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Release: Immediate

UI Symphony Band concert highlights Honor Band Weekend at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Band will present a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

Myron Welch, director of UI bands, will conduct the concert, which is free and open to the public. Percussionist Dan Moore, a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music, will be the guest soloist.

The concert is part of the annual Honor Band Weekend at the UI. Each year approximately 160 high school musicians from around the state are invited to campus to play with a distinguished guest conductor and to attend clinics on their individual instruments.

The high school Honor Band will present its own free concert, with guest conductor Kenneth Bloomquist, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, in Hancher Auditorium.

For Saturday's concert by the Symphony Band, Welch will conduct the "Gum-suckers March" of Percy Grainger, the Concerto for Percussion and Concert Band of William Childs, and David Maslanka's Symphony No. 4. The UI Trombone Ensemble directed by David Gier will open the concert. Prior to the concert, the UI Horn Choir directed by Kristin Thelander will perform in the Hancher lobby, and the UI Double Reed Ensemble directed by Mark Weiger, will perform in the lobby during intermission.

Gier, Thelander and Weiger are members of the UI School of Music faculty.

The program for the Sunday concert of the Honor Band will include Grainger's "Australian Up-country Tune," "Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew" of James Curnow, and a band arrangement of "The Pines of the Appian Way" from Respighi's "Pines of Rome." It will close with the popular "National Emblem" March by E.E. Bagley.

An eccentric personality and a sensational pianist, Percy Grainger was born in Australia. He came to the United States in 1915 and served in the U.S. Army Music School during World War I, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1919. He lived near New York City and was for many years head of the music department at New York University. He was one of the first composers to write original works for the modern concert band.

"Gum-suckers" is a nickname for Australians from Grainger's home state of Victoria. The eucalyptus trees of Victoria are called "gums" and the young shoots at the bottom of the trunk are called suckers, so "gum-sucker" came to mean a young native of Victoria. The march uses Grainger's own "Australian Up-Country Song" melody, written typify Australia in the same way that Stephen Foster's songs are typical of America.

Los Angeles native William Childs was inspired to study piano by the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Later he studied composition at USC and was pianist for Freddie Hubbard. The Concerto for Percussion was commissioned by Hubbard's drummer, Steve Houghton. It reflects Houghton's ability to play in traditional, modern and jazz percussion styles.

David Maslanka was born in New Bedford, Mass., and studied at the New England Conservatory, the Oberlin Conservatory, the Salzburg Mozarteum and Michigan State University. A member of the music faculty at Kingsborough College of the City University of New York for more than 20 years, he now lives and works in Montana.

Maslanka's Fourth Symphony was commissioned by the University of Texas Wind Ensemble, the Stephen F. Austin State University Band and the Michigan State Band. The score was completed at Missoula, Mont., in 1993.

The composer said that the main inspiration of the symphony "is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. I feel it is the powerful voice of the earth that comes to me from my adopted western Montana, and the high plains and central mountains of Idaho. My personal experience of this voice is one of being helpless and torn open by the power of the thing that wants to be expressed -- the welling-up shout that cannot be denied."

A nationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore holds the position at the UI School of Music that was previously occupied by long-time UI percussion teacher Thomas L. Davis, who retired last spring. Prior to coming to the UI, Moore helped lead the SkyRyders Drum and Bugle Corps, taught percussion at Montana State University and studied for a doctorate in percussion at the University of Kentucky.

For the past 10 years Moore has toured as a member of the Britain/Moore Duo, whose CD "Cricket City" has been described by Pan-lime Magazine as "a brilliant collage of pan-marimba pieces."

Bloomquist has been director of bands at Michigan State University since 1970, and served as director of the School of Music at MSU for 10 years. He has published articles on band directing and music education, including a five part series on "The Anatomy of a Reherasal" in the Instrumentalist.

He is the immediate past president of the American Bandmasters Association and the former president of the National Band Association. He has appeared as guest conductor, clinician and contest judge throughout the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, Southeast Asia, Australia and Mexico.

Myron Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band and the All-State Music Camp. Prior to joining the UI faculty he was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is president of the American Bandmasters Association, president of the Big Ten Band Directors Association, and past-president of the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the Midwest.