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Release: Immediate

Music by Pulitzer-winning poet Justice will be featured on March 7 UI concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New Music will perform a new composition by long-time Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member and Pulitzer prize-winning poet Donald Justice, as well as other U.S and world premieres, in a concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 7 in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building.

The concert, led by Center for New Music director David Gompper, will be free and open to the public.

Justice's piece, "Winesburg: Nine short pieces for tenor and string trio," is a setting of texts from "Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson.

Other works on the program will be the Trio for violin, cello and piano of Greek composer Alkis Baltas; the American premiere of "12 samples" by Russian composer Yuri Kasparov; "4 mod 4" for flute, clarinet, violin and cello by Lawrence Fritts, the director of the UI Electronic Music Studios; "Bounce" for two bassoons by Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty; and "Chaser," a new work for flute, oboe, horn and piano by UI music theory faculty member Michael Eckert.

Performances will feature both faculty and students of the UI School of Music. Gompper will conduct the Kasparov and Fritts scores. Faculty players in Eckert's piece will be Tadeu Coelho, flute; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Rene Lecuona, piano. Faculty member Benjamin Coelho will perform Daugherty's piece, together with guest artist Jeffrey Lyman from Arizona State University.

Although Justice is well known internationally as a poet, as a young man he studied musical composition with Carl Ruggles, a well-known and highly individualistic composer. Justice has written about the origin of his piece, "A year or so back, while writing a short story about a young American composer, I attempted to describe a composition my character had written and was so taken by the sketchy description that the idea of writing the music for myself took hold of me, so strongly in fact that I finished the composition before I finished the story."

"I thumbed through (Anderson's 'Winesburg, Ohio'), looking for phrases that struck a sort of poetic fire, though in plain and simple prose; and there were many. I selected nine. The nine sections are all very brief, indeed, fragmentary, and in homage to Anderson, romantic in spirit. They are intended to suggest improvisation; the merest skeleton of narrative is perhaps implied."

Justice is the author of eight books of poetry. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1980 for "Selected Poems." Other awards include the Bollingen prize in Poetry, the Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Justice is a member of the American Academy of Art and Letters. His most recent book is "Oblivion: On Writing and Writers."

Justice was born in Miami, Fla., and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, where he studied composition with Ruggles. Later he received a master's degree from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate from the UI. For his retirement, he returned to Iowa City.

Lawrence Fritts has been director of the Electronic Music Studios at the UI School of Music since 1995. His recent acousmatic work "Minute Variations" has recently been released on a CD on the Innova label and was presented at the Futura 98 Festival Acousmatique in Lyons, France. It has also been recently performed in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Glasgow and Thessaloniki, Greece, as part of the International Computer Music Conference. His music has been performed in Chicago by the Contemporary Chamber Players, the University of Chicago New Music Ensemble, New Music De Paul and New Music Chicago.

Eckert joined the music theory/composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1985. Before coming to the UI he taught at Colorado State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tulane University and Antioch. As a composer Eckert has received a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and an NEA fellowship, and he was the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year in 1983.

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 November 1998 an East Coast tour by the Center included a performance at Merkin Hall in New York City and by invitation at the final performance of the Region I Conference of Society of Composers, Inc., at Connecticut College in New London. Critic Paul Griffiths opened his New York Times review of the Merkin Hall concert by observing that "an ensemble of faculty and graduate students from the University of Iowa performed strongly Tuesday night," and he praised Gompper for "the concert's clarity and directness."

Gompper joined the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1991. He 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. His "Transitus" was premiered at Carnegie Hall and his "Flip" was premiered by the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.

He was invited to perform several of his works and lecture on current American musical trends in composition in Thessaloniki, Greece and will do so again at the Music College in Thessaloniki , as well as the Moscow Conservatory of Music in Russian and Auckland University in New Zealand. He has also served as a cultural specialist for the United States Information Agency in Kwangju, South Korea.