguson and premiered by him in Berlin in March. Romig is currently a doctoral student in composition and a music theory instructor at Rutgers University. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the UI, where he studied composition with David Gompper and D. Martin Jeni, conducting with James Dixon and percussion with Thomas L. Davis.

-- "Abgesang der Lerche" (Song of the lark) for piano, tape and percussion by Bernhard Wulff features a recording of a lark song, which the performers are asked to imitate. A professional percussionist, conductor and composer, Wulff is currently the percussion professor at the State School of Music in Freiburg, Germany.

-- "Chiau-Daa II" is a percussion solo by Chee-Swen Cheng, who received his master's degree in composition from the UI last year and returned to his home in Malaysia.

-- Bielawa's "The Great Plasto-Dio-Dada Drama" for percussion solo was inspired by an artwork of the same name by the Dada artist Johannes Bader. Created for the First International Dada Fair in 1920, Bader's work was a collage/sculpture/installation that eventually disintegrated due to its casual construction.

-- Bielawa is best known as the vocalist in the Philip Glass Ensemble. She produces a concert series in New York featuring emerging composers. Her most recent works have evolved from research into the writings of William Blake, Gertrude Stein and the Berlin Dadaists, and the documentary histories of teenage-girl visionaries.

-- "Omar, Duo pezzi per Vibraphon" (Omar, two pieces for vibraphone) was composed by the Italian composer Franco Donatoni

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. 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. Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI School of Music.

The center is directed by David Gompper, who joined the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1991. Gompper has received numerous awards for his academic and musical achievements, including the Charles E. Ives Prize for composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Under the auspices of the United States Information Agency he has served as a cultural specialist in Kwangju, South Korea. He has received several ASCAP Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. His "Transitus" was premiered at Carnegie Hall and his "Flip" was premiered by the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.