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Unusual duo of saxophone, guitar will play UI faculty/guest recital March 9

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- What may be the only standing duo for saxophone and guitar, the

Duo Nouveau of saxophonist Matthew Sintchak and guitarist Matthew Ardizzone, will present a University of Iowa faculty/guest recital at 8 p.m. Monday, March 9 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Their performance will feature the world premiere of "Paintings of Max Ernst" by

Yoshihisa Hirano, a score commissioned by Duo Nouveau.

The program will also include their own arrangements of works from an eclectic group of sources: Spanish composer Enrique Granados, jazz pianist/composer Chick Corea, Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and the tango super-star composer/performer Astor Piazzolla.

The duo will be joined by UI faculty members Tadeu Coelho, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; and Carole Thomas, piano; and guest artist Gretchen Johnson, harp; to perform Villa-Lobos' "Sextuor Mystique" (Mystic sextet).

The duo got its start when Sintchak -- now a member of the UI School of Music faculty -- and Ardizzone were sharing a teaching studio as graduate students at the Eastman School of Music. As Sintchak explains it, "what started as studio-mate tolerance evolved quickly in friendship and then artistic collaboration."

The duo made its debut at Eastman's Summer Concert Series in Kilbourne Hall in 1995 and has appeared on the series every summer since. They have also performed extensively in

New York and will be expanding to Iowa and Illinois -- including the National Saxophone Conference in Chicago -- this year.

With such an unusual instrumental combination, the duo's biggest problem is repertoire. When they got started there was virtually no extant literature for saxophone and guitar. There are basically two options for overcoming a lack of music to play, and the duo has taken both of them: They have commissioned and premiered several new works for saxophone and guitar, and they have made their own arrangements of extant works for other media.

The world premiere on the March 9 program represents the duo's second commission from Japanese composer Hirano. A composer for concert, dance, film and radio, Hirano studied composition at Eastman, where he met Sintchak, as well as at the Juilliard School. His teachers have included the highly respected composers Joseph Schwantner and Christopher Rouse. He has won many awards, including first prize in New York's New Music for Young Ensembles Composers' Competition and the Axia Tape Competition for composers in Japan.

Their arrangements are collaborative, with each performer contributing his own ideas. After each player has made a rough start on his own part, they gradually work out the details in an

on-going, collaborative process that is part rehearsal and part arrangement of the original work.

At this point Duo Nouveau has a substantial body of arrangements to choose from, but they continue to add new works.

Arrangements on the March 9 program will include the "Valses Poeticos" (Poetic waltzes) of Granados, originally composed for piano solo. A group of seven waltzes with an introduction and coda, they clearly show the influence of Spanish popular song.

Chick Corea's "Children's Songs" were written in two sets, 15 for Fender Rhodes keyboard and five for acoustic piano. The composer wrote that any of the songs can be played on either instrument, and he also encouraged expanding the pieces through orchestration, an encouragement the duo was quick to seize upon in making their arrangement. Corea also wrote that the set is intended to "convey simplicity as beauty, as represented in the spirit of a child."

The best known piece by Villa-Lobos, the fifth of his "Bachianas Brazilieras" (Brazilian piece in the style of Bach), was originally composed for soprano and eight cellos. The composer later arranged the popular piece for voice and guitar for Andres Segovia, and the duo simply adapted the voice part for saxophone to make their own arrangement.

After Villa-Lobos' "Sextuor Mystique," the program will conclude with Piazolla's "Histoire du Tango" (History of the Tango), originally written for guitar and flute.

A visiting professor at the UI, Sintchak has previously taught at the University of Hartford; Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y.; and at Eastman., where he won a 1996-97 Teaching Prize. An avid performer of contemporary music, Sintchak has also given traditional solo recitals on the East Coast and performed with Hartford and Portland symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic, and with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on two tours to Japan. He has also performed with several alternative groups including the Jupiter Saxophone Quartet, the first honors/scholarship saxophone ensemble in the history of the New England Conservatory of Music.

Sintchak studied at Boston University, the New England Conservatory, and the Paris Conservatory on a grant from the Beebe Foundation. He recently completed his doctorate in saxophone performance with a Performer's Certificate from Eastman.

Ardizzone is on the faculty of Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. As soloist he has won top prizes at the 1997 Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition in Malibu, Calif., and the 1995 Rantucci Guitar Competition in Buffalo, N.Y. He has given solo recitals at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ithaca (N.Y.) College's Winter Guitar Festival, and in Worcester and Shrewsbury, Mass. In addition to his performances with the Duo Nouveau, he plays chamber music with flutist Wendy Mehne.

In May 1997 Ardizzone became the first guitarist to receive a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music.