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Release: Dec. 3, 1999


DIKKERS READS DEC. 10 -- Scott Dikkers, editor of "Our Dumb Century," a compilation of headlines from the Onion, the parody newspaper based in Madison, Wis., will read at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at Buchanan Auditorium of the University of Iowa Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

The reading -- part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" series originating live on the UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM -- is free and open to the public.

"Our Dumb Century" was named outstanding humor book of the decade by Prairie Lights and has been on the best-seller list of the Independent Bookstore Consortium for more than a year.

A Washington Post review stated, "The Onion gleefully offends, armed with a powerful combination of puerility and intelligence…What the National Lampoon was to the '70s, The Onion may be for the new millennium." An article in Esquire calls the newspaper "genius . . . the most consistently hilarious spot on the flogged dead horse of American comedy."

The Onion, in print since 1988 and on-line since 1996, has a readership of approximately a half million people.

For more information on the "Live From Prairie Lights" readings, visit the series' web page at The Onion may be accessed on-line at

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NEW COMPOSITIONS ON CONCERT DEC. 12 -- The Composers Workshop of the University of Iowa School of Music will present six new pieces of music by student composers on a free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Written by undergraduate and graduate students in the composition program, the pieces feature a wide variety of performing media, from recorded tape and electro-acoustic composition to instrumental solos and an instrumental ensemble with vocal soloist.

The complete program will be:

--"Night Sketches for eight players, human host and Duende" by senior Matt Ertz;

-- Duet for flute and viola by graduate student Michael Cash;

--"Antihisis" for piano and tape by graduate student Evangelia Kikou;

-- an untitled piece for tape by senior Amy Rucinski;

--"Novelty as a Value" for solo flute by graduate student Erin Gee; and

--"The Lights Went Out," an electro-acoustic composition by graduate student Rob Bennett.

"Night Sketches" is based on a Spanish ceremony in which a woman is selected to represent the Duende, a spirit that conveys suffering and grief using music to express itself. Taking place in the streets of Seville the week before Easter, the ceremony begins with a procession in which statues of the Virgin Mary and giant crosses are carried through the streets.

When the procession stops, a woman is presented upon a balcony, where she sings a lament for Jesus. The singing woman is believed to be possessed by the Duende.

Ertz describes "Night Sketches" as a "formalized ritual with the sole purpose to conjure Duende and experience its existence." Its four uninterrupted movements, Ertz said, "explain the process of the evocation. First, the host is presented with a slow march. Next, the incantation begins, alerting the spirit with chimes and the players beginning to use their magnetic powers to draw Duende out of the host. Then, Duende enters our world through the host and sings its grief. Last, Duende is dismissed and thanked and the players' powers dwindle and dilute, thus ending the ritual."

"The Lights Went Out" is a musical response to one of the most devastating weather events in recent history, when a tornado descended on Pleasant Grove, Ala., April 8, 1998, taking the lives of 32 people. Based on later analysis and assessment of the damage, the tornado was rated F5 on the Fujita scale -- the highest rank for a tornado.

"The Lights Went Out" is based on manipulations of a fragment of an interview taken from an anonymous survivor of the storm. According to the composer, "The music attempts to evoke some of the paralyzing sounds, sensations and emotions that one might experience when placed in the path of such a storm."

"The Lights Went Out" was created in the UI Electronic Music Studios and in the home studio of the composer.

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PERCUSSIONISTS GET THEIR 'LAST CHANCE' DEC. 12 -- The fall semester "Last Chance" concert of the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble will begin at 8:02 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, making it officially the final concert of the year -- and of the century -- at the UI School of Music.

The performance, which will be free and open to the public, will be in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building.

The UI Percussion Ensemble presents a "Last Chance" concert at the end of each semester as one final opportunity for percussion students to perform the solos and ensemble pieces they have been studying.

Traditionally the "Last Chance" concert is also the last performance of the semester in the School of Music. When another performance was scheduled for 8 p.m. on the last Sunday of the semester, Dan Moore, the Percussion Ensemble's director, didn't want to forfeit his special place in the School of Music calendar.

"Here at the end of the century and the millennium would be a bad time to lose our unique spot in the schedule," More said. "We knew what we had to do, so we'll start our performance a couple of minutes later. We like to think of it as saving the best for last."

Moore said the program, which usually falls in place at the last minute, has not been decided yet. "We will feature solos and duos by outstanding students from the percussion studio who will audition for the opportunity to play in this last of all 'Last Chance' concerts in the 1900s," he said.

Formed in 1958, the UI Percussion Ensemble this year celebrates its 40th anniversary season. The group performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. In addition to the standard percussion repertoire, the ensemble regularly performs the newest music written by both professional composers and students.

With an extensive array of instruments -- from traditional drums, xylophones and cymbals to just about anything that can be struck, scraped, shaken or smashed together -- Percussion Ensemble performances are known for their variety and fast-paced programming, presented with humor, drama and old-fashioned showmanship.