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Release: Immediate

UI School of Music hosts famed pianists Penneys and Sebok in Piano Festival

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Acclaimed pianists and piano teachers Rebecca Penneys and Gyorgy Sebok will present free public recitals and master classes over a four-day period as part of Piano Festival '98-99, a new program for the current academic year presented on the University of Iowa campus by the UI School of Music.

Penneys' recital will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan 30 in Clapp Recital Hall. Sebok will play two days later at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, also in Clapp Recital Hall.

Each recital will be followed the next day by a master class in piano performance that will be open to the public free of charge. The master classes will be held in Clapp Recital Hall: Penneys' from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31 and Sebok's during the same hours on Tuesday, Feb. 2. During each master class, piano students from the UI School of Music will perform music they have prepared, and the guest artists will provide suggestions, comments and insight into the works being presented.

For her Jan. 30 recital, Penneys will play an eclectic program of 19th- and 20th-century music. The first half will feature music from the standard Romantic piano repertory: Ballades op. 10 by Johannes Brahms and a group of works by Chopin.

After intermission, Penneys will play a group of American works, starting with music inspired by ragtime: "Old Adam" from "The Garden of Eden" by William Bolcolm; "Soft Shoe-shoe Rag," written for Penneys by David Burge; and "Sleepwalkers Shuffle" from "The Dream Rags" by William Albright. Other works on the program will be "A Little Suite for Christmas, AD 1979" by George Crumb and, returning to music derived from the American vernacular tradition, Penneys' own solo-piano arrangement of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

On Feb. 1 Sebok will play three major works representing in turn the Baroque, Classical and Romantic styles: the French Suite No. 2 in C minor of J.S. Bach; Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, op. 57 ("Appassionata"); and Franz Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy, op. 15.

The visits of Penneys and Sebok will conclude Piano Festival '98/99 with a total of four guest artists having visited the UI campus. In November renowned pianists Joseph Kalichstein and Menahem Pressler presented free recitals and master classes for UI students.

"We feel the Piano Festival provides an extraordinary opportunity for both our students and the public," said Carole Thomas, head of the piano area at the School of Music and coordinator of Piano Festival '98/99. "All four of our guest artists are distinguished pianists and teachers. In addition to performances at the highest professional level, in their master classes they will give to the students and the public valuable insights into their own performances and their careers as professional musicians."

Penneys' distinguished career has spanned three decades and has generated acclaim for her performances of both classical and contemporary music. Since 1980 she has taught on the piano faculty of the Eastman School of Music, where she currently chairs the piano department, and she has been resident artist and teacher at the Chautauqua Institution for 20 consecutive seasons.

Penneys is a founding member of the New Arts Trio, with whom she has toured throughout the United States and abroad. She has twice won the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music, and she won critical acclaim for her PBS television special, "The Piano Its Sounds and Moods." Early in her career she won many young artists competitions, as well as the Special Critics Prize for her performances at the Seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. She was also the recipient of the Most Outstanding Musician Prize at the Fifth Vianna Da Motta International Piano Competition in Portugal and the top prizewinner in the Second Palmoa O'Shea International Piano Competition in Spain. She has recorded on the Centaur and Fleur de Son labels.

Sebok was already considered a major musical artist and a significant part of the musical life of Paris in the 1950s. A native of Hungary, he played his first public recital at 11, and at 14 played Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with conductor Ferenc Fricsay.

Sebok was a soloist for the first Bartok Memorial Concert in Budapest in 1950, won the International Prize in Berlin, and was presented the Liszt Prize by the Hungarian State. His first recording with Erato Records in 1957 won the Grand Prix du Disque in Paris. Other important honors he has received include the Gold Medal of Paris and the Kaltur Preis des Staats Wallis. A former professor at the Bela Bartok Conservatory, he has been a distinguished professor of music at Indiana University since 1972.

A founder of the Ernen Musikdorf summer chamber music festival in Switzerland, Sebok has also been a guest professor at the Hochschule der Kuenste (Arts Conservatory) in Berlin, the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, the Banff, Canada, Centre and the Paris Conservatory.

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