CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
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Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Double bassist Gannett will open UI School of Music faculty recital
series Sept. 13
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The double bass -- the lowest instrument in the orchestral
string section and the last instrument at the bottom of orchestral scores
-- goes to the head of the line when bassist Diana Gannett plays the first
faculty recital of the University of Iowa School of Music fall season at
8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
Gannett, who teaches double bass at the UI School of Music, will perform
with fellow bassist David Murray and pianist Anne Chamberlain. Their performance
will be free and open to the public.
Because of its size and low pitch, the double bass is not often thought
of as a solo instrument outside of jazz, but in recent years Gannett has
made double bass recitals a regular part of the UI School of Music faculty
performance series. She has not only played works from the instrument's
extant solo repertoire, she has added considerable variety to her programs
by performing arrangements, many of them her own, of works originally composed
for other media.
The Sept. 13 recital will continue that pattern with a program that
ranges from a showpiece by the first composer to make the double bass a
virtuoso instrument, the 19th-century player/composer/conductor Giovanni
Bottesini, to arrangements of Baroque string music and Chopin's cello sonata.
Moving into repertoire that might not be expected for a double bass
recital, Gannett will acknowledge the centennial of the birth of American
composer George Gershwin by presenting versions of two songs from the iconic
Broadway opera "Porgy and Bess": "Bess, You is my Woman
Now" arranged for two basses and piano by Murray, and Gannett's transcription
of a Jascha Heifitz violin-and-piano arrangement of "It Ain't Necessarily
Other works on the program will extend the double bass repertoire in
other directions. Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen wrote a set of variations
for violin and viola, based on a theme by Handel, in a style that is reminiscent
of Norwegian folk fiddle styles. Gannett has arranged Halvorsen's "Passacaglia"
for two basses.
Similarly, she has arranged two traditional Scottish fiddle tunes for
basses, "Wet is this night and cold" and "Many are the cries
and shrieks of woe." "These tunes were old when they were collected
in 1784," Gannett noted, "and they were a comfort to the Scots
of the northern parts and western isles where living is particularly difficult.
If they weren't fighting for their land, there was always the cold, wet,
overcast weather to contend with, yet they lived on a land of incredible
beauty and strong spirit."
A thoroughly Romantic musician, Bottesini had three careers: as double
bass virtuoso, as conductor and as opera composer. This triple career took
him all over the world, from Italy to St. Petersburg, Paris, London, Cairo
--where he conducted the first performance of Verdi's "Aida"
--, New York, Havana and Mexico. His works for double bass are highly melodramatic
and sentimental, with alternating passages of virtuoso brilliance and bel-canto
style lyricism. His works, which show off the full expressive range of
the double bass, have become staples of the double bass repertoire and
of Gannett's recital programs.
For the Sept. 13 recital she will play Bottesini's "Fantasia on
Bellini's 'Straniera'." A popular genre of the 19th-century virtuosos,
the fantasia allows the composers and performers a free flight of imagination
in showing off their technical accomplishments. Most commonly, these works
constitute a set of variations of increasingly dazzling difficulty based
on a theme taken from the popular operas of the time. Bellini was a favorite
source for the Romantic virtuoso composers, no doubt because the simple
structure and lyrical beauty of his themes made them ideal for variation.
The Baroque period is represented on the program by Georg Philipp Telemann's
"Gulliver Suite," part of a series of duets written so they could
be played by whatever pair of instruments were available. Gannett has arranged
the attractive duets inspired by the popular 18th-century novel "Gulliver's
Travels" for two basses.
A graduate of the UI School of Music, Gannett returned to the UI to
teach double bass in the fall of 1992. She also is the principal double
bass of the Quad City Symphony.
As a teacher and performer she has had an active career including appointments
at Yale University, the Hartt School of Music, Oberlin College and the
University of South Florida. She has been principal double bass of the
Gulf Coast Symphony, the Black Hills Festival Orchestra, the Eastern Music
Festival and the Bronx Symphony, and she been a member of the New Haven
and New Jersey symphonies.
As a chamber musician she has performed with members of the Guarneri,
Emerson, Laurentian and Stanford string quartets and the Borodin Trio.
Her frequent solo appearances have included many premieres and solo improvisations
as well as traditional repertoire. She has recorded for Irida Records and
has a solo CD, "Ladybass."
At the UI Gannett studied with Eldon Obrecht, whom she has succeeded
on the faculty. She has also studied with legendary double bass virtuoso
Gary Karr at Yale, where she earned both master's and doctoral degrees,
and with Stuart Sankey at the Aspen Music Festival.
Gannett is currently president-elect of the International Society of
Bassists, and will host the annual convention of the society at the UI
during the first week of June, 1999.
Anne Chamberlain teaches piano at Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington,
Mass. she has performed both solo and chamber music throughout the U.S.,
Europe and Israel. She was the recipient of the John Knowles Paine Award
for performances of late 20th-century North American music and has recorded
for Nonesuch and CRI records. She received her musical training at the
Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School. Numerous world premiers
of contemporary concert music have been performed by the pianist at Lincoln
Center in New York City.
David Murray teaches double bass at Butler University in Indianapolis.
He is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, where he studied with Gary
Karr. He won the Aspen Bass Concerto Competition, the 1988 solo competition
of the International Society of Bassists and the Canada Music Competition.
He has been a soloist in recital and with orchestras throughout Canada
and the United States. He has taught bass at the Sorak Festival in South
Korea and the International Bass Conference IVEINCO in Brazil. His CD "Vocalise"
will soon be released by Lemor Music.